Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Hindi: , pronounced: [moːˈɦənd̪aːs kəˈrəmtʃənd̪ ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi] ( listen). 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement.
Pioneering the use of non-violent resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a tool to fight for civil rights and freedom that he called satyagraha, he founded his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve political and social progress based upon ahimsa, or total nonviolence for which he is internationally renowned. Gandhi led India to its independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma (or “Great Soul,” an honorific first applied to him by Rabindranath Tagore). In India, he is also called Bapu (or “Father”) and officially honoured as the Father of the Nation. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence.
Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers in protesting excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj—the independence of India from foreign domination.
Gandhi famously led Indians in protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same.
He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.
Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948, by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who felt Gandhi was sympathetic to the Muslims. January 30, hence is observed as Martyrs’ Day in India.
Early Life & Background
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency, British India. He was born in his ancestral home, now known as Kirti Mandir, Porbandar. His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu Modh community, served as the diwan (a high official) of Porbander state, a small princely state in the Kathiawar Agency of British India. His grandfather was Uttamchand Gandhi, fondly called Utta Gandhi.
His mother, Putlibai, who came from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community, was Karamchand’s fourth wife, the first three wives having apparently died in childbirth. Growing up with a devout mother and the Jain traditions of the region, the young Mohandas absorbed early the influences that would play an important role in his adult life; these included compassion for sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance among individuals of different creeds.
The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and Maharaja Harishchandra, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that it left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: “It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number.” Gandhi’s early self-identification with Truth and Love as supreme values is traceable to these epic characters.
In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji (her first name was usually shortened to “Kasturba”, and affectionately to “Ba”) in an arranged child marriage, according to the custom of the region and thus lost a year at school. Recalling the day of their marriage, he once said, “As we didn’t know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives.”
However, as was also the custom of the region, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents’ house, and away from her husband. In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple’s first child was born, but survived only a few days, and Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, had died earlier that year. Mohandas and Kasturba had four more children, all sons: Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900. At his middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot, Gandhi remained a mediocre student.
He shone neither in the classroom nor on the playing field. One of the terminal reports rated him as “good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting.” He passed the matriculation exam for Samaldas College at Bhavnagar, Gujarat, with some difficulty. While there, he was unhappy, in part because his family wanted him to become a barrister.
On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was shot while he was walking to a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting. The assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha, who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting upon a payment to Pakistan. Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were later tried and convicted; they were executed on 15 November 1949.
Gandhi’s memorial (or Samādhi) at Rāj Ghāt, New Delhi, bears the epigraph “Hē Ram”, (Devanagari: हे ! राम or, He Rām), which may be translated as “Oh God”. These are widely believed to be Gandhi’s last words after he was shot, though the veracity of this statement has been disputed. Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation through radio:
“Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.”—Jawaharlal Nehru’s address to Gandhi
Gandhi’s death was mourned nationwide. Over 2 million people joined the 5 mile long funeral procession that took over 5 hours to reach Raj Ghat from Birla house, were he was assassinated. Gandhi’s body was transported on a weapons carrier, whose chassis was dismantled overnight to allow a high-floor to be installed so that people could catch a glimpse of his body. The engine of the vehicle was not used, instead 4 drag-ropes manned by 50 people each pulled the vehicle. All Indian owned establishments in London remained closed in mourning as Indians from all over Britain converged at India House in London.
Khan argues that Gandhi’s death and funeral helped consolidate the authority of the new Indian state. With Nehru in charge, the government made sure everyone knew the guilty party was not a Muslim. Congress tightly controlled the epic public displays of grief over a two-week period—the funeral, mortuary rituals and distribution of the martyr’s ashes—as millions participated and hundreds of millions watched. The goal was to assert the power of the government and legitimize the Congress Party’s control. This move built upon the massive outpouring of Hindu expressions of grief. The government suppressed the RSS, the Muslim National Guards, and the Khaksars, with some 200,000 arrests. Gandhi’s death and funeral linked the distant state with the Indian people and made more understand the need to suppress religious parties during the transition to independence for the Indian people.
Gandhi’s ashes were poured into urns which were sent across India for memorial services. Most were immersed at the Sangam at Allahabad on 12 February 1948, but some were secretly taken away. In 1997, Tushar Gandhi immersed the contents of one urn, found in a bank vault and reclaimed through the courts, at the Sangam at Allahabad. Some of Gandhi’s ashes were scattered at the source of the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda, and a memorial plaque marks the event. On 30 January 2008, the contents of another urn were immersed at Girgaum Chowpatty by the family after a Dubai-based businessman had sent it to a Mumbai museum. Another urn has ended up in a palace of the Aga Khan in Pune (where he had been imprisoned from 1942 to 1944) and another in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles. The family is aware that these enshrined ashes could be misused for political purposes, but does not want to have them removed because it would entail breaking the shrines.
Mystery of Gandhi’s two watches
After the death of Gandhi, shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a hindu fanatic, two museums were dedicated to his life at Birla House and another at Gandhi museum close to Rajghat. Both museums exhibit two different watches which stopped at his time of death, which Gandhi was said to be wearing, when he was killed. The watch exhibited at Birla House points to 17 minutes past five, while the watch displayed at Gandhi museum points to 12 minutes past five.
(more from Wikipedia)
This is a 5 hrs. 10 min. documentary biography of Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi. All events and principles of Gandhi’s life and thought are viewed as integrated parts of his truth-intoxicated life depicting permanent and universal values.
The purpose of the film is to tell the present and the future generations “that such a man as Gandhi in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”, to acquaint them with his life and work and to spread his message of peace and universal brotherhood to the war-weary and fear-stricken world. The film brings together a mass of visual record not only of 78-year life of Gandhi but also of an important period of India’s history.
In the second part of the series, Mishal Husain (Pakistani origin) traces Gandhi’s transformation from obscure lawyer to father of the nation and discovers a more complicated and intriguing man than the saintly Hollywood version. Gandhi had to face unpopularity, political failure and British jails. But in 1930 he triumphs – launching the most astute campaign of the age -the 240-mile Salt March that succeeded in humiliating the British Raj. This program is telecasted in BBC around Gandhi Jayanthi year 2009. It’s one of the best and reasonable effort to find flaws in Gandhi.
The Speech of Mahatma Gandhi recorded in Kingsley Hall, London in 1931. He was a great Leader who was the pioneer of Satyagraha and Ahinsa.
Mahatma Gandhi’s words of wisdom on violence, religion, humanity, love, and life.