Mahatma Gandhi: biography
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, is an internationally famous social activist, politician, and fighter for the independence of India nicknamed “the father of the nation”. He introduced the non-violent resistance tactics, Satyagraha.
The future politician was born in Porbandar on October 2, 1869. His father was an entrepreneur and served as the chief minister of the state Gujarat; Porbandar was its capital. The boy’s mother was notable for her virtue.
The family fasted and kept with traditions; they regularly attended religious services and read spiritual literature. The parents were vegetarian and believed that a human being had no right to murder animals; later, Mohandas held the same opinion.
The future leader was educated at a local city school; according to his teachers, the boy was an average student and did not show much interest in any subject. However, things changed when he entered High School in Rajkot: legal studies attracted Gandhi.
Mohandas talked to his parents and decided to continue his education in Great Britain. In 1888, the young man enrolled at University College in London and returned home three years later, with a degree in law.
Career and social work
The young lawyer wanted to help his people and started going around the country. He visited many places by train: Tural, Sanekshar, Salem, Proddater. Dirty cars, poverty, and miserable passengers perfectly reflected the situation in the country; Mahatma felt desperate.
Legal practices went down, and Gandhi decided to change his life. Thanks to the father’s connections, he got hired as a legal consultant for an Indian company office in South Africa. This is when the lawyer joined the movement protecting Indian people’s rights; Michael Davitt’s and Henry Thoreau’s ideas shaped his worldview.
The young man reflected on many issues: protecting people without violence and victims and finding the way to God. Answers came suddenly. One day, Mahatma read Leo Tolstoy’s book The Kingdom of God Is Within You, and the new seeing dawned upon him; the new approach, Satyagraha, was born.
As soon as Mohandas invented the new philosophy, it was so difficult for him to choose its name that a contest was held: the creator of the best term would receive some money. Gandhi’s relative Maganlal Gandhi suggested the combination of two words meaning “truth” and “polite insistence”.
The success in Africa gave the philosopher hope that he could be useful to his own country, too. Many European and American social leaders liked his ideas. Rabindranath Tagore was the first one who called the man “Mahatma” that could be translated as “high-souled”.
In 1915, Gandhi came back to India and joined the political fight for independence. The father’s assistance gave him the chance to enter the Indian National Congress. However, Mahatma’s ideas were not welcomed by everyone.
The new philosophy was based on the principles of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. Gandhi’s followers were expected to reject all privileges and titles given by the British empire, quit their jobs in the police, army, and civil service, and stop buying English goods. At the same time, many bureaucrats were ignited by the idea of independence.
In 1919, Gandhi appealed for the country for the first time and asked to hold a peaceful strike and show disobedience. Millions of people did not go to work: they were walking the streets, spreading words about freedom and independence. However, the situation was out of control at some point: the crowd got aggressive, and the police interfered; some people became victims.
Gandhi was arrested and sentenced to six years of prison as an initiator. The man served the sentence and returned to his usual life. Enemies did not pay much attention to him: they believed the philosopher was broken and finished his political career.
However, prison helped Mahatma revise his theory and find flaws in it. He established an ashram for people in need; it was located not far from a big industrial city, Ahmedabad. It was pretty clear: the man was going to protect his country and fight for its independence. Mahatma started a new stage in his activism and began to teach Gandhism.
Many people gathered together in the ashram to listen to the wise man. Gandhi’s voice was low, and his gestures lacked expressiveness; only the first rows could hear what he was saying. However, the orator’s charisma was enough. The British cruelty and local authorities’ inaction made people think about Gandhi’s words. His speeches were convincing enough and made politicians think about the future.
The country gained its independence in 1947 and split into India and Pakistan. The armed stand-off between the Muslims and Hindu took place. Gandhi went on a hunger strike to stop the opposition, and the measure had its effect: the violent conflict was over.
Mohandas married when he was 13 years old; his wife Kasturba became a loyal partner for him until the very last day. The couple had four sons: Harilal (1888-1949), Ramdas (1897-1969), Manilal (1892-1956), and Devdas (1900-1957).
Busy with political actions, Mahatma had little time for his family. Kasturba had to bring up the kids alone, and the sons lacked the father’s attention. Perhaps, this is why Harilal broke bad.
Gandhi tried to talk sense to him, but all criticism was futile. Other children’s lives were happy and honorable; they married and got their own kids.
Assassination attempts. Death
Mahatma survived two assassination attempts; the third one became fatal. When the old man was delivering an evening preach, one of the pilgrims came closer to him and shot him three times. 78-year-old Gandhi was immediately hospitalized, but doctors failed to save him: one of the bullets touched his lung.
Before his death, the politician tried to finish all his business; he almost completed the first constitution of the independent country. After Mahatma’s death, only minor corrections were introduced to his text.
- After his death, Gandhi continues to influence politicians all over the world. For example, Vladimir Putin marked that modern political leaders wanted to solve all problems violently and expressed his regret that there was nobody like Mahatma Gandhi around.
- The father of the nation and the Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi are not related; they are namesakes.
- Experts analyzed Gandhi’s handwriting to create his full historical portrait. According to the research, the man was honest and open-minded, as well as careful and determined.
- Many movies about the great historical figure have been created. Famous politicians and social activists often refer to his ideas.
- Mahatma was known for his humane and responsible treatment of animals.