Mahatma Gandhi born 2nd October 1869 in India Porbander or the White City his father Karamchand Gandhi was the prime minister of several local Indian princes at this time his mother was Putlibai his fathers 4th wie. Gandhi was set to take over his fathers position in state. He spent his youth in awe of his father but very much devoted to his mother. He grew up in an extended family. He attended private school, from the age of 7. He was always one for playing jokes during his youth although he did hold a high endurance for the truth.
He was engaged to his future wife from the age of 7 and this angered him as an adult although he did have a happy marriage Gandhi is quoted as saying at the time of his young marriage that he had no difficulty assuming the role of Husband and immediately took control of his young wife. He was married at the early age of 13 to Kasturbai. Their marriage lasted 62 years. He had taken a year out of school for this marriage to commence but soon went back after the wedding. Kasturbai was married in 1882 to Gandhi and it is thought that the beginning of their marriage was not a happy one with Gandhi’s overbearing attitude.
She was an influential figure an joined Gandhi in his movements. She had an independent spirit and did not always conform to what Gandhi insisted upon her doing. They did have difficulties within their marriage she believed he neglected his children but he did not see why they needed special privilege because they were his sons. It is obvious that despite their differences and the fact they were married at an early age they cared for each other and Kasturbai died when held in detention with Gandhi during the Quit India campaign. Gandhi was not an athletic child and shied from physical activities.
Religion was a large part of Gandhi’s life he lived in a Hindu family but jis father had a mixed group of friends that included Muslims and Jains. It is thought that as a child Gandhi was particularly interested in Jainism as it proved to be a large part of his adult life – Jainism teaches preciousness of life and also to avoid killing even the smallest of creatures:- Gandhi had a huge belief in peace and is noted as saying:- “An eye for an eye and we would all be blind. ” These ideas he heard as a child had great effect in his adult hood but as a child the subject of religion bored him and he bordered on being an atheist.
He was seen as a good student although at the age of 16 his father died (1885) and due to the fact he missed his fathers final minutes because he was with his wife he felt extreme guilt and began lacking in school and barely scraped through exams. He was then sent to England to study for his Bar exams in the hope of becoming a barrister. He found it hard to get permission to go to England from his mother due to the compromising position it was felt he would be put in due to the differences of Hindu law and normal practice of England and the Elders of Gandhi’s caste objected also to the trip and Gandhi was expelled from the Caste.
All obstacles had now been taken away and in September 1888 at the age of 19 Gandhi left for England leaving his 3-month-old 1st born child a boy named Harilal. Vegetarianism was one of these laws and Gandhi was determined it would remain important to him not due to tradition but because of the promise he had made to his mother of upholding his vegetarianism. It was in England he actually began to respect the need for vegetarianism after reading into it he embarked on the movement and he joined a vegetarian society to help promote vegetarianism and animal rights.
During this time Gandhi also attempted to westernise himself with French Dancing and Elocution lessons he soon abandoned this but regained western dress for a great many years. He passed his bar exams on June 11th 1891. Prepared a meal for the members of the vegetarian society but due to his shyness was unable to make speeches. It was only on his arrival back in India that Gandhi heard of the passing of his mother, which was held from him as it was thought that it would mean his leaving England.
The family no longer held the status and prestige that they had prior to his parents’ death and it was thought that Gandhi would re-instate it for the family. It was also a hard time for his law career and he was finding it hard to gain the living he was requiring to raise his growing family. His shyness was proving to be a large obstacle as it left him unable to cross-examine witnesses. He began to make a living writing briefs for other lawyers. It was with relief then that he received an offer from a Muslim firm to work in South Africa for a year and advise on a lawsuit which he accepted.
It was here in South Africa that Gandhi first became a celebrity as he fought for equality for Indians within South Africa after discovering the discrimination they were undergoing. It was against the Transvaal government particularly that Gandhi protested against and his first move as a public figure was made in a speech to Transvaal Indians in which he asked them to adopt clean living. It was through he speech that he told them to unite in order to achieve the equality they deserved. There were a number of changes made to Gandhi’s life upon the impact of his growing celebrity status.
His first was to become celibate between 1901 and 1906 he wrote that as a younger man he succumbed to easily to lust and that he missed the death of his father due to making love to his wife. Throughout Gandhi’s life he took great amount of philosophy and teaching from the books he read and he managed in most cases to gain a great deal of insight from them. It was at this period of his life that after reading a book on Ruskin’s theories he abandoned western dress and western habits and moved his family to a farm.
Gandhi was fast becoming a “Religio-political celebrity a crusader against injustice and the modern world. Gandhi’s protest became known as “Satyagraha” which means -truth force – or the refusal to obey unjust authority. It was in 1906 that Gandhi’s theory was put into practice as the Transvaal government made plans to register every Indian over the age of 9. On September 8th 1906 Gandhi asked the whole community to take a vow of disobedience warning first of torture killing and imprisonment for the actions he was asking them to conform to.
The law was put into place in the July of the following year. The resolve of the Indian population was soon proven. Gandhi was among the first to be imprisoned and he was sentenced for 2 months. After his release his campaign continued. A compromise put forward by Smuts the Prime minister of Transvaal Government feel apart when he broke his word to Gandhi. Indians burnt their i. d. cards and crossed borders without passes and were sent to prison in large numbers. Gandhi was sent back to prison upon his release he set on to continue the resistance for as long as was necessary.
Smuts gained a lot of respect for Gandhi but was still insistent on demoting Indians to 2nd class citizens. The final struggle came in 1913 when non-Christian marriages were made illegal causing all Indian wifes to be mistresses and all Indian children to be bastards. Gandhi drummed up huge amounts of support and the finale came when Smuts said:- “You can’t put twenty thousand Indians in jail” The negotiations resulted in an abolishment of a crippling poll tax on Indians and the reinstating of legal Indian marriages also the slavery of imported labouring Indians was abolished.
It was in July 1914 that Gandhi left South Africa and Smuts said:- “The saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever. ” But Smuts still kept Gandhi in high regard and for the rest of his life he kept a pair of sandals ‘the saint’ Gandhi had given him, and Smuts got his wish Gandhi never did set foot in South Africa again. Gandhi was now 45 and a celebrity known through India for sataygraha’s success and entered a world about to change with the onset of World War 1.
Gandhi re-entered India in early 1915 and wouldn’t leave the country again except for a short trip, which took him to Europe in 1931. Gandhi followed advice from his political mentor and familiarised himself with Indian conditions. He travelled widely and got involved with numerous struggles, such as Champaran in Bihar where indigo plantation workers complained of poor working conditions. These interventions earned Gandhi a lot of respect. Gandhi quickly ascended to the helm of nationalist politics and his leadership was based primarily on his opposition to repressive legislation.
A person of his morals was not uncommon except among those involved so heavily in politics. Gandhi during the period of 1919 – 1948 is seen as the leading figure of India’s nationalist movement and his main weapon against Britain was that of a non-violent civil disobedience campaigns which was teamed with his own personal fasts. It was this method of war, which brought about his imprisonment for 11 years it was unsure at this point whether Gandhi was a shrewd politician or a saint. But it certainly made him a world figure and the symbol of India’s fight for freedom.
Gandhi wrote a report calling for a non-cooperative movement which would mean Indians withdrawing from British institutions and to learn the at of self-reliance. In places the British administration was paralysed but it came to an end February 1922. Gandhi was arrested and imprisoned for 6 years. At ‘The Great Trial’ Gandhi delivered a masterful indictment of British rule. In 1924 after religious riots broke out Gandhi began a 21 day fast. He was released in 1925 owing to poor health.
In 1930 the nationalist movement was revived and to launch the resistance to British rule Gandhi addressed a letter to Lord Irwin about the demands of India and the consequences were they not met. Gandhi wrote that he would be forced to break the salt laws. His letter was met quite predictably with amusement and so on March 12th Gandhi and several followers went towards Dandi on the sea. Upon arrival on April 5th Ghandi picked up a lump of natural salt and gave out his signal to thousands upon thousands of people to defy the law since the British monopolised its production and sale.
Gandhi was once again arrested and this summoned the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement. To break the deadlock Irwin agreed to talks with Gandhi to negotiate independence in India. Gandhi was engaged closely in India’s reform and he refused at one point to return home prior to the salt marches should independence not be attained, in the mid 30’s he moved to a remote village in the centre of India, which had no electricity, or running water and it was here he met with politicians to hold discussions on the movement.
At the beginning of WW II Gandhi and the congress decided on a position of neutrality despite the wishes of Bose who had ran against Gandhi’s candidate in presidential elections and had won but had been unable to run the congress without the support of Gandhi. Bose resigned and fled to Japan to find support from them and the Nazi’s for his plans to liberate India. He remained a part of India’s independence movement despite his resign in 1934 . He continued to play a large part in negotiations and in reply to British charges that his campaign was irresponsible and the cause of mush chaos Gandhi said:- I tell the British, give us chaos.
I say in other words, leave India to god. ” He minimised as much as possible the communal tension that scarred the transfer of power. It was in 1942 that Ghandi issued his last call for independence from British rule and delivered a rousing speech asking every India to give up heir lives if it became necessary in their bid for freedom using the mantra ‘Do or Die’ and at the ame time asked Britain to ‘Quit India’. The British response was to arrest him and the other members of the congress and they were not released until the end of the war.
A few months into Gandhi and his wife’s confinement Kasturba died this deeply upset Gandhi. Britain’s new Government under Clement Atlee was committed to India’s independence and negotiations began quickly. Sensing the leaders need for power Gandhi mainly distanced himself from the negotiations, although he did declare his views of the anti-vivisection of India. As the distinctions between Hindu and Muslim religions became more apparent and killings began in retaliation on both sides within Calcutta and when they ceased it was seen as mainly to do with Gandhi’s efforts by even Gandhi critics.
Ghandi was also saluted on 15th August 1947 as the architect of Indian independence and as the father of the nation but he was no where to be found in the country’s capital. Gandhi’s final years were seen in many aspects as his finest. His final months were spent in Delhi where violence was escalating between religions. It was due to this violence that Gandhi entered the final fast of his life and it was only ended when all communities signed a statement agreeing to live in ‘perfect amity’. A few days after the signing a bomb exploded in Gandhi’s home during evening prayers.
Although it caused no injuries it was felt Gandhi should have extra security but he quite characteristically refused. Then on January 30th 1948 when Gandhi was walking through his garden to commence evening prayer Gandhi was shot 3 times and before dying he blessed his assassin. His watch, which hung round his neck, fell to the floor stopping at 5:12 the exact time of Gandhi’s death. Gandhi believed in a simple lifestyle thought by many as an almost saintly approach to life and sought mutual respect for all people no matter of religion class or caste.