mini biography of mahatma gandhi

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Mahatma Gandhi

By: Editors

Updated: June 6, 2019 | Original: July 30, 2010

Mahatma GandhiIndian statesman and activist Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948), circa 1940. (Photo by Dinodia Photos/Getty Images)

Revered the world over for his nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was known to his many followers as Mahatma, or “the great-souled one.” He began his activism as an Indian immigrant in South Africa in the early 1900s, and in the years following World War I became the leading figure in India’s struggle to gain independence from Great Britain. Known for his ascetic lifestyle–he often dressed only in a loincloth and shawl–and devout Hindu faith, Gandhi was imprisoned several times during his pursuit of non-cooperation, and undertook a number of hunger strikes to protest the oppression of India’s poorest classes, among other injustices. After Partition in 1947, he continued to work toward peace between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi was shot to death in Delhi in January 1948 by a Hindu fundamentalist.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, in the present-day Indian state of Gujarat. His father was the dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar; his deeply religious mother was a devoted practitioner of Vaishnavism (worship of the Hindu god Vishnu), influenced by Jainism, an ascetic religion governed by tenets of self-discipline and nonviolence. At the age of 19, Mohandas left home to study law in London at the Inner Temple, one of the city’s four law colleges. Upon returning to India in mid-1891, he set up a law practice in Bombay, but met with little success. He soon accepted a position with an Indian firm that sent him to its office in South Africa. Along with his wife, Kasturbai, and their children, Gandhi remained in South Africa for nearly 20 years.

Did you know? In the famous Salt March of April-May 1930, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea. The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi himself.

Gandhi was appalled by the discrimination he experienced as an Indian immigrant in South Africa. When a European magistrate in Durban asked him to take off his turban, he refused and left the courtroom. On a train voyage to Pretoria, he was thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and beaten up by a white stagecoach driver after refusing to give up his seat for a European passenger. That train journey served as a turning point for Gandhi, and he soon began developing and teaching the concept of satyagraha (“truth and firmness”), or passive resistance, as a way of non-cooperation with authorities.

The Birth of Passive Resistance

In 1906, after the Transvaal government passed an ordinance regarding the registration of its Indian population, Gandhi led a campaign of civil disobedience that would last for the next eight years. During its final phase in 1913, hundreds of Indians living in South Africa, including women, went to jail, and thousands of striking Indian miners were imprisoned, flogged and even shot. Finally, under pressure from the British and Indian governments, the government of South Africa accepted a compromise negotiated by Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts, which included important concessions such as the recognition of Indian marriages and the abolition of the existing poll tax for Indians.

In July 1914, Gandhi left South Africa to return to India. He supported the British war effort in World War I but remained critical of colonial authorities for measures he felt were unjust. In 1919, Gandhi launched an organized campaign of passive resistance in response to Parliament’s passage of the Rowlatt Acts, which gave colonial authorities emergency powers to suppress subversive activities. He backed off after violence broke out–including the massacre by British-led soldiers of some 400 Indians attending a meeting at Amritsar–but only temporarily, and by 1920 he was the most visible figure in the movement for Indian independence.

Leader of a Movement

As part of his nonviolent non-cooperation campaign for home rule, Gandhi stressed the importance of economic independence for India. He particularly advocated the manufacture of khaddar, or homespun cloth, in order to replace imported textiles from Britain. Gandhi’s eloquence and embrace of an ascetic lifestyle based on prayer, fasting and meditation earned him the reverence of his followers, who called him Mahatma (Sanskrit for “the great-souled one”). Invested with all the authority of the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress Party), Gandhi turned the independence movement into a massive organization, leading boycotts of British manufacturers and institutions representing British influence in India, including legislatures and schools.

After sporadic violence broke out, Gandhi announced the end of the resistance movement, to the dismay of his followers. British authorities arrested Gandhi in March 1922 and tried him for sedition; he was sentenced to six years in prison but was released in 1924 after undergoing an operation for appendicitis. He refrained from active participation in politics for the next several years, but in 1930 launched a new civil disobedience campaign against the colonial government’s tax on salt, which greatly affected Indian’s poorest citizens.

A Divided Movement

In 1931, after British authorities made some concessions, Gandhi again called off the resistance movement and agreed to represent the Congress Party at the Round Table Conference in London. Meanwhile, some of his party colleagues–particularly Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a leading voice for India’s Muslim minority–grew frustrated with Gandhi’s methods, and what they saw as a lack of concrete gains. Arrested upon his return by a newly aggressive colonial government, Gandhi began a series of hunger strikes in protest of the treatment of India’s so-called “untouchables” (the poorer classes), whom he renamed Harijans, or “children of God.” The fasting caused an uproar among his followers and resulted in swift reforms by the Hindu community and the government.

In 1934, Gandhi announced his retirement from politics in, as well as his resignation from the Congress Party, in order to concentrate his efforts on working within rural communities. Drawn back into the political fray by the outbreak of World War II , Gandhi again took control of the INC, demanding a British withdrawal from India in return for Indian cooperation with the war effort. Instead, British forces imprisoned the entire Congress leadership, bringing Anglo-Indian relations to a new low point.

Partition and Death of Gandhi

After the Labor Party took power in Britain in 1947, negotiations over Indian home rule began between the British, the Congress Party and the Muslim League (now led by Jinnah). Later that year, Britain granted India its independence but split the country into two dominions: India and Pakistan. Gandhi strongly opposed Partition, but he agreed to it in hopes that after independence Hindus and Muslims could achieve peace internally. Amid the massive riots that followed Partition, Gandhi urged Hindus and Muslims to live peacefully together, and undertook a hunger strike until riots in Calcutta ceased.

In January 1948, Gandhi carried out yet another fast, this time to bring about peace in the city of Delhi. On January 30, 12 days after that fast ended, Gandhi was on his way to an evening prayer meeting in Delhi when he was shot to death by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic enraged by Mahatma’s efforts to negotiate with Jinnah and other Muslims. The next day, roughly 1 million people followed the procession as Gandhi’s body was carried in state through the streets of the city and cremated on the banks of the holy Jumna River.

salt march, 1930, indians, gandhi, ahmadabad, arabian sea, british salt taxes

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Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was the primary leader of India’s independence movement and also the architect of a form of non-violent civil disobedience that would influence the world. He was assassinated by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse.



Who Was Mahatma Gandhi?

Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British rule and in South Africa who advocated for the civil rights of Indians. Born in Porbandar, India, Gandhi studied law and organized boycotts against British institutions in peaceful forms of civil disobedience. He was killed by a fanatic in 1948.


Early Life and Education

Indian nationalist leader Gandhi (born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India, which was then part of the British Empire.

Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, served as a chief minister in Porbandar and other states in western India. His mother, Putlibai, was a deeply religious woman who fasted regularly.

Young Gandhi was a shy, unremarkable student who was so timid that he slept with the lights on even as a teenager. In the ensuing years, the teenager rebelled by smoking, eating meat and stealing change from household servants.

Although Gandhi was interested in becoming a doctor, his father hoped he would also become a government minister and steered him to enter the legal profession. In 1888, 18-year-old Gandhi sailed for London, England, to study law. The young Indian struggled with the transition to Western culture.

Upon returning to India in 1891, Gandhi learned that his mother had died just weeks earlier. He struggled to gain his footing as a lawyer. In his first courtroom case, a nervous Gandhi blanked when the time came to cross-examine a witness. He immediately fled the courtroom after reimbursing his client for his legal fees.

Gandhi’s Religion and Beliefs

Gandhi grew up worshiping the Hindu god Vishnu and following Jainism, a morally rigorous ancient Indian religion that espoused non-violence, fasting, meditation and vegetarianism.

During Gandhi’s first stay in London, from 1888 to 1891, he became more committed to a meatless diet, joining the executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society, and started to read a variety of sacred texts to learn more about world religions.

Living in South Africa, Gandhi continued to study world religions. “The religious spirit within me became a living force,” he wrote of his time there. He immersed himself in sacred Hindu spiritual texts and adopted a life of simplicity, austerity, fasting and celibacy that was free of material goods.

Gandhi in South Africa

After struggling to find work as a lawyer in India, Gandhi obtained a one-year contract to perform legal services in South Africa. In April 1893, he sailed for Durban in the South African state of Natal.

When Gandhi arrived in South Africa, he was quickly appalled by the discrimination and racial segregation faced by Indian immigrants at the hands of white British and Boer authorities. Upon his first appearance in a Durban courtroom, Gandhi was asked to remove his turban. He refused and left the court instead. The Natal Advertiser mocked him in print as “an unwelcome visitor.”

Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

A seminal moment occurred on June 7, 1893, during a train trip to Pretoria, South Africa, when a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in the first-class railway compartment, although he had a ticket. Refusing to move to the back of the train, Gandhi was forcibly removed and thrown off the train at a station in Pietermaritzburg.

Gandhi’s act of civil disobedience awoke in him a determination to devote himself to fighting the “deep disease of color prejudice.” He vowed that night to “try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process.”

From that night forward, the small, unassuming man would grow into a giant force for civil rights. Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to fight discrimination.

Gandhi prepared to return to India at the end of his year-long contract until he learned, at his farewell party, of a bill before the Natal Legislative Assembly that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. Fellow immigrants convinced Gandhi to stay and lead the fight against the legislation. Although Gandhi could not prevent the law’s passage, he drew international attention to the injustice.

After a brief trip to India in late 1896 and early 1897, Gandhi returned to South Africa with his wife and children. Gandhi ran a thriving legal practice, and at the outbreak of the Boer War, he raised an all-Indian ambulance corps of 1,100 volunteers to support the British cause, arguing that if Indians expected to have full rights of citizenship in the British Empire, they also needed to shoulder their responsibilities.

In 1906, Gandhi organized his first mass civil-disobedience campaign, which he called “Satyagraha” (“truth and firmness”), in reaction to the South African Transvaal government’s new restrictions on the rights of Indians, including the refusal to recognize Hindu marriages.

After years of protests, the government imprisoned hundreds of Indians in 1913, including Gandhi. Under pressure, the South African government accepted a compromise negotiated by Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts that included recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of a poll tax for Indians.

Return to India

In 1915 Gandhi founded an ashram in Ahmedabad, India, that was open to all castes. Wearing a simple loincloth and shawl, Gandhi lived an austere life devoted to prayer, fasting and meditation. He became known as “Mahatma,” which means “great soul.”

Opposition to British Rule in India

In 1919, with India still under the firm control of the British, Gandhi had a political reawakening when the newly enacted Rowlatt Act authorized British authorities to imprison people suspected of sedition without trial. In response, Gandhi called for a Satyagraha campaign of peaceful protests and strikes.

Violence broke out instead, which culminated on April 13, 1919, in the Massacre of Amritsar. Troops led by British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators and killed nearly 400 people.

No longer able to pledge allegiance to the British government, Gandhi returned the medals he earned for his military service in South Africa and opposed Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians to serve in World War I.

Gandhi became a leading figure in the Indian home-rule movement. Calling for mass boycotts, he urged government officials to stop working for the Crown, students to stop attending government schools, soldiers to leave their posts and citizens to stop paying taxes and purchasing British goods.

Rather than buy British-manufactured clothes, he began to use a portable spinning wheel to produce his own cloth. The spinning wheel soon became a symbol of Indian independence and self-reliance.

Gandhi assumed the leadership of the Indian National Congress and advocated a policy of non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve home rule.

After British authorities arrested Gandhi in 1922, he pleaded guilty to three counts of sedition. Although sentenced to a six-year imprisonment, Gandhi was released in February 1924 after appendicitis surgery.

He discovered upon his release that relations between India’s Hindus and Muslims devolved during his time in jail. When violence between the two religious groups flared again, Gandhi began a three-week fast in the autumn of 1924 to urge unity. He remained away from active politics during much of the latter 1920s.

Gandhi and the Salt March

Gandhi returned to active politics in 1930 to protest Britain’s Salt Acts, which not only prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt—a dietary staple—but imposed a heavy tax that hit the country’s poorest particularly hard. Gandhi planned a new Satyagraha campaign, The Salt March , that entailed a 390-kilometer/240-mile march to the Arabian Sea, where he would collect salt in symbolic defiance of the government monopoly.

“My ambition is no less than to convert the British people through non-violence and thus make them see the wrong they have done to India,” he wrote days before the march to the British viceroy, Lord Irwin.

Wearing a homespun white shawl and sandals and carrying a walking stick, Gandhi set out from his religious retreat in Sabarmati on March 12, 1930, with a few dozen followers. By the time he arrived 24 days later in the coastal town of Dandi, the ranks of the marchers swelled, and Gandhi broke the law by making salt from evaporated seawater.

The Salt March sparked similar protests, and mass civil disobedience swept across India. Approximately 60,000 Indians were jailed for breaking the Salt Acts, including Gandhi, who was imprisoned in May 1930.

Still, the protests against the Salt Acts elevated Gandhi into a transcendent figure around the world. He was named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” for 1930.

Gandhi was released from prison in January 1931, and two months later he made an agreement with Lord Irwin to end the Salt Satyagraha in exchange for concessions that included the release of thousands of political prisoners. The agreement, however, largely kept the Salt Acts intact. But it did give those who lived on the coasts the right to harvest salt from the sea.

Hoping that the agreement would be a stepping-stone to home rule, Gandhi attended the London Round Table Conference on Indian constitutional reform in August 1931 as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The conference, however, proved fruitless.


Gandhi Fact Card

Protesting "Untouchables" Segregation

Gandhi returned to India to find himself imprisoned once again in January 1932 during a crackdown by India’s new viceroy, Lord Willingdon. He embarked on a six-day fast to protest the British decision to segregate the “untouchables,” those on the lowest rung of India’s caste system, by allotting them separate electorates. The public outcry forced the British to amend the proposal.

After his eventual release, Gandhi left the Indian National Congress in 1934, and leadership passed to his protégé Jawaharlal Nehru . He again stepped away from politics to focus on education, poverty and the problems afflicting India’s rural areas.

India’s Independence from Great Britain

As Great Britain found itself engulfed in World War II in 1942, Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement that called for the immediate British withdrawal from the country. In August 1942, the British arrested Gandhi, his wife and other leaders of the Indian National Congress and detained them in the Aga Khan Palace in present-day Pune.

“I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire,” Prime Minister Winston Churchill told Parliament in support of the crackdown.

With his health failing, Gandhi was released after a 19-month detainment in 1944.

After the Labour Party defeated Churchill’s Conservatives in the British general election of 1945, it began negotiations for Indian independence with the Indian National Congress and Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League. Gandhi played an active role in the negotiations, but he could not prevail in his hope for a unified India. Instead, the final plan called for the partition of the subcontinent along religious lines into two independent states—predominantly Hindu India and predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

Violence between Hindus and Muslims flared even before independence took effect on August 15, 1947. Afterwards, the killings multiplied. Gandhi toured riot-torn areas in an appeal for peace and fasted in an attempt to end the bloodshed. Some Hindus, however, increasingly viewed Gandhi as a traitor for expressing sympathy toward Muslims.

Gandhi’s Wife and Kids

At the age of 13, Gandhi wed Kasturba Makanji, a merchant’s daughter, in an arranged marriage. She died in Gandhi’s arms in February 1944 at the age of 74.

In 1885, Gandhi endured the passing of his father and shortly after that the death of his young baby.

In 1888, Gandhi’s wife gave birth to the first of four surviving sons. A second son was born in India 1893. Kasturba gave birth to two more sons while living in South Africa, one in 1897 and one in 1900.

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

On January 30, 1948, 78-year-old Gandhi was shot and killed by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse, who was upset at Gandhi’s tolerance of Muslims.

Weakened from repeated hunger strikes, Gandhi clung to his two grandnieces as they led him from his living quarters in New Delhi’s Birla House to a late-afternoon prayer meeting. Godse knelt before the Mahatma before pulling out a semiautomatic pistol and shooting him three times at point-blank range. The violent act took the life of a pacifist who spent his life preaching nonviolence.

Godse and a co-conspirator were executed by hanging in November 1949. Additional conspirators were sentenced to life in prison.

Even after Gandhi’s assassination, his commitment to nonviolence and his belief in simple living — making his own clothes, eating a vegetarian diet and using fasts for self-purification as well as a means of protest — have been a beacon of hope for oppressed and marginalized people throughout the world.

Satyagraha remains one of the most potent philosophies in freedom struggles throughout the world today. Gandhi’s actions inspired future human rights movements around the globe, including those of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Martin Luther King


Winston Churchill

Nelson Mandela

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  • Name: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Birth Year: 1869
  • Birth date: October 2, 1869
  • Birth City: Porbandar, Kathiawar
  • Birth Country: India
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Mahatma Gandhi was the primary leader of India’s independence movement and also the architect of a form of non-violent civil disobedience that would influence the world. Until Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, his life and teachings inspired activists including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
  • Civil Rights
  • Astrological Sign: Libra
  • University College London
  • Samaldas College at Bhavnagar, Gujarat
  • Nacionalities
  • Interesting Facts
  • As a young man, Mahatma Gandhi was a poor student and was terrified of public speaking.
  • Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to fight discrimination.
  • Gandhi was assassinated by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse, who was upset at Gandhi’s tolerance of Muslims.
  • Gandhi's non-violent civil disobedience inspired future world leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
  • Death Year: 1948
  • Death date: January 30, 1948
  • Death City: New Delhi
  • Death Country: India

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us !


  • Article Title: Mahatma Gandhi Biography
  • Author: Editors
  • Website Name: The website
  • Url:
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: September 4, 2019
  • Original Published Date: April 3, 2014
  • An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
  • Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.
  • Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal? In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals.
  • The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
  • To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman.
  • Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time.
  • A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
  • There are many things to do. Let each one of us choose our task and stick to it through thick and thin. Let us not think of the vastness. But let us pick up that portion which we can handle best.
  • An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
  • For one man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.
  • If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.


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Biography Online


Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Mahatma Gandhi was a prominent Indian political leader who was a leading figure in the campaign for Indian independence. He employed non-violent principles and peaceful disobedience as a means to achieve his goal. He was assassinated in 1948, shortly after achieving his life goal of Indian independence. In India, he is known as ‘Father of the Nation’.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.”

Short Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

mahatma gandhi

Around this time, he also studied the Bible and was struck by the teachings of Jesus Christ  – especially the emphasis on humility and forgiveness. He remained committed to the Bible and Bhagavad Gita throughout his life, though he was critical of aspects of both religions.

Gandhi in South Africa

On completing his degree in Law, Gandhi returned to India, where he was soon sent to South Africa to practise law. In South Africa, Gandhi was struck by the level of racial discrimination and injustice often experienced by Indians. In 1893, he was thrown off a train at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg after a white man complained about Gandhi travelling in first class. This experience was a pivotal moment for Gandhi and he began to represent other Indias who experienced discrimination. As a lawyer he was in high demand and soon he became the unofficial leader for Indians in South Africa. It was in South Africa that Gandhi first experimented with campaigns of civil disobedience and protest; he called his non-violent protests satyagraha . Despite being imprisoned for short periods of time, he also supported the British under certain conditions. During the Boer war, he served as a medic and stretcher-bearer. He felt that by doing his patriotic duty it would make the government more amenable to demands for fair treatment. Gandhi was at the Battle of Spion serving as a medic. An interesting historical anecdote, is that at this battle was also Winston Churchill and Louis Botha (future head of South Africa) He was decorated by the British for his efforts during the Boer War and Zulu rebellion.

Gandhi and Indian Independence

After 21 years in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. He became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement campaigning for home rule or Swaraj .


Gandhi also encouraged his followers to practise inner discipline to get ready for independence. Gandhi said the Indians had to prove they were deserving of independence. This is in contrast to independence leaders such as Aurobindo Ghose , who argued that Indian independence was not about whether India would offer better or worse government, but that it was the right for India to have self-government.

Gandhi also clashed with others in the Indian independence movement such as Subhas Chandra Bose who advocated direct action to overthrow the British.

Gandhi frequently called off strikes and non-violent protest if he heard people were rioting or violence was involved.


In 1930, Gandhi led a famous march to the sea in protest at the new Salt Acts. In the sea, they made their own salt, in violation of British regulations. Many hundreds were arrested and Indian jails were full of Indian independence followers.

“With this I’m shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”

– Gandhi – after holding up a cup of salt at the end of the salt march.

However, whilst the campaign was at its peak some Indian protesters killed some British civilians, and as a result, Gandhi called off the independence movement saying that India was not ready. This broke the heart of many Indians committed to independence. It led to radicals like Bhagat Singh carrying on the campaign for independence, which was particularly strong in Bengal.

In 1931, Gandhi was invited to London to begin talks with the British government on greater self-government for India, but remaining a British colony. During his three month stay, he declined the government’s offer of a free hotel room, preferring to stay with the poor in the East End of London. During the talks, Gandhi opposed the British suggestions of dividing India along communal lines as he felt this would divide a nation which was ethnically mixed. However, at the summit, the British also invited other leaders of India, such as BR Ambedkar and representatives of the Sikhs and Muslims. Although the dominant personality of Indian independence, he could not always speak for the entire nation.

Gandhi’s humour and wit

During this trip, he visited King George in Buckingham Palace, one apocryphal story which illustrates Gandhi’s wit was the question by the king – what do you think of Western civilisation? To which Gandhi replied

“It would be a good idea.”

Gandhi wore a traditional Indian dress, even whilst visiting the king. It led Winston Churchill to make the disparaging remark about the half naked fakir. When Gandhi was asked if was sufficiently dressed to meet the king, Gandhi replied

“The king was wearing clothes enough for both of us.”

Gandhi once said he if did not have a sense of humour he would have committed suicide along time ago.

Gandhi and the Partition of India

After the war, Britain indicated that they would give India independence. However, with the support of the Muslims led by Jinnah, the British planned to partition India into two: India and Pakistan. Ideologically Gandhi was opposed to partition. He worked vigorously to show that Muslims and Hindus could live together peacefully. At his prayer meetings, Muslim prayers were read out alongside Hindu and Christian prayers. However, Gandhi agreed to the partition and spent the day of Independence in prayer mourning the partition. Even Gandhi’s fasts and appeals were insufficient to prevent the wave of sectarian violence and killing that followed the partition.

Away from the politics of Indian independence, Gandhi was harshly critical of the Hindu Caste system. In particular, he inveighed against the ‘untouchable’ caste, who were treated abysmally by society. He launched many campaigns to change the status of untouchables. Although his campaigns were met with much resistance, they did go a long way to changing century-old prejudices.

At the age of 78, Gandhi undertook another fast to try and prevent the sectarian killing. After 5 days, the leaders agreed to stop killing. But ten days later Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu Brahmin opposed to Gandhi’s support for Muslims and the untouchables.

Gandhi and Religion

Gandhi was a seeker of the truth.

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”

Gandhi said his great aim in life was to have a vision of God. He sought to worship God and promote religious understanding. He sought inspiration from many different religions: Jainism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and incorporated them into his own philosophy.

On several occasions, he used religious practices and fasting as part of his political approach. Gandhi felt that personal example could influence public opinion.

“When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and comforts flee,’ I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.”

– Gandhi Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with Truth

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan . “ Biography of Mahatma Gandhi” , Oxford, UK. 12th Jan 2011. Last updated 1 Feb 2020.

The Essential Gandhi

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The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas at Amazon

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Gandhi: An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments With Truth at Amazon

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He stood out in his time in history. Non violence as he practised it was part of his spiritual learning usedvas a political tool. How can one say he wasn’t a good lawyer or he wasn’t a good leader when he had such a following and he was part of the negotiations thar brought about Indian Independance? I just dipped into this ti find out about the salt march.:)

  • February 09, 2019 9:31 AM
  • By Lakmali Gunawardena

mahatma gandhi was a good person but he wasn’t all good because when he freed the indian empire the partition grew between the muslims and they fought .this didn’t happen much when the british empire was in control because muslims and hindus had a common enemy to unite against.

I am not saying the british empire was a good thing.

  • January 01, 2019 3:24 PM
  • By marcus carpenter

Dear very nice information Gandhi ji always inspired us thanks a lot.

  • October 01, 2018 1:40 PM


  • June 03, 2018 8:34 AM

Gandhi was a lawyer who did not make a good impression as a lawyer. His success and influence was mediocre in law religion and politics. He rose to prominence by chance. He was neither a good lawyer or a leader circumstances conspired at a time in history for him to stand out as an astute leader both in South Africa and in India. The British were unable to control the tidal wave of independence in all the countries they ruled at that time. Gandhi was astute enough to seize the opportunity and used non violence as a tool which had no teeth but caused sufficient concern for the British to negotiate and hand over territories which they had milked dry.

  • February 09, 2018 2:30 PM
  • By A S Cassim

By being “astute enough to seize the opportunity” and not being pushed down/ defeated by an Empire, would you agree this is actually the reason why Gandhi made a good impression as a leader? Also, despite his mediocre success and influence as you mentioned, would you agree the outcome of his accomplishments are clearly a demonstration he actually was relevant to law, religion and politics?

  • November 23, 2018 12:45 AM

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Mahatma Gandhi Biography: From Humble Beginnings to Global Icon

Mahatma Gandhi, also known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , was a prominent leader, political activist and spiritual guide in India’s struggle for independence from British rule. His life and teachings continue to inspire millions around the world, making him an icon of peace, nonviolence and social change. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll delve into various aspects of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, from his early days and remarkable achievements to his unique leadership style and profound influence on India’s history.

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Mahatma Gandhi Early Life

First of all, let us trace the early life and background of Mahatma Gandhi . He was born on October 2, 1869, in the coastal city of Porbandar in present-day Gujarat, India. Gandhiji was from a simple family and his father was serving as the Chief Minister of the local princely state. As a young boy, he displayed an inclination towards truthfulness and moral values, which shaped the foundation of his character.

Achievements of Mahatma Gandhi

Second, the life of Mahatma Gandhi is replete with many achievements that shaped the course of India’s history. One of his most notable achievements was leading a non-violent civil disobedience movement against British colonial rule, known as the Salt March, which became a turning point in the fight for independence. Gandhi’s efforts also led to important reforms, such as the Civil Disobedience Movement, the Quit India Movement and the successful Dandi March, all of which contributed to India’s independence.

Mahatma Gandhi Leadership Style

Furthermore, Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership style was characterized by his unwavering commitment to truth, non-violence and self-discipline. He advocated “Satyagraha”, a unique philosophy of passive resistance where individuals peacefully protested against injustice and oppression. Gandhi believed that nonviolent resistance could bring about social change without resorting to violence, and he used this approach to organize the masses and challenge the British Raj.

Mahatma Gandhi nonviolent resistance

Furthermore, central to Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy was the principle of nonviolent resistance. He believed that love and compassion could overcome hatred and violence, leading to a more harmonious society. Gandhiji’s nonviolent protests and hunger strikes gained widespread attention and support, forcing the British to engage in negotiations, and eventually India’s independence in 1947.

Mahatma Gandhi’s impact on India

Another important aspect of Mahatma Gandhi’s life was his profound influence on the history and culture of India. His tireless efforts in advocating human rights, promoting social equality and upliftment of the oppressed classes left an indelible mark on the nation. Gandhi’s teachings influenced various leaders and movements around the world, including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Continuing the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi

Finally, Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy lives on today and continues to inspire generations for truth, non-violence and social justice. His unwavering commitment to these principles not only transformed India but also served as a guiding light for the global fight against oppression and injustice. As we reflect on his life, we can draw valuable lessons from Mahatma Gandhi’s journey and apply them to our own lives, creating a better and more compassionate world for all.

Q1: When and where was Mahatma Gandhi born?

A1: Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in present-day Gujarat, India.

Q2: What is Mahatma Gandhi’s full name?

A2: Mahatma Gandhi’s full name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Q3: What were Mahatma Gandhi’s early life and upbringing like?

A3: Mahatma Gandhi hailed from a modest family and displayed a penchant for truthfulness and moral values from a young age. His father served as a chief minister in the local princely state.

Q4: What significant role did Mahatma Gandhi play in India’s independence movement?

A4: Mahatma Gandhi led various nonviolent civil disobedience movements against British colonial rule, including the Salt March and the Quit India Movement, which played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence.

Q5: What is the philosophy of nonviolent resistance, and how did Gandhi use it in his activism?

A5: The philosophy of nonviolent resistance, or “Satyagraha,” was central to Gandhi’s approach. He believed that peaceful protests and passive resistance could bring about societal change without resorting to violence.

Q6: What were Mahatma Gandhi’s notable achievements during his lifetime?

A6: Some of Mahatma Gandhi’s notable achievements include leading India to independence, advocating for human rights, promoting social equality, and inspiring civil rights movements globally.

Q7: How did Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership style differ from other leaders of his time?

A7: Gandhi’s leadership style was characterized by his unwavering commitment to truth, nonviolence, and self-discipline, setting him apart from many other leaders who used force or aggression.

Q8: How did Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings influence other global leaders and movements?

A8: Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent resistance inspired leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, as well as civil rights movements in various parts of the world.

Q9: What were the major challenges faced by Mahatma Gandhi during his activism?

A9: Gandhi faced numerous challenges, including imprisonment, opposition from colonial authorities, and internal disagreements within the Indian National Congress.

Q10: How is Mahatma Gandhi remembered and celebrated today?

A10: Mahatma Gandhi is revered as the “Father of India” and is celebrated worldwide for his teachings on peace, nonviolence, and civil rights. His birthday, October 2, is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.

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Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was a freedom fighter, a nationalist, a visionary and mass leader. His followers cut across the demographic divisions of caste, religion or culture. They came and still are from different classes of society, from poor to the affluent. Every word of Gandhiji was followed devotedly as a command by millions of Indians. His biography isn’t only a biography but also a rule book of morality and conduct, teaching us how to deal with adversities in the strongest way possible, yet at the same time clinging to our principles.

Facts about Mahatma Gandhi

Full Name: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Date of Birth : October 2, 1869

Place of Birth : Porbandar, British India (now Gujarat)

Date of Death : January 30, 1948 (aged 78)

Place of Death : Delhi, India

Cause of Death : Assassination by Nathuram Godse

Professions : Lawyer, politician, freedom activist, writer

Religion : Hindu

Spouse : Kasturba Gandhi (m: 1883; died: 1944)

Children : Harilal Gandhi (1888-1948), Manilal Gandhi (1892-1956), Ramdas Gandhi (1897-1969) and Devdas Gandhi (1900-1957)

Father : Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi (1822-1885)

Mother : Putlibai Gandhi (1839-1891)

Schooling : Primary School in Rajkot

Law Degree : From University College London (1888-1891)

In South Africa : As a Civil Rights Activist (1893-1914)

Indian Independence Struggle : 1915-1947

Political Party : Indian National Congress

Childhood, Early Life and Adolescent

Gandhiji was born on 2 nd October 1869 at Porbandar Gujarat in a Gujarati modh baniya family. He was the youngest of the four children of Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai. Though his father was the Diwan of Porbandar, Gandhi’s weren’t rich, yet they ate and lived well.

As a child Gandhi is known to a restless kid, who wouldn’t spare an opportunity to play or roam around. He wasn’t easy to be found at home and often was playing outside.

As Gandhiji aged he started manifesting his principles and values in the influence of his devotedly religious mother. As an adolescent Gandhiji avoided bad company and spend most of his time either playing with his kin or reading books.

Gandhiji’s elementary education up to matriculation was completed in a school at Rajkot. At school he was a shy student who didn’t interact much with other students. He was also average in studies and had no interest in sports and other activities. After school, he would directly rush to home to eat meal and play.

Gandhi enrolled for Higher Education in Samaldas College in January 1888, Bhavnagar but dropped out a session later as he couldn’t understand the lectures.

On the advice of a family friend Gandhiji made up his mind to pursue law at London. Initially facing resistance from his mother, Gandhiji somehow managed to convince her and set sail for London on 4 th October 1888.

He completed his law degree from the University College London, and return to India in 1891 at the age of 22.

His Principles, Practices, Religion and Beliefs

Truth and non-violence were the two fundamental principles of Gandhiji’s life and his philosophy. He was also deeply religious and a staunch Hindu, in his own words.

Gandhiji’s religious beliefs stem from his mother’s life and her everyday conduct. She would never ever take a meal before completing her ritualistic prayer. She was the one who introduced Gandhiji to one of Hindu’s revered epics – Bhagavad Gita.

He had said on many occasions that when in distress and confusion he refers to a relevant verse of Bhagavad Gita and instantly found relief. The influence of his religiously pious mother has helped Gandhiji to delve into religion and understand it.

His religious beliefs also marked the foundation of his philosophy of truth and non violence, which he started practicing as a civil rights activist in South Africa. Gandhiji was wise enough to realize that the opponents are formidable and an act of violence will be dealt with double blow, leading to fatal consequences.

Therefore, Gandhiji used non violent protests to fight against injustice. This way the enemy wouldn’t be offended and will gradually concede to the demands.

Three Years of His Life in London

While studying law in London, Gandhi was as shy as he was in India and usually would only limit himself to lectures. Understanding the fact that audacity is essential for his career as a lawyer, he joined public speaking group in London.

In London, Gandhi stuck to the promise he made to his mother and abstained from consuming liquor and consuming meat. During initial days he remained constantly hungry until he found a suitable vegetarian restaurant.

He joined London Vegetarian Society under the President ship of Arnold Hills. Gandhi also joined the Theosophical society and read Bhagavad Gita for the society.

Gandhi left London in June 1981 when he was called for the Bar in India.

His Struggle in South Africa

Circumstances that Gandhiji faced in South Africa played a critical role in setting the path for his struggle in South Africa as well as later in India and transforming him into the world leader as we see him today.

He was called to South Africa to work as a lawyer for an Indian merchant there. Upon his arrival he had hands on experience of the oppression faced by the Indian community there. He was thrown out of a train’s first class compartment despite having a valid ticket, just because he was an Indian. He could have stopped his South African journey then and there, but he rather chose to fight against the oppression. Gandhiji’s first non violent, non cooperation movement was in South Africa.

During his struggle in South Africa, Gandhi had limited himself towards fighting for the rights of Indian community there. He kept native black Africans initially out of his political agenda; though, later he went on to provide them medical aid during war with the British Empire.

His Struggle for Indian Independence/Indian Independence Movements

Gandhiji came back to India in 1915 and remained politically active until his assassination on 30 th January 1948. Gandhiji’s principles that he applied into the Independence Movement had already proven their mettle in South Africa.

His struggle for Civil Rights in Africa had made him a popular figure in India and Britain as well; therefore, he was readily accepted as a leader by Indian political clout and the masses.

Gandhi’s political conduct was quite different from other politicians. He wouldn’t spare any chance to criticize them for misuse of power or for other immoral acts. For him, morality came before to any political gain.

Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian National Movements for Independence

He spearheaded many movements and undergo fast unto death three times in his lifetime. A bulleted list of all the independence movements of Mahatma Gandhi is listed below.

  • Champaran Satyagraha
  • Kheda Agitation
  • Khilafat Movement
  • Non co-operation Movement
  • Salt Satyagraha (Salt March)
  • Quit India Movement
  • Civil Disobedience
  • Boycott Mission

His movements initially were against the oppressive policies of the British Empire. He rallied from villages to villages throughout the length and breadth of the country to understand the real condition of farmers and poor Indians. He wanted to know the exact effects of unjust taxation and other laws on the Indian marginalized sections.

His Followers and International Influence

Due to his huge mass appeal Gandhi was instantly recognized and respected in Indian political circles. He was at the centre stage of national politics and presided over all the meetings of Indian National Congress. Despite of being closely linked to Congress, his image was more like a nonpolitical social reformer. Some of the influential political followers of Mahatma Gandhi were – Pt. Nehru, J. B. Kriplani, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Jai Prakash Narayan, Maulana Abdul Kalam Ajad, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Kamla Devi Chattopadhyay, J. C. Kumarappa, Meera Ben, Mridula Sarabhai, and C Rajgopalachari).

Awards in His Life

No number of awards can equate Gandhiji’s contribution in the Indian freedom struggle. Awards are too small in comparison to his personality and leadership qualities. Some of the most acclaimed awards and honor received by Gandhiji are listed below-

  • Time Magazine Man of the Year in 1930.
  • Doctorate level academic degree in Law by the Nagpur University in 1937.
  • In 2011 named by the Time magazine among the top 25 political icons of all times.
  • Inducted into the vegetarian hall of fame by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1995.

Gandhi was also nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 1948, but was assassinated before the name could be finalized.

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was carried out by Nathuram Godse on 30 th January 1948 at Birla House, New Delhi.

Gandhi was heading for his evening prayer flanked by his female caretakers on both side and surrounded by followers. Evening prayers were a routine for Gandhiji and he would perform it in presence of hundreds of disciples.

But that evening the prayer was never delivered. While on his way to the dais Gandhi at around 5:17 P.M. Gandhi was stopped by Godse, who pretended to bend down for touching Gandhi’s feet. Gandhiji was a highly respected figure and he was accustomed to this respectful gesture.

One of the nieces of Gandhiji accompanying him is known to have told Nathuram – “Brother, Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) is getting late”. It was at the end of her sentence, that Nathuram pushed her away and pumped three bullets in chest of Mahatma Gandhi with his Beretta M1934 pistol. He was immediately apprehended by the policemen present there and taken into custody.

Gandhiji was taken to a bedroom in Birla House where he died 20 to 30 minutes later.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Legacy

Mahatma Gandhi had left an infinite legacy in terms of principles, methods and the values he professed. Thousands of streets in India and some even in foreign countries are named after him. Almost every city in India has at least one statue of Gandhiji at a road crossing or a public park. But, he can do without all his statues and the streets named after him; such big is the legacy of principles and morality that he left behind.

Speaking of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, there are two of its main constituents – truth and non violence. No one else could have better explained truth and non violence, through his/her deeds as Gandhiji did it. His whole life was nothing but the application of these two basic foundation blocks of humanity.

He left behind a legacy that would inspire millions for ages to come and continue providing strength to the weak and suppressed.

Current Impact of Bapu in India and Abroad

Mahatma Gandhi is still a highly revered figure in India, yet not all of his principles are practiced either by the people or the political parties.

His policy of economic liberation through villages by making them self sustainable, was deserted in a rush to modernization. His principles of non violence became irrelevant over time with external threats and a need to safeguard the nation with larger military power.

Though, time to time his views on communal harmony and casteism are presented in order to promote peace and unity.

An image of Gandhiji also appears on currency notes of all the denominations. His birthday on 2 nd October is celebrated as a national holiday with much enthusiasm.

At least three temples in India are dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi – one at Sambalpur in Orissa, another in Chikmagalur in Karnataka and the third and last in Nalgonda District, Telangana.

Gandhiji is also a highly revered figure in South Africa and he is credited to spark the protests that finally culminated in the black’s right to vote.

There are also Gandhiji’s statues at prominent locations in Brazil, Spain and United Kingdom.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the greatest leader ever born in India or in the world. So great was his command over his countrymen that millions gathered in just a matter of hours on his one call. He knew the religions, cultures, people and the land of his country much better than any of his political counterparts. He was indeed an epitome of morality and always stuck to his principles of truth and non-violence, come what may. His teachings and principles have led us to freedom and still show us the way to live in harmony and be progressive. Gandhiji and his legacy will remain deeply engraved in Indian culture and into every Indian’s heart.

More about Mahatma Gandhi:

Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s Views on Environment and Its Protection

Life of Mahatma Gandhi from Childhood to Adolescent

How Mahatma Gandhi is Still Alive among us

Why Mahatma Gandhi was not Awarded Bharat Ratna or Nobel?

Struggle of mahatma gandhi in south africa.

For Students:

Gandhi Jayanti

Essay on Mahatma Gandhi’s Educational Philosophy

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Essay on Gandhi Jayanti Celebration

Essay on Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi Jayanti Speech

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  • Mahatma Gandhi Biography and Political Career


Biography of Mahatma Gandhi (Father of Nation)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , more popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi . His birth place was in the small city of Porbandar in Gujarat (October 2, 1869 - January 30, 1948). Mahatma Gandhi's father's name was Karamchand Gandhi, and his mother's name was Putlibai Gandhi. He was a politician, social activist, Indian lawyer, and writer who became the prominent Leader of the nationwide surge movement against the British rule of India. He came to be known as the Father of The Nation. October 2, 2023, marks Gandhi Ji’s 154th birth anniversary , celebrated worldwide as International Day of Non-Violence, and Gandhi Jayanti in India.

Gandhi Ji was a living embodiment of non-violent protests (Satyagraha) to achieve independence from the British Empire's clutches and thereby achieve political and social progress. Gandhi Ji is considered ‘The Great Soul’ or ‘ The Mahatma ’ in the eyes of millions of his followers worldwide. His fame spread throughout the world during his lifetime and only increased after his demise. Mahatma Gandhi , thus, is the most renowned person on earth.

Education of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi's education was a major factor in his development into one of the finest persons in history. Although he attended a primary school in Porbandar and received awards and scholarships there, his approach to his education was ordinary. Gandhi joined Samaldas College in Bhavnagar after passing his matriculation exams at the University of Bombay in 1887.

Gandhiji's father insisted he become a lawyer even though he intended to be a docto. During those days, England was the centre of knowledge, and he had to leave Smaladas College to pursue his father's desire. He was adamant about travelling to England despite his mother's objections and his limited financial resources.

Finally, he left for England in September 1888, where he joined Inner Temple, one of the four London Law Schools. In 1890, he also took the matriculation exam at the University of London.

When he was in London, he took his studies seriously and joined a public speaking practice group. This helped him get over his nervousness so he could practise law. Gandhi had always been passionate about assisting impoverished and marginalised people.

Mahatma Gandhi During His Youth

Gandhi was the youngest child of his father's fourth wife. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the dewan Chief Minister of Porbandar, the then capital of a small municipality in western India (now Gujarat state) under the British constituency.

Gandhi's mother, Putlibai, was a pious religious woman.Mohandas grew up in Vaishnavism, a practice followed by the worship of the Hindu god Vishnu, along with a strong presence of Jainism, which has a strong sense of non-violence.Therefore, he took up the practice of Ahimsa (non-violence towards all living beings), fasting for self-purification, vegetarianism, and mutual tolerance between the sanctions of various castes and colours.

His adolescence was probably no stormier than most children of his age and class. Not until the age of 18 had Gandhi read a single newspaper. Neither as a budding barrister in India nor as a student in England nor had he shown much interest in politics. Indeed, he was overwhelmed by terrifying stage fright each time he stood up to read a speech at a social gathering or to defend a client in court.

In London, Gandhiji's vegetarianism missionary was a noteworthy occurrence. He became a member of the executive committee in joined the London Vegetarian Society. He also participated in several conferences and published papers in its journal. Gandhi met prominent Socialists, Fabians, and Theosophists like Edward Carpenter, George Bernard Shaw, and Annie Besant while dining at vegetarian restaurants in England.

Political Career of Mahatma Gandhi

When we talk about Mahatma Gandhi’s political career, in July 1894, when he was barely 25, he blossomed overnight into a proficient campaigner . He drafted several petitions to the British government and the Natal Legislature signed by hundreds of his compatriots. He could not prevent the passage of the bill but succeeded in drawing the attention of the public and the press in Natal, India, and England to the Natal Indian's problems.

He still was persuaded to settle down in Durban to practice law and thus organised the Indian community. The Natal Indian Congress was founded in 1894, and he became the unwearying secretary. He infused a solidarity spirit in the heterogeneous Indian community through that standard political organisation. He gave ample statements to the Government, Legislature, and media regarding Indian Grievances.

Finally, he got exposed to the discrimination based on his colour and race, which was pre-dominant against the Indian subjects of Queen Victoria in one of her colonies, South Africa.

Mahatma Gandhi spent almost 21 years in South Africa. But during that time, there was a lot of discrimination because of skin colour. Even on the train, he could not sit with white European people. But he refused to do so, got beaten up, and had to sit on the floor. So he decided to fight against these injustices, and finally succeeded after a lot of struggle.

It was proof of his success as a publicist that such vital newspapers as The Statesman, Englishman of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and The Times of London editorially commented on the Natal Indians' grievances.

In 1896, Gandhi returned to India to fetch his wife, Kasturba (or Kasturbai), their two oldest children, and amass support for the Indians overseas. He met the prominent leaders and persuaded them to address the public meetings in the centre of the country's principal cities.

Unfortunately for him, some of his activities reached Natal and provoked its European population. Joseph Chamberlain, the colonial secretary in the British Cabinet, urged Natal's government to bring the guilty men to proper jurisdiction, but Gandhi refused to prosecute his assailants. He said he believed the court of law would not be used to satisfy someone's vendetta.

Political Teacher of Mahatma Gandhi

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was one of the prominent political teachers and mentors of Mahatma Gandhi. Gokhale, a renowned Indian nationalist leader, played a significant role in shaping Gandhi's political ideology and approach to leadership. He emphasized the importance of nonviolence, constitutional methods, and constructive work in achieving social and political change. Gandhi referred to Gokhale as his political guru and credited him with influencing many of his principles and strategies in the Indian freedom struggle. Gokhale's teachings and guidance had a profound impact on Gandhi's development as a leader and advocate for India's independence.

Death of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi's death was a tragic event and brought clouds of sorrow to millions of people. On the 29th of January, a man named Nathuram Godse came to Delhi with an automatic pistol. About 5 pm in the afternoon of the next day, he went to the Gardens of Birla house, and suddenly, a man from the crowd came out and bowed before him.

Then Godse fired three bullets at his chest and stomach, who was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was in such a posture that he to the ground. During his death, he uttered: “Ram! Ram!” Although someone could have called the doctor in this critical situation during that time, no one thought of that, and Gandhiji died within half an hour.

How Shaheed Day is Celebrated at Gandhiji’s Samadhi (Raj Ghat)?

As Gandhiji died on January 30, the government of India declared this day as ‘Shaheed Diwas’.

On this day, the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, and the Defence Minister every year gather at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at the Raj Ghat memorial in Delhi to pay tribute to Indian martyrs and Mahatma Gandhi, followed by a two-minute silence.

On this day, many schools host events where students perform plays and sing patriotic songs. Martyrs' Day is also observed on March 23 to honour the lives and sacrifices of Sukhdev Thapar, Shivaram Rajguru, and Bhagat Singh.

Gandhi believed it was his duty to defend India's rights. Mahatma Gandhi had a significant role in attaining India's independence from the British. He had an impact on many individuals and locations outside India. Gandhi also influenced Martin Luther King, and as a result, African-Americans now have equal rights. Peacefully winning India's independence, he altered the course of history worldwide.


FAQs on Mahatma Gandhi Biography and Political Career

1. What was people's reaction after Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi?

When Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi, people shouted to kill Nathuram. After killing Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse tried to kill himself but could not do so since the police seized his weapons and took him to jail. After that, Gandhiji's body was laid in the garden with a white cloth covered on his face. All the lights were turned off in honour of him. Then on the radio, honourable Prime minister Pandit Nehru Ji declared sadly that the Nation's Father was no more.

2. How vegetarianism impacted Mahatma Gandhi’s time in London?

During the three years he spent in England, he was in a great dilemma with personal and moral issues rather than academic ambitions.

The sudden transition from Porbandar's half-rural atmosphere to London's cosmopolitan life was not an easy task for him. And he struggled powerfully and painfully to adapt himself to Western food, dress, and etiquette, and he felt awkward.

His vegetarianism became a continual source of embarrassment and was like a curse to him; his friends warned him that it would disrupt his studies, health, and well-being. Fortunately, he came across a vegetarian restaurant and a book providing a well-defined defence of vegetarianism.

His missionary zeal for vegetarianism helped draw the pitifully shy youth out of his shell and gave him a new and robust personality. He also became a member of the London Vegetarian Society executive committee, contributing articles to its journal and attending conferences.

3. Who was the first person to write a biography of Mahatma Gandhi (Father of The Nation)?

Christian missionary Joseph Doke had written the first biography of Bapu. The best part is that Gandhiji had still not acquired the status of Mahatma when this biography was written.

4. Who was Gandhiji’s favorite writer?

Gandhiji’s favorite writer was Leo Tolstoy.

5. What is Mahatma Gandhi’s date of birth?

Mahatma Gandhi's date of birth is October 2, 1869. We celebrate every year on October 2nd as Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti.

6. Which are the famous Mahatma Gandhi books?

Mahatma Gandhi authored several influential books and writings that have left a lasting impact on the world. Some of his famous books include:


Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule

Satyagraha in South Africa

Young India

The Essential Gandhi

These books reflect Gandhi's deep commitment to nonviolence, truth, and social justice, making them essential reads for those interested in his life and principles.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

About Gandhi

Gandhiji’s life, ideas and work are of crucial importance to all those who want a better life for humankind. The political map of the world has changed dramatically since his time, the economic scenario has witnessed unleashing of some disturbing forces, and the social set-up has undergone a tremendous change. The importance of moral and ethical issues raised by him, however, remain central to the future of individuals and nations. We can still derive inspiration from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi who wanted us to remember the age old saying, “In spite of death, life persists, and in spite of hatred, love persists.” Rabindranath Tagore addressed him as ‘Mahatma’ and the latter called the poet “Gurudev’. Subhash Chandra Bose had called him ‘Father of the Nation’ in his message on Hind Azad Radio.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, a small town in Gujarat, on the sea coast of Western India. He was born in the distinguished family of administrators. His grandfather had risen to be the Dewan or Prime Minister of Porbandar and was succeeded by his father Karamchand Gandhiji .His mother Putlibai, a religious person, had a major contribution in moulding the character of young Mohan.

He studied initially at an elementary school in Porbandar and then at primary and high schools in Rajkot, one of the important cities of Gujarat. Though he called himself a ‘mediocre student’, he gave evidence of his reasoning, intelligence, deep faith in the principles of truth and discipline at very young age. He was married, at the age of thirteen, when still in high school, to Kasturbai who was of the same age, and had four sons named Harilal, Ramdas, Manilal and Devdas. His father died in 1885. At that time Gandhiji was studying at Samaldas College in Bhavnagar. It was hoped that his (Mohandas’s) going to England and qualifying as a barrister would help his family to lead more comfortable life.

He sailed to England on September 4, 1888 at the age of 18, and was enrolled in The Inner Temple. It was a new world for young Mohan and offered immense opportunities to explore new ideas and to reflect on the philosophy and religion of his own country. He got deeply interested in vegetarianism and study of different religions. His stay in England provided opportunities for widening horizons and better understanding of religions and cultures. He passed his examinations and was called to Bar on June 10, 1891. After two days he sailed for India.

He made unsuccessful attempts to establish his legal practice at Rajkot and Bombay. An offer from Dada Abdulla & Company to go to South Africa to instruct their consul in a law suit opened up a new chapter in his life. In South Africa, Mohandas tasted bitter experience of racial discrimination during his journey from Durban to Pretoria, where his presence was required in connection with a lawsuit. At Maritzburg station he was pushed out from first class compartment of the train because he was ‘coloured’ Shivering in cold and sitting in the waiting room of Maritzburg station, he decided that it was cowardice to run away instead he would fight for his rights. With this incident evolved the concept of Satyagraha. He united the Indians settled in South Africa of different communities, languages and religions, and founded Natal Indian Congress in 1893. He founded Indian Opinion, his first journal, in 1904 to promote the interests of Indians in South Africa. Influenced by John Ruskin’s Unto This Last, he set up Phoenix Ashram near Durban, where inmates did manual labour and lived a community living.

Gandhiji organized a protest in 1906 against unfair Asiatic Regulation Bill of 1906. Again in 1908, he mobilsed Indian community in South Africa against the discriminatory law requiring Asians to apply for the registration by burning 2000 official certificates of domicile at a public meeting at Johannesburg and courting jail. He established in May 1910 Tolstoy Farm, near Johannesburg on the similar ideals of Phoenix Ashram.

In 1913, to protest against the imposition of 3 Pound tax and passing immigration Bill adversely affecting the status of married women, he inspired Kasturbai and Indian women to join the struggle. Gandhi organized a march from New Castle to Transvaal without permit and courting arrest. Gandhi had sailed to South Africa as a young inexperienced barrister in search of fortune. But he returned to India in 1915 as Mahatma.

As advised by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhiji spent one year travelling in India and studying India and her people. In 1915 when Gandhiji returned from South Africa he had established his ashram at Kochrab near Ahmedabad. Now after year’s travel, Gandhiji moved his ashram on the banks of Sabarmati River near Ahmedabad and called it Satyagraha Ashram.

His first Satyagraha in India was at Champaran, Bihar in 1917 for the rights of peasants on indigo plantations. When British Government ordered Gandhiji to leave Champaran, he defied the order by declaring that “British could not order me about in my own country”. The magistrate postponed the trial and released him without bail and the case against him was withdrawn. In Champaran, he taught the poor and illiterate people the principles of Satyagraha. Gandhiji and his volunteers instructed the peasants in elementary hygiene and ran schools for their children.

In Ahmedabad, there was a dispute between mill workers and mill owners. The legitimate demands of workers were refused by mill owners. Gandhiji asked the workers to strike work, on condition that they took pledge to remain non-violent. Gandhiji fasted in support of workers. At the end of 3 days both the parties agreed on arbitration. Same year in 1918, Gandhiji led a Satyagraha for the peasants of Kheda in Gujarat.

In 1919, he called for Civil Disobedience against Rowlatt Bill. This non-cooperation movement was the first nationwide movement on national scale. However, the violence broke out; Gandhiji had to suspend the movement as people were not disciplined enough. He realized that people had to be trained for non violent agitation. Same year he started his weeklies Young India in English and Navajivan in Gujarati.

In 1921, Gandhiji took to wearing loin cloth to identify himself with poor masses and to propagate khadi, hand spun cloth. He also started Swadeshi movement, advocating the use of commodities made in the country. He asked the Indians to boycott foreign cloth and promote hand spun khadi thus creating work for the villagers. He devoted himself to the propagation of Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchablity, equality of women and men, and khadi. These were important issues in his agenda of constructive work – essential programmes to go with Satyagraha.

On March 12 1930, Gandhiji set out with 78 volunteers on historic Salt March from Sabarmati Ashram; Ahmedabad to Dandi, a village on the sea coast .This was an important non violent movement of Indian freedom struggle. At Dandi Gandhiji picked up handful of salt thus technically ‘producing’ the salt. He broke the law, which had deprived the poor man of his right to make salt .This simple act was immediately followed by a nation-wide defiance of the law. Gandhiji was arrested on May 4. Within weeks thousands of men and women were imprisoned, challenging the authority of the colonial rulers.

In March 1931, Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed to solve some constitutional issues, and this ended the Civil Disobedience. On August 29, 1931 Gandhiji sailed to London to attend Round Table Conference to have a discussion with the British. The talks however were unsuccessful. In September 1932, Gandhiji faced the complex issue of the British rulers agreeing for the separate electorates for untouchables. He went on fast to death in protest and concluded only after the British accepted Poona Pact.

In 1933, he started weekly publication of Harijan replacing Young India. Aspirations of the people for freedom under Gandhi’s leadership were rising high. In 1942 Gandhiji launched an individual Satyagraha. Nearly 23 thousand people were imprisoned that year. The British mission, headed by Sir Stafford Cripps came with new proposals but it did not meet with any success.

The historic Quit India resolution was passed by the Congress on 8th August 1942. Gandhiji’s message of ‘Do or Die’ engulfed millions of Indians. Gandhiji and other Congress leaders were imprisoned in Aga Khan Palace near Pune. This period in prison was of bereavement for Gandhiji. He first lost his trusted secretary and companion Mahadev Desai on 15th August 1942. Destiny gave another cruel blow to Gandhiji, when Kasturbai, his wife and companion for 62 years, died on 22 February 1944.

Gandhiji was released from prison as his health was on decline. Unfortunately, political developments had moved favouring the partition of the country resulting in communal riots on a frightful scale. Gandhiji was against the partition and chose to be with the victims of riots in East Bengal and Bihar. On 15 August 1947, when India became independent, free from the British rule, Gandhiji fasted and prayed in Calcutta.

On 30th January 1948, Gandhiji, on his way to the prayer meeting at Birla House, New Delhi, fell to the bullets fired by Nathuram Vinayak Godse.

As observed by Louis Fischer, “Millions in all countries mourned Gandhi’s death as a personal loss. They did not quite know why; they did not quite know what he stood for. But he was ‘a good man’ and good men are rare.

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April 22, 2024

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Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 to a Hindu Modh Baniya family in Porbandar (also known as Sudamapuri ), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula and then part of the small princely state of Porbandar in the Kathiawar Agency of the Indian Empire. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. One of Gandhi’s major strategies, first in South Africa and then in India, was uniting Muslims and Hindus to work together in opposition to British imperialism. In 1919–22 he won strong Muslim support for his leadership in the Khilafat Movement to support the historic Ottoman Caliphate. By 1924, that Muslim support had largely evaporated.

Time magazine named Gandhi the Man of the Year in 1930. Gandhi was also the runner-up to Albert Einstein as “Person of the Century” at the end of 1999. The Government of India awarded the annual Gandhi Peace Prize to distinguished social workers, world leaders and citizens. Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa’s struggle to eradicate racial discrimination and segregation, was a prominent non-Indian recipient. In 2011, Time magazine named Gandhi as one of the top 25 political icons of all time. Gandhi did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948, including the first-ever nomination by the American Friends Service Committee, though he made the short list only twice, in 1937 and 1947.

Indians widely describe Gandhi as the father of the nation. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared Gandhi’s birthday 2 October as “the International Day of Nonviolence.

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mini biography of mahatma gandhi

  • Occupation: Civil Rights Leader
  • Born: October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India
  • Died: January 30, 1948 in New Delhi, India
  • Best known for: Organizing non-violent civil rights protests
  • The 1982 movie Gandhi won the Academy Award for best motion picture.
  • His birthday is a national holiday in India . It is also the International Day of Non-Violence.
  • He was the 1930 Time Magazine Man of the Year.
  • Gandhi wrote a lot. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi have 50,000 pages!
  • He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times.
  • Listen to a recorded reading of this page:

Biography Zone

Mahatma Gandhi Biography: From Lawyer to Leader of India’s Freedom Movement

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. As such, he came to be considered the father of his country. Mahatma is a Sanskrit word that means “great soul”, a title that was first bestowed on him in South Africa in 1914. In this article we will explore all about Mahatma Gandhi Biography, his early life, activity in South Africa, his movement in india, philosophy and principles, death and legacy.

Table of Contents

Gandhi is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest (satyagraha) to achieve political and social progress. He challenged the British colonial authority with peaceful marches, boycotts, strikes, and fasts, mobilizing millions of Indians to demand their rights and freedom. He also advocated for the civil rights of Indians in South Africa, where he faced racial discrimination and oppression.

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Gandhi played a crucial role in securing India’s independence from British rule in 1947, after decades of struggle and sacrifice. He also contributed to the social and economic development of India, promoting education, health, sanitation, rural empowerment, women’s rights, and communal harmony. He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world, influencing leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Dalai Lama.

Early Life and Education

Birth and family background.

Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in Gujarat, western India. He was the youngest child of his father’s fourth wife. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was the chief minister (dewan) of Porbandar, a small princely state under British suzerainty. His mother, Putlibai, was a devout Hindu who followed Jainism, a religion that emphasizes nonviolence and compassion.

Childhood and Schooling

Gandhi grew up in a privileged but modest environment. He was shy and timid as a child, but also curious and independent. He attended a local school where he learned the basics of arithmetic, history, geography, and Gujarati language. He was not a brilliant student, but he enjoyed reading books on religion, ethics, and literature. He also learned English as a second language.

Law Studies in London

When Gandhi was 13 years old, he married Kasturba Makhanji, a girl of the same age from a merchant family. They had four sons together. In 1888, at the age of 18, Gandhi left his wife and children to study law in London. He enrolled at the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court that train barristers in England. He was fascinated by the British culture and civilization, but he also faced some difficulties in adjusting to the new environment. He adopted a vegetarian diet and joined the Vegetarian Society. He also read extensively on various subjects, including philosophy, religion, politics, and law.

Activism in South Africa

Arrival and discrimination.

In 1893, Gandhi accepted a job offer from an Indian merchant who needed a lawyer to represent him in a lawsuit in South Africa . He arrived in Durban with a one-year contract, but he decided to stay longer after witnessing the plight of Indians in South Africa. They were treated as second-class citizens by the white minority government that imposed racial segregation laws on them.

Gandhi himself experienced discrimination and humiliation on several occasions. He was thrown off a train for refusing to move from a first-class to a third-class carriage. He was beaten by a stagecoach driver for not giving up his seat to a European passenger. He was barred from entering hotels, courts, and other public places reserved for whites.

Formation of Natal Indian Congress

Gandhi realized that the Indians in South Africa needed to unite and resist the injustice and oppression they faced. He founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, an organization that aimed to fight for the civil rights of Indians through petitions, protests, and negotiations. He also started a newspaper called Indian Opinion, which served as a platform for voicing the grievances and demands of the Indian community. He became a prominent and respected leader of the Indians in South Africa, earning the nickname “Mahatma” from his followers.

Satyagraha Campaign and Imprisonment

In 1906, Gandhi launched his first major campaign of nonviolent resistance (satyagraha) against the Transvaal government, which had passed a law requiring all Indians to register and carry identification cards. Gandhi and thousands of Indians defied the law and burned their registration certificates in public. They also refused to pay taxes, buy licenses, or obey other discriminatory laws.

They faced arrests, fines, beatings, and imprisonment, but they did not retaliate with violence. Gandhi himself was jailed several times for his civil disobedience. He also led peaceful marches, such as the one from Johannesburg to Pretoria in 1913, to protest against the restrictions on Indian immigration and marriage. He negotiated with the South African authorities and secured some concessions for the Indians, such as the recognition of Hindu and Muslim marriages and the abolition of the poll tax.

Leadership of Indian Independence Movement

Return to india and role in congress.

In 1915, after spending 21 years in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India with his wife and children. He was welcomed as a national hero by the Indian people, who were eager to hear about his experiences and ideas. He joined the Indian National Congress, the largest political party in India that opposed British rule. He became a close associate of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a moderate leader who mentored him in Indian politics.

Gandhi traveled extensively across India to understand the problems and aspirations of the masses. He established an ashram (a religious retreat) near Ahmedabad, where he lived a simple and austere life. He also adopted a new attire: a short dhoti (loincloth) woven with hand-spun yarn, which symbolized his identification with India’s rural poor.

Non-cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movements

In 1920, Gandhi launched his first nationwide campaign of non-cooperation against British rule. He urged Indians to boycott British goods, institutions, services, and honors. He asked them to resign from government jobs, withdraw from government schools and colleges, refuse to pay taxes, and forsake British titles and honors. He also encouraged them to spin their own cloth (khadi), use indigenous products, and revive their traditional industries. He hoped that by paralyzing the British administration and economy, he could force them to grant self-government (swaraj) to India.

The non-cooperation movement was largely peaceful and successful, but it was abruptly called off by Gandhi in 1922 after a violent incident in Chauri Chaura, where a mob of protesters killed 22 policemen. Gandhi felt that the Indians were not ready for mass civil disobedience and needed more discipline and training. He was arrested by the British for sedition and sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in 1924 on medical grounds.

The Salt March

In 1930, Gandhi resumed his campaign of civil disobedience with a new challenge: the Salt March. He protested against the British monopoly on salt production and taxation, which affected millions of Indians who depended on salt for their daily needs. He led a 240-mile (390-km) march from his ashram to the coastal town of Dandi, where he made salt from seawater in defiance of the law.

Thousands of Indians followed his example and made or sold salt illegally. They also raided salt depots, boycotted foreign cloth, and refused to pay land revenue. The British responded with brutal force, arresting over 60,000 people including Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Salt March captured the imagination of the world and drew international attention to the Indian independence movement. It also forced the British to negotiate with Gandhi and invite him to attend the Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Congress. However, the talks failed as Gandhi demanded complete independence while the British offered only limited reforms.

In 1932, Gandhi returned to India and was arrested again by the British. While in prison, he went on a fast unto death to protest against the British proposal to separate the untouchables (the lowest caste in Hinduism) from the rest of the Hindu community in electoral representation.

He opposed untouchability as a social evil and a violation of human dignity. He called the untouchables Harijans (children of God) and worked for their upliftment and integration. His fast stirred the conscience of the nation and pressured the British to withdraw their plan.

In 1934, Gandhi resigned from the Congress to devote himself to constructive work in rural areas. He promoted education, health, sanitation, village industries, and social reform. He also campaigned against alcoholism, untouchability, child marriage, and purdah (the seclusion of women). He founded several institutions and organizations to carry out his work, such as the All-India Spinners’ Association, the Harijan Sevak Sangh, and the Sevagram Ashram.

Quit India Campaign

In 1942, Gandhi launched his final and most intense campaign against British rule: the Quit India movement. He gave a stirring speech in Bombay (now Mumbai), where he asked the British to “quit India” and the Indians to “do or die” for their freedom. He urged Indians to resist British oppression through nonviolent means, such as strikes, demonstrations, sabotage, and mass civil disobedience. He also asked the Indian soldiers and officials to disobey their British masters.

The Quit India movement was met with fierce repression by the British, who arrested Gandhi and most of the Congress leaders. They also unleashed violence on the protesters, killing and injuring thousands of them. The movement was largely spontaneous and leaderless, but it showed the determination and courage of the Indian people. It also weakened the British hold on India and convinced them that they could not rule India against the will of its people.

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Philosophy and Principles

Nonviolence and truth.

Gandhi’s philosophy and principles were based on two key concepts: ahimsa (nonviolence) and satya (truth). He believed that nonviolence was the highest form of morality and the best way to achieve social and political change. He defined nonviolence as not only abstaining from physical harm, but also from hatred, anger, fear, greed, and selfishness. He practiced nonviolence in his personal life as well as in his public actions. He said that nonviolence was not a weapon of the weak, but of the strong. He also said that nonviolence was not passive resistance, but active persuasion.

Gandhi also believed that truth was the ultimate reality and the supreme value. He said that truth was God and God was truth. He sought to discover and follow the truth in every situation. He called his method of seeking truth satyagraha, which means “holding on to truth” or “soul force”. He used satyagraha as a technique of nonviolent resistance against injustice and oppression. He said that satyagraha was not a way of harming or humiliating one’s opponent, but of converting him or her through love and compassion.

Hindu-Muslim Unity and Religious Tolerance

Gandhi was a devout Hindu who followed the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred scripture that emphasizes duty, action, and devotion. He also respected other religions and sought to learn from them. He read the Quran, the Bible, and other holy books. He celebrated festivals of different faiths with his friends and followers. He said that all religions were different paths to the same goal: God.

Gandhi was deeply concerned about the communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in India. He opposed the partition of India into two separate states based on religion: India for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. He feared that partition would lead to violence and hatred between the two communities. He tried to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims by appealing to their common interests and values. He also intervened in several communal riots and conflicts, risking his life to stop bloodshed. He fasted several times to bring peace between Hindus and Muslims.

Swaraj and Self-reliance

Gandhi’s vision of independence for India was not merely political, but also social, economic, and cultural. He called it swaraj, which means “self-rule” or “self-government”. He said that swaraj meant not only freedom from foreign domination, but also freedom from exploitation, poverty, ignorance, and injustice. He said that swaraj could be achieved only by empowering the masses through education, awareness, organization, and participation.

Gandhi also advocated for self-reliance as a means of achieving swaraj. He encouraged Indians to produce their own goods and services rather than depend on foreign imports or markets. He promoted khadi as a symbol of self-reliance and national pride. He also supported village industries such as spinning, weaving, pottery, carpentry, leatherwork, etc., as a way of providing employment and income to millions of rural poor. He said that self-reliance would make India strong, independent, and prosperous.

Death and Legacy

Assassination by nathuram godse.

Gandhi’s life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet on January 30, 1948. He was shot three times in the chest by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who blamed him for appeasing the Muslims and partitioning India. Gandhi was walking to a prayer meeting at Birla House in New Delhi when he was attacked. He died on the spot, uttering his last words: “Hey Ram” (Oh God).

Gandhi’s assassination shocked and saddened the nation and the world. Millions of people mourned his death and paid tribute to his memory. His body was cremated on the banks of the Yamuna River, and his ashes were scattered in various places, including the Ganges River, the Arabian Sea, and South Africa.

National and International Mourning

Gandhi’s death was a great loss for India and humanity. He was hailed as the father of the nation, the apostle of peace, and the saint of the century. He was honored with various titles and awards, such as the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honor), the Time Person of the Year (1930), and the Nobel Peace Prize (nominated five times but never awarded). His birthday, October 2, is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti in India and as the International Day of Nonviolence by the United Nations.

Gandhi’s legacy lives on in his words and deeds, which continue to inspire and guide millions of people around the world. His principles of nonviolence, truth, love, and service are relevant and applicable to various issues and challenges facing humanity today, such as war, terrorism, poverty, injustice, oppression, discrimination, environmental degradation, etc. His life and message are a source of hope and courage for those who seek peace and justice.

Influence on Civil Rights Movements Worldwide

Gandhi’s influence extends beyond India to other countries and continents, where he inspired several leaders and movements that fought for civil rights and freedom. Some of his most notable followers include:

Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the African American civil rights movement in the United States, who adopted Gandhi’s methods of nonviolent resistance to challenge racial segregation and discrimination. He visited India in 1959 and met with Gandhi’s associates and followers. He said that Gandhi was “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change”.

Nelson Mandela, the leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison for his struggle against the white minority regime. He admired Gandhi’s courage and conviction and learned from his experiences in South Africa. He said that Gandhi was “a source of inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived”.

Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, who fled from Tibet to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese occupation. He has advocated for the autonomy and rights of Tibetans through peaceful means. He has met with Gandhi’s family and followers and expressed his admiration for Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of nonviolence.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democracy movement in Myanmar (Burma), who spent 15 years under house arrest for her opposition to the military dictatorship. She has followed Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence, truth, and civil disobedience. She has said that Gandhi’s teachings have given her “courage and inner strength”.

Cesar Chavez, the leader of the farm workers’ movement in the United States, who organized strikes, boycotts, and marches to demand better wages and working conditions for migrant laborers. He was influenced by Gandhi’s ideas of nonviolence, self-reliance, and social justice. He said that Gandhi was “the most heroic person of our time”.

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

FAQs: Mahatma Gandhi

When and where was mahatma gandhi born.

Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat, India.

What was Mahatma Gandhi’s profession?

Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer by training, but he also worked as a journalist, politician, social activist, and writer.

What was Mahatma Gandhi’s main goal?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main goal was to secure India’s independence from British rule through nonviolent means.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main methods?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main methods were satyagraha (nonviolent resistance), civil disobedience (breaking unjust laws), boycotts (refusing to cooperate with British institutions), strikes (withdrawing labor), marches (demonstrating solidarity), fasts (protesting through self-sacrifice), and negotiations (seeking compromise).

How did Mahatma Gandhi die?

Mahatma Gandhi died on January 30, 1948, after being shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who opposed his policies towards Muslims.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main influences?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main influences were his mother, who taught him religious devotion and compassion; the Bhagavad Gita, which taught him duty, action, and devotion; Leo Tolstoy, who taught him nonviolence and simplicity; Henry David Thoreau, who taught him civil disobedience and self-reliance; and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who taught him Indian politics and moderation.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main contributions to India?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main contributions to India were securing its independence from British rule; awakening the masses to their rights and dignity; promoting social and economic development; reforming the caste system and uplifting the untouchables; fostering Hindu-Muslim unity and religious tolerance; and inspiring a spirit of nationalism and patriotism.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main challenges and difficulties?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main challenges and difficulties were facing the British colonial authority, which tried to suppress his movements with force and repression; dealing with the internal divisions and conflicts within the Indian National Congress and the Indian society; coping with the violence and hatred that erupted during the partition of India and Pakistan; and enduring several arrests, imprisonments, assaults, and assassination attempts.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main symbols and slogans?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main symbols and slogans were the spinning wheel, which represented self-reliance and rural empowerment; the short dhoti, which represented simplicity and identification with the poor; the three monkeys, which represented the principle of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”; the lotus, which represented purity and spirituality; and the slogans “Quit India”, “Do or Die”, and “Hey Ram”.

What were Mahatma Gandhi’s main hobbies and interests?

Mahatma Gandhi’s main hobbies and interests were reading, writing, spinning, walking, gardening, praying, meditating, and fasting. He also enjoyed playing chess, cards, and flute. He was fond of animals, especially goats and monkeys. He had a pet goat named Nirmala, who accompanied him on his travels.

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most influential and remarkable figures of the 20th century. He dedicated his life to the cause of freedom and justice for his people and for all humanity. He showed the world that nonviolence is a powerful and effective way of fighting oppression and achieving social change. He also demonstrated that truth, love, and service are the essential values of a good life. He left behind a rich legacy of wisdom and inspiration that continues to enlighten and empower millions of people today.

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mini biography of mahatma gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Biography, Birth, Early Life, Education, Death

mini biography of mahatma gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Biography 

Mahatma Gandhi, also known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in present-day Gujarat, India. His birth marked the beginning of a life that would later be revered as the guiding light of India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence, civil disobedience, and self-reliance earned him the title of “Mahatma,” meaning “great soul,” and made him a symbol of peace and unity worldwide.

Mahatma Gandhi Early Life and Education 

Mahatma Gandhi, born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in present-day Gujarat, India, had a childhood marked by modesty and moral values. His early life and education played a crucial role in shaping the man who would later become the guiding light of India’s struggle for independence and a global icon of peace and nonviolence.

Gandhi was born into a devout Hindu family. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was a respected diwan (chief minister) of the Porbandar state, while his mother, Putlibai, was a deeply religious and compassionate woman. From a young age, Gandhi imbibed his parents’ values of honesty, compassion, and humility.

Gandhi received his early education in Porbandar, where he demonstrated an insatiable curiosity and love for learning. At the age of nine, he moved to Rajkot to attend the local school. Despite his inherent shyness, Gandhi proved to be an intelligent and disciplined student.

In 1888, at the age of 18, Gandhi left for London to study law. He attended University College London and later the Inner Temple to become a barrister. During his time in London, he embraced vegetarianism, a decision that would become an integral part of his life.

After completing his law studies, Gandhi returned to India in 1891 and began his legal practice. However, facing little success, he decided to move to South Africa in 1893 to work as a lawyer. It was in South Africa that Gandhi encountered the harsh reality of racial discrimination and prejudice against Indians.

Gandhi’s experiences in South Africa were transformative. Witnessing racial bias and facing discrimination himself, he felt compelled to take a stand against injustice. His personal experiences kindled the fire of resistance within him and sowed the seeds of his future philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Mahatma Gandhi Biography 

Mahatma Gandhi Return to India 

After spending over two decades in South Africa, where he fought against racial discrimination and injustice, Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January 1915. His return marked a significant turning point in India’s struggle for independence. Gandhi’s leadership, philosophy of nonviolence, and unwavering commitment to truth inspired millions of Indians to join the freedom movement. Through various nonviolent campaigns, including the Salt March and Quit India Movement, he led the nation towards independence. Gandhi’s legacy as the “Father of the Nation” continues to inspire and guide people in their pursuit of truth, justice, and nonviolence. India achieved its long-cherished freedom on August 15, 1947, making Gandhi the architect of India’s independence and an enduring symbol of peace and unity worldwide.

Gandhi led various campaigns, including the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Salt March, both of which drew millions of Indians to join the fight for freedom. Through his teachings and actions, he urged his fellow countrymen to reject violence and embrace self-reliance.

Gandhi firmly believed in the unity of all Indians, regardless of their religion, caste, or social status. He championed the rights of the oppressed and marginalized sections of society, such as the untouchables, and worked tirelessly to break down the barriers of discrimination.

His message of unity and tolerance inspired people from all walks of life to join the freedom struggle, making it a truly mass movement.

Mahatma Gandhi Role in Independence of India

Mahatma Gandhi, fondly called the “Father of the Nation,” played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. His leadership, philosophy of nonviolence, and unwavering commitment to truth and justice inspired millions of Indians to join the freedom movement and ultimately led to India’s independence on August 15, 1947. Let’s delve into the details of Gandhi’s role in India’s journey to freedom:

Championing Nonviolent Resistance: Satyagraha

Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance, or Satyagraha, became the cornerstone of India’s struggle for freedom. He believed in the power of truth and nonviolence as the means to achieve justice and righteousness. Gandhi’s Satyagraha involved civil disobedience and peaceful protests against unjust British laws and policies.

One of the earliest and most significant examples of Satyagraha was the Champaran movement in 1917, where Gandhi led Indian farmers in Bihar to protest against oppressive indigo plantations. The success of this movement brought Gandhi to the forefront of India’s political landscape.

The Non-Cooperation Movement: Mobilizing the Masses

In 1920, Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, urging Indians to boycott British institutions, schools, and goods. Millions of Indians responded to his call, and the movement gained widespread support across the country. This marked the first time that the Indian masses actively participated in the freedom struggle.

The movement eventually forced the British government to make significant concessions and sparked a wave of nationalist fervor throughout India.

The Salt March: Symbol of Resistance

In 1930, Gandhi initiated the Salt March, a 240-mile journey from Sabarmati Ashram to the Arabian Sea. The march aimed to protest the British salt tax, which heavily burdened India’s poor. Thousands of Indians joined Gandhi on the march, demonstrating their unity and resolve against British oppression.

The Salt March captured the world’s attention and brought the Indian independence movement to the global stage. It also exemplified the power of nonviolent protest in challenging British rule.

Quit India Movement: Demanding Immediate Independence

In 1942, during World War II, Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement, demanding an immediate end to British rule in India. The movement called for civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance on a large scale. However, the British responded with mass arrests and brutal repression.

Despite facing severe opposition, the Quit India Movement ignited a spirit of unity and resilience among Indians, strengthening the resolve for freedom.

Gandhi’s Message of Unity and Inclusivity

Throughout the freedom struggle, Gandhi emphasized the importance of unity and inclusivity. He worked to bridge the divide between different religious and social groups, promoting the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden, such as the untouchables.

Gandhi believed that an independent India could only be successful if it embraced diversity and stood united as one nation. His teachings of communal harmony and religious tolerance continue to inspire India’s ethos to this day.

The Negotiations and the Road to Independence

As India’s freedom movement gained momentum, the British government realized the strength of the people’s aspirations for independence. Negotiations between the Indian National Congress and the British government culminated in the Mountbatten Plan, which paved the way for the transfer of power.

On August 15, 1947, India finally achieved its long-awaited freedom. Gandhi’s vision of a free India, where truth and nonviolence prevailed, had become a reality.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Legacy 

Gandhi’s legacy as the architect of India’s independence and his philosophy of nonviolence continue to resonate worldwide. His teachings have inspired civil rights movements and leaders across the globe, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

Even after his passing on January 30, 1948, Gandhi’s spirit lives on, reminding us of the power of peaceful resistance and the ability to effect profound change through nonviolence and truth. Mahatma Gandhi’s role in India’s journey to freedom remains an indelible chapter in the history of the nation and serves as an enduring inspiration for generations to come.

1. Nonviolence and Satyagraha:

Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, or Ahimsa, remains his most significant legacy. He believed that true strength lies not in physical force but in moral courage. Gandhi’s practice of Satyagraha, the power of truth and nonviolent resistance, inspired numerous movements and leaders worldwide, including the Civil Rights Movement in the United States led by Martin Luther King Jr.

2. Freedom Struggle and India’s Independence:

Gandhi’s role in India’s struggle for independence is unparalleled. His leadership and unwavering commitment to nonviolent civil disobedience united millions of Indians in the fight against British colonial rule. Through various movements like the Non-Cooperation Movement, Salt March, and Quit India Movement, he galvanized the masses and paved the way for India’s freedom on August 15, 1947.

3. Emphasis on Simplicity and Self-reliance:

Gandhi’s life was a testament to simplicity and self-reliance. He advocated for living a frugal life, emphasizing the importance of self-sufficiency and being in harmony with nature. His principles of self-reliance and Swadeshi (supporting indigenous products) continue to inspire sustainable living and economic empowerment.

4. Communal Harmony and Religious Tolerance:

Gandhi stressed the value of communal harmony and religious tolerance. He sought to bridge the divide between various religious and social groups, promoting unity and understanding. His respect for all religions and belief in the fundamental unity of humanity remain as guiding principles for a diverse and pluralistic India.

5. Empowerment of the Marginalized:

Gandhi was a champion of social justice and worked towards empowering the marginalized sections of society, including the untouchables. He fought against caste discrimination and advocated for their inclusion and dignity. Gandhi’s efforts contributed to the social upliftment of the oppressed and laid the groundwork for social reforms in post-independence India.

6. Global Impact and Inspiration:

Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence and peaceful resistance resonated far beyond India’s borders. His life and teachings influenced civil rights movements, anti-colonial struggles, and leaders around the world. He became a symbol of hope and resistance against injustice and oppression.

7. Influence on Modern India:

Even after his passing, Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals continue to shape India’s ethos and collective conscience. His teachings have guided the country’s leaders and people in navigating challenges and striving for a more just and inclusive society. Gandhi’s face adorns India’s currency, and his birthday, October 2nd, is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday in India.

Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy stands as a beacon of light in a world often plagued by conflict and division. His timeless message of truth, nonviolence, and compassion remains a source of inspiration for those seeking to bring positive change to society. Gandhi’s vision of a just, equitable, and peaceful world continues to inspire generations, encouraging them to walk the path of truth and uphold the values of humanity. As the world remembers and cherishes his legacy, Mahatma Gandhi remains an immortal inspirer, guiding humanity towards a brighter and more harmonious future.

Mahatma Gandhi Death

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination occurred on 30 January 1948 at the hands of Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist and member of the Hindu Mahasabha. Godse opposed Gandhi’s support for Pakistan and rejected his doctrine of non-violence.

Mahatma Gandhi Literary Work

Gandhi was a prolific writer and published several literary works. Some notable ones include “Hind Swaraj” in 1909, and he edited newspapers such as “Harijan” in Gujarati, Hindi, and English, “Indian Opinion,” “Young India,” and “Navajivan.”

He also penned his autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” as well as other autobiographical works like “Satyagraha in South Africa” and “Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule.”

Mahatma Gandhi Literary Work

Mahatma Gandhi Awards

Though Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times between 1937 and 1948, he did not receive the award. However, he was named the Man of the Year by Time Magazine in 1930, and in 2011, he was recognized as one of the top 25 political icons of all time by the same magazine.

Mahatma Gandhi Film

Gandhi’s life and teachings have had a lasting impact. His advocacy of non-violence, truth, and faith in God made him an influential figure in India’s struggle for independence. He inspired leaders and youths not only within India but also worldwide. The film “Gandhi,” released in 1982, depicted his life, with Ben Kingsley portraying the iconic leader.

Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy as the Father of the Nation and his message of swaraj (self-rule) continue to resonate in Indian history. His simple attire and commitment to inclusivity left an enduring mark on Indian culture and society. His teachings promoted harmony, inclusiveness, and faith, guiding generations towards a better and independent India.

Mahatma Gandhi Biography FAQs

Q1. Who was Mahatma Gandhi, and what was his role in India’s independence movement?

Answer : Mahatma Gandhi, born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was a prominent leader and the driving force behind India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. He led various nonviolent movements, such as the Salt March and the Quit India Movement, advocating for civil disobedience and truth force (Satyagraha) as powerful tools to challenge injustice and oppression.

Q2. What were the key principles of Gandhi’s philosophy?

Answer : Gandhi’s philosophy was centered on nonviolence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), and self-reliance (Swadeshi). He believed in nonviolent resistance as the most effective means to achieve social and political change. His emphasis on truth and self-sufficiency aimed to promote ethical living and empower India economically.

Q3. How did Gandhi influence India’s freedom struggle and inspire other leaders worldwide?

Answer : Gandhi’s nonviolent methods and commitment to truth earned him the title “Mahatma” or “Great Soul.” He united millions of Indians in the pursuit of freedom and civil rights. His philosophy of nonviolence inspired leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.

Q4. What were Gandhi’s major literary works?

Answer : Gandhi was a prolific writer and authored several significant works. Some of his notable literary contributions include “Hind Swaraj” (1909), his autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” and various newspapers such as “Harijan,” “Indian Opinion,” and “Young India.”

Q5. What was the significance of the Dandi March or Salt March in Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom movement?

Answer: The Dandi March, also known as the Salt March, was a defining moment in India’s struggle for independence. In 1930, Gandhi and a group of followers marched over 240 miles to the Arabian Sea to protest the British salt tax. The act of making salt at the beach symbolized India’s defiance against unjust colonial laws, and the march garnered widespread support, bringing international attention to the freedom movement.

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Mahatma Gandhi : Biography, Movements, Education, Birth Date & History

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, rose to fame as a leading figure in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Through his writings, speeches, and historical accounts of his actions, Mahatma Gandhi inspired countless individuals to re-examine their lives and embrace the path of non-violence, justice, and social change.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or  Mahatma Gandhi  was a famous freedom activist and one of the powerful political leader who played a critical role in India’s struggle for Independence against Britishers. He was also considered as the father of the country. Mahatma Gandhi  ( Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) , he was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India , and died on January 30, 1948, in Delhi . he was an Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against Britishers in India. Mahatma Gandhi is internationally respected for his philosophy of nonviolent protest (satyagraha) to gain political and social progress.

In this article, we have covered Mahatma Gandhi’s Biography. His early life, education, birth date, death date, political contributions, Famous Quotes, Ideologies, essay and many more.

Let’s get a closer look at Life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – Biography, Education, Birth Date

Table of Content

  • Early Life of Mahatma Gandhi

Education of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

  • Impact Made by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa
  • Return of Mahatma Gandhi to India

Early Movements by Mahatma Gandhi in India

Political campaigns of mahatma gandhi in india.

  • Leadership Role of Mohandas Gandhi in Freedom Struggle
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Death and Events in Aftermath

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Notable Works

Ideologies of mohandas karamchand gandhi, mahatma gandhi biography.

Mahatma Gandhi’s life and methods of struggle have had a profound and lasting impact on people to date. He was born on 2 October 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in Gujarat, India.

Full Name:  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Birth Date:  2 October, 1869 Place of Birth:  Porbandar, Gujarat Death Date:  30 January, 1948 Place of Death:  Delhi, India Cause of Death:  Shot by Gun or assassination Father name:  Karamchand Gandhi Mother name:  Putlibai Gandhi Nationality:  Indian Spouse:  Kasturba Gandhi Children:  Harilal Gandhi, Manilal Gandhi, Ramdas Gandhi and Devdas Gandhi Professions:  Lawyer, Politician, Activist, Writer

The following are the Notable works (Books) of Mahatma Gandhi:

He had been in South Africa for about 20 years, Mahatma Gandhi protested against unfairness and racial discrimination using the non-violent way of protests. His simplistic lifestyle admired, both in India and the outside world. He was also popularly known as Bapu (Father).

Mahatma Gandhi ( Early Life and Family)

A famous and revered figure in Indian history, Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in the coastal town of Porbandar in Gujarat, India. He was the youngest of four children born to Karamchand Gandhi, who served as the Diwan of Porbandar, and his wife Putlibai. Despite his illustrious future, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was shy and introverted during his formative years, which put him at a distance from his peers. Mahatma Gandhi had a deep influence of Shravna and Harishchandra.

His father was Dwan (Chif Minister of Probandar). Mahatma Gandhi was the son of his father’s fourth wife whose name was Putlbai. She belonged to an Vaishnava family.

In November 1887, the 18-year-old Gandhi  graduated from high school in Ahmedabad.  and In January 1888, he enrolled at Samaldas College in Bhavnagar State , The following is the Education of Mahatma Gandhi and his early Acedemia:

Gandhi’s Formative Years in Porbandar and Rajkot

Mahatma Gandhi received his early education in Porbandar and later in Rajkot, where his father worked as a Dewan. Although he did not demonstrate exceptional academic ability, his family and teachers recognized his natural curiosity and passion for learning. His Hindu mother, a religious woman of great spiritual power, played a pivotal role in instilling values such as truth, compassion, and self-restraint in the young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Further Education

In 1888, Gandhi embarked on a journey to London to study law in college at the University of London. Initially, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi faced difficulties in adjusting to the new environment, which affected her learning. However, he soon became more interested in religious and philosophical works of different cultures and beliefs. Gandhi’s extensive reading covered Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing primarily on the Bhagavad Gita.

Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa

In 1893, Gandhiji embarked on a journey to South Africa, initially on account of the legal case of the plaintiff, Dada Abdullah. Little did he know that this migration would become a pivotal chapter in the history of his life and human rights.

When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived in South Africa, he faced the harsh reality of apartheid, a system of racial discrimination targeting blacks and Indians, and the injustices he witnessed stirred in him a deep sense of responsibility. Instead of returning to India, Mahatma Gandhi chose to stay in South Africa, determined to inspire and empower Indian communities to fight for their rights.

Moderate Phase (1894 – 1906)

Mahatma Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress during this phase, to unite various Indian groups in South Africa to disseminate information and promote unity among Indians.

Phase of Passive Resistance (1906 – 1914)

During this crucial phase, Gandhi introduced the concept of Satyagraha, which advocated non-violent resistance against injustice. He established Tolstoy Farm as a shelter for satyagrahi families. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his followers faced imprisonment for their acts.

After an unwavering commitment and several negotiations, an agreement was finally reached. The government agreed to address the major grievances of Indian communities and promised a more compassionate approach to immigration.

Gandhi’s time in South Africa laid the foundation for his future endeavors in India. The lessons Mahatma Gandhi would learn and the principles established in the anti-apartheid struggle would become an integral part of his philosophy of nonviolent protest and social justice, shaping the course of history in South Africa and India.

Mahatma Gandhi in India

In 1915, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to his native land, India, and became actively involved in the Indian nationalist movement. His most important role in India’s freedom struggle against British rule was an unwavering commitment to nonviolent resistance as a radical form of political protest.

Gandhi’s journey from his early life and education to his experiences in South Africa and his subsequent leadership of the Indian independence movement represents a remarkable transformation driven by his commitment to justice, truth, and non-violence.

After Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915, his early movements in India laid the foundation for his reforms in the country’s struggle for independence. Guided by his political mentor Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi embarked on a journey that would define India’s destiny.

Establishment of Sabarmati Ashram (1916)

In Ahmedabad, Mahatma Gandhi established the Sabarmati Ashram, where his followers could embrace the principles of truth and non-violence that he held in high esteem.

Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

The Champaran Satyagraha was the first blow to Gandhi’s civil disobedience . Rajkumar Shukla’s plea compelled Gandhi to investigate the plight of indigo farmers in Bihar. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi began passive resistance or civil disobedience in response to the fact that these peasants were subject to the tinkatia system which required them to grow indigo on a large portion of their land.

Prominent leaders like Rajendra Prasad and Anugraha Narayan Sinha joined him to advocate for the rights of indigo farmers. Eventually, through Gandhiji’s negotiations, the British put an end to this policy and the victimized peasants got compensation for paying illegal wages.

Kheda Satyagraha (1918)

The Kheda Satyagraha was Gandhi’s first non-cooperation movement . Kheda in Gujarat had suffered a severe drought in 1918, leaving them unable to pay exorbitant taxes imposed by the British due to crop failures and epidemic outbreaks Mahatma Gandhi rallied around these farmers afterwards and demanded that the proceeds be withheld.

The party saw young leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Indulal Yagnik as ardent followers of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Eventually, the government relented and adopted a policy of tax exemptions in 1919 and 1920 and the re-admission of confiscated properties.

Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the first to go on a hunger strike during the Ahmedabad Mill Strike. Intervened in a dispute between mill owners and workers in cutting epidemic wages. Workers demanded a 50% wage increase, while employers were only willing to accept a 20% wage increase. Activists led by Anusuiya Sarabai sought Gandhi’s help.

He urged them to beat them without resorting to violence and began a fast unto death. The mill owners eventually agreed to appeal, and the strike was settled with a 35% wage increase. These early movements exemplified Mahatma Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, laid the groundwork for later efforts in India’s freedom struggle, and highlighted the power of peaceful protest and the importance of solidarity needed in the face of injustice.

Gandhi’s political journey in India lasted decades, marked by a unique doctrine of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and took an active part in the Indian National Congress, a movement dedicated to Indian independence.

Non-Cooperation Movement

One of Gandhi’s major forays into Indian politics was the launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement in the 1920s . The group’s initial aim was to avoid British objects and institutions, including schools and civil servants. It became a larger movement and more involved in all sections of society.

Mahatma Gandhi’s cry for non-violent protest and civil disobedience resonated deeply with a society that was subject to British subjugation and yearned for self-government. The movement was a spectacular success. It forced the British government to make concessions, including the release of political prisoners and the repeal of the Rowlatt Act, a law that gave the British the right to imprison individuals without trial.

Nevertheless, the group witnessed a few riots, especially the Chauri Chaura incident . In the process, a group of protesters set fire to a police station, leaving 22 police officers tragically dead. In response to these riots, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi acted to end the Movement in 1922, as he felt that the riots went against his creed of non-violence but that the movement had already aroused a surge in nationalist interest in India, which paved the way for subsequent campaigns.

The Salt Satyagraha, Dandi March, and Civil Disobedience Movement

Later, Gandhi’s most important political endeavor materialized with the Salt Satyagraha of 1930, colloquially known as the Dandi March . The main goal of the campaign was to oppose the British salt tax, a symbol of British subjugation. Accompanied by a group of devoted followers, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi embarked on a 240-mile journey from Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal village of Dandi. There, they ignored British law by extracting salt from seawater.

This seemingly simple act of salt-making was illegal under British rule, a direct affront to British sovereignty. The Salt Satyagraha proved a great success, capturing the hearts and minds of the Indian people. Its pitch meant wider dividends and forced the British administration to bend to some concessions. In addition, it inflamed the spirit of civil disobedience, inspiring movements such as boycotts of foreign clothing and mass refusal to pay taxes.

The Quit India Movement

In 1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched his final political crusade, the Quit India Movement . The aim of this important campaign was unequivocal – to force the British to leave India immediately, without a date. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi kind of advocated after non-violent protest and civil disobedience. The group attracted people from all walks of life, including a broad Indian population.

The Quit India Movement stands as one of the most important political movements in Indian history. It represented the culmination of India’s freedom struggle and laid the foundation for India’s eventual independence in 1947. However, the campaign was not without violence and witnessed extreme violence and brutal repression at the hands of the British authorities. Thousands were imprisoned and tragically lost their lives.

Mahatma Gandhi’s political career in India symbolized his singular philosophy of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience. These efforts were made to challenge British domination and take India to independence. Gandhi’s enduring legacy continues to inspire individuals around the world and inspire them to uphold justice and equality through peaceful means.

Mohandas Gandhi leadership Role

The history of Gandhi’s extraordinary leadership reveals that the Salt March of 1930 was one of his most famous campaigns. This dramatic event came as a peaceful protest precisely against the imposition of the British salt duty, an unfair tax that caused great hardship to the Indian people.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, accompanied by a group of devoted followers, embarked on a 240-mile trek from Sabarmati to Dandi. There, in open defiance of British rule, they laboriously produced their salt.

Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of work and non-violent protest left an indelible impression not only on the borders of India but also across the world. His influence resonated deeply and served as a source of inspiration for countless other leaders and professionals. Icons like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela used his ideas and methods to fight for civil rights and national independence.

However, amid this respect and universal acclaim, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist for strongly opposing his policy of religious tolerance on 30 January 1948. Mahatma Gandhi’s death was a great loss and was deeply felt by India and the world, however, his legacy will last forever.

Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent protest fuels the spirit of individuals around the world who are making a concerted effort to initiate social change through peaceful means. His life and teachings are celebrated in India every year on Gandhi Jayanti, his birth anniversary, a national holiday honouring his enduring legacy.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Death

The world was plunged into sorrow on 30 January 1948, when Mahatma Gandhi, the revered father of the Indian nation, met his tragic end. His assassination sent shockwaves rippling across the globe, sparking an outpouring of grief and indignation throughout India.

Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who vehemently opposed Gandhi’s principles of non-violence and his tireless efforts to foster unity between Hindus and Muslims, perpetrated this heinous act. As Gandhi embarked on his customary walk to the evening prayer meeting in New Delhi, Godse approached and, at point-blank range, fired three fatal shots.

News of Gandhi’s demise spread like wildfire, evoking profound sadness and disbelief among millions worldwide. In India, the government declared a National Day of Mourning, and the nation came to a standstill. Schools, businesses, and government offices shuttered their doors, and the streets filled with mourners paying their heartfelt tributes to their departed leader.

The reverberations of Mahatma Gandhi’s death transcended India’s borders, resonating globally. Leaders from various countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, extended condolences and honored Gandhi’s enduring legacy of non-violence and social justice.

Gandhi’s passing marked an epochal moment in Indian history, signifying the conclusion of an era. Yet, his legacy of non-violent resistance, along with his unwavering dedication to social justice and equality, continues to ignite the spirits of people around the world to this very day.

Mahatma Gandhi’s views on religion and society developed during his time in South Africa from 1893 to 1914. He refined these principles during India’s freedom struggle Gandhi drew inspiration from sources like the Bhagavad Gita, Jainism, Buddhism, the Bible, and teachings by Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

These ideas were elaborated by Gandhi’s followers, especially Vinoba Bhave and Jaiprakash Narayan in India. Outside the borders of India, individuals like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela also contributed to these ideas. Some of the major ideas of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi are:

Mahatma Gandhi Quotes

The Following are the quote of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
“See the good in people and help them.”
“An ounce of patience is worth more than a tonne of preaching.”
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Mahatma Gandhi – FAQs

1. who was mahatma gandhi and his role in the indian independence movement.

Mahatma Gandhi was a famous leader for advocating non-violent protest during India’s freedom struggle.

2. Where was Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace?

Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar, a coastal town in Gujarat, India.

3. What were the basic principles and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi?

Gandhi’s core principles include non-violence, truth and civil disobedience.

4. What was the Salt March and how did it contribute to India’s independence?

The Salt March, also known as the Dandi March, was a 240-mile march led by Gandhi in 1930 to protest against the British salt tax. It was a symbol of protest against British tyranny. The movement mobilized Indians and inspired many acts of civil disobedience, eventually leading to India’s independence in 1947.

5. What was the relationship of Mahatma Gandhi with other Indian independence leaders?

Gandhi worked with leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel in India’s freedom struggle.

6. Which newspaper did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi start in South Africa?

Gandhiji founded the newspaper “Indian Opinion” in South Africa.

7. When did Gandhiji start civil disobedience in South Africa?

Gandhiji launched a campaign of civil disobedience in South Africa while advocating for Indian rights.

8. When did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi first return to India from South Africa?

Gandhiji returned back to India from South Africa in 1915, and became actively involved in the Indian nationalist movement.

9. When did Mahatma Gandhi discover the Harijan Sevak Sangh?

Gandhiji founded the Harijan Sevak Sangh in 1932 to promote social equality and uplift the marginalised.

10. What is the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi today?

Gandhi’s legacy will live on in promoting peace, human rights and social justice around the world.

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  • Gandhi: A Select Bibliographic Guide

by Vinay Lal 

A minimal familiarity with the outlines of Gandhi’s life might be acquired by consulting any one of the following biographies:   Geoffrey Ashe, Gandhi (New York, 1969); Judith Brown, Gandhi:  Prisoner of Hope (Yale, 1990): Louis Fischer, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (New York, 1950); Dhananjay Keer, Mahatma Gandhi:  Political Saint and Unarmed Prophet (Bombay, 1973); B. R. Nanda, Mahatma Gandhi: A Biography (1st ed., 1958; expanded edition, New Delhi:  Oxford UP, 1981); and Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi (Dutton, 1969).  This list does not indicate my endorsement of any particular biography, and you can pick up some other biography of your choice.  There are very short biographies of Gandhi as well, some of considerable merit, such as George Woodcock’s little study, Mohandas Gandhi , for the Modern Masters series (New York:  Viking Press, 1971), Catherine Clement’s Gandhi:  Father of a Nation (London:  Thames & Hudson, 1996); Bhikhu Parekh’s Gandhi (Oxford University Press, 1997); and Krishna Kripalani’s Gandhi:  A Life (1968; reprint ed., New Delhi:  National Book Trust, 1982)  In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, a number of new studies of Gandhi’s life were released, but the more recent biographies of Gandhi are not demonstrably better than previous ones.  For a more comprehensive account, see the 8-volume biography by D. G. Tendulkar, Mahatma:  Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (New Delhi, 1951), which has the advantage of reproducing many of Gandhi’s speeches and writings, often in their entirety, and the 4 volumes of Pyarelal’s biography, The Early Phase and The Last Phase (Ahmedabad, various years).  But Tendulkar has few insights into Gandhi’s life and thinking and is predominantly a chronicler.

Reference Material and Scholarly Studies:  A Brief Note

Constant use should be made of The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi , 100 volumes (Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Publications Division, 1951-1995; this includes the supplementary volumes).  Quite handy iis Index of Subjects to the Collected Works (1988).  The three-volume anthology edited by Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (New York and Delhi:  Oxford UP, 1989) is not only more manageable but is superbly edited, and except for specialists seeking to write on Gandhi at length, will suffice as a representative and thoughtful selection of Gandhi’s voluminous writings.  There are, besides, literally hundreds of anthologies of Gandhi’s writings, and in his own lifetime Navajivan Press as well as other publishers brought out collections of Gandhi’s writings on particular subjects, such as nature cure, Hindu-Muslim relations, village reconstruction, non-violence, and so on.  For a small sample, see the following booklets (and in some cases small books) of Gandhi’s thoughts on particular subjects released by Navajivan:  The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism (1959); Woman’s Role in Society (1959); Trusteeship (1960); Medium of Instruction (1954); Bapu and Children (1962); Bread Labour [ The Gospel of Work ] (1960); and The Message of the Gita (1959).  Among the more creative anthologies, the following readily come to mind:  Pushpa Joshi, ed., Gandhi on Women (Ahmedabad:  Navajivan Publishing House, 1998, in association with Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi; cf. the selections found in Gandhi to the Women , ed. Anand Hingorani [Delhi, 1941]); Nehru on Gandhi (New York:  John Day Company, 1942); Gandhi on Non-Violence , ed with introduction by Thomas Merton (New York:  New Directions paperback, 1964 — this is a thoughtful albeit much too brief introduction to the subject); What is Hinduism? (New Delhi:  National Book Trust for Indian Council for Historical Research, 1994).  An extremely useful survey on the anthologizing of Gandhi is to be found in Stephen Hay, “Anthologies Compiled from the Writings, Speeches, Letters, and Recorded Conversations of M. K. Gandhi”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 110, no. 4 (October-December 1990), pp. 667-76.

There are numerous bibliographies on Gandhi, but all are severely dated. Among thousands of scholarly monographs on Gandhi, the following may be consulted with some profit and pleasure — some are available in newer editions or reprints, even if not mentioned below:

Alter, Joseph S.  Gandhi’s Body:  Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism . Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

Ambedkar, B. R. What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables .  1945, reprint ed., Lahore, 1977.  For a contemporary rejoinder, see K. Santhanam’s Ambedkar’s Attack (New Delhi: Hindustan Times, 1946).

Bondurant, Joan.  Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict .  Rev. ed., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.

Borman, William.  Gandhi and Non-Violence .  New York:  State University of New York Press, 1986.

Chatterjee, Margaret.  Gandhi’s Religious Thought .  University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

Dalton, Dennis.  Mahatma Gandhi:  Nonviolent Power in Action .  New York:  Columbia University Press, 1993.

Dhavan, Gopinath.  The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi .  Bombay, 1946; reprint, Delhi, 1990. Extremely good for the ‘grammar’ of satyagraha.

Erikson, Erik H.  Gandhi’s Truth:  On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence .  New York:  W. W. Norton, 1969.  Psychoanalytic interpretation.

Fox, Richard.  Gandhian Utopia:  Experiments with Culture .  Boston:  Beacon Press, 1989.

Green, Martin.  The Challenge of the Mahatmas .  New York:  Basic Books, 1978.

Green, Martin.  The Origins of Nonviolence:  Tolstoy and Gandhi in their Historical Settings .  Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986.

Green, Martin. Gandhi:  Voice of a New Age Revolution .  New York:  Continuum, 1993.

Hunt, James D.  Gandhi in London .  New Delhi:  Promilla & Co., 1978.

Hutchins, Francis G.  India’s Revolution:  Gandhi and the Quit India Movement .  Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard UP, 1973.

Iyer, Raghavan. The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi .  New York:  Oxford Univ. Press, 1973.  Perhaps the single best study of a conventional sort of Gandhian thought.

Jordens, J. T. F.  Gandhi’s Religion:  A Homespun Shawl .  New York:  St. Martin’s Press; London:  Macmillan, 1998.

Juergensmeyer, Mark.  Fighting with Gandhi .  New York, 1984.

Kapur, Sudarshan.  Raising Up a Prophet:  The African-American Encounter with Gandhi .  Boston:  Beacon Press, 1992.

Khanna, Suman.  Gandhi and the Good Life .  New Delhi:  Gandhi Peace Foundation, 1985.

Kishwar, Madhu.  Gandhi and Women .  Delhi:  Manushi Prakashan, 1986.  [First published in two successive issues of the Economic and Political Weekly 20, nos. 40-41 (1985).]

Nanda, B. R.  Gandhi and His Critics .  Delhi:  Oxford UP, 1985.

Parekh, Bhikhu.  Colonialism, Tradition and Reform:  An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse .  New Delhi:  Sage, 1989.

Parekh, Bhikhu.  Gandhi’s Political Philosophy:  A Critical Examination .  London:  Macmillan, 1989; reprint ed., Columbus, Missouri:  South Asia Books, 1996.

Patel, Jehangir P. and Marjorie Sykes, Gandhi: The Gift of the Fight .  Rasulia, Madhya Pradesh:  Friends Rural Centre, 1987.  Anecdotal rather than scholarly but very insightful.

Pinto, Vivek.  Gandhi’s Vision and Values:  The Moral Quest for Change in Indian Agriculture .  New Delhi:  Sage, 1998.

Pouchepadass, Jacques.  Champaran and Gandhi:  Planters, Peasants and Gandhian Politics .  New Delhi:  Oxford UP, 1999.  [Compare: Rajendra Prasad, Satyagraha in Champaran (2nd ed., Ahmedabad:  Navajivan Publishing House, 1949) and D. G. Tendulkar, Gandhi in Champaran (New Delhi:  Publications Division, Government of India, 1957).]

Prasad, Nageshwar, ed. Hind Swaraj:  A Fresh Look .  Delhi:  Gandhi Peace Foundation, 1985.

Rao, K. L. Seshagiri.  Mahatma Gandhi and Comparative Religion .  New Delhi:  Motilal Banarsidass, 1978.

Swan, Maureen. Gandhi:  The South African Experience .  Johannesburg:  Ravan Press, 1985.  Critical of Gandhi but not wholly persuasive.

Terchek, Ronald J.  Gandhi:  Struggling for Autonomy .  Lanham, Maryland:  Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.  A study with a more expansive conception of Gandhian politics than ordinarily encountered in the literature.

Mahatma Gandhi

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Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi or simply Gandhi Ji, was a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. He was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town in the western Indian state of Gujarat, and he played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for freedom through nonviolent civil disobedience and passive resistance. Gandhi’s life and philosophy had a profound impact not only on India but also on the world.

Table of Contents

Mahatma Gandhi and his family members 

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – Mahatma Gandhi himself.
  • Karamchand Gandhi – Gandhi’s father.
  • Putlibai Gandhi – Gandhi’s mother.
  • Kasturba Gandhi – Gandhi’s wife.
  • Harilal Gandhi – Gandhi’s eldest son.
  • Manilal Gandhi – Gandhi’s second son.
  • Ramdas Gandhi – Gandhi’s third son.
  • Devdas Gandhi – Gandhi’s fourth and youngest so

Mahatma Gandhi's life and his philosophy

Early Life : Gandhi came from a modest background and studied law in London. He later worked as a lawyer in South Africa, where he experienced racial discrimination. These experiences greatly influenced his commitment to social justice and nonviolence.

Nonviolent Resistance : Gandhi is best known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance, or “Satyagraha,” which means “truth force” or “soul force.” He believed that nonviolence was the most powerful weapon for oppressed people to secure their rights and freedom.

Indian Independence Movement : Upon his return to India, Gandhi became a prominent leader in the struggle for Indian independence from British colonial rule. He led various campaigns, protests, and movements to resist British rule, including the famous Salt March and Quit India Movement.

Simplicity and Self-Sufficiency : Gandhi lived a simple life, dressed in traditional Indian clothing, and advocated for economic self-sufficiency through the promotion of Khadi (handspun cloth) and village industries. He believed in leading a life of minimal materialism and believed in the dignity of labor.

Religious and Communal Harmony : Gandhi was a proponent of religious and communal harmony. He believed in respecting all religions and advocated for unity among India’s diverse communities.

Diet and Fasting : Gandhi practiced vegetarianism and undertook many fasts to promote peace and unity. His principles of self-discipline extended to his diet and personal life.

Legacy : Gandhi’s ideas and philosophy had a profound impact on the world. He inspired civil rights movements, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and nonviolent resistance movements globally. His birthday, October 2, is celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Assassination : Tragically, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi. His death shocked the world, but his principles continue to inspire people to strive for peace and justice through nonviolence.

Gandhi Ji’s life and work are a testament to the power of peaceful protest and civil disobedience. His commitment to nonviolence, social justice, and human rights earned him the title of “Mahatma,” which means “Great Soul.” His legacy continues to be a source of inspiration for those who seek positive change in the world through nonviolent means.

Mahatma Gandhi Contributions for Country

Mahatma Gandhi made numerous contributions to various aspects of society, politics, and human rights. 

Nonviolent Resistance (Satyagraha) : Gandhi’s most renowned contribution was the development and popularization of the concept of nonviolent resistance, known as “Satyagraha.” He firmly believed in the power of nonviolence as a means to fight oppression and injustice. This philosophy inspired numerous civil rights and social justice movements worldwide.

Indian Independence Movement : Gandhi played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. He organized and led various campaigns, protests, and movements, such as the Salt March, Quit India Movement, and the Non-Cooperation Movement, which contributed significantly to India’s eventual independence in 1947.

Promotion of Self-Sufficiency and Cottage Industries : Gandhi advocated for self-sufficiency and the revitalization of village industries. He promoted the spinning of Khadi (handspun cloth) as a means to achieve economic self-reliance, boost rural economies, and provide employment for the masses.

Religious and Communal Harmony : Gandhi was a strong advocate for religious and communal harmony. He worked to bridge divides between different religious and ethnic groups, emphasizing the importance of unity among India’s diverse communities.

Civil Rights and Social Justice : Gandhi was a champion of civil rights and social justice. He fought against discrimination based on caste and gender, advocating for the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their social or economic background.

Emphasis on Simplicity and Selflessness : Gandhi led a simple and austere life, emphasizing the importance of minimal materialism, selflessness, and the importance of service to others. His personal life reflected the values he espoused.

Fasting as a Means of Protest : Gandhi often used fasting as a form of protest and political tool to draw attention to various social and political issues. His willingness to fast to the point of self-sacrifice had a significant impact on public opinion and policy.

International Influence : Gandhi’s ideas on nonviolence and civil disobedience inspired many civil rights leaders and movements worldwide, including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the American civil rights movement. He left a lasting legacy of peaceful resistance and activism.

International Advocacy for Human Rights : Gandhi also spoke out against global issues, such as racism, poverty, and oppression. He emphasized the importance of addressing these issues on a global scale, making him a forerunner in the promotion of human rights.

International Day of Non-Violence : Gandhi’s contributions to the promotion of nonviolence and his commitment to human rights led to the establishment of the International Day of Non-Violence on his birthday, October 2, which is observed globally to honor his legacy.

Mahatma Gandhi’s contributions to humanity continue to be celebrated and studied for their enduring relevance in the quest for justice, peace, and human rights. His dedication to nonviolence and his fight against oppression have left an indelible mark on the world.

mini biography of mahatma gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Death

Mahatma Gandhi, the renowned leader of the Indian independence movement, was tragically assassinated on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi, India. His death marked a profound loss for India and the world, as his life had been dedicated to the principles of nonviolence, social justice, and human rights. Here is a brief overview of the circumstances surrounding his death and a conclusion on his legacy

Assassination : Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, at a prayer meeting in Birla House, New Delhi. Godse held ideological differences with Gandhi, particularly regarding the partition of India and his policies towards minority communities. On the evening of January 30, 1948, as Gandhi was walking to the prayer grounds, Godse approached him and shot him three times at close range. Gandhi succumbed to his injuries and died shortly thereafter.

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination was a tragic event that shocked the nation and the world. However, his principles, legacy, and contributions continue to endure. Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolent resistance, social justice, and human rights left an indelible mark on history. His teachings on nonviolence inspired civil rights movements and leaders worldwide, 

Gandhi’s role in India’s struggle for independence from British rule cannot be overstated. His leadership and philosophy of nonviolence were instrumental in achieving India’s freedom in 1947. He also worked tirelessly for communal harmony, economic self-sufficiency, and the upliftment of marginalized sections of society.

Today, Mahatma Gandhi is remembered as the “Father of the Nation” in India, and his birthday, October 2, is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday. His life and work serve as a timeless example of how one individual’s dedication to nonviolence, justice, and human rights can bring about significant change and inspire future generations to strive for a better world. Gandhi’s message of peace and tolerance continues to resonate as a powerful force for positive transformation and social progress.

"नमस्ते! मैं ज्ञान वार्ता का संपादक ruhan siddiqui हूं। मेरे ब्लॉग का उद्देश्य विचारों और ज्ञान के साथ एक सामाजिक संवाद बढ़ाना है। मैं इस ब्लॉग के माध्यम से विभिन्न विषयों पर चर्चा करता हूं, और ज्ञान को बाँटने का प्रयास करता हूं, आपको मेरे ब्लॉग पर आकर नये और रोचक विचार मिलेंगे, और आपको सोचने के लिए प्रेरित करेंगे। मुझसे जुड़ने के लिए, मेरे सोशल मीडिया प्रोफ़ाइल्स का अनुसरण करें या मुझे [email protected] पर संपर्क करें।"

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mini biography of mahatma gandhi

Time Is Running Out for Rahul Gandhi’s Vision for India

But in this year’s elections, the scion of India’s most storied political family is still trying to unseat Modi — and change the nation’s course.

India’s National Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi, as his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra (Unite India March for Justice) passed through Varanasi. Credit... Chinky Shukla for The New York Times

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By Samanth Subramanian

Samanth Subramanian is a writer and journalist based in London. He has covered Indian politics, culture and the rise of Hindu nationalism for The New Yorker, The Guardian and The New York Times.

  • April 20, 2024

Rahul Gandhi stood in a red Jeep, amid a churning crowd in Varanasi, trying to unseat the Indian government with a microphone in his hand. “The mic isn’t good,” he said. “Please quiet down and listen.” It was the morning of Feb. 17 — Day 35 of a journey that began in the hills of Manipur, in India’s northeast, and would end by the ocean in Mumbai, in mid-March. In total, Gandhi would cover 15 states and 4,100 miles, traveling across a country that once voted for his party, the Indian National Congress, almost by reflex. No longer, though. For a decade, the Congress Party has been so deep in the political wilderness, occupying fewer than a tenth of the seats in Parliament, that even its well-wishers wonder if Gandhi is merely the custodian of its end.

Listen to this article, read by Vikas Adam

Gandhi called his expedition the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra — roughly, the Unite India March for Justice. He never said it in so many words, but the yatra was an appeal to voters to deny Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party a third straight term in parliamentary elections starting on April 19. Congress, the only other party with a national presence, is the fulcrum of an anti-B.J.P. coalition. Indian pundits and journalists bicker about many things, but on this point they’re unanimous: Only a miracle will halt the B.J.P. Still, it falls to Gandhi, steward of his enfeebled party, to try.

The speech lasted barely 15 minutes. Gandhi is a fidgety orator, unable to shrug off the routine disturbances of a rally. He kept calling for silence, and scolding overzealous policemen regulating the mob. He didn’t ramble, exactly, but eddied around the point he wanted to make. “This is a country of love, not of hate,” he said. He talked of two Indias, populated respectively by the millionaires and the impoverished. He laid into TV news channels, many of which have been captured by oligarchs prospering under the B.J.P.: “They won’t show the farmers, or the workers or the poor,” he said. “But they will show Narendra Modi 24 hours a day.” Then he helped onto his Jeep a member of the audience, a young man who complained that, despite spending hundreds of thousands of rupees on his education, he still had no job. His is a common story in Modi’s India. Two out of every five recent college graduates are out of work, and young people make up 83 percent of the unemployed. To his crowd, Gandhi called out: “These are the two issues facing India: unemployment and — ?” He received only a tepid response of “poverty.” When he finished, there was no applause.

The crush of people at the rally was suffocating, although in India a crowd is no index of popularity. People may gawk and then go vote for the other guy — and Gandhi is, after all, one of the country’s most recognizable men. Officially, he is no longer his party’s president, but he is undoubtedly its face. At 53, with a well-salted beard and serious eyes, he’s too old to be called Congress’s “scion,” but he still wears the sheen of dynasty. His great-grandfather, the unflinchingly secular Jawaharlal Nehru, was India’s first prime minister. His grandmother, Indira, and his father, Rajiv, both became prime ministers; both were assassinated. His mother, Sonia, steered Congress into government in 2004 and 2009, but declined the top post. Then, on the heels of several corruption scandals, the mighty party — 140 years old next year — came unstuck. Out of 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament, Congress holds just 46, compared to the B.J.P.’s 288. Gandhi embodies all this history: the triumphs as well as the failures. For the crowds, that is the fascination he exerts.

One of Modi’s successes has been not just to trounce the Congress Party but also to persuade people that the party has weakened India and emasculated its Hindus. Through his cult of personality, Modi is fulfilling a century-old project, recasting India as a Hindu nation, in which minorities, particularly Muslims, live at the sufferance of the majority. Emblematic of this is a new law offering fast-tracked citizenship to people fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan — as long as they aren’t Muslim. It is the B.J.P.’s totemic achievement: the use of religion to decide who can be called “Indian.” Opposing this law or indeed resisting the B.J.P. in any way has proved difficult. Investigating agencies mount flimsy cases against critics of the government, as Amnesty International has frequently noted. (Amnesty itself halted its work in India in 2020, in the midst of what it later called an “incessant witch hunt” by the government.) Activists are regularly imprisoned, sometimes on the basis of planted evidence; journalists are sent to jail or otherwise bullied so frequently that India has slipped to 161st out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index , just three spots above Russia. Pliant courts often endorse it all. Such is the mood in India that one of the plainest sentences in Congress’s election manifesto is also one of its most resonant: “We promise you freedom from fear.”

mini biography of mahatma gandhi

As the election neared, the quelling of dissent grew more visible still. This year, in an unprecedented move, Modi’s administration arrested two chief ministers of states run by small opposition parties. (One stepped down hours before his arrest.) In both instances, the government claimed corruption, but many critics noted that the arrests were uncannily timed to pull two popular politicians out of campaign season in states where the B.J.P. has struggled. Income-tax authorities froze Congress’s bank accounts, supposedly over a late filing. “It has been orchestrated to cripple us in the elections,” Gandhi told reporters. If so, it feels like overkill, because it is common wisdom that Congress can’t win. Those who want nothing to do with the B.J.P. watch Gandhi with conflicted anguish. He is, by all accounts, sincere, empathetic and committed to a pluralistic India. This is a man who forgave his father’s killers, and who said on the sidelines of a private New York event last year, according to one of those present: “I don’t hate Modi. The day I hate, I will leave politics.” But he’s also the latest in a lineage under whom Congress grew undemocratic and sometimes wildly corrupt. The great liberal hope is that Gandhi can achieve contradictory things: use his dynastic privilege to resuscitate his party, and dissolve the dynasty at the same time.

That’s a steep demand, but Gandhi’s priorities are altogether more Himalayan. “He doesn’t say it,” Sitaram Yechury, the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) who knows Gandhi well, told me, “but he’s modeling himself after Mahatma Gandhi. He doesn’t want to take any position of power.” In January, Gandhi told his colleagues that he has “one foot in and one foot out of the party,” and that he plans to be “a bridge to activists outside.” As he explained it then, the B.J.P., with its undiluted majoritarianism, “is a political-ideological machine. It can’t be defeated by a political machine alone.” His role, as he sees it, is to be the counter ideology — to go out into the country, rouse Indians to the dangers of the B.J.P. and offer them his dream of a fairer, more tolerant India instead.

The yatra is a well-worn exercise in Indian politics. Its most famous practitioner, Mahatma Gandhi, returned from South Africa in 1915 hungering to know more about his country. Go travel the land, one of his mentors told him, “with eyes and ears open, but mouth shut.” After using the yatra to gain an education, he employed it for political purpose. In 1930, he walked 240 miles to the Arabian Sea to protest the British monopoly on salt; hundreds of people joined him, and he spoke to thousands en route. On reaching the beach, he scooped out a fist of salty sand and announced he had broken the monopoly, setting off a wave of civil disobedience. There have been plenty of other yatras since. In 1983, Smita Gupta, a retired journalist who was then a cub reporter, walked part of a 2,650-mile yatra by a politician named Chandra Shekhar, as he tried to enlist support against Indira Gandhi. As Gupta recalled, for people who live far from the centers of power, “when a politician descends from the skies and comes to your home, it’s a big deal — I was swept away.”

Rahul Gandhi conceived of his yatra much as Chandra Shekhar did: as a way to counter the ideology of a seemingly immovable leader. There’s no place more vital for this project than Uttar Pradesh, the state through which I trailed him in February. With its 80 parliamentary seats and 240 million people, many living on incomes lower than the sub-Saharan average of $1,700 a year, Uttar Pradesh is electorally pivotal. Excelling here isn’t a guarantee of securing power in Delhi, but it’s as close to ironclad as it gets. It’s also the state that produced the Gandhis. When Nehru, born in Uttar Pradesh, ran for Parliament from a constituency near his hometown, Congress shared one advantage with other parties in post-colonial countries: the glory of having led the freedom struggle. That kept for surprisingly long without spoiling. Nehru’s heirs — Indira, then her son Rajiv, then his wife, Sonia — all won election after election from their constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi once called Uttar Pradesh his karmabhoomi , a Sanskrit word for the land of one’s momentous actions.

But Uttar Pradesh also became the land where Congress was fated to fail. Today it’s the roiling heart of the B.J.P.’s Hindu nationalism. Varanasi, Hinduism’s most sacred city, lies near the state’s eastern border, and Modi chose to represent it in Parliament — a crafty choice for a man wishing to be hailed as a defender of his faith. Around 40 million Muslims live in the state, and under its B.J.P. chief minister, they’re increasingly being erased from public life. One law jeopardizes their right to marry whom they wish. Other regulations have constricted the meat trade, in which many Muslims work. Islamic schools are in danger of being banned outright. By painting Muslims as trespassers, the B.J.P. licenses violence against them, sometimes even explicitly. (In 2015, a man was beaten to death by his Hindu neighbors in his village in western Uttar Pradesh, on the rumor that he had slaughtered a cow. The men accused of his murder have since been freed on bail and the case is still unresolved.) More than any other part of India, Uttar Pradesh shows what the B.J.P. has wrought and how successful it has been. In 2019, during the last national election, the B.J.P. swept 62 of the state’s 80 seats. Congress won just one.

A few years ago, Gandhi decided that his party needed a way to mobilize people against the B.J.P., settling on a yatra as a means to that end. He embarked on his first, walking up the spine of India, in late 2022. Even the plainness of his attire — sneakers, loosefitting trousers, white polo shirt — was a rebuke to the Olympian vanity of Modi, who once had his own name stitched, in tiny letters, to form the pinstripes of a suit. The yatras felt like campaigns, yet Gandhi’s team insists that they were not about projecting him as prime minister but rather a form of ideological resistance, almost above politics. (His staff politely refused my repeated requests for an interview.)

The Congress Party found itself divided over Gandhi’s approach. Salman Khurshid, a Congress veteran, worried that the party has strayed from bread-and-butter political strategy. We were in his office in Delhi, and he kept looking dolorously at his phone, which never stopped ringing. It was the feverish middle of the election season, and Congress was picking its candidates and negotiating alliances with other parties. Gandhi had to weigh in, Khurshid said: “We’d like him to be within shouting distance. He’s a thousand kilometers away.” Khurshid wished for a more customary system, the sort that promised, say, a 20-minute appointment at 10 a.m. to talk about three things. “That’s how ordinary political parties work,” he said. “He wants an extraordinary political party.”

Sometimes, Gandhi’s team told Khurshid and others to come on the yatra and talk to Gandhi on the bus. But it wasn’t sufficient, Khurshid told me. “There’s never enough time.” The yatra involved a lot of stopping and starting and stopping again, as I discovered. Two or three times a day, Gandhi’s Jeep — and its caravan of police cars, S.U.V.s and a vehicle bearing a device labeled “Jammer” — inched through a town, halting at a crossroads for a speech. Then the convoy would hasten to its next engagement, trying to cover vast Uttar Pradesh distances through dense Uttar Pradesh traffic, and always behind schedule. The day ended in a cordoned-off campsite, where everyone slept in shipping containers fitted with bunks. Here, in his own enclosure, Gandhi hobnobbed with local Congress functionaries or practiced jiu-jitsu with his instructor.

In Prayagraj, where we headed after Varanasi, it’s possible to traverse the distance between the party’s zenith and its rock bottom in a single evening. First, Gandhi made a speech outside Anand Bhavan, an ancestral family home, an eggshell-white mansion on an emerald lawn. Anand Bhavan is now a museum, but its chief relic is intangible: the promise of Nehruvian secularism, circa 1947. Then, while leaving Prayagraj, we passed the high court that invalidated Indira Gandhi’s election in 1975 on the grounds of electoral malpractice. The verdict provoked her to impose a state of emergency — a suspension of civic rights — for nearly two years, tarnishing Congress and strengthening its competitors. By this time too, the party had wrapped itself feudally around the dynasty. Any emergent leaders with their own base were subdued or cast off because they threatened the Gandhis. By the late 1980s, other politicians had clawed voters away from Congress by courting specific groups — members of a caste, say, or as with the B.J.P. and Hindus, of a religion.

As Congress faltered, its workers joined rival parties, including the B.J.P. In India, party workers don’t just canvass voters — they step in for an insufficient state. If a farmer needing a loan is turned away by the bank manager, or if a woman can’t pay the cost of treatment for her sick daughter, party workers use their contacts to help. These services are performed in the hope that the favors will be returned every five years, come the election. “The average party worker needs, say, 10,000 rupees a month to run his home,” an old Congress hand in Varanasi, who asked not to be named for fear of professional reprisal, told me. “If their party can’t get to power, how will they get paid? They’ll go work for whoever is most likely to win.”

Gilles Verniers, a political scientist, recounted taking his Ashoka University class on a trip to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh’s capital, on the day votes were counted in a state election in 2017. He distributed his pupils among the headquarters of various parties, but by midmorning, the students at the Congress office called him. “They said: ‘Can we go elsewhere?’” Verniers told me. “ ‘There’s no one here, everybody left.’ The party knew they were getting spanked, but at least you could stick around, thanking workers, encouraging them. There was no one to even make tea.” Today, the Varanasi representative told me, “we just hope to God we win even one seat in Uttar Pradesh.”

Gandhi entered politics with several lifetimes’ worth of trauma packed into his 33 years. When he was 14, two of his grandmother’s bodyguards shot her dead — revenge for an assault she ordered upon a Sikh temple to root out separatist militants sheltering within. The bodyguards had taught a young Rahul how to play badminton. Seven years later, while he was a student at Harvard, his father, Rajiv, was killed by a suicide bomber — revenge again, this time by a separatist group in Sri Lanka, where he had sent Indian troops to aid the government. It became difficult for Rahul Gandhi to be Rahul Gandhi: to trust people or go anywhere ungirded by security. For a while it didn’t seem inevitable that he would choose politics. Later he would say that he made the decision on a train just as it entered Prayagraj, when he was taking his father’s cremated remains to pour into the Ganges River.

Smita Gupta, the former journalist, attended one of Gandhi’s earliest rallies, in an Uttar Pradesh town called Farrukhabad, in 2004. The road was so crowded that a 15-minute drive took three hours. Gandhi arrived in a Jeep, smiling and dimpling and waving. As he walked to the dais, the barricades broke from the masses of excited people pushing against them. “He was swept away, sailing with the crowd,” Gupta said. Soon after Congress won that election, Gandhi took charge of the party’s junior wing. The transition to the dynasty’s next generation seemed underway, and he exhibited the air of someone who knew he was the man for the job.

At the time, Gandhi often showed little patience with the orthodox figures of politics. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political scientist at Princeton, who met Gandhi back then, recalled that he made minimal eye contact and seemed distracted — unable even to feign interest as politicians usually do so well. A journalist who met Gandhi privately told me that he was, as the saying goes, eager to tell you what you thought: “It was: ‘You don’t know how the Congress works. Let me tell you.’ Or, ‘I’ll tell you about India and Pakistan.’” In his memoir “A Promised Land,” Barack Obama compared Gandhi, whom he met in 2010, to “a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject.” One of Gandhi’s colleagues admits he used to be “very anxious and pushy” back in the day. “He has calmed down over a period of time.”

He had to. Congress isn’t a party you can change in a hurry. Its ways are too ossified, and it is honeycombed with fiefs. When Gandhi wanted Congress to field new faces in elections, he pushed for candidates to be selected through an internal voting system, rather like a primary. According to one former party consultant, senior politicians, worried about losing their tickets, complained to his mother, Sonia, the Congress president. Khurshid, one of the old guard, told me: “Everything that destroys democracy got in there — money, muscle, power.” It resulted in “the dedicated warriors of the Congress at the youth level” being sidelined. The primaries never took off. In 2018, Gandhi wanted young chief ministers in three states where Congress had won state elections. He didn’t get his way. But at least Gandhi tried something, a consultant to Congress told me. “If you leave it to these other guys,” he said, “they will not even change the curtains in the party office.”

These exasperations may have amplified a hesitancy about power and responsibility that Gandhi seemed always to harbor. In 2009, he declined the offer to be a cabinet minister. Perhaps even then he saw his role as that of a moral authority outside the government, Yechury said. On becoming the party’s vice president, Gandhi gave not a stirring speech but a somber one, recalling the assassinations in his family and counseling his party that “power is poison.” In 2017, he became the party’s president, but after Congress lost the 2019 election, he quit the post. According to two Congress sources, he expected other top party leaders to feel accountable and step down as well. No one did.

In a party often pilloried for being dynastic, Gandhi has been unable to stamp his will on Congress. One friend of the family described Gandhi as “timid.” When his 2022 yatra went through the state of Kerala, Yechury, the Communist leader, considered walking with him, but members of Congress’s Kerala unit protested: The Communists were their chief rivals in the state, and this show of solidarity — even against the B.J.P., a common antagonist — wouldn’t do at all. Yechury couldn’t understand it. Gandhi might not be the party’s president, but there’s no doubt he is its presiding force, Yechury said. Why didn’t he just hold fast?

Two years ago, during a protest in Delhi, Gandhi and dozens of his Congress colleagues were detained by the police. One of those present, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told me that several senior leaders were held together, and Gandhi had “really frank and open conversations” with them. A couple of these leaders “got aggressive, saying, ‘You have to take charge,’ persuading him to take back the party presidency, accusing him of running away from responsibility.” It was high-octane drama: “What do you do when you’re detained, man? We were there for six hours. He couldn’t go anywhere.” The Congress worker remembers Gandhi saying then: “I know what I have to do. My job is to do mass outreach. You guys handle the party.”

Gandhi’s two yatras have unfolded in the shadow of another, some 30 years ago — one that ultimately helped bring Modi to power. Riding in a Toyota decked out as a chariot, a B.J.P. leader named Lal Krishna Advani rode through northern and central India, advertising one of his party’s priorities: the claim that, 450 years earlier in the town Ayodhya, a Mughal ruler had knocked down a temple to build a mosque. Advani promised his audiences that the B.J.P. would restore the temple to that very spot. Two years later, the foot soldiers of the B.J.P. and other right-wing groups razed the mosque, triggering not just riots that killed 2,000 people but also a deep fracture in Indian society. After that, the B.J.P. regularly listed the construction of a temple in its election manifestos, harvesting votes out of the religious polarization around the issue. In 2019, mere months after Modi won his second term, the Supreme Court ruled that the mosque’s demolition was illegal, and that there was no evidence it had been built by knocking down a Hindu shrine. Yet the judges allowed a new temple to be erected on the site, legitimizing the majority’s abuse of disputed medieval history to its own retributive ends. In January, that temple was consecrated. Modi presided over the rites, as if he were head priest rather than prime minister.

Congress didn’t send any representatives to the temple’s inauguration, and I had expected Gandhi to speak about Ayodhya, which lies, after all, in Uttar Pradesh. But he barely mentioned it, even in Varanasi, a city facing a potential reprise of Ayodhya. The morning after his speech there, I visited a quarter called Pilikothi, following a sequence of lanes, each framed by so many tall tenements that there was something canyonlike about them. It was a Sunday, but Pilikothi echoed with the tack-tack of sari looms. The sound drifted into the basement in which Abdul Batin Nomani, the mufti of Varanasi, sat at a low desk. Behind him were shelves of theological volumes. When he pulled a book out to illustrate a point, his hand didn’t hesitate for a second.

The title of mufti, or jurist, has been in Nomani’s family since 1927, and he has filled the role for more than two decades. In that time, he said, the B.J.P. has spread so much hate that it has corroded even the possibility of amicable relations between Hindus and Muslims. You can be arrested for offering the namaz in public, or for being a Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman, or for running your butcher shop during Hindu festivals. You could be lynched on a whisper that you’re carrying beef, or have your house bulldozed on suspicion of being a rioter, or be hunted by mobs goaded by B.J.P. politicians calling for murder. Nomani told me about the head of a Hindu monastery nearby, and how they would invite one another to their religious functions. “Then, slowly, his mind turned,” Nomani said. “He must have been convinced that to talk to people like me is wrong.”

Nomani heads the committee of the Gyanvapi Mosque, another centuries-old structure that the Hindu right aims to replace with a temple. Weeks before I met Nomani, a court allowed Hindus to worship in the mosque’s basement, similar to what happened in Ayodhya in 1986. Varanasi’s Muslims are fearful, Nomani said. Wouldn’t the same cascade of consequences ensue? Wouldn’t other mosques surely follow? When the yatra swung by, Nomani told a local Congress representative he would welcome a meeting with Gandhi. It never transpired. Nomani wondered why Gandhi didn’t even speak about the issue and directly confront the B.J.P.’s divisive politics. “Someone could have called and reassured us: ‘Don’t worry, we’re with you,’” Nomani said. He regards Gandhi with sympathy. “I believe he wants to do the right thing, and that he is against this culture of hate,” he said. “But he’s weak. His party is weak. He can’t do anything.”

From Prayagraj, the yatra headed to Amethi, a town a couple of hours to the north. I had last visited in 2009, when it was still a stronghold of Congress’s first family, and I remembered the fields of winter mustard, yellow till the horizon, on the town’s outskirts and the wishbone layout of its three main roads. Gandhi won resoundingly that year. But in 2014, when his margin shrank, he must have seen the incoming tide of Hindu nationalism. Sanjay Singh, a local Congress worker, recalled that, on vote-counting day, Gandhi sounded dispirited as the results trickled in, telling his colleagues “the politics of this state is beyond my understanding.” In 2019, the B.J.P. flipped Amethi. If Gandhi hadn’t simultaneously run from another seat, in Kerala, he wouldn’t be in Parliament at all.

The yatra’s schedule included an evening rally, so I spent the afternoon in Singh’s house in a village nearby. A stern-eyed man with a ramrod bearing, he wore a spotless white shirt and trousers, and he had tucked a Congress streamer around his neck like a cravat. He lamented Congress’s loss of Amethi, but he wasn’t surprised. Between 2014 and 2019, Gandhi visited Amethi less and less, dispatching his advisers instead. Still, Singh felt almost guilty that Amethi voted for the B.J.P. Last year he had a chance to meet Gandhi, he said, and asked him to run from Amethi again: “I told him, ‘Whatever mistake we made, we’re ready to rectify.’” A few weeks after I met Singh, though, Gandhi declared that he would stick to his constituency in Kerala.

For the rally, the party had set up rows of chairs in a field, but the audience started dribbling out almost as soon as it began. By the time Gandhi was midway through his speech, only half the chairs were occupied. He talked about China, and riots in faraway Manipur, and the B.J.P.’s cronyism. Standing next to me, a policewoman told a videographer, “He isn’t talking about Amethi at all.” The only cheers came when he raised the plight of India’s poorer castes — the very people who made up most of his audience. As he had done throughout the yatra, he warned them they’d never get very far in the B.J.P.’s India. He may well be right, but I remembered something Mehta told me. Modi’s narrative of a resurgent Hinduism, however hollow, makes people feel good about themselves, Mehta said. “Rahul’s narrative does the opposite.”

The next day, something interrupted the yatra’s staid choreography. We were in Raebareli, the one Uttar Pradesh constituency still with the Congress Party. Halfway through his address, Gandhi invited a young man onto his Jeep to quiz him about his prospects. The man introduced himself as Amit Maurya, but he was barely audible, so Gandhi said, paternally but lightly, “First, learn how to handle a microphone.”

“I’m a little anxious, sir.”

“Don’t worry,” Gandhi replied. “You’re a lion.”

Either it was the pressure of the moment or the unchecking of a dam of frustration, but Maurya burst into tears.

In the week’s most genuine moment, Gandhi seemed nonplused, as if he didn’t know what to do with this political gift. Instinctively, he folded Maurya into an embrace and kept his arm around the sobbing man. Still, he just couldn’t abandon his routine — the statistics he’d memorized, the thesis presentation mode he was in. But even if his speech didn’t change, he sounded more passionate — angry, even — about the inequities he had lined up to narrate to his crowd.

Well after the yatra’s end, when summer hammers down and ballot machines appear in schools and colleges and municipal buildings, Gandhi may at least be able to count on Maurya’s vote. But who knows. Elections are subject to every manner of caprice, and the B.J.P. has shown itself to be peerless at swaying India’s voters. Out of hubris or audacity, Gandhi wants to persuade people to consider lofty things like morality and love, indispensable values that nonetheless make for nebulous campaign platforms. He doesn’t mind if it takes years, and perhaps he doesn’t mind if he loses his party in the process. In that time, though, he risks seeing his idea of India extinguished altogether.

Samanth Subramanian, who has written frequently for the magazine, is the author of several books, including “This Divided Island: Life, Death and the Sri Lankan War” and “A Dominant Character: The Radical Politics and Restless Politics of J.B.S. Haldane,” a New York Times Notable Book of 2020. Chinky Shukla is a documentary photographer based in New Delhi. Her work focuses on cultural assimilation, memory and the environment.

Read by Vikas Adam

Narration produced by Tanya Pérez

Engineered by Zachary Mouton



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