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Lopez 1 Diana Lopez Professor Krupnik World Religions 101 18 July 2011 Gandhis Life Gandhi a historical figure

in humanity and across the world, peacekeeper and observer of the faith nothing comes closer than this mythical figure and legend. Gandhi a historical figure in humanity and across the world, peacekeeper and observer of the faith nothing comes closer than this mythical figure and legend. Born in October 2, 1869 Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi in Porbandar on the Kathiawar peninsula. Hs father was an emblematic figure named Karamachand Ghandithe (dewan) or prime minister of that princely state. His mother was Putlibai Gandhi a devout religious woman that took her time in developing and practicing her Hindu faith like no other. Gandhi inherited both of his mothers and fathers traits. According bibliographers of Gandhis time Gandhi inherited his fathers stubbornness, incorruptibility and practical sense while his mothers life of religion, devotion and asceticism. Both Vaishnavism and Jainism, the two religions in India that regard all forms of life sacred, influenced his life. Living and growing in a tolerant place where many many people religious backgrounds would come and visit his father ranging from Jain monks to friends who where Muslims he became accepting of many religious paths early since childhood. One thing that he greatly lamented but grew accepting and love towards was his early age in marriage. The girls name was Kasturbhai Makanji who would be later a great part of Gandhis life and voyage through independence. After having a hard start in school he compromised himself to be better

2 and as a result he went on to university. Gandhi always wanted to be a doctor but choose to become a lawyer do to his fathers insistence and commands. A great turning point would arise, although leaving his home and family behind Gandhi was about to experience changes in his life. A great change would arise when he left his native homeland of India to settle in England and pursue his law studies there. With this change of plans he drastically changed his food patterns after a rebellious teenage state where only ate meat, coming to England signified a new change for him and converted to a Vegetarian strictly diet. The Bhagavad-Gita was also one of Gandhis favorite works, it is known to be a profound religious poem of the Hindu scriptures that forms part of the great Sanskrit epic(s). It consists of 700 verses and divided into 18 chapters and is in a form of dialogue between Arjuna a warrior prince and his friend Krishna who is the wholly incarnation of the God Vishnu. In which Arjuna insists Krishna into his rightful position as a prince, Gandhi often noted that it was not a historical work but in fact was an allegory. In the guise of physical warfare, the Gita described the duel that perpetually went on the hearts of mankind, seen as internal battle between good and evil. Gandhi later went to South Africa after finishing his studies, there he faced the cruel realities of discrimination and long standing oppression of European power against minorities, such things reminded him of British rule in India. Working there did not seem easy in one of many occasions he refused to give his seat to Europeans; as a consequence he was sentenced to prison on more than one occasion. These seemingly discriminatory acts made Gandhi aware of the many injustices and the slur calling that did just not stop within the African community but the growing and emerging minorities such as Indians who made a living there. He turned himself around and fighted against these injustices and became a potent leader against discrimination. He lead mass protests wrote letters to council members and important figures in political activity

3 but maintaining non violent way of protesting that he later coined the phrase satyagraha. Gandhi gained widespread attention and notoriety and as a result many South African settlers grew in fear of him. It was also in South Africa where he was introduced to Christianity by a fellow white South African nobleman that tried to convert him to his faith, yet in his total dismay Gandhi objected the idea but from there on grew on appreciation on the Christian religion as well. Yet after mass protests in his life and unfinished contributions he was beginning to carry he was fond of his family and after years of living apart he returned to India where a second revolution in his life he was going to carry, the revolt against British oppression. When Gandhi returned to India he was considered a national hero for human rights in South Africa and people began calling him Mahatma otherwise known as the great soul After his great work in South Africa he believed of a free India. Stripped from national identity and common right where abused from Indian citizens it was time for Gandhi to revolt against the British Empire. The turning point came when First World War reached its end and Gandhi wanted a reformation in the Indian government against the English Rowlatt Act, which comprised of dealing with revolutionary acts and detain people without a trial and any sort of justification. Upheaval began to emerge and as a consequence Gandhi set out to do a mass protests against the British government at that time. A general strike emerged in part by Gandhis action but everything became sour after some people became acting violently, this lead for Gandhi to began teaching Indians the fundamentals of satyagraha which he displayed in South Africa. In the early 1920s Gandhi began teaching demonstrators a means to rise without violence but acts of peaceful protests. His wide notoriety came to the attention of many British officials who believed that Gandhi was becoming a threat and gaining huge influence, often gathering

4 huge masses that listened to Gandhis teachings. India as a nation was widely separated by different religions ranging from Hinduism all the way to the practicing Muslim faith yet this didnt stop Gandhi and his ideas to spread to all faiths. After being released from prison his work did not stop there since he considered that all religions had to become united in order to separate and gain independence from English rule. In December 1928 this new unity emerged strong when Gandhi and all Indian protestors went against the British government and declared a mass protests known today as the Salt March. The British made it illegal to own salt not owned or distributed from British government, this one against the poorest of the poor in India and so Gandhi rose to the call. The Salt March set the start of his methodic march against non-violence and he set himself along with thousands of protestors to journey 200 miles to obtain salt in the coast of India without getting taxed in heavy fees. This march obtained massive media coverage that dealt with the issues of inequality, which helped Gandhis non-violent methods so effective. Independence was in the way of course not without its drawbacks and upheavals, which Gandhi hardly fought against, after the second world war II the once again Gandhi strike against British position of having Indian citizens embark in war to fight the Germans. Independence was almost near yet turmoil soon raised between the Hindus and the Muslims. Once again Gandhi south out to fix this differences, it was when the English decided to free India to independence believing a civil war would arise between these two communitys. Against Ghandis better judgment the English separated what is known to be Pakistan from India and soon after fights ensured and thousands dies, never before so many refugees where coming in and out of the country. Gandhi sought such friendship with Muslimsa friendship based simultaneously on absolute difference and full equality, and believed in a strong bond between these two religions. His last days where seen to unite both religions and reform of a system of tolerance between one

5 another unfortunately Gandhi was assassinated in January 30, 1948 by a man named Nathuram Godse. Today Gandhi is an iconic figure whose example was taken by martin Luther King Jr. himself against the United States Civil Rights, and just like The Salt March, Martin Luther King lead many protesters in a non-violent way to freedom of of segregation in the United Sates. When asked who was his great inspiration Martin Luther King said it was a man named Mahatma Gandhi a man so advanced for his age, tolerant for many religions and a great preacher of peace and harmony to all brothers and sisters in this world. Relentless in his fight for independence for all his people no matter what religious background Mahatma Gandhi was a source of inspiration and just in the teachings of tolerance and non-violence. Despite being incarcerated, beaten, and the endless fasts he did in order to gain attention the turmoil his country was facing he never gave up his goals in freedom and equality to all the citizens of India

Works Cited

Skaria, A. "Gandhi's Politics: Liberalism and the Question of the Ashram." South Atlantic Quarterly 101.4 (2002): 955-86. Muse. 2002. Web. 18 July 2011. Chadha, Yogesh. Gandhi: a Life. New York: John Wiley, 1997. Print. Payne, Robert. The life and death of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Dutton, 1969. Print.