Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869. He was the youngest child of Karamchand and Putlibai Gandhi.
His father was the Dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar, a municipality in what is now Gujarat state, then under the British rule. Karamchand Gandhi, who was known for his diplomatic skills, was the political inspiration in Mahatma Gandhi’s life.
His mother was not well-read, but had long-lasting influence over young Gandhi with her commitment to religion and her philanthropic work.
Gandhi grew up in a home that worshipped the Hindu God Vishnu, with a very strong element of Jainism, whose chief teaching is non-violence. From these religions, Gandhi extracted the practice of ahimsa (no harm to any living thing), vegetarianism, fasting, and mutual tolerance between different sects.
He moved to South Africa to work as the supporting barrister (lawyer) of Seth Abdullah and lived there for 20 years. There he occupied himself with further research on the world’s religions, Hindu spiritual texts, and embraced a life of simplicity (with its main factors being fasting, meditation, and celibacy).
The time came for Gandhi to take a stand when he was pushed out of the first class compartment of a South African train for not giving up his seat for an European passenger. He returned to India in 1914.
Gandhi would often protest the oppression of Indians under the British rule and call for the economic independence of India. He stressed the importance of manufacturing khaddar, a homespun cloth made in India, to take the place of imported textiles from Britain. Gandhi’s simplistic lifestyle, passionate words, and commitment to a non-violence protest earned him a slew of followers who started calling him Mahatma (the one with the great soul). He became the voice of Indian National Congress, which lead peaceful protests against the British.
Gandhi’s work helped India gain independence from the British in 1945. His non-violence approach, however, did not bring lasting peace to him. He was assassinated in 1948 by a Hindu who was upset with Gandhi’s acquiescence to splitting the Muslim majority parts of India into a separate country, Pakistan.
About the Author:
Amita Vadlamudi is a former computer technology professional. Her resume can be found at her Edocr and Resumonk websites. Ms. Vadlamudi’s favorite images may be found at the Alternion site.