Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India, was a prominent Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist. His role in leading India to independence from British rule through nonviolent resistance earned him the honorific title Mahātmā, meaning "great-souled" or "venerable."
Gandhi's early life was marked by his upbringing in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat. He studied law in London, was called to the bar in 1891, and initially struggled to establish a law practice in India. His pivotal moment came in South Africa, where he fought against racial discrimination and began employing nonviolent resistance in his activism. Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa, organizing campaigns for civil rights and influencing his philosophy of nonviolence.
Returning to India in 1915, Gandhi assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921. He championed various causes, including easing poverty, expanding women's rights, fostering religious and ethnic harmony, and ending untouchability. Gandhi adopted a simple lifestyle, donning a short dhoti as a symbol of solidarity with India's rural poor, and engaged in fasting as both introspection and political protest.
Gandhi played a crucial role in challenging British rule. He led the famous 400 km Dandi Salt March in 1930 to protest the salt tax, and in 1942, he called for the British to quit India. Gandhi's commitment to nonviolence led to multiple imprisonments, both in South Africa and India.
His vision for an independent India based on religious pluralism faced challenges in the 1940s with the rise of Muslim nationalism, eventually leading to the partition of India in 1947 into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Gandhi worked to ease the ensuing religious violence, undertaking hunger strikes to promote peace.
Gandhi's life and principles, rooted in truth (Satya) and nonviolence (Ahimsa), had a profound impact globally. His concept of satyagraha, or soul force, emphasized moral power over physical power, inspiring movements for civil rights and freedom worldwide. Despite facing opposition, including criticism from figures like Muhammad Ali Jinnah and B.R. Ambedkar, Gandhi's philosophy influenced leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
On January 30, 1948, at the age of 78, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, during an interfaith prayer meeting in Delhi. Gandhi's legacy endures, and he is commemorated annually on October 2nd as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday in India, and internationally as the International Day of Nonviolence. Gandhi's impact on philosophy, political movements, and global leaders underscores his enduring significance despite not receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during his lifetime.
Date of Birth: October 2, 1869
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Porbandar