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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869-1948 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869-1948 Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi, 1869 - 1948


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869-1948

According to  Historian William L. Shirer, Gandhi spent a total of six and a half years of his life in prison: 2,089 days in India, and 249 days in South Africa.

Yet, he is recognized as the father of his country.

What's the story?

Gandhi's Name

Gandhi means grocer in the Gujarati language. That's the language they speak in Gujarat, Gandhi's home state.

His byname was Mahatma, which means Great Soul in Sanskrit.

 What in the world is Sanskrit?

They also called him bapu, which means Little Father.


Gandhi's Life in a Nutshell

Gandhi managed to become 78 years old and was then assassinated.

His life was made into a movie -  Gandhi, 1982.

History remembers him as great political and spiritual leader of India. He became famous for his nonviolent campaigns of civil disobedience.


Gandhi's Early Years

Gandhi grew up in the state of Gujarat in northwest India. He was brought up as a Hindu but developed a vast interest in religion.

He spent the years 1888 until 1891 in England. He graduated in London as a barrister-at-law. His work brought him to Natal, South Africa, where he became a successful lawyer and fought racial prejudice against the Indian minority in the country.


Back in India

When India was under British jurisdiction, Gandhi became famous for his nonviolent campaigns of civil disobedience. For these activities Gandhi was arrested innumerable times by the British authorities. When they arrested him on a Monday he, of course, wouldn't say a word, as Monday was his day of silence.

Back in India, his fight against injustice included the boycott of British manufactures and institutions. Mass arrests followed and people cheerfully went to prison.

Gandhi later concentrated on a national education program against poverty, promoting the trades of hand spinning and weaving.


Gandhi promoted a "Back to the roots" program for India.
He gave up Western ways, began wearing a loincloth and shawl,
and started spinning.

One of Gandhi's most spectacular campaigns was his 200 mile march to extract salt from the sea. This was to show his protest against British tax on salt.

People were impressed by his charisma, courage, and sense of humor in spite of trouble. Maybe most remarkable was Gandhi's ability to influence people's consciences.

Gandhi led India in a nonviolent fight against British rule.

Gandhi's Speeches

On February 4, 1916, and on occasion of the opening of the Hindu Central University College at Benares (which is your Varanasi today), Gandhi delivered his  Benares Hindu University speech.

He spoke after Mrs. Annie Besant, who had spearheaded the founding of the college and who had just finished her address.

In the audience were many members of India's high society, including the viceroy of India, Charles Hardinge.

Gandhi was not able to finish his speech because his words hit a raw nerve with several individuals who interrupted him and stormed out. Annie Besant was one of them. All in all it was felt that Gandhi's speech was leaning a little bit too far towards anarchy.

Gandhi later said that if they would have let him finish, it would have been clear that he did not endorse anarchy per se.


On August 8, 1942, Gandhi delivered his  Quit India speech, also known as the Do or Die speech, demanding from the British to pull out of the country immediately.

Gandhi gave his speech in Bombay before the A.I.C.C., which is the All India Congress Committee.

The speech can be divided into three parts.

 Part One - Delivered in Hindustani. Gandhi's remarks before the Congress passed the Quit India resolution.

 Part Two - Delivered in Hindustani. Gandhi's remarks after the Congress passed the Quit India resolution.

 Part Three - Delivered in English. Gandhi's final remarks and conclusions.


Gandhi's Heart

One of the saddest things for Gandhi to swallow was the constant trouble between Hindus and Muslims in India. When India was finally freed from British rule, the country was split at the same time into Pakistan and India.

Gandhi skipped the "Freedom from the Brits" party. He couldn't attend, he was too sad.


Gandhi's Family

His parents were Karamchand and Putlibai Gandhi.

He was married to his wife, Kasturba, when both were 13 years of age. Kasturba died February 22, 1944, at the age of seventy-four, while in detention at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune.

Gandhi had four sons: Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas, and Devdas.

Gandhi had three siblings. Two brothers, Laxmidas and Karsandas, and one sister, Raliatbehn.



On his way to his evening prayer in Delhi on January 30, 1948, he was shot down by Nathuram Godse, a young Hindu, who was angered by Gandhi's tolerant attitude towards Muslims. Thirty-nine year old Godse put three bullets into Gandhi's chest and Gandhi died on the spot.

Godse and several accomplices were arrested and Godse himself was hanged November 15, 1949.

On the evening of January 30, 1948, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation with his  The Light Has Gone Out of Our Lives speech.

See also
 Assassinations in History.


Gandhi's Contemporaries

Among others, Gandhi's contemporaries were  Theodore Roosevelt,  Vladimir Ilyich Lenin,  Winston Churchill, and  Martin Luther King, Jr., who was inspired by Gandhi's satyagraha campaigns.

Satyagraha has been translated as holding to the truth or zeal for truth.


Gandhi's Writings

Gandhi was a prolific writer. The collected edition of his writings comprises almost 100 volumes. This is his autobiography: Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth


Mahatma Gandhi Trivia

People remember the beginning of Gandhi's non-violent resistance in South Africa, which took place a hundred years ago. Here is the article on the matter  provided by The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Ghandhi's grandson, Arun Gandhi, and his wife, Sunanda, started the  M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in 1991.

Another one of Ghandi's grandsons, Rajmohan Gandhi, wrote another biography on Mahatma. The book is called Mohandas - A True Story of a Man, his People and an Empire, and it was published January 2007.

You could qualify for the  Gandhi Peace Award, as  Eleanor Roosevelt did.

 Mahatma Gandhi Timeline

 Here the Swedes explain why Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize (oops)


Gandhi Book Reviews

Gandhi's Passion : The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi

By Stanley Wolpert. Oxford University Press, 2001, 308 pages.

Stanley is Professor of South Asian History Emeritus at the UCLA., or was at the time. Interesting what made him decide to write this book: It was 1998, the year India announced its possession of nuclear power. Everybody seemed excited and nobody seemed to remember Gandhi's ideas. Reason enough to write a book. Thumbs up.

GANDHI A MEMOIR (A Touchstone book)
By William L. Shirer. Simon and Schuster, New York, 255 pages.

William Shirer actually met Gandhi live and in 3D. He also met Martin Luther King Jr and others. Thus, the book has a very lively touch to it. All thumbs up.   More about William L. Shirer here.



Maybe, see also Human Rights



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