Mahatma Gandhi Essay

Throughout history most national heroes have been warriors, but Gandhi was a
passive and peaceful preacher of morals, ethics, and beliefs. He was an outsider
who ended British rule over India without striking a blow. Moreover, Gandhi was
not skillful with any unusual artistic, scholarly, or scientific talents. He
never earned a degree or received any special academic honors. He was never a
candidate in an election or a member of government. Yet when he died, in 1948,
practically the whole world mourned him. Einstein said in his tribute, “Gandhi
demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through
the cunning game of the usual political maneuvers and trickery but through the
cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life”. Other tributes compared
Gandhi to Socrates, to Buddha, to Jesus, and to Saint Fancis of Assisi. The life
of Mahatma (great soul) Gandhi is very documented. Certainly it was an
extraordinary life, poking at the ancient Hindu religion and culture and modern
revolutionary ideas about politics and society, an unusual combination of
perceptions and values. Gandhi’s life was filled with contradictions. He was
described as a gentle man who was an outsider, but also as a godly and almost
mystical person, but he had a great determination. Nothing could change his
convictions. Some called him a master politician, others called him a saint, and
millions of Indians called him Mahatma or Bapu (father). I on the other hand
call him extraordinarily great. Gandhi’s life was devoted to a search for
truth. He believed that truth could be known only through tolerance and concern
for others, and that finding a truthful way to solutions required constant
attention. He dedicated himself to truth, to nonviolence, to purity, to poverty,
to scripture reading, to humility, to honesty, and to fearlessness. He called
his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth. Gandhi overcame fear in himself
and taught others to master fear. He believed in Ahimsa (nonviolence) and taught
that to be truly nonviolent required courage. He lived a simple life and thought
it was wrong to kill animals for food or clothing. In his religious studies, he
happened upon Leo Tolstoy’s Christian writings, and was inspired. It stated
that all government is based on war and violence, and that one can attack these
only through passive resistance. This made a deep impression on Gandhi. Gandhi
developed a method of direct social action, based upon principals of courage,
nonviolence, and truth, which he called Satyagraha (holding on to truth). In
this method, the way people behave is more important than what they achieve in
life. Satyagraha was used to fight for India’s independence and to bring about
social change. In 1884, he founded the Natal Indian Congress to fight for
Indian’s rights and he used and perfected the tool of satyagraha (nonviolent
resistance) in demanding and protecting the rights of the Indian community of
South Africa. He would later use this tool in fighting the British for India’s
independence. He started his first two ashrams, (Hindu religious groups) in
South Africa, one was named Phoenix and the other, Tolstoy. Men, women, and
children lived at the Tolstoy Farm where they were schooled about fearlessness,
self-reliance, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and suffering; and embracing poverty
and living in harmony with other people and with nature. Once educated they
could learn to practice brahmacharya, the creator God of Hindu, satyagraha, and
ahimsa, so they could attack their corrupt society and the government. He was a
believer in manual labor and simple living. He spun thread and wove the cloth
for his own garments and insisted that his followers do so, too. He disagreed
with those who wanted India to become an industrial country. From 1893 to 1914
he worked for an Indian firm in South Africa as a lawyer. During these years
Gandhi’s experiences of open, racial discrimination moved him into agitation.

His interest soon turned to the problem of Indians who had come to South Africa
as laborers. He had seen how they were treated as inferiors in India, in
England, and then in South Africa. In 1906, Gandhi began his peaceful
revolution. He declared he would go to jail or even die before obeying an
anti-Asian law. Thousands of Indians joined him in this civil disobedience
campaign. He started protest campaigns and organized demonstrations, but never
used violence. His philosophy was to never fight back against the atrocities,
but still never retreat. This, he said, would decrease the hate against him and
his fellow believers, and increase the respect felt towards him. Gandhi’s one
aim was that everybody – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Christians, black, white,
and yellow – could live together in peace and harmony. On January 13, 1948, at
the age of 78, Gandhi began his last protest. On January 18, British leaders
pledged to stop fighting and Gandhi ceased his nonviolent attack. Twelve days
later, on January 30, 1948, in Delhi, while on his way to his regular prayer
meeting, Gandhi was shot and killed by a Hindu fanatic opposed to partition.

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Mohandas Ghandi was the source of many changes throughout, India, Britain, and
the world. With all that Ghandi has done in our world it becomes overwhelming
when I think about his life. What Ghandi did in terms of opening the minds of
the people of India is almost analogous to what Christ did to open the minds of
the people around him. With all that can be said about Ghandi, I would like to
now shift focus upon his economic impact in Britain and India. Britain’s
self-glorifying empire building was a great hindrance on the Indian economy.

Britain employed the “Mother Country” system in Indian. This is a system
where the raw materials of the colony (i.e. India) are harvested and shipped to
the Mother country (i.e. Britain.) The raw materials are manufactured into goods
that are shipped back to the colony where they can be sold for a great profit.

Britain had a firm grasp on the cotton market in India. The Indians were forced
to sell their raw cotton to the British, and the British would manufacture it
into clothes that were sold back to the Indians. Ghandi saw how England was able
to railroad the Indian population with its strangle hold on the cotton market.

As stated earlier, Ghandi hand-spun his own cloth and inspired others to do as
well. By making and using their own cotton the Indian people were protesting the
British way of doing things. Ghandi, and his followers, rejected Western style
clothing because they had strong feelings of nationalism and proclaimed they
were not westerners, thus they would not wear their style of clothing. The
Western style of clothing was just one of many things Ghandi rejected while he
was developing into the man that we remember. Had Ghandi accepted the
traditional Western style clothing he would not have been able to reach all
Indians since a large number of Indians could not afford British clothes.

Ghandi’s policy of non-cooperation and peaceful disobedience is one that would
be very difficult to follow through with. I do believe that peaceful protest is
a very effective means of getting what you want. When people see a group
protesting in a non-violent fashion and then they see that group beaten to the
ground by police, it tends to build public support for those in protest.

Ghandi’s defiance towards British rule brought forward a primal emotion that
exists in all people, fear. Ghandi undoubtedly had some fear of what might come
of him because of his actions, but that did not stop him from pursuing his goal.

Ghandi’s ability to inspire the Indian nation certainly caused fear in the
British. Approximately 50,000 British were in a foreign land trying to control
300 million Indians, those are not good odds when the people you are controlling
start to rebel. Ghandi would not let his fears stop him, regardless of how he
felt he continued to stand for equality and justice. Mahatma Gandhi was an
astounding example of someone who was pass and misunderstood, and yet had great
determination and beliefs. Throughout his life he brought attention to his
beliefs of equality and nonviolence , two main factors of world peace. His
teachings, thoughts, and beliefs hold great knowledge and will be forever left
as his legacy. Hopefully, when his life accomplishments and beliefs are looked
at and considered by all masses, Gandhi’s true intention could result causing
a powerful effect on humanity; a rebuilding of government and society and in
effect world peace.


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