Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, born in Porbandar, Gujarat October 2, 1869, died in Delhi 30 January 1948, is a political leader, an important spiritual leader of India and the movement for independence of this country. It is commonly known and called in India and around the world as Mahatma Gandhi (from Sanskrit, Mahatma: great soul) - "Mahatma" is a title all his life he refused to associate himself - or Simply Gandhi, Gandhiji, Bapu or (Father in several languages of India).

It has been a pioneer and theorist of Satyagraha, resistance to oppression by using the mass civil disobedience, all based on ahimsa (total non-violence), which has helped to drive the India's independence. Gandhi has inspired many liberation movements and civil rights around the world and many other personalities such as Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi. Its critical importance to Western modernity, the forms of authority and oppression (including the state), earned him the reputation of critical development whose ideas have influenced many political thinkers.

Gandhi was recognized as the Father of the Nation in India, his birthday is a national holiday. This date was declared International Day of Non-Violence by the UN General Assembly.

Lawyer who studied law in England, Gandhi developed a method of nonviolent civil disobedience in South Africa in organizing the Indian community's struggle for civil rights. Upon his return to India, Gandhi encouraged the farmers and poor workers to protest against taxes as too high and extensive discrimination, and put on the national stage against the laws created by the colonial British. Became leader of Indian National Congress, Gandhi led a nationwide campaign to help the poor, for the liberation of Indian women, for brotherhood between communities of different religions or ethnicities, for an end to untouchability and discrimination caste, and economic self-sufficiency of the nation, but especially for Swaraj - the independence of India from foreign domination.

Gandhi led the Salt March, famous opposition to the tax on salt. It was he who also launched an appeal to the Quit India Movement August 8, 1942. He was imprisoned several times in South Africa and India for its activities, he spent a total of six years of his life in prison.

A fan of Indian philosophy, Gandhi lived simply, organizing an ashram that was self-sufficient. He made his own clothes - the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, with cotton yarn with a charkha (spinning wheel) - and was a vegetarian. He practiced rigorous fasts for long periods, for self-purification as a means of protest.

Youth in India (1869-1888)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born October 2, 1869 in Porbandar in the present state of Gujarat, India. Gandhi was born and lived all his life as a Hindu, but in a family open to other religious communities, whether Jain, Muslim, Parsi or.

He shows great affection and respect for his parents. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, is a member of the court of Rajasthan, then Prime Minister of the tiny principality of Rajkot, and Gandhi were the last six generations. Gandhi described him as a man who, despite a limited education, is able to solve problems through experience. Her mother, Poutlibai, is the fourth and last wife of his father, whom she has four children, Gandhi was the youngest of them. He keeps most of her memories of a woman of great piety, strictly observing religious vows, including fasting, and rituals Vishnuites. So Gandhi was born into a wealthy family (his father, who wore gold jewelry, may, for example, offer her youngest son an accordion, but the house was home to several families that Gandhi must coexist); that said, his family after the caste Vaishyas (merchants), does not belong to the upper castes of Brahmans (scholars, religious) and Kshatriyas (warriors), a superiority which is sacred and cosmic order, and not economic.

Gandhi in his own words a poor student in elementary school in Porbandar, then became very shy and studious, although sensitive to college in Rajkot.

In May 1883, at the age of 13, Gandhi was married through his parents Makhanji Kasturba (also spelled "Kasturbai" or known as "Ba"), which is the same age. They have four son, Harilal Gandhi, born in 1888, Manilal Gandhi, born in 1892 Ramdas Gandhi, born in 1897 and Devdas Gandhi, born in 1900. Following the marriage, his studies were delayed by one year but being a good student, she is allowed to skip a class, which will not be without it cause problems in the school.

His father was ill for a long time and he reveres, died when Gandhi was 16. He will be remembered for the fact that he could not attend because his last moments he spent the night with his wife. Gandhi throughout his life that think it's because of what he saw as a lack of filial piety as the baby shortly after they had lived only a few days.

Gandhi forged during this part of his life very important aspect of his ethics and his character such as honesty, tolerance, respect for his elders, particularly vegetarianism and the rejection of lying and truth-seeking.

He passes the entrance examination at the University of Samaldas Bhavanaga located in Gujarat in 1887 but is completely overwhelmed by demands that seem out of reach.

Studies in England and return to India (1888-1893)
On the advice of an old family friend, he decides to go to study law in England, an opportunity that fills with enthusiasm. He promises his mother present Becharji Swami, a Jain monk and other advisers of the family, following the precepts of Hindu and "not to touch the wine, nor women, nor meat,". Caste opposed to his departure, whereas life in this country can only lead to a loss of faith. Gandhi, highlighting the vow made to his mother and supported by his family, decides to go anyway, and is doomed to be outcasts by the head of her community.

Gandhi therefore falls to the University College London September 4, 1888 at the age of 18 years to become a lawyer. He tries to some extent to adapt to English customs, dressing like a gentleman and taking dance classes, but he refuses to eat meat at his guests. He subsequently attended the London vegetarian restaurants. Instead of just sticking to the promise made to his mother, he goes beyond by focusing on the diet, especially vegetarians. He joined the Vegetarian Society and became a member of the executive committee for a while. Gandhi said later that it gave him a first experience of organizing an institution.

Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 and dedicated to the study of Buddhist and Hindu literatures in the hope of strengthening the universal brotherhood.

Thanks to them, Gandhi studied more carefully the Bhagavad Gita, which affected him deeply, especially through the idea that desire is the source of agitation of the mind and suffering. It then develops an interest in religion, which is not confined to Hinduism but also extends to other religions like Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, which it retains among others the incentive to respond by Non-violence "if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek.

It takes the boat to India June 12, 1891, two days after being admitted to the bar easily in England and Wales. It is far more difficult to ply his trade: his studies remained intellectually, but still has no knowledge of Indian law and has difficulty speaking in public. He first tried to settle in Mumbai but had to resign after six months due to lack of sufficient cash flow.

Gandhi then returned to Rajkot to work with his brother, lawyer too. He writes queries and submissions by taking advantage of the goodwill of his brother. However, he is disgusted by the climate of struggle for power that exists around him, the obligation of having to curry favor with the hierarchy, including British officers. He jumped at the opportunity when Indian company offered him a contract for one year in South Africa. He sees this as an opportunity both to leave India, to travel and gain experience, and then sailed for Africa in April 1893.

Civil rights movement in South Africa (1893-1915)
At this point in his life, Gandhi is someone sweet, shy and politically indifferent. He read his first newspaper at age 18, has no law that a literary culture, which ignores the commercial aspects affecting Indian trading community that will form its main customers. No special facilities in the exercise of his profession, he is subject to stage fright when he has to speak in court. South Africa is the changing dramatically, first by giving him, by his success, he lacked the assurance previously, secondly by arousing political consciousness in the testimony of discrimination against blacks and Indians as they arise in this country.

Various anecdotes, first reported by Gandhi as "Experiments with Truth", can explain the evolution of Gandhi's position in this period of his life. A day in court in the city of Durban, the magistrate asked him to remove his turban. Gandhi refused and was expelled from the court. Later, he was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to move from first-class carriage at the third when he has a valid first class ticket. On another occasion, traveling by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver because he refuses to travel on the footboard to make room for a European passenger. On this trip, he was rejected from many hotels because of his skin color.

These incidents were described by several biographers as a turning point in his life and he later used it as a catalyst for his activism. By being a direct witness of intolerance, racism, prejudice and injustice against Indians in South Africa that Gandhi started to reflect on the status of his people and his own place in society. Gandhi responds by first protests and gets the Indians dressed in European can travel first class.

At the end of his contract, Gandhi prepares to return to India. However, during a farewell party in his honor, he learns that the assembly of Natal is preparing legislation to ban the right to vote to Indians. His host asked him to stay to help because they lack the skills to oppose this bill. He circulated several petitions against the law to the Government of Natal and the British government. Although unable to prevent the passage of this law, his campaign can draw attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. Convinced by his supporters to stay, so he founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, making himself the post of secretary. This organization is transforming the Indian community into a homogeneous political force, publishing evidence of segregation in British South Africa.

Gandhi returned briefly to India in 1896 to bring his wife and children live with him in South Africa. Upon his return in January 1897, he was attacked by a mob of white South Africans who try to lynch him. A first indication of the values that will shape its future campaigns is his refusal to file a complaint against his assailants, adding that was one of his principles not to solve personal problems before a court.

At the beginning of the Second Boer War in 1899, Gandhi declared that Indians must support the war effort if they want to legitimize their citizenship application. He organized a volunteer ambulance corps of 300 free Indians and 800 Indian coolies, called the Indian Ambulance Corps, one of the few medical units rescued the South African blacks. Gandhi himself is carrying stretcher at the Battle of Spion Kop. Gandhi is decorated for the occasion. Nevertheless, at the end of the war, the Indian situation is not improving, and even continues to deteriorate.

In 1904, after founding the newspaper Indian Opinion, reading Unto This Last by John Ruskin's influence grows Gandhi deeply and fundamentally change life in the years that follow. He bought the property shortly after Phoenix, which became the Tolstoy Farm, named in honor of the writer, where all editors of the newspaper involved in agricultural work are paid the same regardless of profession, nationality or color skin. He began the practice of fasting, stop consuming milk, cut her hair and cleans his own toilets (work reserved for the untouchables in India) and encourages his wife and friends to do so. In 1905-1906, the reputation of competence and integrity of Gandhi in the lawyer are privileged merchants Gujerati, which ensures sustained activity in prosperous law firm he heads. This allows him to have comfortable incomes of about 5000 pounds per year, and further demonstrates its contempt for material comfort, "more an attitude of" natural, "Gandhi is a deliberate choice in.

In 1906 the Transvaal government passed a new law requiring the registration of the entire Indian population. At a protest meeting at Johannesburg 11 September 1906, Gandhi adopts for the first time his methodology of satyagraha (devotion to truth), or non-violent protest, calling on his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishment that would result instead of resisting with violence.

This plan was adopted, leading to a struggle of seven years during which thousands of Indians and Chinese are jailed (including Gandhi himself on numerous occasions), flogged or even killed for going on strike, refused to register, burned their registration cards or have resisted non-violently. It was during this time that Gandhi began a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy, where they exchanged views on nonviolence and global politics until the death of Russian writer. Civil disobedience culminated in 1913 with a miners' strike and the march of the Indian women.

Although the South African government suppresses indigenous protesters successfully, the public reacts violently with extremely harsh methods used against peaceful demonstrators Asian. Finally General Jan Christiaan Smuts was forced to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. The non-Christian marriages again become legal and tax of three books representing six months salary, imposed on Indian workers who wanted to become free (that is to say the coolies), is abolished.

Read also Nelson Mandela

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