Mahatma Gandhi, born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was a prominent Indian political leader and freedom fighter. He is best known for his non-violent resistance against British rule in India and his philosophy of satyagraha, or non-violent resistance.
Gandhi’s leadership and activism played a crucial role in India’s independence from British rule in 1947. He is recognized as one of the most influential historical figures and a symbol of peaceful protest.
Growing up in Porbandar as the youngest child of Karamchand Gandhi, the chief minister of the principality, young Mohandas was surrounded by a unique blend of traditional Indian culture and British colonial influence.
Despite having a limited formal education, his father possessed a natural ability for administration and navigating the complex dynamics of the ruling princes, their subjects, and the British political officers.
On the other hand, Gandhi’s mother, Putlibai, was deeply religious and devoted much of her time to worship and spiritual practices. She was known for her simple lifestyle, frequent fasting, and selfless dedication to nursing the sick within the family.
This upbringing in a household deeply rooted in Vaishnavism and Jainism instilled in Mohandas a strong sense of non-violence, vegetarianism, and tolerance for different creeds and sects. These values would later shape his political and social views and influence his leadership as the father of the nation.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi faced limited educational opportunities in his childhood. His primary school consisted of writing the alphabet in the dust with his fingers, and his overall academic performance was average despite winning occasional scholarships.
However, his father’s appointment as dewan of Rajkot provided him with better educational opportunities, but he lost a year of school due to his marriage at 13.
As a shy and introverted child, he struggled to excel in the classroom or playing field. He often sought solace in solitary walks and assisting his mother with household chores.
Despite his passive nature, he underwent a phase of rebellion in his adolescence, marked by atheism, theft, smoking, and even meat eating. However, his youthful transgressions did not define him, and he ultimately became one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century.
In 1887, Gandhi struggled through his matriculation examination at the University of Bombay and enrolled in Samaldas College in Bhavnagar. The transition from Gujarati to English proved difficult, as he needed help following lectures.
His family was uncertain about his future, as he had aspirations of becoming a doctor. However, it was clear that he would have to become a barrister to uphold the family tradition of holding high office in Gujarat.
This meant that he would have to travel to England. The opportunity excited him as he had always imagined it to be a land of philosophers and poets, the very center of civilization.
However, his family’s financial situation could have been more unfavorable, and his mother had reservations about sending him to a foreign land.
Nevertheless, Mohandas was determined to go, and with his brother’s help, he could raise the necessary funds. He also vowed to refrain from consuming wine, women, or meat while away from home to ease his mother’s worries.
Despite the objections of the leaders of the Modh Bania subcaste, to which the Gandhis belonged, who believed the trip to England would violate the Hindu religion, Mohandas sailed to England in September 1888. Once there, he joined the Inner Temple, one of the four London law colleges.
Mahatma Gandhi’s politics were deeply rooted in his belief in non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. He believed the power of peaceful protest could be more effective than force in achieving political change.
His philosophy of satyagraha, meaning “truth force” or “soul force,” was a method of peaceful resistance that aimed to appeal to the oppressor’s conscience and bring about change through moral persuasion.
Gandhi’s political career began in 1915 when he returned to India from South Africa, where he had spent over 20 years fighting for the rights of Indian immigrants. He quickly became involved in the Indian independence movement and began using his satyagraha philosophy to lead peaceful protests and boycotts against British rule.
One of his most famous campaigns was the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922, in which he called for Indians to boycott British goods, institutions, and government services. The movement was a huge success and brought about widespread social and economic changes in India.
In 1930, Gandhi led the Salt March, a 240-mile march to the sea to protest the British salt tax. The march was a turning point in the independence movement, as it brought international attention to the Indian cause and mobilized millions across the country.
Gandhi’s leadership and activism played a major role in India’s independence from British rule in 1947. He was known as the “Father of the Nation,” and his methods of non-violence and peaceful resistance inspired leaders and movements worldwide, including Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
He was a strong advocate and believer in the rights of the poor and the untouchables, and he worked to promote communal harmony and the rights of women and minorities. He also believed in the importance of self-reliance and advocated using traditional handicrafts and village industries to promote economic development.
Contributions towards Shaping a new India
Mahatma Gandhi played a crucial role in shaping the new India that emerged after independence from British rule in 1947. He was not only a political leader but also a social and moral reformer who worked tirelessly to create an inclusive, just, and equitable society.
One of Gandhi’s significant contributions was his work toward communal harmony. He advocated for the rights of all communities and worked to unite Hindus and Muslims, who were often at odds with each other.
He believed that the independence of India could not be achieved without the unity of all its people, regardless of their religion or caste. Gandhi also worked toward uplifting the poor and the untouchables, among the most marginalized groups in Indian society.
He believed their welfare was essential for the nation’s progress and advocated for their rights and dignity. He also advocated using village industries and traditional handicrafts to promote economic development and self-reliance among the poor.
In addition, Gandhi was a strong advocate for the rights of women and minorities. He believed that women’s empowerment was essential for the nation’s progress and worked towards their education and participation in politics and public life.
He also advocated for the rights of minorities and worked to promote their inclusion in the mainstream of society. Gandhi’s contributions toward shaping a new India were not limited to politics and social reform. He also played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s moral and cultural identity.
He believed that the true strength of India lay in its spiritual and cultural heritage and worked to promote traditional values such as non-violence, simplicity, and self-reliance.
Place in History
Mahatma Gandhi’s place in history is secured as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century, especially in the context of India. His philosophy of non-violence and peaceful resistance has left a lasting impact on the world.
His methods of civil disobedience and peaceful protests played a significant role in the Indian independence movement, ultimately leading to British colonial rule’s withdrawal in 1947. His contributions to India’s political and social history were profound, and his legacy continues to be celebrated.
Gandhi’s ideas of non-violence and peaceful resistance have been adopted by many leaders and movements around the world, including Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid in South Africa.
His approach to politics has also been embraced by many other leaders and movements, particularly those fighting for their rights and freedom. Gandhi’s ideas have also been studied and admired by scholars, activists, and politicians from around the world.
His contributions to philosophy, political science, and sociology have been widely acknowledged, and his work continues to be studied in universities and institutions worldwide.
He has been honored by numerous countries and organizations for his contributions to humanity, including the United Nations, which declared October 2, the day of his birth, as the International Day of Non-violence. His place in history is limited to India and globally, as he is considered a symbol of hope, courage, and peaceful resistance.
Mahatma Gandhi’s achievements are many and varied, but perhaps his most significant achievement was his role in the Indian independence movement. Through his philosophy of non-violence and peaceful resistance, he was able to mobilize millions of Indians and bring about significant social and political change.
His most remarkable achievement was the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922. This campaign called for Indians to boycott British goods, institutions, and government services, and it was a huge success, bringing widespread change to India.
In 1930, Gandhi led the Salt March, a 240-mile march to the sea to protest the British salt tax. This march was a turning point in the Indian independence movement, as it brought international attention to the Indian cause and mobilized millions across the country.
Another achievement of Gandhi was the Quit India Movement of 1942, which called for an end to British rule and the immediate withdrawal of British forces from India. The movement was successful in bringing about independence in 1947.
Most Famous Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi
Here are some of the most memorable quotes from India’s one of the most significant leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, to live by:
- Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
- An ounce of patience is worth more than a tonne of preaching.
- In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
- The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
- A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.
- Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
- The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
- You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
- See the good in people and help them.
Mahatma Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress into a powerful political tool for Indian nationalism and led major non-violent resistance campaigns in 1920-1922, 1930-1934, and 1940-1942.
He also campaigned for the rights of lower-caste “untouchables” and focused on educating rural India and promoting the cottage industry. India gained independence in 1947, but partitioning the subcontinent into India and Pakistan was a major disappointment for Gandhi, who had long worked for Hindu-Muslim unity.
He was known as the “Mahatma” and had the love and loyalty of millions. Unfortunately, he was assassinated by a young Hindu fanatic in 1948.