Third Class in Indian Railways

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Third Class in Indian Railways by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (the full name of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian movement for independence from British rule and an advocate of non-violent civil resistance to oppression) is a collection of essays published by Gandhi separately, but assembled into a book in order to present the essence of Gandhi’s philosophy, of his social and political ideas as well as of his personal beliefs.

The volume includes six essays dealing with various topics written by Gandhi in 1916-1917, shortly after he had returned to India from his long stay in South Africa. The first piece in the collection and the one that lends the collection its title is a short travelogue that describes a train journey that Gandhi had been on and his experiences of the horrible conditions he had to endure while travelling third class. The essays after this first, introductory piece treat various subjects related to importance of preserving the national identity as well as more spiritual subjects.

The second essay is about the importance of using the mother tongue in education, the third deals with self-sustenance at a local level, while the fourth discusses how one can learn to defeat fears of death by achieving a more elevated state of mind. The fifth essay speaks about co-operation as a means of achieving economic prosperity, while the sixth writing discusses the importance of wearing the national dress.

The collection is short, but extremely dense, providing an essence of Gandhi’s philosophy. Written by one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, these essays formulate views and ideas that are just as pertinent and important today as they were a century ago, providing an extraordinary read not only for those interested in the ideas presented, but also for those who would like to know more about Gandhi as a private person.

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