Mahatma Gandhi Biography
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was a Hindu thinker, lawyer, and politician, born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India. He was called against his will by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Mahatma” which means Great Soul.
Gandhi led India to independence from the British Raj without using violence. His name will be eternally associated with the doctrine of peaceful resistance.
Gandhi had a great influence since he was little, and he learned from a very young age to fast to purify himself, to not harm any living being, to tolerate other religious beliefs, and to be a vegetarian. He was the youngest of the three sons of the union between Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai.
Gandhi was a withdrawn young man, silent and not at all brilliant in school. At the age of thirteen, his parents, following the Hindu custom, married him to a girl of his age called Kasturbai, with whom from the age of six he was already committed without having any idea.
In 1884, his father, Karamchand Gandhi, died, and his mother would die six years later.
As Gandhi’s school grades did not improve, in 1888, his family decided to send him to London to obtain a law degree; he was nineteen years old and had just been a father for the first time. In the English capital, he began to frequent the Theosophists, who initiated him in the reading of the first Indian classic, the Bhagavad Gita – which is part of the Mahabharata, the sacred book of the Hindus – which he would consider “the best book to find the truth” for the knowledge of the truth. In London, Gandhi also began to know about Christ, and for a time he was fascinated by the Christian belief and even hesitated between Hinduism and it. “The Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus inspired his ideals of nonviolence.
In 1893, Gandhi sailed to South Africa to work. Gandhi always said that the most decisive experience of his life, which led him to be a political leader of the first magnitude and a tenacious defender of human equality and fraternity, was while traveling on a train from Durban to Pretoria, in South Africa. In the middle of the tour, a white man entered his inn and ordered him to go to the baggage car, which was the place reserved for the “Blacks” Gandhi, who had a first-class ticket, refused. The man called the police and Gandhi was expelled from the train in the middle of the night. Since then, Mahatma Gandhi decided to fight against any form of colonialism and racism with the weapons of nonviolence.
After his work, Gandhi was about to return to India when he learned about the law to withdraw the right of suffrage to Hindus, so he decided to delay his departure for a month to organize the resistance of his countrymen. Gandhi trained his countrymen in the doctrine of Satyagraha (The Creed of Nonviolence). The Satyagraha would be edited sometime later to achieve the political force that showed in the fight for the independence of India.
Gandhi entered politics because he believed that religion was the foundation of everything and wanted to use his moral principles to all aspects of life. That is why he was so extreme in the defense of nonviolence, as his phrase shows:
“My national service is part of my training to free my soul from the bondage of the body.” Mahatma Gandhi
His way of thinking must have been influenced by his family and social context in which he grew up and developed. Despite his failures, Gandhi became one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century. His example inspired several leaders that looked for freedom such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Most of Gandhi’s ideas and practices continue to be analyzed and used throughout the world by environmental groups and anti-globalization organizations.
In 1906, he made his vow of sexual abstinence, and also he started a passive resistance and spent four months in jail. Seven years later, in 1913, he received another nine months in prison for the epic march of Natal (South Africa). After Gandhi left South Africa, the politicians who had battled strongly started admiring him. Even today, thanks to Gandhi’s legacy, the South African Indians enjoy privileges that the black population has not been able to achieve.
The return of Mahatma Gandhi to India in 1915 coincides with the outbreak of the First World War. It was then that Europe experienced the peak of the political violence of Hitler and Mussolini when Gandhi sowed in his campaigns of civil disobedience one of the greatest political successes of the twentieth century: the peaceful independence of India. Gandhi used his fine psychology, to his extensive knowledge of the British mentality: in the name of Fair Play, he renounces fighting against the English while the war lasts. While announcing his intention not to fight against England, he creates a farm in the city of Ahmedabad, an apparently almost monastic institution where he gathers his disciples. Wherever those peaceful communities of vegetarian mystics emerge, it appears later under the direction of Gandhi, a gigantic revolution.
Since the American Civil War, England is left without cotton and India becomes the first exporter of this product. India exports raw cotton and Britain converts it into cloth, thus giving work to the English working population. When an Indian purchases Western dresses, he is paying the price in gold for the cotton he grows. That is why Gandhi fought against the British textile industry; that is why he asked for the return of the craftsman yarn, which is why he forbids the use of Western garments. That is why he created the farm in Ahmedabad, that monasticism that is the powder keg of a great revolution.
The end of the First World War brought an essential change in the policy of British colonies. If in the Bihar campaign all the proposals of Gandhi had been heard in favor of the peasants, the scene was very different by 1919. Many Indians were imprisoned, and in the province of Punjab, a strong terrorist movement was organized. From that year Gandhi increased his political campaign, showing decidedly his intention to achieve independence.
Years after the massacre, Gandhi became the undisputed nationalist leader, achieving the presidency of the Indian National Congress. The great campaigns of civil disobedience were launched. Thousands of Indians filled the prisons and Gandhi himself was arrested in March 1922. Ten days later he started “the Great Judgment”; the British judge had to sentence him to six years in prison. Gandhi on the other hand, accepts “As an honor” the sentence. When he became ill in prison, in 1923, the entire European press launched a campaign in his favor, and the viceroy decided to let him go free.
The “Salt March” was Gandhi’s first great battle for independence. On March 12, 1930, in which, along with 78 worshipers, he left Sabarmati and traveled 390 km by walking for 24 days, followed by a growing number of admirers. He reached the sea and grabbed a handful of salt, symbolic act with which he invited the population to oppose the British monopoly of salt. Thus began the campaign of civil disobedience. And from the prison of Yervada, where he had been exiled again, he made in 1932 a “fast unto death.” The outbreak of the Second World War in the year 1939-1945. Britain pressured and exhausted by the United States, in February 1947 trusted the cousin of King George VI and great-grandson of Queen Victoria, Lord Mountbatten, the negotiation of Indian independence with Jinnah (head of the Muslim League) and Gandhi. In just seven months, India regained the freedom they had lost three centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi had several attacks by fanatical Hindu and Muslim extremists. During his last days in Delhi he made a fast to reconcile the two communities, which was affecting his health. Even so, he left again in public a few days before his death.
On January 30, 1948, when Gandhi was addressing the crowd in New Delhi, Hindu extremist Nathuram V. Godse came up to him and took advantage of the confusion and shot him three times. Gandhi muttered “Hei, Rama” (Oh, God) and died.
THE NINE GUIDELINES OF THE SATYAGRAHA
- A Satyagrahi, that is, a civilian resistance, will not feel anger.
- He will suffer the rage of his opponent.
- By doing so, he will withstand the assaults of his opponent, he will never retreat; but he will not submit, for fear of punishment or something similar, to any order expressed with anger.
- When any person with authority tries to arrest a civilian resistant, he will voluntarily lend himself to arrest, and will not resist the theft of his property when the authorities want to confiscate it.
- If a civilian resistant has some property in his possession as trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, although in defending it he may lose his life. In no case shall he retaliate.
- No retaliation includes insulting and cursing.
- Therefore, a civilian resistant will never insult his opponent, and therefore he will not take part in any of the new insults that are contrary to the spirit of Ahimsa.
- A civilian resistant will not salute the United Kingdom flag, nor insult her or the officers, English or Indians.
- In the course of the fight, if someone insults or assaults an officer, the resistant civilian should protect said officer or officers from the insult or the attack even with his life.
“I am just a poor lost soul who strives to be totally good. ” Mahatma Gandhi