For the average Indian, it could be just another holiday. But the average Indian lives in a country where every town and city has at least one road, one market, one statue and one park named after Gandhi. The average Indian has written essays on the Mahatma in school, and pored over his contribution to India’s independence in History classes. While most historical personalities in India’s checkered history, no matter how dynamic, could inspire only a fraction of the population, Gandhi connected with Indians at their own level, their caste, creed, sex or status notwithstanding, and was aptly christened bapu or father. To strike a cord in the heart of an average Indian, when the average Indian is classified as a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Shudra, (levels of castes in Hinduism established as early as the pre-Vedic era), or is a Tamilian, Punjabi or Marathi, a speck in a nation that spouts at least 17 different languages, is no mean feat. Perhaps no other historical figure in India has enjoyed such a rare distinction. This was Gandhi’s forte, alone.
This is not to say that hagiographers could be summoned, and Gandhi is above criticism. In fact, the man attracted criticism, and continues to do so, like a bee is drawn to honey. But few would have beheld the man and his philosophy, without yielding both a reaction.
Gandhi hardly needs an introduction. A voluminous literature has gone into studying the man who became the Mahatma or ‘great soul’. His personal writings add up to ninety large volumes.
... achieve. Gandhi succeeded because in 1915 he returned to India and within five years, he became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement ... I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger ... really a reasonable man that bases everything on rights and helping out other people that is in need. Gandhi was awarded by ...
¤ A Brief History
Born in 1869, in Porbandar in the state of Gujarat into a Vaishya (merchant class) family, Gandhi was married at the age of 13 to Kasturba. He was an average student who studied law in England from 1888 to 1891. Before leaving India, his mother made him promise that he would abstain from meat, alcohol and sex. The years passed soon and Gandhi was back in Mumbai. It was time for his first and only case as a lawyer in India, and the man stood ineptly tongue-tied in court. The writing was on the wall, and Gandhi lost the case. His uncles packed him off to South Africa in 1893 to work for an Indian merchant involved in a civil suit.
¤ The Beginning of Struggle In Africa
The turning point in Gandhi’s life begin in South Africa. He found himself in the midst of an intimidated and oppressed Indian community that was the butt of racial discrimination. Only too aware of his own shortcomings, Gandhi struggled to overcome his personal inhibitions, and worked towards uniting the South African Indians to protest against discrimination and racial bias. After a few brief spells in prison, he succeeded in getting the local governance to relax its laws for the first time in 1908, then again in 1914.
He withdrew his children from a regular school and established a farm at Phoenix in 1904 where he endeavored to build a community based on the combined philosophies of John Ruskin, Leo Tolstoy and Henry Thoreau whom he called a true American. Around the same time, he started a correspondence with Tolstoy. In 1906 he took a vow of celibacy. He lived in South Africa for 20 years and it would not be out of line to believe that the nature of his work in South Africa inspired him to achieve the near impossible back home, where Gandhi was already a name to reckon with.
¤ Gandhi’s Fight For Indian Freedom
He finally returned to India in 1915. Instead of breezing into Indian politics, he thought it necessary to travel across India, and had the first adult up-close-and-personal experience of his country. What he saw was an India crippled by poverty and ignorance, and the apathetic handling of the country’s affairs by the British. Appalled by an abject India, he set up the Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad and went on to live there in quest of his Holy Grail. But peace was hard to come by when his country folk were at the mercy of feudal lords, and colonisation as a phenomenon was rearing its ugly head in various pockets of the world. His quintessential need to see the world at peace spearheaded him into the whirlpool of politics, after which there was, of course, no looking back. and the once tongue-tied lawyer would kindle a nation’s imagination and shape its history.
... either to India or to South Africa. When a person makes reference to being ‘South African’, ‘Indian South African’ or ‘South African Indian’, they are ... were part of India until Indian independence. There are other cleavages in the Indian community in South Africa as they are ... a closed concept. The Indians in South Africa are originated from the diverse regions of colonial India, including today’s ...
¤ The Swadeshi Movement
That he was an ace economist, theologian, politician and sociologist is evident from his mastery and handling of each of these branches of knowledge. and his dialogue with the Indians and the British was based on a personal discourse that emerged at the crossroad of these disciplines. With an unparalleled understanding of the needs, wants and beliefs of the neglected and forgotten Indians, 80% of whom lived in villages, Gandhi was ready to make a difference. The Swadeshi Movement that exhorted the people of India to wear khadi (home-spun cotton) and shun European goods as the first step towards self-reliance, is just one of the numerous revolutions he engineered successfully. But the remarkable quality about Gandhi, and perhaps the reason of his sorrow, was that in spite of his obvious practical good sense, he ached for the ideal. His standards proved to be, more often than not, too high for the world around him.
¤ A Great Philosopher
He increasingly tended towards asceticism, and believed in Thoreau’s philosophy of complete self-reliance and the dignity of labour, wearing a khadi loincloth and a shawl that he had woven himself. The spinning wheel that he worked on religiously every day is profoundly symbolic of the Mahatma and his beliefs to this day. Deeply aggrieved by the unyielding caste system in his country, he worked all his life for the upliftment of the ones he called Harijans (Children of God).
His innate belief in the goodness in life and the spirituality enshrined in each human being was unshakable. He dreamt of a free and self-reliant India, where Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Harijans would live in harmony and work towards a better world.
Perhaps the most profound of his philosophies was his quest for truth, an untainted non-sectarian truth, universal in appeal. He found this aspect in ahmisa, roughly translated as non-violence. He believed in and practised ahimsa in thoughts, words, and actions that sprung from a love for mankind that lay beyond the continent of calculations and rewards – a personal philosophy inspired by the Bhagavad Gita considered as perhaps the most lucid representation of Hinduism, and by many as the most sacred book of the Hindus.
... Gandhi. He was to use his belief in Ahimsa (Passive resistance) and Satyagraha (nonviolence) to free India ... people who love him and use his philosophy to change the world. A very prominent ... for "untouchables" (lowest of the Hindu caste system), Gandhi summarily opposed it and went on fast ... of different races and ethnicity lived together in peace. In 1913, Gandhi intensified his agitation against ...
¤ End of The Legendary Hero
Gandhi led the Congress for a period of 25 years, and during this time the party truly came to represent united India’s struggle for freedom. Gandhi’s charisma caught the imagination of millions. Villagers and city dwellers, men, women and children rallied behind the Congress as it led India’s march towards freedom from the British. Freedom came, but at a price. A nation was partitioned to yield a Hindu-dominated India and a Muslim-dominated Pakistan. Gandhi opposed the partition that left millions dead, mutilated and homeless, bitterly till the end. By upholding the cause of the Muslims and Harijans, he alienated himself from the Hindu majority. and on January 30th 1948, in an India that was finally free, a Brahman named Nathuram Godse walked right upto Gandhi and shot him at point-blank range.
Both India and Pakistan continue to be plagued by the repercussions of partition till this day. That Gandhi was assassinated by a man who regarded him as a saint but could not live with his ideals, and that Gandhi hankered after the ideal in a practical world far-removed from ideality, shall forever remain a paradox.