Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British Rule, and in turn inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahatma (Sanskrit: “great-souled”, “venerable”), first applied to him in 1914 in South Africa, is now used throughout the world.
Born and raised in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat, western India, Gandhi was trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, and called to the bar at age 22 in June 1891. After two uncertain years in India, where he was unable to start a successful law practice, he moved to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit.
He went on to stay for 21 years. It was in South Africa that Gandhi raised a family, and first employed nonviolent resistance in a campaign for civil rights. In 1915, aged 45, he returned to India. He set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, and above all for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.
Gandhiji was the only person whose talks gave the world a new direction. It was Bapu, on whose one point the people were desperate to pass by doing anything. His precious things inspired everyone. His talk against the social evils worked magic on the people.
Gandhi’s vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire[ was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority 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 stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 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. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.
Some of his thoughts that will continue to enlighten the bright path for the generations to come:
Bapu used to say that ‘a man is a creature created by his thoughts, he becomes what he thinks’. This talk of Mahatma Gandhi is relevant even today. A person’s thinking determines his personality. Bapu used to teach people to stay away from the proverb ‘efficient many’. He believed that you should imitate good things first and then talk about adopting others.
Bapu said that ‘Look at the good in others and see the evil in yourself, this is your greatest good’. Mahatma Gandhi also said that ‘people should always aim for complete harmony of their thoughts, words and deeds.
Mahatma Gandhi used to say that whenever you come in the face of despair, remember that the path of truth and love always wins. Bapu used to advise not to get angry. He used to say that ‘Do not take any decision in anger because anger is the enemy of right understanding.’
He said ‘Silence of man is the most powerful speech, slowly the world will listen to you but you have to do something different.’