Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi is a lawyer, philanthropist and all the above a freedom fighter. His contributions greatly added to the efforts of Indians who are fighting against unjust British rule in India. He sacrificed his entire life for the sake of his mother country – India. He emphasized on noble qualities like Ahimsa and Satyagraha, it is these very qualities made him an idol in the eyes of many Indians. He is the inspiration for many great people in the world like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Dalai Lama and so on. All of these leaders uphold the ideals of Gandhi and followed his path in their fight for just.
Early Life of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar district of Gujarat State. He hails from a well-renowned family in the region. His father was Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi, who worked as Diwan under the king of Porbandar. His mother was Putlibai and she was a homemaker. Gandhi spent his childhood days with the stories of King Harishchandra and Shravana. These stories had a great impact on him throughout out his life. He had his early education in Rajkot and graduated from a school in Ahmedabad. On the insistence of his family friend Mavji Dave Joshiji, he left for England to pursue law in 1888. While leaving he made a vow that he would not fall for western culture at any cost He received his law degree from inner temple College in London. Upon his law completion, he returned India and practiced law in his hometown for a few years. Later he accepted the offer of dealing Dada Abdullah case in Natal, South Africa.
What Motivated Gandhiji to Get into Indian Freedom Struggle
A minor incident that happened to him while traveling to St.Petersburg in a train, had changed his life forever. He was forced to move out of a 1st class compartment because it was reserved to only white men during those days. Gandhiji was moved by this racial discrimination and decided to fight this injustice. He successfully encouraged the local Indians to organize peaceful protests against discriminatory practices of British. He launched Civil Disobedience movement in Transvaal state of South Africa to rollback the unjust law aimed at minimizing the rights of local Indians and Chinese. During this period only he has inspired the writings of Leo Tolstoy and adopted the high ideals of truth and nonviolence as the means of fighting British evil. After getting aware of the mental condition of Indians in their own country, Gandhiji decided to return to his home country and champion their cause.
Popular Movements Lead by Gandhi in India
Gandhi returned to India in 1915 when there was a complete stalemate between two popular wings of Indian Congress party i.e, Moderates and Extremists. He learned the miserable conditions of Indians from his political guru Gopala Krishna Gokhale. Unlike his predecessors, he successfully managed to bring masses into the freedom struggle. With their aid, he lead the following successful movements in India-
- Champaran Agitation – This was his first achievement in India. Champaran was a small village in Bihar and the farmers in that region were forced to cultivate Indigo which will satisfy British interests. Gandhi successfully organized a nonviolent movement against British and pressured them to withdraw their policy, in addition, they provided some concessions to Champaran farmers.
- Kheda Satyagraha– Without considering the bad situation of Kheda farmers, who were badly hit by floods. The British government did not give any tax exemptions and feared farmers that their lands will be confiscated if they fail to pay taxes. Kheda farmers under the leadership of Gandhi organized a peaceful protest and pursued British officials to grant tax relief till the area recovers from famine.
- Khilafat Movement– Khilafat movement was initiated by Ali Brothers namely Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali against the bad treatment by Britishers towards the Calipha of Turkey. When Ali brothers were imprisoned, Gandhi who saw it was an opportunity to bring Hindu-Muslim opportunity ceased it. This movement had bounded Hindu-Muslims in their fight against British.
- Non-Cooperation Movement– When thousands of people were inhumanly killed by Britishers in Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Gandhi decided to launch a massive nationwide movement against British and launched Non-Cooperation movement. He called Indians to not to cooperate with British in their administration and boycott all their institutions. He practiced the high ideals of Truth and Nonviolence in this movement. He demanded Swaraj or Self-rule through this movement.
- Dandi March– Since British was not paying any attention to needs of Indians. Gandhi launched Dandi March, where he broke Salt law by producing salt from the sea. After this incident, he was arrested and sent to jail.
6. Quit India Movement– This was the last freedom movement led by Gandhi in 1942 where he gave the slogan “Do or Die” to Indians. During the course of this movement, he was imprisoned but failed to suppress the confidence which he gave to millions of Indians. With this movement, British realized their end of the rule in India and counted their days. Importance of Gandhi Jayanthi
On 2nd October of every year Gandhi Jayanthi is celebrated throughout the country. This was done in remembrance of his unconditional love towards his country and great efforts that he put in Indian Freedom Struggle. His noble ideals of Truth and Ahimsa were taught to children on this day. His views on women empowerment, social upliftment of poor etc will be preached to public by politicians and renowned persons in the society. This day will make us to realise what we had achieved to till date and what we need to strive for future.
Assasination of Gandhi
Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse at Birla house on 30th January, 1948. There were many views regarding the intentions behind Gandhi’s killing. Some view Godse was a Hindu fanatic and considered Gandhi to be the threat for Hinduism and therefore killed him. While some others opine that since Gandhi and Indian Politicians failed to prevent the partition of country which resulted in the persecution of minorities on either side of the border made Godse to kill Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi died heroic and remembered to till date for his great contributions in freeing India from the wrath of cruel Britishers. We as the Indians should shoulder his dreams of India as a prosperous and peaceful country, where there should no social discrimination and women treated with respect and dignity.