Mahatma Gandhi“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” — Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of the independence movement in India. Gandhi used non-violence and civil disobedience as his primary weapons to win India’s independence from Britain. His practice of non-violence has inspired many other leaders around the world in their fight for freedom.

Photo: Mahatma Gandhi.

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948

Gandhi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in India. He was the son of the chief minister of the state of Porbandar. Gandhi was an average student in school. At the age of 13, he was wed in an arranged marriage. The couple had four children.

At the age of 18, Gandhi journeyed to England to study law. He completed his studies and returned to India four years later as a lawyer. His trip abroad was frowned upon by elders from his community. When Gandhi insisted on going abroad, he was declared to no longer be a member of his caste. Gandhi was now an outcast.

Gandhi struggled to become a successful lawyer, but many obstacles intervened. Two years later, Gandhi decided to accept a post in South Africa (another colony of Britain). Gandhi would spend the next 21 years of life in that colony.

In South Africa, Gandhi began to experience racism and the negative aspects of belonging to the lower classes in society. It inspired Gandhi to become a social activist and actively support social causes. Gandhi began to develop his philosophy of non-violent protest when he began to organize Indians in South Africa to protest registration laws. That philosophy was also strengthened when he served as a volunteer ambulance driver and saw the brutality of the Boer and Zulu wars.

Gandhi eventually returned to India in 1915. He became a member of the Indian National Congress and began employing non-violent civil disobedience to push for India’s independence. As he gained political power from many small victories, he continued to push for independence. In 1942, he was arrested by the British along with thousands of other members of Congress.

In 1947, Britain finally granted independence to India. However, independence included the partition of the country into Hindu (India) and Muslim (Pakistan) states. In 1948, Gandhi was assassinated.

Contributions

In recent history, Gandhi is probably the leader most associated with a non-violent approach to achieving political goals. It was not an easy or rapid path to take. Gandhi worked hard for over thirty years to achieve India’s independence. However, Gandhi had hoped for an India of united Muslims and Hindus. The violence that followed the partitioning of the country made that impossible.

Gandhi believed that colonialism succeeded only because the Indian people cooperated with the British rulers. He believed that colonialism would only end when the Indian people stopped cooperating with the British. In other words, the people would have to resist the British by not cooperating and opposing British rule with non-violent resistance.

Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills

Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. When you are done, click the box below for a list of main ideas.

 

How did you do? With practice, you should be able to identify many of the major ideas. You may even discover some important ideas that aren’t listed.

Bibliography

Mahatma Gandhi, Anti War Activist, Biography.

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