Today we are living and breathing freely in independent India that is because of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi, on the strength of his untiring efforts, liberated India from the British. Not only this great man put his whole life in the national interest but also had become a role model for others. The example of sacrifice of Mahatma Gandhi is given even today. He was a man who followed the ideals and these ideals of his life earned him the title of Father of Nation.
Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had two weapons of truth and non-violence, which he adopted in terrible and very difficult situations. He not only won easily in the biggest freedom movement of India but also became a source of inspiration for the rest of the people of the world.
Mahatma Gandhi is also called by the names of Father of the Nation and Bapu. He always used to say, “Don’t look bad, don’t listen bad and don’t say bad”. He was a man of simple living and high thinking. He spent his entire life in virtue and sacrificed his entire life in the national interest. He exerted the influence of his personality not only in India but all over the world.
Mahatma Gandhi was a great hero whose works are much less praised. Mahatma Gandhi used to adopt any formula first on himself and tried to learn from his mistakes. He expressed his working style in his famous autobiography “My Experiments with Truth”.
Early Life of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat. His father Karamchand Gandhi was the ‘Diwan’ of Rajkot. His mother’s name was Putlibai, a woman of religious views and Mahatma Gandhi also had a profound influence on her ideas.
Mahatma Gandhi’s early education was held in Rajkot, he took admission in 10th class in the year 1881. When Gandhiji was just 13 years old, he was married to Kasturba in his young age. But his family life never came in the way of his studies and his national interest.
He never cared for his selfishness and continued his further studies even after marriage. Mahatma Gandhi passed the matriculation examination in the year 1887 and took admission in Samaldas College, Bhavnagar. But at the behest of family members, he had to go to England for further studies; where he completed his law studies and became a famous lawyer of his time.
Mahatma Gandhi Returned from England
In 1891, Gandhiji returned India as a barrister, at the same time he had lost his mother too but Gandhiji faced this difficult time with courage and started practice of law in India but he had not got some special success in it.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Visit to South Africa
During the practice of law in India, Mahatma Gandhi had to visit South Africa in connection with the trial of a Muslim businessman named Dada Abdullah and Abdullah. Gandhiji faced discrimination and apartheid in this journey.
Gandhiji was the first Indian noble man to reach South Africa who was abducted off the train in an abusive manner. At the same time, the British ruled administration used to discriminate against him and they were also treated very badly under the black policy, after which Gandhi’s patience was broken and he decided to fight against this apartheid.
When Gandhiji resolved to Fight against Apartheid
Against the atrocities of apartheid, Gandhi ji along with the diaspora living there formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 and started publishing out Indian Opinion newspapers. After this, in 1906, the disobedience movement had been started for South African Indians, later on this movement was known as Satyagraha.
Mahatma Gandhi Return to India from South Africa
He returned to India after all the conflicts in South Africa in 1915, during which India was bearing the brunt of British slavery. Due to the tyranny of the British, the people here were suffering from poverty and hunger. Seeing the atrocities happening here, Mahatma Gandhi decided to fight the war against the British rule and once again he plunged into the freedom struggle with entire devotion and understanding his duty.
The Freedom Movements Led by Mahatma Gandhi in India
Champaran and Kheda Andolan
When the British were ruling India in Champaran and Kheda, the zamindars (feudalists) were exploiting the peasants provoked by the British. In such a situation, peasants were affected by hunger and poverty there. After this, Gandhiji agitated for the rights of the farmers living in Champaran and in this movement, he was able to get 25 percent of the money back to the farmers.
In this movement, Mahatma Gandhi made non-violent Satyagraha his weapon and he won the battle easily. This created a distinct image among people.
After this, the great famine fell on the farmers of Kheda due to which the farmers were unable to pay their taxes. Gandhiji put this matter before the British Government and proposed to forgive the poor farmers’ taxes. After which the British Government accepted this proposal of Gandhi and relieved the peasants from heavy taxes.
Mahatma Gandhi and Khilafat Andolan (1919-1924)
Gandhi had also supported the Khilafat Movement run by Muslims. This movement was to re-establish the post of Khalifa of Turkey. After this movement, Gandhiji also won the trust of Muslims. At the same time, it later became the foundation of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement.
Mahatma Gandhi and Non-Cooperation Movement
During a meeting at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar to protest against the Rowlatt Act, the British had opened fire on innocent people without reason, in which approx. 1000 people were killed and more than 2000 people were injured. Mahatma Gandhi was greatly hurt by this incident and decided to agitate against the British government with of peace and non-violence. Under this, Gandhiji demanded a boycott of political, social institutions in British India.
In this movement, Mahatma Gandhi prepared the outline of the proposal as follows –
- Boycott of government schools and colleges.
- Boycott of government courts.
- Boycott of foreign goods.
- Boycott of election under 1919 Act.
Mahatma Gandhi and Chauri Chaura Incident (1922)
On 5th February, 1922 the Congress took out a procession in Chaura-Chauri village in which violence erupted, in fact the police tried to stop the procession but the crowd was becoming an uncontrollable mob. Meanwhile, the protesters captured the police station and 21 soldiers along with the inspector in the police station and set fire to it. All the people were burnt to death in this fire. Mahatma Gandhi was deeply hurt by this incident. After this he expressed his grief in the Young India newspaper that, “I am willing to bear every insult, torture, boycott, even death penalty to save the movement from becoming violent”.
Mahatma Gandhi and Civil Disobedience Movement/ Dandi March / Namak Andolan (1930)
Mahatma Gandhi had organized this movement against the British government, under this it was decided that the rules implemented by the British Government would be politely refused and dishonoured.
The British government had made a rule that no other person or company would make salt. On 12th March 1930, Dandi March broke this law by making salt. Gandhiji with many others reached a place called Dandi on the sea-shore and made salt and disobeyed the law. Gandhiji’s Dandi March lasted from 12th March, 1930 to 6th April, 1930. Dandi March was taken out from Sabarmati Ashram. At the same time, seeing this movement growing, the government had sent the contemporary Viceroy Lord Irwin for a settlement after which Gandhiji accepted the agreement.
- Important things about Mahatma Gandhi’s Movements
In all the movements launched by Mahatma Gandhi, some things were common which are as follows –
- All Gandhiji’s movements were conducted in peace.
- These movements were cancelled due to any kind of violent activity during the movement.
- The movements were run on the strength of truth and non-violence.
Some Exceptional Qualities of Mahatma Gandhi
- Simple Living, High Thinking – Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi believed in the simple idea of high life, because of his nature, people used to call him ‘Mahatma’. Rabindranath Tagore first gave Gandhi the title of Mahatma.
- Truth and Non-Violence – Mahatma Gandhi’s two weapons of life were truth and non-violence. By making these two his own strength, he was able to liberate India from slavery and forced the British to leave India.
- Gandhiji’s Objective was to Remove Untouchability – Mahatma Gandhi’s main objective was to remove untouchability that had been fixed its strong root into the society, for this he tried hard and gave backward castes the name of ‘Harijan’ in the name of God. He also stared to publish a newspaper named Harijan.
Influence of Gandhi’s Vision on the World
Gandhi’s life and teachings inspire many people who consider Gandhi as their Guru or who dedicate their life to spread Gandhi’s ideas. Important leaders and political activities were influenced by Gandhi. The leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King and James Lavson, were greatly attracted by the ideas of Gandhi, which developed their principles of non-violence. The anti-apartheid activist and former South African President Nelson Mandela was inspired by Gandhiji. Others are Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Steve Biko and Aung Soo Kyi (Aung San Suu Kyi).
Of Europe, Romain Rolland was the first person to discuss Gandhiji in his book Mahatma Gandhi in 1926, and Maria Lasarda de Maura, anarchist and feminist of Brazil, wrote about Gandhi in his work Pacifism. Albert Einstein, a scientist, corresponded with Gandhi and in his later letters called him “the model for the future generations”.
Lanza del Vasto came to India in 1936 with the intention of staying with Mahatma Gandhi; and later he came back to Europe to spread Gandhi’s philosophy and in 1949 he founded the Community of the Arch. Influenced by Gandhi’s ashram, Madeleine Slade (Miraben) was the daughter of a British navalist who spent much of his adult life in India as a devotee of Gandhi.
Additionally, British composer John Lennon cited Gandhi when he was expressing his views on non-violence. In 2007, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, former US Vice President and environmentalist Al Gore told Gandhi’s influence on him.
Evidences of Gandhi’s Popularity in the World
October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday, so on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, there is a national holiday in India. On June 15th, 2007, the “United Nations General Assembly” announced a resolution, that October 2nd of every year will be commemorated as “International Day of Non-Violence”.
In 1930, Time magazine named Mahatma Gandhi the man of the year. Time magazine named Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Dr. Martin Luther King (Jr)., Cesar Chavez, Aung San Suu Kyi, Benigno Akuino Jr., Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela who followed the path led by Gandhi and they were considered as the spiritual successor of non-violence. In 1969, the United Kingdom released a series of postage tickets to commemorate the centenary anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Many statues of Gandhiji are located in the United Kingdom at special places like Tavistok Chowk near London University College, London, where he got his law education. In the United Kingdom, “National Gandhi Memorial Day” is celebrated on January 30th every year.
In the United States, Gandhi’s statues are in the Messasuchat’s Way, near Union Square in New York City and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta and the Indian Embassy in Washington D.C. A statue has been installed in the memory of Gandhi near the Indian embassy in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where Gandhi was removed from the first-class in 1793. Gandhi’s statues are established at the Wax Museum in Madame Tussaud, London, New York and in many cities around the world.
Death of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30th January 1948 by Nathuram Godse and his associate Gopal Das in the garden of Birla Bhawan. The entire world was amazed by this incident and with great grief in hearts of millions paid their homage. His last journey was attended by a large number of people. His funeral procession was about 8 km long, in which the number of pedestrians was about 10 lakh, while more than 1.5 million people were standing on the way and paying their last tribute to their father of nation. The funeral of the great Mahatma Gandhi has also been called the biggest funeral of independent India.
Mahatma Gandhi’s movements on the path of peace and non-violence has played an important role in liberating slave India and left a deep impact in everyone’s life in the entire world. Gandhiji always gave a message of tolerance towards various religions. He also tried to unite the Hindu-Muslim in his life. With this, Gandhiji’s personality was such that everyone was eager to meet him and was impressed by meeting him.
Gandhi, the ideal hero of independence, made many agitations for the country, many times he was also proposed to take political position, but Gandhiji never took the position of politics in his entire life. Gandhi had many admirers due to his ideals of life and his great ideas. Mahatma Gandhi was also responsible for the Civil Rights Movement in 4 continents and 12 countries. Apple company founder Steve Jobs also wore round glasses in honour of Mahatma Gandhi.