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
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.