Born: October 2, 1869
Martyrdom: January 30, 1948.
Achievements: Known as Father of Nation; played a key role in
winning freedom for India; introduced the concept of Ahimsa and
Mahatma Gandhi popularly known as Father of Nation played a stellar
role in India's freedom struggle. Born in a Bania family in Kathiawar,
Gujarat, his real name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (M.K. Gandhi). The
title Mahatma came to be associated with his name much later. Before
Gandhiji's arrival on the Indian political scene, freedom struggle was
limited only to the intelligentsia. Mahatma Gandhi's 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. Paying tribute to Mahatma
Gandhi on his death, famous scientist Albert Einstein said, "Generations
to come will scarce believe that such a man as this walked the earth in
flesh and blood".
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, a
small town on the western coast of India, which was then one of the many
tiny states in Kathiawar. Gandhiji was born in middle class family of
Vaishya caste. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was a Dewan or Prime
Minister of Porbandar. His mother, Putlibai, was a very religious lady
and left a deep impression on Gandhiji's mind. Gandhiji was a mediocre
student and was excessively shy and timid.
Gandhiji was truthful in his conduct right
the childhood. There is a very famous incident in this regard. A British
school inspector once came to Gandhiji's school and set a spelling test.
Gandhiji spelled all the words correctly except kettle. The class
teacher noticed the mistake and gestured Gandhiji to copy the correct
spelling from the boy sitting next to him. Gandhiji refused to take the
hint and was later scolded for his "stupidity".
Gandhiji was married at the age of thirteen to Kasturbai. He was in
high school at that time. Later on in his life, Gandhiji denounced the
custom of child marriage and termed it as cruel. After matriculating
from the high school, Gandhiji joined the Samaldas College in Bhavnagar.
After the death of Gandhiji's father in 1885, a family suggested that if
Gandhiji hoped to take his father's place in the state service he had
better become a barrister which he could do in England in three years.
Gandhi welcomed the idea but his mother was objected to the idea of
going abroad. To win his mother's approval Gandhiji took a solemn vow
not to touch wine, women and meat and remained true to it throughout his
stay in England.
Gandhiji sailed for England on September 4, 1888. Initially he had
difficulty in adjusting to English customs and weather but soon he
overcame it. Gandhiji completed his Law degree in 1891 and returned to
India. He decided to set up legal practice in Bombay but couldn't
establish himself. Gandhiji returned to Rajkot but here also he could
not make much headway. At this time Gandhiji received an offer from Dada
Abdulla & Co. to proceed to South Africa on their behalf to instruct
their counsel in a lawsuit. Gandhiji jumped at the idea and sailed for
South Africa in April 1893.
It was in South Africa that Gandhiji's transformation from Mohandas to
Mahatma took place. Gandhiji landed at Durban and soon he realized the
oppressive atmosphere of racial snobbishness against Indians who were
settled in South Africa in large numbers. After about a week's stay in
Durban Gandhiji left for Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, in
connection with a lawsuit. When the train reached Pietermaritzburg, the
capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. a white passenger who boarded the
train objected to the presence of a "coloured" man in the
compartment and Gandhiji was ordered by a railway official to shift to a
third class. When he refused to do so, a constable pushed him out and
his luggage was taken away by the railway authorities. It was winter and
bitterly cold. This incident changed Gandhiji's life forever. He decided
to fight for the rights of Indians. Gandhiji organised the Indian
community in South Africa and asked them to forget all distinctions of
religion and caste. He suggested the formation of an association to look
after the Indian settlers and offered his free time and services.
During his stay in South Africa, Gandhiji's life underwent a change and
he developed most of his political ideas. Gandhiji decided to
dedicate himself completely to the service of humanity. He realized that
absolute continence or brahmacharya was indispensable for the purpose as
one could not live both after the flesh and the spirit. In 1906,
Gandhiji took a vow of absolute continence. In the course of his
struggle in South Africa, Gandhiji, developed the concepts of Ahimsa
(non-violence) and Satyagraha (holding fast to truth or firmness in a
righteous cause). Gandhiji's struggle bore fruit and in 1914 in an
agreement between Gandhiji and South African Government, the main Indian
demands were conceded.
Gandhiji returned to India in 1915 and on the advice of his political
guru Gopal Krishna Gokhale, spent the first year touring throughout the
country to know the real India. After an year of wandering, Gandhiji
settled down on the bank of the river Sabarmati, on the outskirts of
Ahmedabad, where he founded an ashram called Satyagraha Ashram.
Gandhiji's first satyagraha in India was in Champaran, in Bihar, where
he went in 1917 at the request of a poor peasants to inquire into the
grievances of the much exploited peasants of that district, who were
compelled by British indigo planters to grow indigo on 15 percent of
their land and part with the whole crop for rent. Gandhiji's Satyagraha
forced British government to set up a inquiry into the condition of
tenant farmers. The report of the committee of which Gandhi was a member
went in favour of the tenant farmers. The success of his first
experiment in satyagraha in India greatly enhanced Gandhiji's reputation
in the country.
In 1921, Gandhiji gave the call for Non-cooperation movement against the
ills of British rule. Gandhiji's call roused the sleeping nation. Many
Indians renounced their titles and honours, lawyers gave up their
practice, and students left colleges and schools. Non-cooperation
movement also brought women into the domain of freedom struggle for the
first time. Non-cooperation movement severely jolted the British
government. But the movement ended in an anti-climax in February 1922.
An outbreak of mob violence in Chauri Chaura so shocked and pained
Gandhi that he refused to continue the campaign and undertook a fast for
five days to atone for a crime committed by others in a state of mob
Gandhiji was sentenced to six years imprisonment but was released in
1924 on medical grounds. For the next five years Gandhi seemingly
retired from active agitational politics and devoted himself to the
propagation of what he regarded as the basic national needs, namely,
Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchability, equality of women,
popularization of hand-spinning and the reconstruction of village
On March 12, 1930 Gandhiji started the historic Dandi March to break
the law which had deprived the poor man of his right to make his own
salt. On April 6, 1930 Gandhiji broke the Salt law at the sea beach at
Dandi. This simple act was immediately followed by a nation-wide
defiance of the law. This movement galvanized the whole nation and came
to be known as "Civil Disobedience Movement". Within a few
weeks about a hundred thousand men and women were in jail, throwing
mighty machinery of the British Government out of gear. This forced the
then Viceroy Lord Irwin to call Gandhiji for talks. On March 5, 1931
Gandhi Irwin Pact was signed. Soon after signing the pact Gandhiji went
to England to attend the First Round Table Conference.
Soon after his return from England Gandhiji was arrested without trial.
After the outbreak of Second World War in 1939, Gandhiji again became
active in the political arena. British Government wanted India's help in
the war and Congress in return wanted a clear-cut promise of
independence from British government. But British government dithered in
its response and on August 8, 1942 Gandhiji gave the call for Quit India
Movement. Soon the British Government arrested Gandhiji and other top
leaders of Congress. Disorders broke out immediately all over India and
many violent demonstrations took place. While Gandhiji was in jail his
wife Kasturbai passed away. Gandhiji too had a severe attack of Malaria.
In view of his deteriorating health he was released from the jail in May
Second World War ended in 1945 and Britain emerged victorious. In the
general elections held in Britain in 1945, Labour Party came to power,
and Atlee became the Prime Minister. He promised an early realization of
self Government in India. A Cabinet Mission arrived from England to
discuss with Indian leaders the future shape of a free and united India,
but failed to bring the Congress and Muslims together. India attained
independence but Jinnah's intransigence resulted in the partition of the
country. Communal riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out in the
country in the aftermath of partition. Tales of atrocities on Hindus in
Pakistan provoked Hindus in India and they targeted Muslims. Gandhiji
worked ceaselessly to promote unity between Hindus and Muslims. This
angered some Hindu fundamentalists and on January 30, 1948 Gandhiji was
shot dead by one such fundamentalist Nathu Ram Godse while he was going
for his evening prayers. The last words on the lips of Gandhiji were Hey
Facts About Mahatma Gandhi
Here is a brief summary of some of the major facts associated with Mahatma Gandhi. These facts highlight some of the major achievements of Mohandas Gandhi and provide valuable information on Mahatama Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi Quote
Here are some famous quotes by Mahatma Gandhi. These quotes reveal his thinking and are a guiding light and source of inspiration to others.
Mahatma Gandhi Pictures
Here is a collection of pictures of Mahatma Gandhi. These images reveal different phases and facets of his life. These photos encompass his whole life journey from childhood to his martyrdom.