It is almost as if these evils are so heinous, that every trace we leave on the world, including our own desires and appetites should be in service of combating them. It is often said, with some lament, that Indian’s don’t write good biographies; they write hagiographies or are incapable of the kind of psychological complexity a good biographer requires. Reading Lelyveld’s fine book, however, makes you wonder whether the opposite is true. Indians don’t write biographies because they are so astonished by the strangeness of other lives, that they have to give up the conceit that these can ever be understood from the inside. The surface is all one is entitled to understand; the rest is just plain conceit. One can almost imagine the Mahatma winking at us: you think you can try and understand the nature of the Self; you think you can try and understand me. Think again.