Biography of Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Gandhi’s biography is very interesting to watch. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a world-renowned activist. He pioneered the struggle for independence for anyone. He was a political leader who played a dominant role in India’s struggle for independence.

This figure of Gandhi has several popular names, such as Mahatma (great soul), Bapuji (dear to fathers in Gujarati) and the Nation’s Father. The most popular, he is referred to as Mahatma Gandhi.

Every year, his birthday is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti, and is made a national holiday in India. This is a form of appreciation for Gandhi’s services, because he is considered as the most instrumental figure in freeing India from the British colony.

Gandhi’s birthday is also celebrated as International Day of Nonviolence. Gandhi has inspired the world community with an unusual but powerful political tool of Satyagraha and non-violence.

He has even inspired several other political leaders around the world including people like Nelson Mandela , Martin Luther King Jr. and Aung San Suu Kyi to follow in the footsteps of his nonviolent struggle.

So, what is the biography of Mahatma Gandhi that inspired this world so much? Let’s look at the full review below.

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Profile of Mahatma Gandhi

Real name: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Date of Birth: October 2, 1869

Place of birth: Porbandar, British India (now ‘Gujarat’)

Date of Death: January 30, 1948

Place of Death: Delhi, India

Cause of Death: Murder (shot)

Profession: Lawyer, Politician, Writer, Non-Violent Activist, Leader of Indian national movement

Spouse (wife): Kasturba Gandhi

Children: (1) Harilal Gandhi, (2) Manilal Gandhi, (3) Ramdas Gandhi and (4) Devdas Gandhi

Father’s name: Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi

Mother’s name: Putlibai Gandhi

Services: encourage the Indian independence movement, spread the doctrine of non-violent protest (satyagraha) to achieve political and social progress.

Early life and education

Indian nationalist leader Gandhi (born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India, which was then part of the British Empire.

Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, then served as chief minister in Porbandar and other states in western India. Meanwhile, his mother, Putlibai, was a woman who was very religious and fasted.

Gandhilah’s father directed Gandhi to enter the government. He wants Gandhi to become a government minister and direct him to enter the legal profession.

After his family moved to Rajkot, Gandhi, then nine years old, was enrolled in a local school. He studied the basics of arithmetic, history, geography, and language.

When he was 11 years old, he attended a secondary school in Rajkot. However, he had lost several academic years because of his marriage which took place when he was 13 years old. But then he rejoined the school and finally finished his school.

He then left Samaldas College in Bhavnagar State after joining in 1888. Then Gandhi was advised by Mavji family friend Dave Joshiji to pursue law in London.

Enthusiastic about the idea, Gandhi managed to convince his mother and wife by swearing in front of them that he would avoid eating meat and having sex in London. In 1888, 18-year-old Gandhi sailed to London, England, to study law.

Mohandas Gandhi studied law in London at the Inner Temple, one of the four municipal law colleges. The young Indian struggled to adapt to the transition of Western culture. In mid-1891 Gandhi returned to India, and he learned that his mother had died several weeks before.

Upon his return to India, he established law practice in Bombay. Unfortunately, his legal practice was not very successful. He met with excitement in a legal case in his first courtroom. Gandhi was nervous and exhausted until when it was time to cross-examine a witness, he decided to immediately leave the courtroom after returning his client’s money for legal fees.

Gandhi’s Religion and Belief

Gandhi grew up worshiping the Hindu god Vishnu and following Jainism, an ancient Indian religion. The teaching is morally harsh. In that same teaching, Gandhi learned about the principles of nonviolence, fasting, meditation, and vegetarianism.

Early days Gandhi lived in London, from 1888 to 1891, he was committed to a meat-free diet. There, he also joined the London Vegetarian Society’s executive committee, and began reading various sacred texts to learn more about world religions.

While living in South Africa, Gandhi continued to study world religions. He revealed that “the religious spirit within me became a life force,” he wrote of his time there.

He loved immersing himself in sacred Hindu spiritual texts and adopting a life full of simplicity. He learned to fast and be free from material goods.

Gandhi’s struggle in South Africa

After struggling to find work as a lawyer in India, Gandhi obtained a one-year contract to conduct legal services in South Africa . He immediately accepted a position with the Indian company that sent him to his office in South Africa.

Together with his wife, Kasturbai, and their children, Gandhi began to settle in South Africa. He began his journey in April 1893 and sailed to Durban in the state of Natal, South Africa.

When Gandhi arrived in South Africa, he was immediately confronted with discrimination and racial segregation. Apparently, such matters were common for Indian immigrants to face at the hands of British and Boer white authorities.

At that time, Britain controlled South Africa. Gandhi’s discrimination was also accepted on 7 June 1893. At that time, during a train trip to Pretoria, South Africa, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class train compartment.

Even though Gandhi had a ticket, he was forced to move to the back of the train. Gandhi was even forcibly thrown from the train at a station in Pietermaritzburg.

When he tried to claim his rights, he was abused. He then realized that all Indians experienced the same treatment there. From that moment on, Gandhi wished to devote himself to fighting the discrimination of skin color differences.

Gandhi prepared to return to India at the end of his contract for a year until he learned, at his farewell party, about a bill before the Legislative Assembly of Christmas that would deprive Indians of their right to vote.

Immigrant colleagues convinced Gandhi to stay and lead the struggle against the law. Although Gandhi could not prevent the passage of the law, he managed to draw international attention to the injustices that were taking place in South Africa.

After a short trip to India in late 1896 and early 1897, Gandhi returned to South Africa with his wife and children. Gandhi practiced his law there.

Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years and worked to secure the rights of Indians. He developed the principles of courage, non-violence and truth called Satyagraha.

He believes that the way people behave is more important than what they achieve. Satyagraha promotes nonviolence and civil disobedience as the most appropriate method for achieving political and social goals. Gandhi also formed an Indian Congress in 1894 to fight discrimination.

Satyagraha Gandhi’s teachings

In 1906, Gandhi organized his first mass civil disobedience campaign, which he called “Satyagraha” which contained the principle of “truth and decisiveness”. This action is a reaction to the new limitations of the South African Transvaal government on the rights of Indians, including the refusal to recognize Hindu marriage.

After years of protest, the government imprisoned hundreds of Indians in 1913, including Gandhi. Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts then successfully negotiated with the South African government regarding the recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of taxes for India.

Gandhi Returns to India

In 1914, Gandhi sailed from South Africa to return to his home in India. At that time, Smuts wrote, “That saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever.”

When World War I broke out, Gandhi spent several months in London. Then, in 1915, Gandhi established an ashram in Ahmedabad, India. The hostel is open to all castes.

There, Gandhi lived a hard life devoted to prayer, fasting, and meditation. Since then, he has been known as “Mahatma,” which means “great soul.”

Opposition to British Regulations in India

In 1919, India was still under British control. Gandhi witnessed how the new Rowlatt Law was enacted, increasing the authorization of the British government to imprison people suspected of incitement without trial.

Responding to British authorities which he considered increasingly arbitrary against the Indian people, Gandhi called for a protest campaign and Satyagraha’s peaceful attack. All forms of struggle are carried out in the concept of non-violence.

However, this was met with violence by the British authoritarian government. The climax, on April 13, 1919, there was a massacre at Amritsar. Troops led by British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer fired machine guns at a crowd of unarmed demonstrators and killed nearly 400 people.

This massacre made Gandhi angry and disappointed. Gandhi then returned the medal he obtained from his military service in South Africa. He decided to oppose Indian conscription in serving in World War I.

Later, Gandhi became a key figure in the movement against the colonial government in India. He called for a mass boycott, and urged government officials to stop working for the British kingdom.

He also asked students to stop attending government schools, the army to leave office and citizens to stop paying taxes and buying British goods.

As part of a campaign without cooperation without violence for domestic government, Gandhi stressed the importance of economic independence for India. He specifically advocated making khaddar, or woven fabrics themselves, to replace imported textiles from Britain.

In order not to buy clothes made in England, Gandhi himself also began to use spinning wheels to produce his own clothes. This spinning spinning wheel soon became a symbol of India’s independence and independence.

Gandhi took over the leadership of the Indian National Congress and advocated a policy of non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve domestic governance.

Gandhi turned the independence movement into a large-scale organization, leading a boycott of British manufacturers and institutions that were symbols of influence in India, including the legislature and schools.

The British government then arrested Gandhi in 1922 on three counts of sedition. Although sentenced to six years in prison, Gandhi was released in February 1924 after appendectomy.

Gandhi and The Salt March

In 1930, Gandhi took action to protest Britain’s Salt Acts. At that time, the British issued a policy to prohibit Indians from collecting or selling salt, even though salt was an important commodity for Indian society.

The British also imposed a huge tax on the people of India, making it even more miserable for the British people. Gandhi also conducted a new Satyagraha campaign, The Salt March, which required a 390 kilometer / 240 mile march to the Arabian Sea. In this campaign, he collects salt symbolically that is against the government monopoly.

“My ambition is none other than to change the British people through nonviolence and thus make them see the mistakes they have made to India,” Gandhi wrote several days before the march to the viceroy of England, Lord Irwin.

Gandhi wore his own white scarf and sandals and carried a stick. Gandhi departed from his religious retreat in Sabarmati on March 12, 1930, with several groups of followers. By the time he arrived 24 days later in the coastal town of Dandi, the rows of demonstrators had swelled even more.

In the famous Salt March movement in April-May 1930, Gandhi managed to gather thousands of Indians to follow Gandhi from Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea.

In this action, Gandhi considered breaking the law for making salt from evaporated sea water. Therefore, around 60,000 Indians were later jailed for violating the Salt Act, including Gandhi, who was jailed in May 1930.

However, the protest against the Salt Story actually raised Gandhi to become a transcendent figure throughout the world. In Time magazine, he was named “Man of the Year” in 1930.

Gandhi was released from prison in January 1931. Two months later, he made an agreement with Lord Irwin to end his Salt Satyagrah in return for a concession that included the release of thousands of political prisoners. The agreement gave the people living on the beach the right to harvest salt from the sea.

Hoping that the agreement would be a stepping stone towards the central government, Gandhi attended the London Round Table Conference. The constitution discussed the reform of the Indian constitution in August 1931. He came as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. But the conference did not produce results.

Indian independence from Great Britain

In 1942, Britain was embroiled in a second world war. During these times, Gandhi launched the “Get Out of India” movement calling for Britain to immediately withdraw from the country.

In August 1942, the British arrested Gandhi, his wife and other Indian National Congress leaders and detained them at the current Aga Khan Palace in Pune. Because of his poor health, in 1944, Gandhi was released after being detained for 19 months.

After the Labor Party took power in Britain in 1947, negotiations over the Indian government began between Britain, the Congress Party and the Muslim League. The following year, the British granted independence to India but divided the country into two regions: India and Pakistan.

Gandhi strongly opposed Partition, but he agreed with the hope that after independence, Hindus and Muslims could achieve peace internally.

In the midst of the great unrest which occurred after Partition, Gandhi urged Hindus and Muslims to live together peacefully, and went on a hunger strike until the riots in Calcutta ceased.

To calm it down, Gandhi visited riot-stricken areas to ask for peace. Gandhi also fasted to end the bloodshed. However, some Hindus actually regard Gandhi as a traitor because he expresses sympathy for Muslims.

Gandhi Family Life

Gandhi was married at the age of 13. He married Kasturba Makanji, a merchant’s daughter, in an arranged marriage. His wife faithfully accompanied Gandhi throughout his life journey, until he died in the arms of Gandhi in February 1944 at the age of 74 years.

Gandhi’s father died in 1885, and shortly after, Gandhi had to face the death of his baby. In 1888, Gandhi’s wife gave birth to the first child of four surviving sons. The second son was born in India in 1893. Kasturba gave birth to two more sons while living in South Africa, one in 1897 and one in 1900.

Murder of Mahatma Gandhi

On January 30, 1948, 78-year-old Gandhi was shot and killed by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse. The reason for Gandhi’s murder was judged to be because he felt disappointed with Gandhi’s tolerance of Muslims.

At that time, Gandhi was in a weak condition due to repeated hunger strikes for the sake of Hindu and Islamic unity. He was walking with his two grandchildren, leaving his home in Birla House New Delhi to an afternoon prayer meeting.

Then, Godse knelt before Mahatma before pulling out a semi-automatic handgun and shooting him three times at close range. This shot immediately took the life of a pacifist who spent his life preaching nonviolently.

For this murder, Godse and a conspirator were executed by hanging in November 1949. Additional conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Gandhi’s Legacy for the World

After Gandhi’s assassination, Gandhi’s positive teachings and principles inspired the world. Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolence and his belief in simple life inspired many people. Mahatma Gandhi’s biography has been written and sought to inspire the world.

Gandhi has shown how he lives a simple life by making his own clothes, eating a vegetarian diet and using fasting for self-purification and means of protest.

Satyagraha is one of the most powerful philosophies in the struggle for independence throughout the world today. Gandhi’s actions inspired future human rights movements around the world, including those carried out by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

There are five major contributions that Mahatma Gandhi made to the world, namely:

  • New spirit and technique – Satyagraha;
  • The emphasis that the moral universe is one and that the morals of individuals, groups and nations must be the same.
  • His insistence that means and goals must be consistent;
  • The fact that he does not have ideals that he did not realize or are not in the process of realizing.
  • Willingness to suffer and even to death to defend its principles.

The greatest principle or inheritance from Mahatma Gandhi is its Satyagraha teachings. This is what makes him popular as the world’s anti-violence figure.


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