Biography of Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of the Nation

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2nd October, 1869 at Porbander in Gujarat. The epithet ‘Mahatma’ which be fondly used for his political mentor Gopal Krishna Go hale but which never stuck with his guru’s name, got woven inextricably with his own name.

Though he was a mediocre student, he had a strong tendency to be truthful and upright. When a test was being conducted in his class he was hinted by his teacher to copy the spellings of a word from his neighbor’s answer-book but he refused to do so. He was married when he was a child of 12 years of age.

He went to England for higher studies at the age of 19. His mother was apprehensive about young men going astray in Western society. But her fears were allayed when Mohandas Farmhand Gandhi swore not to touch meat, wine and woman. He faced a lot of difficulty due to his vegetarianism, but fulfilled his vow resolutely.

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He qualified for the bar from England and came back to India in 1981. He started his practice at Bombay and Rajkot but he was not a big success at the bar. His professional duty took him to South Africa in 1893.

He went there initially for a short time but he stayed for about 12 years. What prevented him from coming back to India was his involvement in the agitation in South Africa, which he launched against inequality and injustice being so brazenly meted out to Indians settled there. It was in South Africa that he practiced with success, the technique of non-violent agitation. It was again in South Africa that his future course of life was charted, his aim was discovered, and his task was determined.

After coming back to India in 1914 he met both Lokmanya Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. It was the latter whom he elected to be his political mentor. Gokhale advised him to acquaint himself with the Indian people by visiting rural India. Mahatma Gandhi toured the entire country-side for full one year listening more than speaking to the people.

In the beginning he was loyal TO the British Empire. He said “As a passive resister I discovered that the British Empire had certain ideals which I have fallen in love with and one of those ideals in that every subject of the Empire has the freest scope of his energies and honors. And I have found that it is possible for me to be governed least under the British Empire.”

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But with the passage of time and with the change in circumstances his attitude to the British Empire underwent a change. After the disappearance of stalwarts like Gokhale and Tilak from the political scene of India, he entered the political arena and started opposing the British Empire. He launched three main movements against the Empire. Each succeeding movement was mightier than the foregoing one.

What forced Gandhi I to launch Non-cooperation movement was (a) the passage of the Rowlett Act which was designed to rob the people of all freedom (b) the Jalianwala Bagh tragedy which brought in its wake crawling and flogging orders and other humiliations to the people of Punjab (c) likely fulfillment of the promises regarding the integrity of Turkey and (d) the inadequacy of Montage Chelmsford Reforms.

Mahatma Gandhi and Ali brothers toured the country to explain the importance of Non-Co-operation movement to the people of India. Its objective was declared as “the attainment of Swaraj by peaceful and legitimate means.” The programme of the movement was to boycott foreign goods to use swadeshi goods to surrender titles and honours to refuse to attend official Durbars and to boycott British courts Government and State-aided schools etc.

Gandhi I suddenly suspended the movement because of the riots that took place at Bombay Madras and Chauri Chaura for which he took upon himself the sole responsibility. Though the movement could not yield any immediate gain yet there is no doubt that it was of the greatest historical importance. It marked a change of great magnitude in the object and programme of the Congress.

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The second important movement i.e. the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched by Gandhi I along with his well trained and disciplined followers on 6th April, 1930 by picking up salt lying on the sea-shore after the historic Dandi March. Its programme included the violation of Salt Law, absenting from the educational institutions by the students and from the offices by the public servants, picketing of shops dealing in liquor, opium and foreign goods, making bonfire of foreign clothes and non-payment of taxes. The Government issued various ordinances and assumed very wide powers to deal with the agitation. It let loose a reign of terror and repression to suppress the movement. It was ultimately called off by Gandhiji on 7th April, 1934.

The third important movement launched by Gandhi I was the Quit India Movement of 1942. The ‘Quit India’ resolution was passed on August 8, 1942 which said, “The immediate ending of the British rule in India is an urgent necessity both for the sake of India and for the success of the United Nations. The continuation of the rule is degrading and enfeebling India.” The movement is truly a memorable event of our recent national history. It was a mass movement for securing freedom.

Ultimately all the above movements culminated in the overthrow of British domination and India got independence on 15th August, 1947.

Mahatma Gandhi was an apostle of peace and non-violence. He was against communalism, but he was shot dead by a fanatic Nathu Ram Godse on January 30, 1948. Pandit Nehru rightly echoed the feeling of his countrymen in a broadcast, “The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.” Gandhi I was a source of inspiration to the nation; he was the conscience of the nation. He was universally loved and respected as the Father of the Nation.

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A true great man he was. He inspired the people, as none else has done, to came sacrifices and live selflessly. He made heroes out of ordinary men. Like Carlyle’s Great Man, he was “as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame.”

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