Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the prominent Indian leader who devoted his life for Indian independence movement against British Rule and for the uplift of the poor and untouchables. With his honesty, nonviolence, struggle, unwavering faith in truth, he fought the war against the challenges existed in Indian society. The evils like untouchability and caste system in Indian society and tortures of the British government in India were really the challenges for which Mahatma Gandhi gave a turn to his life and created his life’s motto to serve the country and save people from this slavery. By employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Mahatma Gandhi led India to independence or Swaraj. The concept of Swaraj inspired movements for civil rights and self-freedom from across the world. With his strict but pious ideology inspired the public together in the campaign to get freedom from British Government. The honorific term “Mahatma” was first used by Ravindra Nath because of humanity and simplicity. Bapu ji was also a word that was awarded to Mahatma Gandhi. He is unofficially called the “Father of the Nation” because of his contribution in building a new and independent India.
Birth and Parentage:
Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 at Porbandar, Kathiawar, India. It is a small town on the western coast of India in the state of Gujarat. He was born in middle-class family of Vaishya (merchant) caste. His father Karamchand Gandhi was a Dewan of Porbandar, and his mother Putlibai was illiterate but a very religious lady. Her religious nature, daily routine and determination for her decision left a great impression on Gandhi Ji’s mind. Honesty, religious, love, non-violence and humanism were Gandhi Ji’s qualities generated in his childhood days. He was truthful in his conduct right from his childhood.
Early life & Education
As a child, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was very honest and followed the teachings what her mother give him. After completing his matriculation, he joined the Samaldas College in Bhavnagar.
As a youngster, Mohandas Karamchand was an average student and shy in nature. As a young boy, he displayed no signs of leadership, but the honesty, truth, religious nature, love for all were the fundamentals that were very apparent in his childhood days. At the age of 13, he was married to Kasturba Makhanji Kapadia. After his father’s death in 1885, a family suggested that if he hoped to take his father’s place in the state service, then he need to become a barrister which he could do in England in 3 years. But his mother had objection for it. So to win his mother’s approval, Gandhi Ji took a solemn vow not to touch wine, women and meat, and he remained true to it throughout his stay in England.
Went to England for Getting Law Degree:
Finally, he got his mother’s permission and sailed for England on September 4, 1888. Initially, he faced difficulty in adjusting himself in English Custom and weather, but soon he became used to of it. He completed his ‘Law’ Degree in 1891. During this time, he became involved with vegetarian society. He studied the Geeta which strengthened his fundamental qualities. He felt a sense of pride thinking of Indian scriptures like the Geeta which teaches human, the real sense of living with right actions. He also studied Bible and got the teaching of love, humanity and forgiveness from the character of Jesus Christ.
Returned from England to India:
He came back from England to India in 1891 after three years of stay in England. After returning to India, Gandhi learned that his mother had died just weeks before. This information stirred him. Then, he started to struggle for gaining his footing as a lawyer in Bombay. In his first courtroom case, a nervous Gandhi blanked when the time came to cross-examine a witness. He could not be successful in his practice as a lawyer.
Went to South Africa:
After struggling some days, in 1893, Gandhi obtained a one-year contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal, South Africa to perform legal services. It happens shortly after the birth of his son. In South Africa, his transformation from Mohandas to Mahatma began to take place. He also realized the oppressive atmosphere of racial snobbishness against Indians who were settled in South Africa in a large number. He suggested the formation of an association to look after the India settlers and offered his free time and services as well.
In South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi was struck by seeing the level of racial discrimination and injustice frequently experienced by Indians. In the time when Gandhi Ji stayed in South Africa, he first experimented with movements of civil disobedience and protest against the social evils. He termed his non-violent protests Satyagraha. In spite of being imprisoned for short periods of time, he continued his fight against such things.
Politics and His Contribution in Indian Independence fight
After 21 years in South Africa, Gandhiji returned to India in 1915, and spent the first year wandering throughout the country to know the real India on the advice of his political guru Gopal Krishna Gokhale. After wandering a year, he settled down on the bank of the river Sabarmati, on the shore of Ahmedabad where he founded an ashram called ‘Sabarmati Ashram’. He became the prominent leader of the Indian nationalist movement and started campaigning for home rule or Swaraj.
Gandhiji successfully led a series of the non-violent protests against British Rules. This series of protests included national strikes for one or two days. The British government sought to ban opposition, but the nature of non-violent protest, campaigns and strikes made it difficult for the British government to counter.
Gandhiji’s first Satyagraha in India took place in Champaran in Bihar where he went in 1917 at the request of poor peasants to inquire into the grievances of much exploited peasants of the district who were compelled by British indigo planters to grow indigo on 15% on their land and part with the whole crop for rent.
His Satyagraha forced British Government to set up an inquiry into the condition of tenant farmers. This was his first success that greatly enhanced his reputation in the country; afterwards, he never looked back and run many movements against British Government with the cooperation of people of the nation that resulted in the Independence of India on 15 August 1947. Hence, he gained the title ‘Father of the Nation’.
Mahatma Gandhi is still known as the ‘Father of the Nation’ because he played a key role in getting freedom for India by his tools; Ahimsa and Satyagraha. He was given the title of ‘Mahatma’ by Rabindranath Tagore because of his simple living style which he adopted after looking into the poor condition of Indians and afterward he is recalled as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’.
His main contribution lay in the fact that he bridged the gulf between the intelligentsia and the masses and widened the concept of Swaraj to include almost every aspect of social and moral regeneration.
Gandhiji’s vision was to have Swaraj in India and he also encouraged his supporters to practice internal discipline and to get ready for independence, however Gandhiji always advocated for being civilized and nonviolent in terms of the independence war. With his first determination, he proved that Indians were deserving of independence. He thought that it was the right for India to have self-government.
In the Indian independence movement, Gandhi Ji also conflicted with other freedom fighters like Subhas Chandra Bose who advocated direct action to overthrow the British.
In 1930, Gandhiji led a march to the sea against the new Salt Acts. They made their own salt to dent the British regulations. Hundreds of people with Gandhi Ji were arrested and sent to jails.
Gandhiji became sad if he heard people were rioting. When the campaign was at its peak, Indian protesters killed some British civilians. This was the act which Gandhi never wanted to do. He never liked to make violence to get freedom; he wanted to adopt such a way that can lead to India Independence with truth and nonviolence. And so Gandhi called off the independence movement. This hurt many Indians who were committed for getting independence.
Gandhi and the partition of India
After the independence war, Britain indicated that they would free India. However, with the support of the Muslims league led by Jinnah, the British government planned to make partition of India into two parts: India and Pakistan. Gandhiji was never in favor of the partition of India. His ideologically strongly opposed this partition of the country. He wanted to give a message to all Indians that Hindus and Muslims can live together happily in the same country. Mahatma Gandhi’s this philosophy based humanity could not please some of the Hindus and Muslims who do not agree with this thought of Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, Ghandhi Ji agreed to the partition.
On January 30’1948, Gandhi Ji was shot dead by a Hindu Brahmin Nathuram Godse who opposed to Gandhi’s support for Muslims.