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Mahatma Gandhi

INTRODUCTION:
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October
1869 and was the preeminent leader of the Indian
independence
movement in British-ruled
India .
Employing nonviolent civil disobedience , Gandhi led India to
independence and inspired movements for civil rights and
freedom across the world.He is also called Bapu in India. In
common parlance in India he is often called Gandhiji. He is
unofficially called the Father of the Nation .
Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in
coastal Gujarat, western India , and trained in law at the Inner
Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil
disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the
resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his
return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants,
farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive landtax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of theIndian
National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns
for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building

religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability , but above all


for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.

Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the Britishimposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in
1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942.
He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in
both South Africa and India. Gandhi attempted to practise
nonviolence and truth in all situations, and advocated that
others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient
residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhotiand
shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple
vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of
both self-purification and social protest.
Gandhi's vision of an independent India based on religious
pluralism, however, was challenged in the early 1940s by a
new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate
Muslim homeland carved out of India.[9] Eventually, in August
1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian
Empire
was partitioned into
two dominions ,
a
Hindumajority India and Muslim Pakistan . As many displaced Hindus,
Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious
violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal.
Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi,
Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace.
In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto
death to promote religious harmony. The last of these,
undertaken on 12 January 1948 at age 78, also had the indirect
goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to
Pakistan. Some
Indians
thought
Gandhi
was
too
accommodating. Nathuram
Godse ,
a Hindu
nationalist , assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing
three bullets into his chest at point-blank range.

His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated as Gandhi


Jayanti, a national holiday , and world-wide as the International
Day of Nonviolence .

LIFE JOURNEY:
The Gandhi family originated from the village of
Kutiana in what was then Junagadh State In the late 17th or
early 18th century, one Lalji Gandhi moved to Porbandar and
entered the service of its ruler, the Rana. Successive
generations of the family served as civil servants in the state
administration before Uttamchand, Mohandas's grandfather,
became diwan in the early 19th century under the then Rana of
Porbandar, Khimojiraji. In 1831, Rana Khimojiraji died suddenly
and was succeeded by his 12-year-old only son, Vikmatji. As a
result, Rana Khimojirajji's widow, Rani Rupaliba, became regent
for her son. She soon fell out with Uttamchand and forced him
to return to his ancestral village in Junagadh. While in
Junagadh, Uttamchand appeared before its Nawab and saluted
him with his left hand instead of his right, replying that his
right hand was pledged to Porbandar's service. In 1841,
Vikmatji assumed the throne and reinstated Uttamchand as
his diwan.
In 1847, Rana Vikmatji appointed Uttamchand's son,
Karamchand, as diwan after disagreeing with Uttamchand over
the state's maintenance of a British garrison. Although he only
had an elementary education and had previously been a clerk

in the state administration, Karamchand proved a capable chief


minister. During his tenure, Karamchand married four times.
His first two wives died young, after each had given birth to a
daughter, and his third marriage was childless. In 1857,
Karamchand sought his third wife's permission to remarry; that
year, he married Putlibai (18441891), who also came from
Junagadh, and
was
from
aPranami Vaishnava family.Karamchand and Putlibai had three
children over the ensuing decade, a son, Laxmidas (c. 1860
March 1914), a daughter, Raliatbehn (18621960) and another
son, Karsandas (c. 18661913).
The family's religious background was eclectic. Gandhi's
father was Hindu and his mother was from a Pranami Vaishnava
family. Religious figures were frequent visitors to the
home.Gandhi was deeply influenced by his mother Putlibai, an
extremely pious lady who "would not think of taking her meals
without her daily prayers...she would take the hardest vows
and keep them without flinching. To keep two or three
consecutive fasts was nothing to her."
In the year of Mohandas's birth, Rana Vikmatji was exiled,
stripped of direct administrative power and demoted in rank by
the British political agent, after having ordered the brutal
executions of a slave and an Arab bodyguard. Possibly as a
result, in 1874 Karamchand left Porbandar for the smaller state
of Rajkot, where he became a counsellor to its ruler, the Thakur
Sahib; though Rajkot was a less prestigious state than
Porbandar, the British regional political agency was located
there, which gave the state's diwan a measure of security.In
1876, Karamchand became diwan of Rajkot and was succeeded
as diwan of Porbandar by his brother Tulsidas. His family then
rejoined him in Rajkot.
On
21
January
1879,
Mohandas
entered
the
local taluk (district) school in Rajkot, not far from his home. At
school, he was taught the rudiments of arithmetic, history, the
Gujarati language and geography.Despite being only an

average student in his year there, in October 1880 he sat the


entrance examinations for Kathiawar High School, also in
Rajkot. He passed the examinations with a creditable average
of 64 percent and was enrolled the following year.During his
years at the high school, Mohandas intensively studied the
English language for the first time, along with continuing his
lessons in arithmetic, Gujarati, history and geography.His
attendance and marks remained mediocre to average, possibly
due to Karamchand falling ill in 1882 and Mohandas spending
more time at home as a result.Gandhi shone neither in the
classroom nor on the playing field. One of the terminal reports
rated him as "good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in
Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting".
While at high school, Mohandas came into contact with
students of other castes and faiths, including several Parsis and
Muslims. A Muslim friend of his elder brother Karsandas, named
Sheikh Mehtab, befriended Mohandas and encouraged the
strictly vegetarian boy to try eating meat to improve his
stamina. He also took Mohandas to a brothel one day, though
Mohandas "was struck blind and dumb in this den of vice,"
rebuffed the prostitutes' advances and was promptly sent out
of the brothel. As experimenting with meat-eating and carnal
pleasures only brought Mohandas mental anguish, he
abandoned both and the company of Mehtab, though they
would maintain their association for many years afterwards.
In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia in an arranged child
marriage, according to the custom of the region at that time.In
the process, he lost a year at school.Recalling the day of their
marriage, he once said, "As we didn't know much about
marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating
sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was prevailing
tradition, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her
parents' house, and away from her husband.Writing many

years later, Mohandas described with regret the lustful feelings


he felt for his young bride, "even at school I used to think of
her, and the thought of nightfall and our subsequent meeting
was ever haunting me."
In late 1885, Karamchand died, on a night when Mohandas
had just left his father to sleep with his wife, despite the fact
she was pregnant.The couple's first child was born shortly
after, but survived only a few days. The double tragedy
haunted Mohandas throughout his life, "the shame, to which I
have referred in a foregoing chapter, was this of my carnal
desire even at the critical hour of my father's death, which
demanded wakeful service. It is a blot I have never been able
to efface or forget...I was weighed and found unpardonably
wanting because my mind was at the same moment in the grip
of lust.Mohandas and Kasturba had four more children, all
sons: Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born
in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900.
In November 1887, he sat the regional matriculation
exams in Ahmedabad, writing exams in arithmetic, history,
geography, natural science, English and Gujarati. He passed
with an overall average of 40 percent, ranking 404th of 823
successful matriculates.In January 1888, he enrolled at
Samaldas College in Bhavnagar State, then the sole degreegranting institution of higher education in the region. During
his first and only term there, he suffered from headaches and
strong feelings of homesickness, did very poorly in his exams in
April and withdrew from the college at the end of the term,
returning to Porbandar.

HIS PRINCIPLES AND BELIEFS:


Truth and Satyagraha

Nonviolence

Fasting

Nai Talim, basic education

Swaraj, self-rule

Gandhian economics

HIS CONTRIBUTIONS:

World War I:
Lord Chelmsford, the then Viceroy of India, invited Gandhi to
Delhi at a War Conference. In order to gain the trust of the
empire, Gandhi agreed to move people to enlist in the army for
World War I. However, he wrote to the Viceroy and said that he
"personally will not kill or injure anybody, friend or foe".
Champaran:
The Champaran agitation in Bihar was Gandhi's first active
involvement into Indian freedom politics. The Champaran
farmers were being forced to grow Indigo and were being
tortured if they protested. The farmers sought Gandhi's help
and through a calculated non-violent protest, Gandhi managed
to win concessions from the authority.
Kheda:
When Kheda, a village in Gujarat, was badly hit by floods, the
local farmers appealed to the rulers to waive off the taxes.
Here, Gandhi started a signature campaign where peasants
pledged non-payment of taxes. He also arranged a social
boycott of the mamlatdars and talatdars (revenue officials). In
1918, the Government relaxed the conditions of payment of
revenue tax until the famine ended.
Khilafat Movement:
Gandhi's influence on the Muslim population was remarkable.
This was evident in his involvement in the Khilafat Movement.
After the first World War, the Muslims feared for the safety of
their Caliph or religious leader and a worldwide protest was
being organised to fight against the collapsing status of Caliph.
Gandhi became a prominent spokesperson of the All India
Muslim Conference and returned the medals he had received
from the Empire during his Indian Ambulance Corps days in

South Africa. His role in the Khilafat made him a national leader
in no time.

Non-cooperation Movement:
Gandhi had realised that the British had been able to be in
India only because of the co-operation they received from the
Indians. Keeping this in mind, he called for a non-cooperation
movement. With the Congress' support and his indomitable
spirit, he convinced people that peaceful non-cooperation was
the key to Independence. The ominous day of Jallianwala Bagh
Massacre triggered the non-cooperation movement. Gandhi set
the goal of Swaraj or self-governance, which since then became
the motto of Indian freedom movement.

Salt March:
Also known as the Dandi Movement, Gandhi's Salt March is
considered to be a pivotal incident in the history of freedom
struggle. At the Calcutta Congress of 1928, Gandhi declared
that the British must grant India dominion status or the country
will erupt into a revolution for complete independence. The
British did not pay heed to this. As a result, on December 31,
1929, the Indian flag was unfurled in Lahore and the next
January 26 was celebrated as the Indian Independence Day.
Then, Gandhi started a Satyagraha campaign against the salt
tax in March 1930. He marched 388 kilometres from
Ahmedabad to Dandi in Gujarat to make salt. Thousands of
people joined him and made it one of the biggest marches in
Indian history.
Quit India Movement:
During the Second World War, Gandhi was determined to strike
the British Empire with a definitive blow that would secure their

exit from India. This happened when the British started


recruiting Indians for the war. Gandhi protested strongly and
said that the Indians cannot be involved in a war that is in
favour of democratic purposes when India itself is not a free
country. This argument exposed the two-faced image of the
colonisers and within half a decade, they were out of this
country.

LESSONS TO LEARN:

Change yourself before you wish to see the change


Mental strength is more important than physical
Forgiveness is the component of the strong and not of
weak
Happiness is anything done with harmony
Peace is within and not affected by outside
circumstances
An honest No is better than a dishonest Yes
Route to goal is as divine as goal itself
Action speaks the priority
Never give up and be consistent
We become what we think