Mahatma Gandhi Essay

Mahatma Gandhi whose real name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born in 1869 at Porbandar in the state of Gujarat in India. His father’s name was Karamchand Gandhi and his mother’s name was Putlibai. He was the youngest in the family of one sister and three brothers. Both his parents were deeply religious and frequently visited temples and took their meals only after daily prayers.

In school Gandhi was a mediocre student who was quite an introvert. He was even afraid to talk to any student in the class as he thought that they would poke fun at him. However, he always upheld his honesty and truthfulness. He believed in respecting his elders and was always ‘blind to the faults of the elders’.

Gandhi was married in 1882 at the age of thirteen to a girl named Kasturbai. He passed his matriculation exams in 1887 and then soon returned to Porbander as he found the studies of his college very tough. Then later on he went on to the University of London in England to pursue the study of law after a lot of opposition from his mother and some other people .He vowed not to touch woman, wine and meat. He passed the London matriculation exam in the second attempt. At last he sailed back to India in June, 1891.later on, he went to Bombay to study Indian Laws. In spite of getting a case, he went to South Africa in April 1983.

Gandhi sailed for South Africa in April 1893 and reached Natal at the close of May. It was in South Africa that Gandhi had a lot of experience in laws, handling cases and many other fields.

He observed the pitiful conditions of the Indians and other colored people and also experienced it when on his way to Pretoria from Natal, he was thrown out of a train because he was the only colored person in the first class compartment.

During this time Gandhi became deeply interested in religion. In spite of his Christian friends’ tries of converting him to Christianity, he kept his faith. He helped the Indentured Indian laborers and fought for their rights. After three years in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1896.

Gandhi had a lot of shortcomings in his personal life. He was a very suspicious husband and kept an eye on all the movements of his wife, Kasturbai. This resulted in bitter quarrels becoming the order of the day. But in his autobiography, Gandhi says that he did all this because he “wanted to make his wife an ideal wife and make her live a pure life.” Some more of his shortcomings were that at a young age he had started smoking and eating meat in company of a cousin and a friend. He stole money from his servant’s pocket and bought cigarettes. At last he gave up all the malpractices and became a strict vegetarian and stuck to it all his life. He educated his children and the child of his widow sister. He also became a very religious person and was greatly influenced by the “saintliness” of his mother. He practiced Ahimsa (non-violence), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-possession).

In his public life, Gandhi was very successful. When he went to South Africa, he came in contact with many people and went through many experiences. He protested against the color bar and helped all those who were neglected

During the Boer War he participated with the British. He and some other people joined to form the Ambulance Corps who took care of the wounded fighters. Gandhi awakened a sense of duty to the Indians settled in South Africa, so that they sent money for the famine relief during the famines in India in 1897 and 1899. In 1917, he got the Indentured Emigration from India, abolished.

After returning to India, he set about reforming it. His campaign in India started from Champaran, a small place in the state of Bihar. There he fought for the rights of Indigo farmers. He upheld the principles of Swaraj (self rule), Swadeshi (self sufficiency) and Satyagraha (truth as a medium of protest). He instructed the people not to wear foreign clothes or use foreign goods. He told them to make their own clothes using handlooms and the cloth that they wore was known as Khadi. Even Gandhi made his own clothes by using a Charkha (spinning wheel), which became the symbol of prosperity and integrity of India.

Gandhi created a number of Ashrams or communities where men, women and children from all backgrounds and nationalities came to learn from his daily example on how to make non-violence and love the basis of their lives. One of the ashrams was the Sabarmati Ashram in the state of Gujarat. He understood the problems of the untouchables who were thrown out of society. He called these people “Harijans” or “people of the lord”. Wherever he went, he collected money for the Harijans. He traveled

in the third class of the trains, which were dirty and meant for the low caste Indians. When someone asked him why, he simply said, “Because there is no fourth.”

Gandhi faced many challenges towards the end of his life. In 1930, the British government levied tax on salt, which was the primary ingredient of every household’s meal. Gandhi collected some followers and marched to a small, coastal town of Dandi, situated near the Arabian Sea, 240 miles away, where he proposed to produce salt from the sea water. Thousands of people joined the march on the way. This was known as the DANDI MARCH. Gandhi was arrested after this incident. But this did not hinder his courage. He started the NON- CO-OPERATION MOVEMENT. Nobody was to co-operate with the British, which would lead to their leaving India. On the 8th of August 1942 the QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT started. This non-violent protest disrupted and destroyed the British Government and their system of governance and added nationalistic fire to every Indian’s heart.

On the eve of independence, Hindus and Muslims in India were in the throes of civil war. All the government forces were powerless to stop the massacres. The bloodshed and destruction touched the very depths of Gandhi. He went straight to the heart of the violence and walked barefoot through the remote, ravaged villages as a one-man force for peace.

“He who trembles or takes to the heels, the moment he sees two people fighting, is not non-violent, but a coward. A non-violent person will lay down his life in preventing such quarrels” said Gandhi and he truly justified it.

It was on the evening of 30th of January 1948, that the final tragedy took place. Mahatma Gandhi was in Delhi, requesting for Hindu-Muslim unity.

When the time for prayer meeting came, he walked briskly with his arms on the shoulder of two of the ashram girls. As he walked to the platform through the huge crowd, he held his palms together in front of him. Suddenly, a young man placed himself in Gandhi’s path and fired a gun point-blank into his heart.

Such was the greatness of Gandhi that as his body fell, he called out “Rama, Rama, Rama” which meant I forgive you, I love you, I bless you. The killer was later identified as Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic.

This 30th day of January, is known in India as the Martyr’s Day.


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