Even as a child Gandhi was deeply influenced by his mother Putlibai’s deeply religious and austere beliefs. He did his primary schooling at Porbandar, and his high school at Albert High School, Rajkot. Gandhi showed no particular brilliance, played no games, and was quite an introvert. He read little beyond text books, but respected his teacher, and was determined not to copy from his neighbour’s answer sheets.
Marriage with Kasturba, at the age of thirteen, was almost play. But Gandhi began as a jealous and possessive husband; he wanted to make his illiterate wife an ideal one. The other person he was much attached to was his eldest brother Laxmidas. When their father was no more, it was Laxmidas who helped to educate him and send him to England for legal studies.
Putlibai let Gandhi go abroad only after he vowed to lead a simple & religious life. For a while Gandhi was tempted to follow westerners. But soon he returned to simplicity. A vegetarian by tradition he soon became one by conviction, joining and working actively for the London Vegetarian Society. He was called to the Bar in June 1891.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the Porbandar city of Gujarat, to Karamchand Gandhi, the diwan of Porbandar, and his wife, Putlibai. Since his mother was a Hindu of the Pranami Vaishnava order, Gandhi learned the tenets of non-injury to living beings, vegetarianism, fasting, mutual tolerance, etc, at a very tender age. Mohandas was married at the age of 13 to Kasturba Makhanji and had four sons. He passed the matriculation exam at Samaldas College of Bhavanagar. In the year 1888, Gandhi went to University College of London to study as a barrister.
He came back to India after being called to the bar of England and Wales by Inner Temple. In 1893, he accepted a yearlong contract from an Indian firm to a post in Natal, South Africa. There, he faced racial discrimination directed at blacks and Indians. Such incidents provoked him to work towards social activism.
Civil Rights Movement in South Africa
Indian Independence struggle and Gandhi
Non-cooperation Movement and Swaraj
Non-cooperation Movement of Mahatma Gandhi was one of his prime fights against the British. The massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh of Punjab was what instigated him to take this step. After the gruesome incident, he focused himself entirely on obtaining complete autonomy for the country as well as the control of all Indian government institutions. Soon, this movement turned into Swaraj (complete individual, spiritual and political independence). His association with the Indian National Congress (INC) was further strengthened in December 1921, when he was made the executive authority of the party.
Under Mahatma Gandhi, INC was restructured, accepting the goal of Swaraj, having open membership, forming a hierarchy of committees, and so on. He urged Indian citizens to boycott imported goods, British educational institutions, law courts, government employment, and the like. Non-cooperation became very popular and started spreading through the length and breadth of India. However, the violent clash in Chauri Chaura town of Uttar Pradesh, in February 1922, led to a sudden end of this movement. Gandhi was arrested on 10th March 1922 and was tried for sedition. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment, but served for only two years in prison.
Problems in the Indian National Congress
Salt Satyagraha and Dandi March
The flag of India was unfurled in Lahore by the members of the INC on 31st December 1929. January 26, 1930 was celebrated as the Independence Day of India. Soon, British government levied a tax on salt and Salt Satyagraha was launched in March 1930, as an opposition to this move. Mahatma Gandhi started the Dandi March with his followers in March, going from Ahmedabad to Dandi on foot, to make salt himself. The campaign became so successful that British ended up arresting over 60,000 people who participated in the March. Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed in March 1931, where the British Government set all political prisoners free as an exchange for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement.
The end of the great war brought India no freedom, only more repression. Gandhi called for country-wide hartal to protest against the Rowlatt Act. Of 1919. in mosques and on beaches he preached Satyagraha; pacified rioters atBombay and Ahmedabad; but Jallianwala in Punjab was to witness an unprecedented and cold blooded massacre.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
People massed in thousands, to protest against Govt. repressive policy, at Jallianwala Bagh. Determine to “Make an example of them”, the Government ordered troops to fired on the unarmed crowd. Hundreds died. Martial low and a reign of terror followed. Deeply shocked Gandhi returned his war decorations, decided to non-cooperate with a government that was evil.
Quit India Movement
As the World War II progressed, Mahatma Gandhi intensified his protests for the complete independence of the Indian subcontinent. He drafted a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. The ‘Quit India Movement’ or the ‘Bharat Chhodo Andolan’ was the most aggressive revolt of the INC, with the aim of gaining complete exit of the British from India. Gandhi was arrested on 9th August 1942 and held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. There, he lost his secretary, Mahadev Desai and his wife, Kasturba. The Quit India Movement came to an end by the end of 1943, when the British gave hints that complete power would be transferred to the people of India.
Freedom and Partition of India
The independence cum partition proposal offered by the British Cabinet Mission in 1946 was accepted by the Congress, inspite of being advised otherwise by Mahatma Gandhi. Sardar Patel convinced Gandhi that it was the only way to avoid civil war and he reluctantly gave his consent. After India’s independence, Gandhi focused on peace and unity of Hindus and Muslims. He launched his last fast-unto-death in Delhi, asking for all communal violence to be stopped and the payment of Rs. 55 crores, as per the Partition Council agreement, to be made to Pakistan. Ultimately, all the political leaders conceded to his wishes and he broke his fast by sipping orange juice.
- Brahmacharya (Celibacy)
- Faith in God