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Hind Swaraj

Updated on Mar 17, 2018   •   M. K. Gandhi   •   non-fiction  •  books

Although I have studied Indian history for a long time, I did not have a chance to read first-hand accounts of famous figures in the making of Indian history. Gandhi is undoubtedly one of the most popular Indian revolutionary who played a central role in Indian politics leading the 1947 when India gained independence. Hind Swaraj, his first book I believe, is an astounding reflection of his thoughts and ideas about the Indian independence struggle. He discusses the meaning of swaraj (birthright in English), from the context of an Indian native during the colonial rule, and puts spiritual transformation as the centripetal idea to achieving effective home rule.

Influenced by Marxist and liberal ideas during his time in England for practicing bar, Hind Swaraj is in the form of a conversation between a reader (analogous to an Indian native effusing with revolutionary ideas to overturn the British rule) and an editor (Gandhi expressing his views on the struggle) about what Indian home rule means. Central to the book is Hinduism and profound spirituality, which Gandhi espouses to differentiate the superiority of ancient traditional Indian over contemporary industrial West. However, Gandhi often contradicts himself on the topics of economic growth, social mobility between classes, and spiritual development. Although he directly asserts that his ideas are not utopian, they often lack practicality for depressed classes in the Indian community, including religious minorities, women, and lower castes in the Indian society.

Gandhi is an interesting person in the Indian struggle, and I will recommend learning about his initial ideas of Indian home rule through this book if you’re interested. A free PDF is available at

Hind Swaraj was part of the course ASIAN 2275: History of Modern India that I took in Spring 2018.