Mahatma Gandhi is considered by many the father of the Indian independence movement. He worked diligently using his concept of Satyagraha to end the British rule in India as well as to improve the lives of India’s poor people. His ideology of truth and non-violence influenced many and was adopted by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela for their own struggles.
Mahatma Gandhi also protested against injustices and racial indiscrimination in South Africa for 20 years using the same non-violent method of protests.
His simplistic lifestyle won him nay admirers both in India and outside world. He was popularly known as Bapu (Father).
Early Life and Family Background
The full name of Mahatma Gandhi was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born on 2 October, 1869 in Porbander, Gujarat. His father’s name was Karamchand Gandhi and mother’s name was Putlibai.
Mahatma Gandhi married Kasturba in an arranged marriage when he was only 13 years old. They had four sons namely Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas. She supported all the endeavors of her husband till her death in 1944.
Off to London
In the year 1888, Mahatma Gandhi left for London to study law.
In May, 1893 he went to South Africa to work as a lawyer. There he had first-hand experience of racial discrimination when he was thrown out of the first class apartment of the train despite holding the first class ticket because it was reserved for white people only and no Indian or black was allowed to travel in the first class. This incident had serious effect on him and he decided to protest against racial discrimination. He further observed that this type of incidents is quite common against his fellow Indians who were derogatorily referred as coolies.
On 22 May, 1894 Gandhi established the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and worked hard to improve rights of Indians in South Africa. In a short period of time, Gandhi became a leader of the Indian community in South Africa.
Role in Indian Independence Movement
In the year 1915, Gandhi returned to India permanently and joined the Indian National Congress with Gopal Krishna Gokhale as his mentor.
Gandhi's first major achievements were in 1918 when he led the Champaran and Kheda agitations of Bihar and Gujarat. He also led non-cooperation movement, civil disobedience movement and Quit-India movement against the British government.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godse. Godse was a Hindu nationalist and a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. He accused Gandhi of favouring Pakistan and was opposed to the doctrine of non-violence.
Gandhi was a prolific writer. Some of his literary works are as following:
• Hind Swaraj, published in Gujarati in 1909.
• He edited several newspapers which included Harijan in Gujarati, in Hindi and in the English language; Indian Opinion, Young India, in English, and Navajivan, a Gujarati monthly.
• Gandhi also wrote his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
• His other autobiographies included: Satyagraha in South Africa, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule.
• In 1930, Gandhi was named the Man of the Year by the Time Magazine.
• In 2011, Time magazine named Gandhi as one of the top 25 political icons of all time.
• He did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize despite being nominated five times between 1937 and 1948.
• The Government of India institutionalized the annual Gandhi Peace Prize to distinguished social workers, world leaders and citizens. Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa's struggle against apartheid was a recipient of the award.
Ben Kingsley portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Gandhi identified his overall method of non-violent action as Satyagraha. Gandhi's Satyagraha has influenced eminent personalities such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King in their struggle for freedom, equality and social justice. Satyagraha is based on the truth principles and following non-violence at the same time.