Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, or fondly known to the millions as the father of the nation "Bapu" became a powerful voice for peace during the British rule and dedicated his life in setting
India free India from the Monarchy.
Born in Gujarat on October 2, Gandhi went to London, after finishing university, to train as a barrister. He then moved to Africa to practice law and was deeply moved by the mistreatment of Indian immigrants.
He joined the struggle to obtain basic rights for them, for which he had seen the inside of a prison many a time.
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.
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 man of Hindu belief, who was enraged by Mahatma's efforts to negotiate with Jinnah and other Muslims.
He had left an impact on millions, not only on the people of India but on the community worldwide and will forever be remembered for his relentless efforts to bring equality, brotherhood and harmony into society.
At 13, Gandhi, whose father was the "diwan," or chief minister, of a series of small princely states in western India, wed Kasturba Makanji (1869-1944), then also a teen and the daughter of a merchant. It was an arranged marriage, and Gandhi had been engaged to Kasturba since he was seven. The couple went on to have four sons. Even when Gandhi took a vow of celibacy in 1906 for reasons of spirituality, self-discipline and commitment to public service, his wife remained married to him until her death at age 74.
Here are a few facts about Gandhi's life which makes him the Mahatma that we know of.
Gandhi was thrown out of a first-class railway compartment on a train Voyage to Pretoria, South Africa after being beaten by a white stagecoach driver.
He had refused to give up his seat for a European passenger. This was the turning point in Gandhi's life 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.
Being a lawyer in London, Gandhi was a failure. Before he came to England, his Irish teacher made him copy the Sermon on the Mount, as an exercise in English. Hour after hour, Gandhi wrote "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth and these words left a deep impression on him.
Although he had never visited the United States, his band of followers was far and wide. One of his most popular followers was Henry Ford, with whom he had a developed a very personal friendship.
Ford wrote to Gandhi. "You are one of the greatest men the world has ever known. May God help you and guide your lofty work."
In return, Gandhi sent Ford an autographed portable spinning wheel, through a journalist emissary. During the miserable days of the Second World War, Ford would often spin the 'Charka', the spinning wheel that Gandhi had sent.
Gandhi was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1947, but never received the award, which was first handed out in 1901. He also was nominated in 1948, the year he was assassinated, but the Nobel committee opted not to bestow him with the award posthumously. Instead, the committee announced there was "no suitable living candidate" that year and no winner was named. Nobel winner, the 14th Dalai Lama, called his award a tribute to "my mentor, Mahatma Gandhi." In 2006, the Nobel committee publicly expressed regret that Gandhi had never been given the prize.
Despite being famous for nonviolence and his independence movement, Gandhi actually recruited Indians to fight for Britain during World War I. He opposed India's involvement in World War II.
Gandhi was a mediocre student, but had high ethics and a good command of English, as one of his report cards suggest: "good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting". His bad handwriting is something he despised as long as he lived.