Mahatma Gandhi's Biography
Born: 2nd October, 1989 in the town of Porbandar in Gujrat, India
Died: 30th January, 1948 (assassinated)
Successfully led the non-violent freedom struggle in India.
Launched non-cooperation movement.
Studied law from the University College London.
Known for simplicity, penance, insistence on truth, non-violence.
Born on 2nd October, 1869, Gandhi was the most celebrated figure of Indian independence movement. He is the political icon of the modern world who propounded the philosophy of Satyagraha ( insistence on truth ) and Ahimsa ( non-violence ). He influenced very deeply to Indians or the whole humanity to resist injustice with tolerance without violence. He is called Bapu ( a term for the beloved father ) by Indians and titled as 'Father of the Nation'.
1. THAT BOY IN PORBANDAR, GUJARAT:
Born in a coastal town of Gujarat, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the son of a senior government official, belonging to a Hindu Bania community. His mother was a devout Jain.
Indian epical heroes Shravankumar and king Harishchandra impressed and moved deeply to Gandhi in his childhood. They haunted him for the rest of his life, inculcating honour for truth and love as supreme values.
Mohandas got married to Kasturbai at an immatured age of 13. He recalls, “As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives”. The couple's first child was born when Gandhi was just 15, and the child survived only a few days. They had four more children, all sons.
Mohandas was average at school and did not shine in the classroom or on the playground. He was retiring and tongue-tied in company. He had soul satisfaction for never telling a lie to his teachers or classmates. The slighest slander on his character drew his tears.
After Gandhi's father's death in 1885, his family aspired Gandhi to be a barrister availing chances of succeeding his father's post.
2. THAT MAN IN ENGLAND:
In 1888, at the age of 18, Gandhi sailed for England to study law at University College London and train as a barrister at the Inner Temple. Adaptation to the English atmosphere of Western style food, dress and etiquette was painful for Mohan. Before leaving India, he had promised his mother, before a Jain monk, that he would not “touch wine, woman and meat”. But attraction for 'English culture' made him to become an 'English Gentleman'. He approached most fashionable tailors in London for English suites. Mohandas even began lessons in elocution, dancing and music, under expert tuition. Soon his introvert and introspective mind realized the guilt and futility of extravagance.
When Gandhi came across Henry Salt's book “Plea for Vegetarianism” became an asset for him, transforming all his embarrassment about it. He made his first venture into journalism through articles on vegetarian food and soon became a member of the Executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society. Gandhi also made religious study of Buddhist and Hindu literature. He was moved by the life of Buddha and the message of Gita.
3. THAT MAN BACK IN INDIA:
Gandhi returned to India with an English barrister's degree. He landed at Bombay, receiving the shock after knowing his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him. But his motherland, Mother India, was awaiting his services for the emancipation of the land. In an attempt to establish his law practice in Bombay, he got his first brief for the modest fee of thirty rupees. As he rose to cross-examine a witness, Gasndhi's shyness clouds his wits, making him to collapse into his chair. Gandhi refunded the fee to his client. Young barrister was filled with dark despair at this disgraceful debut, with obscurities about his future in a profession he had entered at such a heavy cost. But Mother India was awaiting this shyful but honest son for pleading the case of Indian liberty.
Returning to Rajkot, Gandhi started drafting petitions bringing him a modest income of 300
rupees a month, but he was forced to stop it when he incurred the displeasure of a British
officer. In 1893, he gladly accepted a year-long cotract to a post in the colony of Natal,
South Africa where his life-long affair of freeing Indians from slavery started.
4. THAT MAN IN SOUTH AFRICA:
Gandhi stayed for 21 years in South africa, where he developed politics based on the moral principles of Truth & Non-violence. Gandhi faced colour disrimination in South Africa during his train and other journeys. In one incident, the magistrate of a Durban court ordered Gandhi to take off his turban, which he refused to do and left the court-room. These insulting incidences awakened him to social injustice, and pathologically shy and retiring Gandhi was transformed into a resolute and assertive pioneer of non-violent revolution in politics. Wealthy Muslims and impoverished Hindus constituted the Indian community in South Africa. He shaped the Indian community of South Africa into a united political force.
In 1907, the Asiatic Registration Act in Transvaal compelled Indian population of the colony to get registered. Gandhi adopted the methodology of Satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time. Gandhi led this struggle with great courage, patience and organizing ability. During the ensuing seven-year stuggle, thousands of indian strugglers were jailed, flogged or shot for their non-violent resistance in various forms. Eventually, South African philosopher leader Jan Smuts was forced to negotiate compromise with Gandhi. General Smuts stated that there was no hatred and personal ill-feeling, and when the fight was over, “there was the atmosphere in which decent peace would be cocluded”.
Gandhi's ideas took shape with definiteness, and the concept of Satyagraha matured ideally during this struggle. Later in his movements of Indian independence, Gandhi derived inspirations from his experience in South Africa where his politics as well as personality took shape. Years in South Africa were most formative for Gandhi. He studied moral and religious principles quite meditatively in South Africa. Tolstoy's bold idealism and dauntless candor influenced him. Tolstoy's perspective of life based on moral principles appealed Gandhi for his motivation. After a study of comparative religion, Gandhi concluded that true religion was more a matter of heart than of the intellect.
5. THAT MAN BACK IN INDIA AS A POLITICAL HERO:
In 1915,Gandhi returned to his motherland India permanently. And further lived like a Freedom Fighter.
By: Mystique Madanmohan