An essay on Mahatma Gandhi’s life journey

Bapu or Father of the nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in a Gujarati hindu family in Porbandar, Gujarat on 2nd October 1869. He had started the indian Independence movement from British rule. He was an anti-colonial nationalist and an Indian lawyer too. Gandhi received the title of “Mahatma” meaning the great soul for the first time in South Africa in 1914.

Mahatma Gandhi
Image credit: Wikipedia

Quick Facts

  • Full Name: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
  • Born: 2nd October 1869
  • Died: 30th January 1948
  • Religion: Hinduism
  • Spouse: Kasturba Gandhi
  • Father: Karamchand Gandhi
  • Mother: Putlibai Gandhi
  • Famous for: Indian Lawyer | Independence movement for India | Dandi Salt March | Quit India Movement

Gandhi ji received law education from London. After spending two years in India, he moved to South Africa in 1893 for law practice. He stayed in South Africa for 21 years. Gandhi employed a nonviolent resistance campaign for civilian rights. In 1915 at the age of 45, he moved back to India.

After returning to India he motivated urban labourers to protest against extreme land tax and intolerance. He initiated campaigns for women’s rights, reducing poverty, stopping untouchability and achieving “swaraj”.

Gandhi started the Dandi Salt March in 1930 for 250 miles to challenge British imposed salt tax. He started quit India movement for British to leave India in 1942. In reply to this movement, Britishers imprisoned him many times in India.

In 1947, India was granted Independence by Britain but it was divided into two parts, a Hindu – majority India and a Muslim – majority Pakistan. He undertook many fasts in order to stop religious violence. On 12th January 1948, he undertook the last fast in order to pressurise India to pay out some of the cash assets owed to Pakistan.

Nathuram Godse who was a hindu nationalist assassinated him on 30th January 1948.

2nd October is being celebrated every year on Gandhi’s birthday as Gandhi Jayanti and a national holiday. This day is also celebrated as the International day of nonviolence throughout the world.

Childhood

Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi was a political figure and served as the diwan or chief minister of Porbandar. Initially, Karamchand was a clerk in the government because of his basic education. He married four times in his lifetime. Karamchand first two wives died at an early age and gave birth to a daughter. His third wife had no child.

In 1844, Karamchand married his fourth wife Putalabai on approval of his third wife. Putalabai had four children (2 sons and 2 daughters) including Mohandas. She gave birth to Mohandas on On 2 October 1869 in Porbandar in Gujarat.

Mohandas was a restless boy according to his sisters. He had a great impact of the stories of Shravan and Harishchandra in his childhood.

Gandhi’s movement to Rajkot

Gandhi’s father Karamchand left Porbandar and moved to Rajkot in 1874 where he became the counselor of Rajkot ruler. Then in 1876, he became diwan of Rajkot. Mohandas joined the local school in Rajkot at the age of 9. He also completed high school education from Rajkot. Mohandas was an average student and had also won some prizes. He was of shy nature and had not much interest in sports and games.

MARRIAGE and Children

At the age of 13 in 1883, Mohandas married to Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia who was 14 years old in an arranged marriage ceremony. He lost one year of his studies because of the marriage but then he accelerated it later.

Mohandas’s father died in 1885. After his father’s death he had the first baby who survived only for a few days. He was shattered with 2 deaths in his family. Then the couple had 4 children, Harilal (born in 1888), Manilal (1892), Ramdas (1897) and Devdas (1900).

Gandhi in London

Law studies

Gandhi belonged to a poor family and so he dropped out from the cheapest college. Then one of his family friends suggested him to pursue law studies form London. His brother, Laxmidas was already a lawyer also supported him for the law studies in London.

In August 1888, Gandhi had left Porbandar and went to Bombay (now called Mumbai). In september 1888, he reached London with the help of his brother and joined University of London. After completing the law in London, he got the invitation of becoming barrister in the Inner Temple in London.

Support to Vegetarianism

Gandhi tried to adopt the English culture in London. For that he also joined dance classes. But he was not in support of non-vegetarian food. Gandhi joined the London Vegetarian society and appointed to the executive committee of the society.

In June 1891, Gandhi left London and returned to India. There he came to know that his mother had died while he was in London. Then he tried to establish law practise in Bombay but failed. He then moved back to Rajkot for a modest living.

Gandhi in South Africa

Civil Rights Activist

Gandhi went to South Africa in 1893 as the lawyer of Abdullah’s cousin. He was 23 years of years at that time. He spent 21 years in South Africa where he faced racism because of his skin color and legacy. South African government didn’t allow Indians to walk on public footpaths.

In an incident, the magistrate of Durban court in a city South Africa ordered him to remove his turban but he refused.

In another incident, Gandhiji was travelling in the first class of the train. When he refused to leave the first class, he was forcibly thrown out of the train.

After these incidents he decided to protest for Indians and fight for the rights. after couple of years he helped Africans too in opposition of the racism. He encouraged Indians to change their perception towards the British people and raise their voice the rights.

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa Image Source 

Contribution in Indian Independence

Gandhiji was now a leading Indian nationalist when he returned to India in 1915. He joined Indian National Congress after that. Gopal Krishna Gokhale was the main leader of the Congress party that time. He introduced the Indian issues to Gandhi.

Khilafat Movement

The communal and religious disputes were very common between Hindus and Muslims in British India. So he supported Khilafat Movement (also known as Indian Muslim Movement). This increased the strong muslim support for Gandhiji. As a result, it reduced the communal fights between Hindus and Muslims.

Khilafat Movement ended in 1922 which also impacted the large muslim support for Gandhiji and the Congress Party. The communal fights between Hindus and Muslims started again.

Non Cooperation Movement

According to the book published with the name “Hind Swaraj” Gandhi Ji encouraged Indian people not to cooperate the British. If the Indians won’t cooperate then British rule would end which would help in achieving the swaraj. He supported the non-violence among Indians. Gandhiji reorganised the Congress Party. As a result, he had the good control in politics and he was also under the close observation of British Raj.

In addition to the non-violence movement Gandhiji included Swadeshi policy. According to Swadeshi Policy, he encouraged Indians to boycott the use of British made goods. Instead of using British textiles he urged Indians to use Khadi (homespun cloth) and boycott British laws and products. 

Gandhi Ji chose to wear loincloth also known as “dhoti” in hindi. During winters he used to wear a shawl with hand spun on Indian spinning wheels (charkha in hindi). 

Gandhiji was arrested in march 1922 and sentenced for 6 years of imprisonment because of the non-cooperation movement. He was released in february 1924 because of his appendicitis operation. 

Salt March

In 1930, Gandhiji initiated a new satyagraha against salt tax. This march executed from 12th March to 6th April 1930 which included 78 volunteers. He marched around 388 km from Ahmedabad to Dandi to make salt for himself. This was a massive movement which encouraged thousands of Indians to join. In response to this march, Britishers imprisoned more than 60,000 Indians.

There is also an iconic sculpture of 11 people including Gandhiji known as Dandi March Statue or Gyarah Murti in Delhi Sardar Patel Marg. 

Quit India Movement

Gandhiji escalated the demand of Independence in a speech in Mumbai in 1942. Soon after his speech the British government arrested him along with the members of the Working Congress Committee. In reaction to Gandhi’s arrest Indians damaged and buried hundreds of British government owned railway stations and police stations.

This was the year when Gandhi Ji urged Indians to stop the cooperation of the British government completely. Now he was 73 years old. He encouraged people not to harm any body in reply to the violence of the British government but one should be willing to suffer and die.

Gandhiji was again arrested for 2 years and sent to Pune in Aga Khan Palace. His wife Kasturba died after 18 months of imprisonment in february 1944. He was released in may 1944 because of his bad health.

Gandhiji met with Muhammad Ali Jinnah in september 1944 many times and urged on a religiously united India including muslim and non-muslim Indians.  Jinnah was not happy with his proposal instead he proposed him of partitioning India and form a Muslim India (Pakistan) from the partition.

Partition And Independence of India

Gandhi was not in support of the partition of the country on religious lines. However, Muslim League wanted India to divide and independent from British rule. British accepted for independence of India but also accepted the proposal of Jinnah to divide the country into India and Pakistan.

Millions of people were killed on the religious violence and more than 10 million of non-muslims mostly Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India from Pakistan. Finally India got the independence from British rule on 15th August 1947. Gandhi Ji urged people to celebrate this day by fasting and spinning wheel. 

Death

Gandhiji was staying in Birla House (Gandhi Smriti) with his grandnieces in last days of his life. On 30th January 1948, Nathuram Godse assassinated him by firing 3 bullets on his chest when he was going for a prayer meeting.

Jawaharlal Nehru addressed on All India Radio about Gandhi’s assassination. Indian Police arrested Godse and Godse did not try to escape. He assassinated Gandhi because as per him Gandhi was responsible of the communal violence and partition of the country. He  had no regret on killing Gandhi. Godse was sentenced to death and hanged in 1949.

Millions of Indians joined the funeral of Gandhi which took around 5 hours to reach Raj Ghat (place of Gandhi’s assassination) from Birla House. The whole nation mourned Gandhi’s death.

AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth
  • Hind Swaraj or Indian Home rule

Awards

  • Time Magazine awarded Gandhiji “Man of the year” in 1930.
  • Gandhiji was awarded “Person of the Century” after Albert Einstein in 1999.
  • “Gandhi peace prize” has been named after Gandhiji’s name to award the famous personalities in the world.
  • He has been referred as “Father of the Nation”.

Films and theatre on Gandhi

  • Mahatma: Life of Gandhi, 1869-1948 | Year: 1968 |  Documentary Film
  • Gandhi | Year: 1982 | Film
  • The making of the Mahatma | Year:1996 | Film 
  • Lage Raho Munna Bhai | Year: 2006 | Film
  • Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara | Year: 2005 | Film
  • Satyagraha | Year: 1979 | Film
  • Gandhi My Father | Year:2007 | Film
  • Gandhi Virudh Gandhi | Year: 1995 | Marathi Play

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