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      Mahatma Gandhi’s name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.  He was born in Porbandar in Gujarat state on 2nd Oct, 1869 in a vaisya (merchant) family.  He was an average student in academics.  He married Kasturiba when he was only 15 years old.  They had four sons.

   He studied law in England with an intention to become a barrister and a diwan with the government.  He stole and lied like other simple boys when he was very young.  But he changed his inner self as he grew to become a principled person.

    He had He turned to Swaraj (self-rule by Indians) after feeling the pain, seeing the racism, cruelty and discrimination by the whites on him and his countrymen.  He went to South Africa.  He protested against atrocities on the colored people.  Satyagraha was first demonstrated there.  He returned to India.

    Gandhiji toured India to understand people and their situation.  Gandhi was the most famous and populous leader of the independence movement against the British rule.  He conceived and adopted innovative fighting styles, namely non-cooperation (non-violence based civil disobedience by people of the government), satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), satyagraha (hunger strike) and dharma (justice).  He called for boycotting all foreign clothes and goods, and buying only local made Indian goods.  He protested against the cruel tax system on production of salt from sea water through the famous Salt Satyagraha (dandi march or salt march) at Dandi.

   Gandhiji treated Muslim league on par with Hindu leadership in spite of many differences that the league had.  During the world war 1, on the call of the Viceroy of India, Gandhi campaigned for recruitment of volunteers for Ambulance Corps to fight for the British.  He expected the British to favour Indians afterwards.  This was unlike his character and principles.  Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress through Gopal Krishna Gokhale and rose to lead INC in 1920.  INC declared Independence of India on 26th Jan, 1930.  That day in 1950 India became a republic.  He inspired people and mounted peaceful protests and marches throughout India.

   Gandhiji led a campaign to help socially oppressed dalits (lower cast people) and untouchables, by calling them Harijans.  He wanted people to realize that all people are equal in the society.  In 1942 he launched a Quit India movement.  During World War II, Gandhi and INC protested against inclusion of India in the war without consulting them.  During all these years Gandhiji was jailed many times.  He asked people to fill all the jails through protests, so that British did not have any more space to imprison them. Gandhiji used to communicate with his white friends regarding the inhuman and unjustified actions of the British.  The media in England had tremendous impact in United Kingdom and rest of the world.  They shamed and put pressure on the British rulers.

   The British, facing the world war, could not control Indian freedom fight in spite of all congress leaders being jailed.  So indications of independence were given. Gandhiji opposed splitting of India.  Gandhiji refused offers to take top government positions.  His aim was to bring self-rule to India.   He was not happy with Hindus and Muslims killing each other on streets after the partition.  He went on hunger strike until the respective leaders promised him to live in peace and harmony. Gandhiji lived in his Sabarmati ashram and lived a sage-like life.  When he was going for a prayer meeting, Godse killed him by firing a gun on 30th Jan, 1948.  Godse hated Gandhiji for supporting Muslims.  Gandhiji’s death was mourned by the entire world.

   The young Gandhiji was a usual simple and selfish person.  But he evolved to greatness through his experiences.  Gandhiji lived a simple and disciplined life.  He wore only a dhoti in spite of being ridiculed by the White.  He was called a half-naked Fakir.  Gandhi was spiritual and religious (Hindu).

   Gandhiji was also a writer and editor.  His works are published as “The Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi”.  Gandhi was given the title Mahatma by Nobel laureate for literature, Rabindranath Tagore. He was called Bapu (father) by the people of Gujarat when he protected them against the British.  Gandhism is the way of life following his principles and ideas.  His birthday is a national holiday.  On his death day, people commemorate him through a minute of silence at 11 AM.   Father of Nation is seen on every currency note of India.  Gandhiji inspired freedom fight by Nelson Mandela and led to its independence.  2nd October is observed as the International day of Nonviolence.  He was declared the man of the Year (1930) and the person of the 20th Century.  Surprisingly, he was not declared the Nobel peace prize. .  There are roads and buildings named after him.  He spinning a charkha is a symbol of self-reliance.

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