Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was a Hindu thinker, lawyer, and politician, born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India.
He was killed on January 30, 1948, known mainly for vindicating and leading India’s independence through non-violent methods.
He was called against his will by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Mahatma“, which means Great Soul. Gandhi secured India’s freedom without violence; his name was eternally associated with the doctrine of peaceful resistance.
The main architect of his country’s independence (1947), he was the most important figure on the Indian political and social scene during the first half of the 20th century and one of the most influential personalities in contemporary history.
He was born in Porbandar, a small coastal town in western India, the result of the marriage of Karamchand Gandhi (the city’s prime minister) and Putlibai Gandhi.
Her mother was one of her most important influences in life, as she learned from her respect for living beings, the virtues of vegetarianism and tolerance for different ways of thinking, including other faiths and religions.
Gandhi had a great influence when he was a child because he learned from a very early age to fast in order to purify himself, not to harm any living being, to tolerate other religious beliefs, to be a vegetarian.
He was the youngest of the three children of the union between Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai.
Gandhi was a withdrawn, silent and not brilliant young man in his studies. At the age of thirteen, his parents, following the Hindu custom, married him to a girl of his age named Kasturbai, to whom he was already engaged at the age of six without a clue.
In 1884 his father, Karamchand Gandhi, died. Her mother dies six years later.
The trip to London
As Gandhi’s grades did not improve, his family decided in 1888 to send him to London for his law degree.
He was nineteen years old and had just become a father for the first time. And in the English capital, he began to frequent the Theosophists.
They initiated him in the reading of the first Indian classic, the Bahagavad Gita – which is part of the Mahabharata, the sacred book of the Hindus – which he would come to consider “the book par excellence for the knowledge of truth”.
There he also began to know about Christ, and for a time he was fascinated by Christian belief and even hesitated between Hinduism and it. “Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount” inspired his ideals of nonviolence.
In 1893 Gandhi sailed to South Africa to work. Gandhi always said that the most decisive experience of his life, which led him to be a political leader of the first order and a strong advocate of human equality and brotherhood, was while travelling on a train from Durban to Pretoria, South Africa.
Halfway along the way, a white man entered his inn and ordered him to go to the baggage car, which was the place reserved for”Blacks”.
Gandhi, who had a first-class ticket, refused. The man called the police and Gandhi were thrown off the train in the middle of the night.
Since then Mahatma Gandhi decided to fight against any form of colonialism and racism with the weapons of nonviolence.
Having completed his work, Gandhi was about to return to India when he learned of a bill to withdraw the right to vote from Hindus.
He then decided to delay the departure by one month to organize the resistance of his compatriots, and that month became twenty-two years. There he put into practice his doctrine of Satyagraha (The Creed of Nonviolence).
The Satyagraha would later be polished to the political strength it demonstrated in the struggle for India’s independence.
If Gandhi entered politics it was because he believed that religion was the foundation of everything and wanted to use his moral principles in all aspects of life.
That is why he was so extreme in his defense of nonviolence, as his phrase shows:
“My national service is part of my training to free my soul from the bondage of the body.” Mahatma Gandhi
His way of thinking must have been influenced by the family and social context in which he grew up and developed, and by the shy character he had in his childhood.
Most of its ideas and practices are still being analyzed and used worldwide by environmental groups and anti-globalization organizations.
In 1906 he took his vow of sexual abstinence. In the same year, passive resistance began and he spent four months in prison.
The 1913, he received another nine months in prison for the epic march of Natal (South Africa).
Gandhi left South Africa with the admiration of politicians who had fought hard against him. And even today, thanks to Gandhi’s legacy, South African Indians still enjoy privileges that the black population has not been able to obtain.
The Return to India
Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India in 1915 coincides with the outbreak of the First World War.
It was then that Europe experienced the height of Hitler and Mussolini’s political violence when Gandhi sowed in his campaigns of civil disobedience one of the greatest political successes of the 20th century: the peaceful independence of India.
Once again he resorts to his fine psychology, to his extensive knowledge of the British mentality: in the name of Fair Play, he renounces to fight against the English for the duration of the war.
While announcing his intention not to fight against England, he created a farm in the city of Ahmedabad, an apparently almost monastic institution where he gathered his disciples.
Wherever these peaceful communities of vegetarian mystics emerge, they later appear under the leadership of Gandhi, a gigantic revolution.
Since the American Civil War, England has been without cotton and India has become the leading exporter of this product.
India exports the raw cotton and Great Britain turns it into fabrics, thus giving work to the English working population.
When an Indian buys western dresses, he is paying the price of gold for the cotton he grows himself.
Gandhi fights against the British textile industry; that’s why he asks for the return of the artisan yarn, forbids the use of western dresses. He set up the farm in Ahmedabad, that monasticism which is the powder keg of a great revolution.
The First World War
The end of the First World War brought about an essential change in the policy of British colonies. The Bihar campaign had heard all of Gandhi’s proposals in favour of the peasants.
The landscape changed by 1919. Many Indians were imprisoned, and a strong terrorist movement was organized in Penjab Province.
From that year on, Gandhi increased his political campaign, demonstrating his intention to achieve independence.
Years after the massacre, Gandhi became the undisputed nationalist leader, winning the presidency of the Indian National Congress.
The great campaigns of civil disobedience were launched. Thousands of Indians filled the prisons and Gandhi himself was arrested in March 1922.
Ten days later the’Great Trial’ begins; the British judge’heartily regrets’ having to sentence him to six years in prison.
Gandhi, for his part, accepts the sentence as an honour’. When he fell ill in prison in 1923, the entire European press campaigned on his behalf, and the viceroy months later decided to release him.
The”Salt March” was Gandhi’s first great battle for independence. On March 12, 1930, in which, together with 78 faithful, he left Sabarmati and walked 390 km for 24 days, followed by a growing number of admirers.
He reached the sea and grabbed a handful of salt, a symbolic act by which he invited the population to oppose the British monopoly on salt. The campaign of civil disobedience begins.
And from Yervada prison, where he had again been banished, he fasted to death in 1932.
The outbreak of World War II in 1939-1945. In February 1947, Britain, under pressure and exhausted by the United States, entrusted the negotiation of India’s independence with Jinnah (head of the Muslim league) and Gandhi to King George VI’s cousin and great-grandson of Queen Victoria, Lord Mountbatten.
In just seven months India regained its lost freedom three centuries ago.
Mahatma Gandhi had several attacks by Hindu and Muslim extremist fanatics. During his last days in Delhi, he fasted to reconcile the two communities, which affected his health. Still, he went out again in public a few days before his death.
On January 30, 1948, at the age of 79, when Gandhi was addressing the crowd in New Delhi, the Indian extremist Nathuram V. Godse came to him and, taking advantage of the confusion, fired three shots at him. Gandhi muttered “Hei, Rama” (Oh, God) and died.
THE NINE PATTERNS OF SATYAGRAHA
- A Satyagrahi, he’s a cir, a resistant civilian, won’t feel anger.
- You will suffer the rage of your opponent.
- In doing so, he will endure his opponent’s assaults, never retreat; but he will not submit, for fear of punishment or anything like that, to any order expressed in anger.
- When any person in authority attempts to arrest a civilian rescuer, he or she will voluntarily lend himself or herself to arrest, and will not resist the theft of his or her property when the authorities want to confiscate it.
- If a civilian rescuer has any property in his or her possession as trustee, he or she will refuse to surrender it, even though defending it may result in the loss of his or her life.
- Under no circumstances will he retaliate.
- No retaliation includes swearing and cursing.
- Therefore, a civilian resistance fighter will never insult his opponent, and therefore will not take part in any of the new insults that are contrary to the spirit of Ahimsa.
- A civilian resistance fighter will not salute the UK flag, nor insult it, or the officers, English or Indian.
In the course of the struggle, if an officer is insulted or assaulted, the civilian rescuer must protect the officer(s) from insult or attack, even with his life.
“I’m just a poor lost soul striving to be totally good.” Mahatma Gandhi
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