Grand Unification Theory


Book: Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi's Manifesto for the Internet Age

Author: Sudheendra Kulkarni

Publisher: Amaryllis

Price: Rs 795

Pages: 725

Like the subject of its study, Mahatma Gandhi, this book is bursting with creative energy. Indeed, the energy level is almost maniacal. Authors with normal energy levels rarely write a 725-page book, and someone not taking the mysteries of life with utmost seriousness is unlikely to venture an 83-page chapter, the longest in the book, on the meanings of Gandhi's sexuality and how his attempts to master it were often connected to the larger purposes of peace and non-violence.

Was Gandhi opposed to science and technology? This is the central question the book addresses. In trying to answer, Sudheendra Kulkarni ranges over a terrain so broad that one cannot but marvel at his store of knowledge. Insights emerge from modern science, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, scripture in various languages including Kannada, his mother tongue. Great minds, Gandhi's companions, appear in the narrative with immense speed — Tolstoy, Ruskin, Thoreau, Rolland, Gokhale, Nehru, Jinnah, Mirabehn, private secretary Pyare Lal, grandniece Manu, Charlie Chaplin.

Also, there's relatively less-known material on the depth of Einstein's admiration for Gandhi; interviews with creators of the modern world of information technology about how Gandhi was relevant to their mission; works on yogis and sadhus; and we learn that during the freedom movement, Gandhi was involved in encouraging nine young men from families he knew to study at MIT, a legendary institution of scientific learning. Kulkarni's range is immense, his mind restless, his penchant for detail fierce.

The results are simultaneously dazzling and tiring. The erudition impresses, but Kulkarni needed a good copy editor to trim his prose and rationally rein in his almost mystical enthusiasm and admiration for his subject. I worry that the sheer size of this volume might come in the way of readership. That would be an awful pity. The book deserves wide readership. It deals with a deeply important question, and it has novel things to say.

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