| || Romain Rolland's book was published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi (celebrated in 2019), and Stjepan Radić (honored in the year 2021). The original Croatian version of the book was published in 1924, entitled "Naš Gandhi" (Our Gandhi!). Issuing this reprint was suggested by Mr. Joginder Singh Nijjar, the president of Croatian-Indian Society in Zagreb. It appeared under the auspices of highest Croatian political, cultural and scientific institutions, as well as under the auspices of the Embassy of the Republic of India to Croatia. We provide a presentation of the reprint written by Ante Belić. |
Romain Rolland's book was published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, which was celebrated in 2019, and Stjepan Radić, which was honored in the year 2021 when this reprint was published in Zagreb. The original Croatian version of the book was published in 1924, entitled "Naš Gandhi" (Our Gandhi!). Issuing this reprint was suggested by Mr. Joginder Singh Nijjar, the president of Croatian-Indian Society in Zagreb. It appeared under the auspices of highest Croatian political, cultural and scientific institutions, as well as under the auspices of the Embassy of the Republic of India to Croatia with H. E. Mr. Raj Kumar Srivastava.
Below, we provide a presentation of the reprint, written by Ante Belić for Disputatio philosophica.
Romain Rolland, Naš Gandhi,
Zagreb: Croatian - Indian society, 2021, 299 pp.
When we mention the names of two great personalities, Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić, we may wonder what connects them. One comes from the great and distant India, the other from small Croatia - seemingly incompatible "worlds" that have little in common. However, the reprint of Romain Rolland's book Our Gandhi proves just the opposite. Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić are closely related, and the social situations in India and Croatia at the time are much more similar than one might think. It is crucial to mention some facts related to the publication of this reprint that indicate the importance of this work. This significance is reflected in the list of patrons of this edition, which includes some of the most important institutions of the Republic of Croatia, such as the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia, the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, the City of Zagreb, the Embassy of India, etc. An impressive list of institutions have recognized the importance of this edition, for which the Croatian-Indian Society, which is also the publisher of this reprint, is most deserving.
First of all, it should be mentioned that the book was published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, which was celebrated in 2019, and Stjepan Radić, which was honored in the year 2021 when this reprint was published. This edition begins with "The Prologue - Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić" (2021), an exceptional contribution of Professor Mislav Ježić (of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), who on 108 pages analyses Rolland's Our Gandhi, and its translation and first edition in Croatian. Moreover, Ježić introduces us to the biography of the author, but also to the work of Stjepan Radić and the inspiration he drew from the char-acter and work of Mahatma Gandhi. In the epilogue of this prologue, we find a kind of supplement to Rolland's book itself. Rolland, in fact, wrote the book in 1922, but it was published in 1924, and more than two decades passed from then until Gandhi's death. For this reason, Professor Ježić titled the first part of his epilogue "Gandhi and India after the period in which the book Our Gandhi was written - Comparative Events in Croatia." The second part of this epilogue is titled "India and Croatia from World War II to the present." In this part, Ježić analyses what happened in India and Croatia after the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić and concludes with a curious question and a significant answer, "We can ask ourselves how much Gandhi's ideas are still present in modern India more than 150 years after his birth and almost 75 years after his death. We can ask ourselves how many thoughts of Stjepan Radić and his brother Antun are still present in modern Croatia exactly 150 years after his birth and almost 95 years after his death. We can answer that they are present as much as social and national liberation has been achieved in India or Croatia" (Ježić 2021, CV).
Naš Gandhi = Our Gandhi!
The centerpiece of this edition is a reprint of the 1924 translation of Romain Rolland's book Our Gandhi. The book itself was originally published in 1924 under the title Mahatma Gandhi and went through more than thirty editions in less than a year. In the same year, a translation into Croatian was published after the 31st French edition at the request of Stjepan Radić. 3,000 copies of this Croatian translation were published by the Slavic bookstore (Slavenska knjižara), owned by Stjepan Radić. The translation was done by Dr. Josip Vandekar, Stjepan Radić's son-in-law. Almost a hundred years after this edition, we do not have in our hands a new edition of the book, but a faithful reprint. Thus, we can see that the text follows the orthographic norms of the 19th century's Zagreb Philological School. In the beginning, we find a short prologue written by Stjepan Radić himself, entitled "Croatian Peacekeeping and Indian Nonviolent Movement" (Radić 2021, V-VIII). Radić tries to show the great connection and similarity between these two movements, despite the extremely different environments in which they operate. He gives the impression that he himself is amazed at the similarities between these two movements. For this reason, he is convinced that the Croatian peasant really has the right to consider Gandhi as "his" and, therefore, explains why this Croatian translation is called Our Gandhi. The introduction was written by the translator Dr. Josip Vandekar, who relayed historical and geographical information about India, different social groups, languages, and especially religion. This introduction could have served as an excellent source of basic information about India for the reader of that time, as it does for us today.
Rolland's text itself is divided into five chapters. In the first chapter, "The Great Soul Mahatma - the Man Who Became One with the Essence of the Universe," Rolland describes Gandhi's life from his birth in 1869 to the beginning of the nonviolent resistance movement in 1919. The second chapter describes the beginnings of the movement of non-cooperation with the British government that Gandhi announced on August 1, 1920. The third chapter analyzes the disagreements between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, while the fourth chapter describes the events Tagore feared: riots, strikes, and violence. The fifth chapter deals only with some events related to the movement after Gandhi's imprisonment in 1922, when the author concludes his work. However, in the already mentioned 31st edition of the book, Rolland adds a final letter to this French edition. The reason for this addition was the release of Gandhi on 4 February 1924. This edition closes with a title entitled "Two Greats of Nonviolence and Peace-keeping," signed by Darko Žubrinić and Joginder Singh Nijjar, President of the Croatian-Indian Society in Zagreb. In this section, they present very systematically essential information and interesting facts related to this book, its Croatian translation, and the two great individuals, Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić.
This rich overprint contains a great deal of important and interesting data, of which we have been able to quote only a minority in this review. However, the real purpose of the review is not to cover everything, but to present the main points that might persuade the future readerto reachfor this edition. The fact that something that is very far away can be very close to us is fully confirmed by this piece. Stjepan Radić recognized this very well and offered his Croatian contemporaries the example of Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent movement. And even today, we could learn a lot both from Gandhi and Radić. However, to make that possible, we first need to understand our history, and this edition is the perfect tool for that.
Ježić, Mislav. 2021. "The Prologue - Mahatma Gandhi and Stjepan Radić." In Naš Gandhi (Our Gandhi), by Romain Rolland, v-cviii. Zagreb: Croatian-Indian Society.
Radić, Stjepan. 2021. "Croatian Peace-keeping and Indian Nonviolent Movement". In Naš Gandhi (Our Gandhi), by Romain Rolland, V-VIII. Zagreb: Croatian-Indian Society.
Written by Ante Belić
Ante Belić: Romain Rolland, Naš Gandhi, Zagreb: Croatian - Indian society, 2021, 299 pp.
Disputatio philosophica: International Journal on Philosophy and Religion, VOl. 23 No. 1, 2021., pp. 108-110.