Mohandas Gandhi



Mohandas Gandhi


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as mahatma Gandhi, was a Indian
nationalist leader, who established his country\'s freedom through a nonviolent
revolution.

Gandhi became a leader in a difficult struggle, the Indian campaign for
home rule. He believed and dedicated his life to demonstrating that both
individuals and nations owe it to themselves to stay free, and to allow the same
freedom to others. Gandhi was one of the gentlest of men, a devout and almost
mystical Hindu, but he had and iron core of determination. Nothing could change
his convictions. Some observers called him a master politician. Others believed
him a saint.


Gandhi became a leader in a difficult struggle, the Indian campaign for
home rule. He worked to reconcile all classes and religious sects. Gandhi
meant not only technical self-government but also self-reliance. After World
War I, in which he played an active part in recruiting campaigns, he launched
his movement of passive resistance to Great Britain. When the Britain
government failed to make amends, Gandhi established an organized campaign of
noncooperation. Through India, streets were blocked by squatting Indians who
refused to rise even when beaten by the police. He declared he would go to jail
even die before obeying anti-Asian Law. Gandhi was arrested, but the British
were soon forced to release him. Economic independence for India, involving the
complete boycott of British goods, was made a result of Gandhi\'s self-ruling
movement. The economic aspects of the movement were serious, for the
exploitation of Indian villagers by British industrialists has resulted in
extreme poverty in the country and the virtual destruction of Indian home
industries. As a solution for such poverty, Gandhi supported revival of
cottage industries; he began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to
the simple village life he preached, and of the renewal of native Indian
Industries.

Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a
spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. He employed
propaganda, agitation, demonstration, boycott, noncooperation, parallel
government, and strikes. He refused earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth
and shawl of the lowliest Indian and lived on vegetables, fruit juices, and
goat\'s milk. Indians thought of him as a saint and began to call him Mahatma.
Mahatma meant great soul, a title reserved for the greatest leaders. Gandhi\'s
nonviolence was the expression of a way of life understood in the Hindu religion.
By the Indian practice of nonviolence, Gandhi said, Great Britain would
eventually consider violence useless and would leave India.

The Mahatma\'s political and spiritual hold on India was so great that
the British authorities dared not to interfere with him. In 1921 the Indian
National Congress, the group that spearheaded the movement for nationhood, gave
Gandhi complete executive authority, with the right of naming his own successor.
A series of armed revolts against Great Britain broke out, culminating in such
violence that Gandhi confessed failure of the civil-disobedience campaign he had
called, and ended it. The British government again seized and imprisoned him in
1922.

In 1930 the Mahatma proclaimed a new campaign for civil disobedience,
calling upon the Indian population to refuse to pay taxes, particularly the tax
on salt. The campaign was a two hundred mile march to the sea, in which
thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from Ahmadabad to the Arabian Sea, where
they made salt by vaporating sea water. Once more Gandhi was arrested, but he
was released in 1931, halting the campaign after the British made compromises to
his demands. In the same year Gandhi represented the Indian National Congress
at a conference in London.

In 1932, Gandhi began new civil-disobedience campaigns against the
British. Gandhi fasted for long periods several times; these fasts were
effective measures against the British, because revolution might well have
broken out in India if he had died. In September 1932, while in jail, Gandhi
undertook a fast unto death to improve the status of the Hindu Untouchables.
The British, by permitting the Untouchables to be considered as a separate part
of the Indian voters, were, according to Gandhi, aid an injustice. Although he
was himself a member of the Vaisya (merchant) caste, Gandhi was the great leader
of the movement in India dedicated to terminating the unjust social and economic
aspects of the caste system.

In 1934 Gandhi formally resigned from politics. He raveled through
India, teaching nonviolence. A few years later, in 1939, he again returned to
active political life because of the pending federation of Indian principalities
with the rest of India. Public unrest caused by the fast was so great that the
colonial government intervened and the demands were