|Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi is regarded the
"father of nation" of India. He was a leader of the
Indian nationalist movement against British rule. In the eyes
of millions of his countrymen, he was the Mahatma, the great
soul. Internationally he is esteemed for his doctrine of
nonviolent protest to achieve political and social
progress. Gandhi was indeed the greatest leader of the
Indian nationalist movement. In fact, he can be regarded
as a great leader of all the major revolutions of the 20th
century: the revolutions against colonialism, racism, and
Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbander,
Gujarat, India in a devout Hindu family. He was the youngest
child of Karamchand Gandhi's fourth wife Putlibai. Karamchand,
his father, was the chief minister of Porbandar, Gujarat, in
western India, under the British rule. As a student Gandhi was
not that brilliant. However, he had been religious and driven
by a sense of morality since his early school
Gandhi's mother was thoroughly dedicated to her
religion. And followed all rites strictly. Thus Gandhi was
brought up in an environment where things, such as,
ahimsa (noninjury to all living beings), vegetarianism,
fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance had been
taken for granted.
After finishing school Gandhi had been to London to major in
Law. He came back to India to be practice Law. However, he had
to set sail for South Africa for a better professional career.
This is where he got involved in political movements. Soon
Gandhi took the lead in organizing protests against the
injustices of the South African Government. When Gandhi finally
came back to India he was already a popular political leader.
He joined the Indian National Congress and led the nationalist
Gandhi devised certain disciplines in lifestyle to equip
himself for service of the causes to which he was totally
committed. And he observed them in his food habit, sleep,
thought, prayer, and daily activities.
Gandhi had been a die hard preacher for non-violent protests.
He also followed certain dietary thoughts and ideas,
believed in nature cure, and prescribed moral austerity, a
quest for truth, and a complete refusal of the pleasures of the
flesh. Though many of his of his political colleagues accepted
nonviolence as a creed, very few of them followed his other
thoughts and ideas.
Gandhi had been a great mediator and reconciler. And all
through his political career he mediated to resolve the
conflicts between the older moderate politicians and the young
radicals, the political terrorists and the parliamentarians,
the urban intelligentsia and the rural masses, the
traditionalists and the modernists, the caste Hindus and the
untouchables, the Hindus and the Muslims, and the Indians and
He wrote copiously; the collected edition of his writings runs
to more than 80 volumes.
Much of what he wrote was in response to the needs of his
co-workers and disciples and the exigencies of the political
situation, but on fundamentals, he maintained a remarkable
consistency, as is evident from the Hind Swaraj ("Indian
Home Rule") published in South Africa in 1909.
Gandhi dreamt of having an independent India. And he had it.
But not the way he, or most of the Indians, wanted. India
gained Independence after compromising a division. And it was
one of the greatest disappointments of Gandhi's life that
Indian freedom was realized without Indian unity. Still he
fought to the last for an independent united India. He even
went on a fast when persuasion failed. But nothing
materialized. And unfortunately Gandhi was held responsible for
all the consequences. He was shot down to death by a
Hindu fanatic in Delhi, on January 30, 1948,
just a few months after India achieved her
years Gandhi's name has been invoked by the organizers of
numerous demonstrations and movements. Gandhi won the affection
and loyalty of gifted men and women, old and young, with vastly
dissimilar talents and temperaments; of Europeans of every
religious persuasion; and of Indians of almost every political
line. Great scientist, like Albert Einstein, great economist
like Gunnar Myrdal, and the social activist like Martin Luther
King, Jr. were all his admirers. In a time of deepening social
disturbances and unrestness all over the world, Gandhi's ideas
and techniques seems to be still vey relevant today.