The Life and Work of Mahatma Gandhi
“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as “Mahatma” Gandhi, is a symbol of non-violence. “Mahatma” means a Great Soul. He strived for the Independence of India from the British, following the path of non-violence. He was born in Porbandar, Gujarat, India, on 2nd of October 1869, in a Hindu Jain family. Naturally, he was brought up with Jain beliefs of great tolerance and not harming any living species. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi, was the Chief Minister of Porbandar state.
In 1883, at the age of 13, Gandhi married Kasturba Makhanji, also 13, as it was accustomed in India then. By 1888, both aged 18, Gandhi and Kasturba had their first son out of the four. At that time, Gandhi was studying at the Samaldas College, University of Mumbai. On receiving the opportunity to continue his further studies at University College London, he pursued his education in London in September 1888. He excelled in his subjects there and pursued the moral studies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and some others. After returning to India, in 1893, he accepted a contract of one year to work for an Indian firm in South Africa.
Gandhi lived the following 21 years of his life in South Africa, where he developed his political views, principles, and leadership skills. Over there, he protested against racial discrimination faced by different cultured people.
In 1916, after returning to India, he further developed his non-violent civil disobedience to raise awareness of the oppressive practices carried out in Bihar by the British officials. This made him extremely popular and earned him the title of Mahatma Gandhi. With the increase in his influence over politics, Gandhi was heading the Indian National Congress by 1921. He urged the people of India to boycott British goods and to fight for complete independence. His encouragement in mass civil disobedience resulted in his arrest, where he was sentenced to 6-years imprisonment, in 1922.
When the British levied the salt tax in 1930, he led a march from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat, which was about 150 miles long, to the sea to make their own salt. This march was popularly known as the “Dandi March” and took place from 12th March to 6th April. It had thousands of Indians coming together and upsetting the British hold on India. Over 60,000 Indians were arrested for this action.
During the World War Two, Gandhi saw no absolute reason as to why Indians must fight for British power, in various parts of the world, when they are treated like vermin in their own country. This led to the uprising of his ‘Quit India’ movement. For his leadership and influence over the people for the Quit India movement, he was taken into custody on August 1942 and was imprisoned at the Aga Khan Palace, Pune, for two years. In February 1944, his wife, Kasturba Gandhi died in that very same prison in Pune.
The British’s proposal to partition India and Pakistan strongly faced opposition by Gandhi, predicting the riots and slaughter that would be experienced due to the split. However, the Indian Congress Party disregarded his plea and supported the partition proposals. With his “Satyagraha” and “Quit India” movement, India finally received Independence on 15th August 1947.
Gandhi has been exposed to attempted assassination six times through his political career by Nathuram Godse and his followers, who claimed to be a Hindu Fundamentalist. Finally in 1948, Godse proved to be successful in his attempt to kill Gandhi and shot him 3 times point blank.
Mahatma Gandhi was nominated five times for the Noble Prize, but never received it. His achievements and sacrifices for India can never be written down on a piece of paper. With his morals and values intact, he led India to its Independence. He is truly the “Father of the Nation” and to honor him, his birthday is celebrated as “Gandhi Jayanti”, which is declared as a public holiday and Dry Day in India.