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Gandhi - A Photo Biography  by  Peter Rühe

Gandhi - A Photo Biography  by  Peter Rühe


250 x 250 mm, 9 7/8 x 9 7/8 inches, 320pp, 294 duotone photographs, US$29.95 (Hardcover US$39.95)


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The English language edition is also available in: Great Britain, Canada, Germany, France and Japan


The French edition

In this compelling photo biography, almost 300 images document Gandhi's incredible story. The fascinating photographs are primarily drawn from an extraordinary archive compiled by Peter Rühe who has worked for over 20 years preserving fragile family photographs and bringing together official and informal collections. In this unprecedented visual survey, we can see the sweep of world politics and the struggles of the poor in the life of one man whose impact on the world is matched by few in the history of mankind. As Albert Einstein said: 'Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.'

Look inside

the author's voice

by Peter Rühe


Although acknowledged as one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century it has been difficult to get a proper visual impression of Mahatma Gandhi so far in lack of adequate photographic material. One reason for this was that the most comprehensive photo collection of over 9,000 photographs was possessed by Vithalbhai K. Jhaveri, a Mumbai-based biographer of Gandhi. Some of these photographs Jhaveri used for his own exhibitions, films and publications in India, but the majority of images had never been exposed to the public. After Jhaveri's death in 1985, I visited his estate in Mumbai and found the photographs stuffed in a huge wooden overseas trunk on a terrace next to the seashore. Due to the high humidity in Mumbai some photographs were already damaged beyond repair. Jhaveri's family agreed to give the - just - surviving photographs a preservation treatment and to catalogue them scientifically. As none of the Indian institutions approached was prepared to do the needful the photographs were sent to me to Germany where I did the necessary works within five years.


A similar fate had Kanu Gandhi's collection which is the second largest photo collection on Mahatma Gandhi. In 1985 I met Kanu Gandhi at his home in Rajkot (Gujarat/India). Proudly he showed me his precious photographs. After Kanu Gandhi's death in the following year I paid a condolence visit to his widow Abha, who was known as one of the two 'living walking sticks' Gandhi used to lean on during the last years of his life, and in whose arms Gandhi died. During Kanu Gandhi's life nobody was allowed to enter his photo lab. Now, after his death, it needed to be cleared. When asked what she was going to do with the thousands of photographs of Gandhi laying around in shelves, cupboards and even on the floor, Abha said that she would throw them away as they were of no use for her, because she lived with Gandhi and therefore does not need photographs in order to remember those precious days with Bapu (father). I convinced her not to do so as for others these photographs would be valuable in order to get a realistic picture of the Mahatma. Then an arrangement was found to preserve the photographs and negatives which document Gandhi's later life in the most remarkable way.


For this book images of those two major collections were carefully selected and completed by photographs from 19 additional sources by the picture editor Sophie Spencer-Wood. The historical research was done by Terence McNamee.


This book has been dedicated to the conscience of humanity. May it contribute to a culture of peace and nonviolence which is so badly needed to save this planet!

Indian president presented Barack Obama a photo-biography on Mahatma Gandhi by Peter Rühe


The Times of India, 8 November 2010


NEW DELHI: The three-day whirlwind tour of US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle came to a fitting end with a grand banquet hosted by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday evening.

Obama takes back with him not just the experience of India but memorabilia of a leader he has evoked several times in the past three days. Patil presented the US president with a bust and two books on Mahatma Gandhi including a photo-biography by German Peter Ruhe and `The Life of Mahatma Gandhi' by US journalist Louis Fischer. ...

This 28 minutes video presents footage (unedited film material) of the launch of the Indian edition of Peter Rühe's photo biography "Gandhi" by then Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani, held at India International Center, New Delhi, 25 January 2002.

The Reader's Voice

"A picture equals thousand words. In this collection of rare photographs of a rare individual history of an idea unfolds. It is also a window into British India at its last stages. Book itself is tastefully produced and photographs are of excellent quality. I strongly recommend this book. Gandhi's letter to Hitler is poignant, particularly in the light of recent developments in the world where war is looming large."

A reader from Liverpool, UK  


"A brief biography along with the finest, most extensive collection of Gandhi photos ever published. A real treat."

Mark Shepard, USA  


"This coffee-table publication deserves to be in the library of every Indian university and embassy abroad. It would be one way of keeping alive the ideals and principles of the one Indian with whom India is identified more than by anyone else."

Shanti Karuna, India  


"I have read many books about, and by M.K. Gandhi and what was lacking, for me, was what Rühe has brought to us - a fantastic pictorial history. I saw the book advertised in a yoga magazine and I couldn't wait to get online to order it from Amazon. The book is wonderful. Rühe's love of, and dedication to Gandhi shines through this book and I wasn't disappointed. I found the book very inspiring and moving. It helped to consolidate all that I have read about Gandhi. Otherwise, my image of Gandhi would have remained as a man in a loin cloth with glasses and a shaven head. The pictures of his younger days are a joy to see. If you also love Gandhi and his ideals then I recommend that you buy this book and keep it close to hand. You'll never grow tired of it. If anything, it will inspire you and make you want to find out more about him. It would also be an excellent choice for a school, college or university library. For me, the book brought Bapu to life and if I could praise Rühe in person, I would."

Karen Stringfellow, UK  


"This book is an amazing compilation of photographs, in chronological order, telling you about the life and philosophy of Gandhi. The pictures tell the story themselves and help you get a feeling of how things really were and the true magnitude of the movement for an independent India."

A reader from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA  


"Excellent book, the photo-biography on Mahatma Gandhi the Father of India was a real pleasure to read and a wonderful account of his life told in pictures... "

A reader from Los Angeles, California, USA


India in New York (USA)

Photo-Biography of Mahatma Gandhi
From News Dispatches



Gandhiji recuperating at the house of Rev. J.J. Doke, his first biographer, in Smith Street, Durban, after being assaulted by Mir Alam, Feb. 10, 1908. The photograph was taken on Feb. 18.

When asked to put his philosophy in words, the Mahatma once laconically remarked "My life is my message." No wonder then that his life has been the subject of numerous books, plays and movies in both India and the West.

Now Phaedon Press is in the process of providing, what the former Vienna-based art publisher describes as, "the first Comprehensive, visual reference work on the life and work of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi."

"Gandhi: A Photo-Biography," due to be out in the fall, will feature 400 or so black and white photographs derived primarily from two main collections: the photo-archives of Gandhi's biographer Vithalbhai Jhaveri and those of Gandhi's great grand nephew Kanu Gandhi.

Jhaveri chose for his life's work the enormous task of collecting photographs of Gandhi from soirces around the world. Kanu Gandhi lived with the Mahatma for the last 12 years of the his life and was the only person to whom Gandhi was known to have given permission to photograph him. As Kanu Gandhi later recalled, Gandhi did, however, insist on three conditions: India's freedom movement would not finance the project, there would be no flash photography, and no posed pictures. Kanu Gandhi's collection is, therefore, a precious and intimate view of the private side of Gandhi's life.

The author and editor of the photo-biography, Peter Ruhe, who lives in Berlin and in Mumbai, is a specialist in the conservation of visual material concerning Gandhi. In 1983 he founded the Gandhi Information Center in Germany. In 1988, he began preparation for what is now the largest photo-archive on Gandhi and India's freedom movement. He has also served as director of research for the documentary on Gandhi by Ketan Mehta. Ruhe established Gandhiserve in 1988, a non-profit organization dedicated to the spread of the ethics of nonviolence by disseminating information and popularizing Gandhi's life and works.

Amanda Mendoza, Phaidon's spokesperson in New York ( Phaidon Press, founded in 1923, had to move out of Vienna with Adolph Hitler's takeover of Austria; it now has branches in New York, London, Paris and Berlin), said that this collection "of rare and never before seen photography provide a strong, intmate, entertaining, and moving documentary of both the public and the private man."

Stressing the integral relationship of his philosophy to his life, Ruhe writes; "The legacy of Mahatma Gandhi cannot be defined by a single act or idea. Most great personalities throughout history have left their mark through specific works of art, inventions, philosophyies, or battles. Gandhi's entire life is his claim to greatness.


"His legacy might have waned had it been based merely on his ideas and thoughts. But what distinguishes Gandhi was that he never failed to put theory into practice. He once renarked that 'action is my domain' and throughout his life his words were authenticated because of the consistency of the thought and the deed."

The Gandhi Way (UK), No. 70, Winter 2001-2002

It is good to have this photobiography of Gandhi since there is only one other significant one in print, namely that of Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiri Press, USA). It is very attractive in appearance as one would expect from an art publisher, the pages are an unusual square shape and the hardcover - Gandhi in a shawl looking straight at the viewer - is in shades of brown.


The nearly 300 photographs have been selected from Peter Rühe's large collection which he has gathered in India over the last decade. They mainly derive from two sources, that of Vithalbhai Jhaveri's collection of over 9000 photos, and that of Kanu Gandhi, Gandhi's grandnephew who lived with Gandhi in the last 12 years of his life and took unposed photos during that time thus giving an intimate and private view of the public figure.


As one might expect the great bulk of the pictures are from Gandhi's Indian period from 1915 on. Some will be familiar to those who have read the larger biographies of Gandhi but many will be new. There are also pictures not featuring Gandhi, including some of amazingly large crowds (such as of the Salt Satyagraha, and of the scattering of his ashes) or the ghastly riots around the time of the partition of India. One of the most moving of the latter is a group of people looking down at the bones of a victim; the group includes Gandhi's secretary Pyarelal next to Dr. Sushila Nayar with Gandhi looking solemnly over their shoulders. There is the occasional amusing picture such as that of Gandhi standing beside the prize winning goat, which was named Mahatma Gandhi, at the Dairy Show during his 1931 visit to Britain. There are a few charming photos of Gandhi with children, and many with his various colleagues.


The book is divided into seven chronological sections, each with a fairly short biographical piece, and there is also a useful general introduction to the book as a whole. Unfortunately, there is a disappointing design defect here. The typeface of the text is small and thin; and the index and chronology and other features at the end of the book are positively microscopic. Worse still are the captions which are in a pale ink. Unless the reader has perfect eyesight (surely a minority of the population) it is a strain and irritation to read - a quite unnecessary defect. Fortunately the main feature of the book is the photos which form an excellent visual complement to the standard biographies.


We owe Peter Rühe a debt of gratitude for his assiduous collecting and preserving of images of the greatest individual and the most important nonviolent movement of modern times.



George Paxton

New India Digest, No. 86, January-February 2002

This is indeed a timely publication, coming as it does at a time when the world is engulfed in violence, both domestic and international. It is an outstanding narrative of the life and work of one of the "most inspiring figures of the twentieth century", comprising almost 300 photographs carefully selected from the photo-archives of Mahatma Gandhi's biographer Vithalbhai Jhaveri and his great nephew; Kanu Gandhi. Organized in seven sections, the photographs vividly bring alive Gandhiji's personality and work, almost as effectively as did Attenborough's film.


Each section is preceded by a lucid commentary by Peter Rühe, founder of the GandhiServe Foundation, Berlin, who has specialized for some twenty years in the collection, conservation and dissemination of visual material on the Mahatma. While he lovingly delineates Gandhiji's life, he does not seek to gloss over the controversial dimensions of his thought and actions.


The message of truth and nonviolence is more relevant today than ever before. It is worth remembering that in his day and age, Gandhiji faced - and overcame - situations and challenges that must have made his teachings seem futile and meaningless at that time.


This coffee-table publication deserves to be in the library of every Indian university and embassy abroad. It would be one way of keeping alive the ideals and principles of the one Indian with whom India is identified more than by any one else.


Shanti Karuna

Folha de Sao Paulo, January 14, 2002







Origem do texto: Da Reportagem Local


Editoria: ILUSTRADA Página: E1 021/6833


Edição: São Paulo Jan 14, 2002


Legenda Foto: Gandhi lê recortes de jornais, em 1946 (acima), e observa o mar durante uma reunião de orações, em maio de 1944 (abaixo); A primeira imagem conhecida de Gandhi, aos sete anos, em 1876 (esq.); e a cerimônia de despedida, em 12 de fevereiro de 48

Crédito Foto: Reprodução do livro "Gandhi"




Assuntos Principais: FOTOGRAFIA; MAHATMA GANDHI; PHAIDON /EDITORA/; PETER RÜHE Sai na Europa e nos Estados Unidos a fotobiografia mais completa já feita sobre o indiano Mahatma Gandhi, com mais de 250 imagens inéditas do guru da não-violência








O homenzinho magrela, pouco mais de metro e sessenta de altura, careca e com óculos de arame repetia: "A ação é o meu território. É o que faço, e não o que digo, o que realmente importa".

Depois de mais de 50 anos de sua morte, finalmente o mercado editorial leva suas palavras ao pé da letra. Sai este mês, na Europa e nos EUA, o primeiro trabalho que mostra, literalmente, o que fazia Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), o Mahatma Gandhi.

Editado pela inglesa Phaidon, hoje a principal referência mundial em livros de arte, "Gandhi" reúne cerca de 300 imagens do líder indiano em ação.

Os retratos foram escolhidos pelo alemão Peter Rühe, ex-jogador de futebol e programador de computação que reuniu, nos últimos 20 anos, a maior coleção de fotos do guru da não-violência.

As imagens pinçadas por Rühe de seu acervo de 10 mil fotografias são acompanhadas por textos biográficos marcados por clareza e por legendas minuciosas.

São vários os "gandhis" do livro: criança, estudante de direito na Inglaterra, advogado em Bombaim, despertando para a militância política, na África do Sul, costurando o processo de independência indiano, com passeatas ou mesmo com um tear ("estou tecendo o futuro da Índia", dizia, ao fiar o linho que vestia).

Muitos, a maior parte, são "gandhis" nunca vistos. O autor do livro afirma que pelo menos 250 das imagens reunidas em "Gandhi" são inéditas. Além das fotografias, estão reproduzidas anotações, documentos ou bilhetes, como o "be true" (seja verdadeiro) estampado ao lado, frase que carrega uma das essências do indiano escolhido pela revista "Time" como um dos três principais personagens do século 20.

Outro dos "eleitos" para esse mesmo "trio", o físico Albert Einstein, era, por sinal, um dos grandes admiradores públicos de Gandhi. "As gerações futuras dificilmente acreditarão que tal pessoa, de carne e osso, andou sobre a face da Terra", vaticinava o pai da teoria da relatividade.

O livro de Rühe ajuda. Além de carregar no lado mais conhecido e importante de Gandhi, o homem que passou 2.338 dias na prisão graças a sua "política de gestos poéticos", como já definiu o escritor Rubem Alves _em pequena, inspirada (e esgotada) biografia_, também abre algum espaço para facetas mais terrenas.

Ainda que de forma discreta, Rühe registra a insatisfação de Kasturba, sua mulher (com quem casou aos 13 anos, como mandava a tradição), e dos filhos com a vida ascética do guru. Também relata, desta vez sem fotos, experiências pouco ortodoxas de Gandhi, como o fato de que ele dormia frequentemente com jovens nuas, às vezes suas parentes, para exercitar o autocontrole sexual.

"Isso são notas de rodapé na vida de um homem que misturou hinduísmo, cantos budistas, leituras do Corão e até o Sermão da Montanha cristão para defender paz e verdade", comenta o autor do livro em entrevista por telefone à Folha de Berlim, onde atualmente dirige um dos principais sites sobre Gandhi ( e finaliza o livro "Gandhi e o Terrorismo". Leia a seguir alguns trechos da conversa.




Folha - O site do sr. informa que existem 8.800 livros sobre Gandhi. O que o sr. acredita que seu livro pode acrescentar a esse universo?

Peter Rühe - Venho trabalhando há 20 anos em pesquisas sobre Gandhi e muita gente sempre me perguntava porque nunca havia feito um livro. Eu já havia visitado a Índia muitas vezes, havia encontrado os maiores especialistas do mundo no assunto e todos os parentes vivos de Gandhi. Mas eu sempre respondia que existem 10 mil livros no mercado sobre ele. Ao longo dos anos, porém, acabei me especializando na área de conservação de fotografias de Gandhi e montei a maior coleção do mundo. Agora achei que era o momento de fazer um livro. Não existe nenhum no mercado especificamente de fotos de Gandhi.


Folha - Em um artigo feito em 2000 para a revista "Time", o escritor Salman Rushdie diz que Gandhi foi um dos personagens mais contraditórios do século. Concorda?

Rühe - Como personalidade acho que ele não era contraditório. A principal editora de suas obras na Índia inclui, no começo de cada livro, sob orientação de Gandhi, a seguinte frase: "Eu mudei meus pontos-de-vista ao longo do tempo, mudei de opiniões durante minha vida. Se você está em dúvida sobre a minha verdadeira opinião sobre algum tema, pegue minha citação mais recente". Ele mudou de opinião, como todos. Mas isso não dá margem a que ele seja chamado de contraditório. Nos anos 20, por exemplo, ele diz que Deus é a verdade. Mais adiante, diz que a verdade é Deus. Depois: não há um Deus mais elevado do que a verdade.


Folha - Gandhi identificou três problemas-chave da Índia: intolerância religiosa, abusos com relação às castas e aos chamados "intocáveis" e desigualdade econômica. Qual a opinião do sr. sobre essas questões mais de 50 anos após a morte de Gandhi?

Rühe - A figura dos "intocáveis" teoricamente foi eliminada com a primeira Constituição da Índia, em 1950. Uma política especial de cotas inclusive foi criada para garantir postos de trabalho aos que pertenciam às castas mais baixas. Na minha opinião, isso só cria animosidade entre os que antes eram os "intocáveis" e o resto. Até hoje eles continuam separados.

Desigualdade econômica, claro, continua. As políticas do primeiro premiê da Índia, Jawaharlal Nehru, foram opostas às buscadas por Gandhi. Ele queria fortalecer as indústrias dos vilarejos, reconstruir o país desde sua base. Nehru apoiou as grandes indústrias em grandes cidades. Intolerância religiosa nem é preciso comentar. É um dos elementos centrais da atual disputa entre Índia e Paquistão.


FRASE 14/01/2002


Autor: . . 2929cass


Editoria: ILUSTRADA Página: E1 021/6950


Edição: São Paulo Jan 14, 2002




Assuntos Principais: FOTOGRAFIA; MAHATMA GANDHI; PHAIDON /EDITORA/; PETER RÜHE FRASE "Ele não era um Deus. Era só um bom ser humano. Era bom no sentido mais verdadeiro e tentou mudar as pessoas ao redor dele." PETER RÜHE, autor do livro "Gandhi"