Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was one of the most prominent figures of the Indian Independence Movement. He is best known for philosophies like civil disobedience and total non-violence. He had a key role to play in India's freedom struggle. In fact, some historians believe that if it were not for his efforts, independence would have eluded the nation for a long time. In India, he was fondly referred to as Bapu, meaning the Father of the Nation.
✦ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar―a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat.
✦ He was married to Kasturba Makhanji in May 1883 at the age of 13; Kasturba was 14-year old.
✦ At the age of 18, Gandhi went to London, England, where he studied law at the University College London and became a barrister.
✦ In the Zulu War of 1906, he commanded the stretcher-bearer corps, which was formed to treat the British soldiers injured in this war.
✦ He worked as an editor for several English, Hindi, and Gujarati newspapers in India and South Africa, including the Harijan, Indian Opinion (South Africa), and the Young India.
✦ It was his experience in South Africa that brought about his realization of the social injustice prevailing in the society and turned out to be a catalyst for his social activism.
✦ When he returned to India, he saw the same discrimination, and this made him take part in the Movement for India's Independence. Eventually, he spearheaded the Movement and forced the British to leave India.
✦ In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi assumed the leadership of the Indian National Congress and led a nationwide campaign in support of various social issues prevailing during that period.
✦ In March 1930, Gandhi launched a satyagraha (non-violent movement) against the tax levied on salt. A key component of this movement was the Dandi March, as a part of which he walked for a distance of 241 miles from Ahmedabad to Dandi (Gujarat) to make salt himself.
✦ He was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist, Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948.
✦ All throughout his life, he practiced non-violence and truth, and advocated the need to follow these principles.
✦ Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography titled An Autobiography of My Experiments with Truth, which gives a detailed account of his life till 1920, was published in 1927. In 1999, Harper Collins publishers declared it one of the 100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century.
✦ Such was his charisma that the Time Magazine named him the Man of the Year in 1930.
✦ He was chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948, but was assassinated before it was conferred on him. The Nobel Committee decided not to award the Peace Prize for that year.
✦ In 1999, Gandhi was declared the runner-up for the Time magazine's Person of the Century, which eventually went to Albert Einstein.
- I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.
- Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?