Gandhi placed truth as the first and foremost of all moral principles and held that it is “the sovereign principle”, which included numerous other principles.
In his autobiography Gandhi says that one of his first memories of exercising truthfulness is from his school days in Porbandar, where he does not remember having ever told a lie, either to his teachers or to his school-mates.
He has mentioned a particular incident which occurred at the examination during his first year at the high school. Mr Giles, the educational Inspector, had come on a visit and had given five words to write as a spelling exercise, with one of the words being 'kettle'.
When the teacher saw that Gandhi had misspelt it, he tried to prompt him with the point of his boot, but Gandhi would not be prompted. This was because it was beyond him to see that the teacher, who was supposed to be there to prevent any unfair means, wanted him to copy the spelling from his neighbour's slate.
However, the incident did not in the least diminish his respect for his teacher, as Gandhi said that by nature he was blind to the faults of elders.
In another incident, when Gandhi saw a play called Harishchandra, it captured his heart and mind to such an extent that he questioned himself continuously as to why should not all be truthful like Harishchandra.
To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals that Harishchandra went through was the one ideals that inspired him.
Gandhi possessed a small statue of the three monkeys - Bapu, Ketan and Bandar, which is a pictorial maxim, embodying the proverbial principle "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".