Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

Who was Mahatma Gandhi?

Mahatma Gandhi was a leader in India’s non-violent independence movement against British rule and an advocate of civil rights for Indians in South Africa. Born in Porbandar, India, Gandhi studied law and organized boycotts against British institutions in peaceful forms of civil disobedience. He was assassinated by a fanatic in 1948.

Early life and education

Indian nationalist leader Gandhi (born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India, which was then part of the British Empire.

Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, served as chief minister in Porbandar and other states of western India. His mother, Putlibai, was a deeply religious woman who fasted regularly.

Young Gandhi was a shy, fearless student who was so timid that he slept with lights on even as a teenager. In the years that followed, the teenager rebelled for smoking, eating meat and stealing from housekeepers.

Although Gandhi was interested in becoming a doctor, his father hoped that he would also become a government minister and inspired him to enter the legal profession. In 1888, 18-year-old Gandhi left for London, England to study law. The young Indian was struggling with the transition to Western culture.

On his return to India in 1891, Gandhi learned that his mother had died a few weeks earlier. He struggled to achieve his position as a lawyer. In his first courtroom case, Gandhi vacillated when it came time to cross-examine a witness. He immediately fled the courtroom after his client reimbursed his legal fees.

Gandhi’s Religion and Beliefs

Gandhi grew up worshiping the Hindu god Vishnu and following Jainism, a morally rigid ancient Indian religion that supported non-violence, fasting, meditation, and vegetarianism.

During Gandhi’s first stay in London from 1888 to 1891, he became more committed to a meatless diet, joined the executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society, and began reading various sacred texts to learn more about world religions. Gave.

While in South Africa, Gandhi continued to study world religions. “The religious spirit within me became a living force,” he wrote of his time there. He immersed himself in the sacred Hindu spiritual texts and adopted a life of simplicity, austerity, fasting and celibacy which was free from material objects.

Gandhi in South Africa

After struggling to find work as a lawyer in India, Gandhi obtained a one-year contract to do legal services in South Africa. In April 1893, he left for Durban in the South African state of Natal.

When Gandhi arrived in South Africa, he was quickly struck by the discrimination and racial segregation faced by Indian immigrants at the hands of white British and Boer officials. On his first appearance in the Durban courtroom, Gandhi was asked to remove his turban. He refused and instead left the court. The Natal advertiser mocked him as “an unwanted visitor”.

Non-violent civil disobedience

A pivotal moment occurred during a train journey to Pretoria, South Africa, on June 7, 1893, when a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class railway compartment, even though he had a ticket. Refusing to follow the train, Gandhi was forcibly removed and thrown from the train at a station in Pietermaritzburg.

Gandhi’s act of civil disobedience instilled in him the determination to dedicate himself to fighting the “deep disease of color prejudice”. He vowed that night to “try, if possible, to root out the disease and face difficulties in the process.”

From that night onwards, the small, humble man would grow into a colossal force for civil rights. Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to fight discrimination.

Gandhi was set to return to India at the end of his year-long contract, until, at his farewell party, he learned of a bill before the Natal Legislative Assembly that would deny Indians the right to vote. . Fellow immigrants persuaded Gandhi to continue and lead the fight against the law. Although Gandhi could not stop the passage of the law, he drew international attention to the injustice.

After a brief visit to India in late 1896 and early 1897, Gandhi returned to South Africa with his wife and children. Gandhi ran a thriving legal exercise, and at the outbreak of the Boer War, he established an All India Ambulance Corps of 1,100 volunteers to support the British cause, arguing that if Indians had full rights of citizenship in the British Empire If expected, then they also need to fulfill their responsibility.

Satyagraha

In 1906, Gandhi organized his first mass civil disobedience campaign, which he called “Satyagraha” (“Truth and Perseverance”), in reaction to the South African Transvaal government’s new restrictions on the rights of Indians, including from recognizing Hindu marriage. refusal included. ,

After years of protests, the government imprisoned hundreds of Indians, including Gandhi, in 1913. Under pressure, the South African government accepted an agreement negotiated by Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts that included the recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of the voting tax for Indians.

Return to india

When Gandhi left South Africa to return home in 1914, Smuts wrote, “The saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever.” At the outbreak of World War I, Gandhi spent several months in London.

In 1915, Gandhi established an ashram in Ahmedabad, India, which was open to all castes. Wearing a simple loincloth and shawl, Gandhi led a life devoted to prayer, fasting and meditation. He came to be known as “Mahatma”, which means “Great Spirit.”

Opposition to British rule in India

In 1919, while India was still under British control, Gandhi had a political reawakening when the newly enacted Rowlatt Act authorized British officials to imprison people suspected of treason without trial. In response, Gandhi called for a satyagraha campaign of peaceful protest and strike.

Instead violence erupted, culminating in the Amritsar massacre on April 13, 1919. Soldiers led by British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer fired machine guns at a crowd of unarmed protesters, killing about 400 people.

No longer able to pledge allegiance to the British government, Gandhi returned medals earned for his military service in South Africa and opposed Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians to serve in World War I.

Gandhi became a leading figure in the Indian home-rule movement. Calling for a mass boycott, he urged government officials to stop working for the Crown, prevent students from attending government schools, prevent soldiers from leaving their posts, and citizens to stop paying taxes and buying British goods .

Instead of buying British-made clothes, he started using a portable spinning wheel to produce his clothes. The spinning wheel soon became a symbol of Indian independence and self-reliance.

Gandhi assumed the leadership of the Indian National Congress and advocated a policy of non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve home rule.

After Gandhi was arrested by the British authorities in 1922, he pleaded guilty to three counts of sedition. Although sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, Gandhi was released in February 1924 after undergoing appendicitis surgery.

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