Mahathma Gandhi

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Gandhi's Childhood

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi more popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi and Bapu was born in the year 1869 on October 2nd. Gandhi was born in a coastal town on the Kathiawar peninsula in named Porbandar. Porbandar was a princely state of the Kathiawar region which fell under the British Indian Empire.

Mahatma Gandhi was born to Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai, where his father was the diwan of Porbandar state and his mother was the fourth wife of his father coming from a Pranami Vaishnava family. At young Gandhi was very reserved, shy and soft. Gandhi did his middle school in Porbandhar and high school in Rajkot. He was only an average student at school. He was not active in the playing field too.

MAHATMA GANDHI In fact with great difficulty he passed his matriculation from Samaldas College in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. At the age of 13 in May 1883 Mohandas Gandhi got married to Kasturbai Makhanji who was a year older to Gandhi which in fact a year of his studying. The marriage was performed according their customs. According to the tradition then once married the bride has to spend more time at the parents place, away from her husband.

However when Gandhi was 15 years old he got his first child, but unfortunately survived just for a few days. Later Gandhi and Kasturbha were blessed with four more children all males where the first one Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900.

Gandhi's Early Life

MAHATMA GANDHI Gandhi's being in a high posting his family members wanted him to be a barrister so that he can succeed to his father's posting. SO he left to London in the year 1888 at the age of 18 to study law. Once he was there he tried to accommodate himself according the culture of the English. Initially he spent lot of time in buying new suits, learning French and the English accent.

He also took up violin and dance classes. But however soon Gandhi realized that all these ventures tried by him were worthless. So he just came out of the culture craze and spent the rest of three years in London only concentrating in his studies leading a simple life style. During his period of simple life style in England he also realized that he had a hard core vegetarianism in him.

Though non vegetarian is the most staple food of the people of England, Gandhi managed to stay a vegetarian for the rest of his life as he promised so to his mother. Gandhi also joined a vegetarian society in London where he got the introduction to great authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy. Soon Gandhi started showing great interest in reading sacred texts of Hindus like Bhagavad Gita and Shravana and king Harishchandra from which formed the basis for his later beliefs. In the year 1891 Gandhi passed his bar and returned back to India.

But however here in India Gandhi did not prove good and was not confident with his knowledge on Indian law. It was during that time in the year 1893 he got an offer from South Africa which was a year-long contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal, South Africa, a part of the British Empire. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa. Gandhi spent nearly twenty years in Africa fighting for the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights.

During his stay in South Africa Gandhi realized the problem of discrimination. He faced lot of problems like he was not allowed to enter first class trains and in fact was thrown out. Once when he was travelling by a stagecoach and when he failed to make room for a European passenger Gandhi was beaten by the driver of the coach. Incidents like being barred from entering several hotels and instances where he was asked to remove his turban and many such formed the foundation for his political views, ethics and political leadership skills.

Service to the country

MAHATMA GANDHI Noticing the racism, biased conception and injustice which the Indians suffered living in South Africa, Gandhi began to question his place in society and his people's standing in the British Empire. It was then he started focusing on the rights of the Indians in South Africa fighting that they should be treated in par with the native Africans.

Gandhi also wanted the British to appoint the Indians for the various manly tasks which the British did want to thinking that the Indians were not fit for anything. During the Boer war Gandhi volunteered in 1900 to form a group of ambulance drivers. He wanted to disprove the British idea that Hindus were not fit for "manly" activities involving danger and exertion. Gandhi raised eleven hundred Indian volunteers. They were trained and medically certified to serve on the front lines.

In order to foster his policy of peace Gandhi even established an idealistic community in 1910 named 'Tolstoy Farm' near Johannesburg. Gandhi was soon claimed to be a national hero after the blacks gained the right to vote in South Africa. Gandhi returned back to India in 1915 and started working on the excessive land tax and discrimination which was imposed on the peasants, farmers, and urban laborers.

He formed the Indian National Congress in 1921 and conducted a number of campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability and of course for a country ruled by the Indian itself. By 1920 the British rue reached its hike in India and after the death of Lokmanya Tilak Gandhiji became the leader of the Freedom Movement.

Gandhiji headed a number of Satyagrahas against lack of fairness for which he was arrested and tortured by the British. But nothing kept him from moving forward. He continued to fight for freedom of the nation with more intense and passionate feeling. A number of Civil Disobedience Movement also took place at that time. The Swadeshi movement created a great impact on the people which insisted on using only local made goods.

Gandhiji recommended people to use only hand spun clothes were Gandhiji himself wore khadi clothes which was spun by himself on his Chakra or the spinning wheel. People went to the extent of litting bonfires to the British made goods. The British tried their best to put an end to all these agitations and movements initiated by Gandhiji but it was all in vain for it only became more intense.

The Government had imposed a tax on salt, and Gandhiji started the `Salt Satyagraha'. He and many other leaders were imprisoned, but the struggle for freedom continued with greater intensity. At times the British themselves were impressed by the fearless attitude of Gandhiji and they tried negotiating with him regarding the freedom to India.

But Gandhiji made it very clear that freedom fight will not cease until freedom is granted. Gandhiji intensed the demand for the freedom struggle and the Indian National Congress passed the Quit India resolution in 1942 stating the British to leave the country immediately. At this time the British arrested both Gandhiji and Kasthurba who was with in all his fight for the freedom, but unfortunately she died in the prison itself.

Finally the British realized it is not going to be possible to rule India and they decided to leave the country and under the leadership of Gandhiji India attained freedom on 15th August 1947.After Independence Gandhiji started working towards the upliftment of the oppressed people and tried to spread unity and harmony among people. But however a group of people believed that Gandhiji favored the Muslims a lot and misconceived on that fact and on 30th January 1948, in Delhi, when Gandhiji set out to attend a prayer meeting, he was shot dead by an assailant.

Literary works

MAHATMA GANDHI Gandhiji was a productive writer who has contributed a number of literary works to the country. Some of his works include the weekly journal Young India which was published from 1919 to 1932. Hindu Swaraj is another work of Gandhiji which was published in Gujarati in 1909 and was later translated in English too.

Some of his autobiographies include The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Satyagraha in South Africa about his struggle there, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, a political pamphlet, and a paraphrase in Gujarati of John Ruskin's Unto This Last. The Indian Government published the entire works of the legend under the name The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi in the 1960s.

Honors and Awards

Gandhiji was awarded the Man of the Year in 1930 and in 1999 he was rewarded as the "Person of the Century". Though Gandhiji was not awarded many there are number of awards and rewards given in the name of Mahatma Gandhiji. Eminent social workers, world leaders and citizens are awarded by the Government of India with the annual Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize.

Though there are lot of controversies of how Gandhi didn't receive the Nobel Peace Prize he was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948, including the first-ever nomination by the American Friends Service Committee, though he made the short list only twice, in 1937 and 1947.

But however Gandhi was nominated in 1948 but was assassinated before nominations closed. When the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi."