Reading Gandhi in two tongues
Language was important to Mahatma Gandhi. He wanted to make spoken and written language so simple as to be understood by workers in the field, yet he also wanted to explore the possibility of expressing the most complex philosophical notions through language. Although aware of the limitations of his facility with Gujarati, he wrote his most important works in this language, and also supervised their translations into English. His awareness of the importance of language made him particularly conscious of problems of translation, and this was borne out by his own experiences translating Tolstoy and Ruskin into Gujarati and rendering his own philosophical text <i>Hind Swaraj</i> into English. This paper examines Gandhi’s own translations and the translations of his works that he supervised and authenticated, so as to gain an understanding of the process through which he moved between languages and philosophical discourses to convey the originality of his thought and practice to the world.