'The man in a dhoti'"" wielded power from a bed of nails; Mr. Lengyel has placed him on a pedestal and obscured his significance. The key to Gandhi's complex psychology -- a combination of commitment, wry humor and rare insight -- is provided in his autobiographical writings, which reveal the personal pain that goes into the making of a prophet. The author substitutes his own searching of the Great Soul in a series of speculations about Gandhi's childhood thoughts -- ""he saw all around him,"" ""(he) was particularly entranced by,"" ""he asked his guru about"" -- and those of his parents; he disposes of Gandhi's childhood marriage, a subtle interaction of strong personalities, by saying that the two lived a ""long and happy life together."" Gandhi's career as a public figure and persuader without peer is handled as a scenario without the sidelights that would justify Nehru's telling statement: ""What a magician is this little man, and how well he knows to pull the strings that move peoples hearts!"" Gandhi is a difficult figure for juvenile biography, at best, but Taya Zinkin's The Story of Gandhi comes closer to the truth by staying closer to the sources and spirit of his life.