Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most famous freedom fighters in the history of mankind. He led India in its struggle for freedom against the British rule. And he taught Indians to fight for their rights through a unique way of non-violence. India and the rest of the world remember him fondly as Gandhiji or Mahatma Gandhi (Mahatma means “great-souled”).
Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2nd, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat. His parents named him Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. When Mohandas was a teenager, he stole money from his father’s purse. Later, he regretted it and confessed his mistake. Gandhiji had expected his father to rough him up for his misdeed. Instead, his father stayed calm and just accepted his apology. This incident was Gandhiji’s first brush with Truth and humility.
Gandhiji studied law in London. After his studies, he accepted a job in South Africa. After he moved there, he noticed that the white-skinned people mistreated the dark skinned people. During a train journey he was once thrown out – a white passenger asked him to get off the train even when he had a first-class ticket. An unfair act like this is called racial discrimination. Gandhiji decided not to tolerate the racial discrimination at the hands of white people. For as long as he stayed in South Africa, he encouraged people to fight against the injustice.
Gandhiji returned to India after almost twenty years. He became involved in India’s freedom struggle against British rulers. He always preached and followed non-violent methods of protests like fasts and marches. His most famous march was ‘Dandi March‘. It was a protest against the tax Britishers had put on a fundamental thing like ‘salt’ to make it expensive.
Another interesting protest initiated by him was ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’. The Indians protested in large numbers against the British. When the police arrested them, they peacefully surrendered. After a few days, the jails ran out of space. The police had to stop making arrests. The protest was a big hit.
Gandhiji was a big promoter of Cottage industries in India. British Government those days used to buy raw cotton at low prices from Indian farmers. They manufactured cotton clothes in their factories. Then they sold the manufactured clothes back to Indians at a high price. Gandhiji felt it was unfair. He wanted Cottage industries to make goods in India for Indians. He knew building local industries was the greatest way to empower Indians.
Mahatma Gandhi later launched the ‘Quit India Movement’ against the British. Indians asked the British to leave the country. After several years of persuasion, finally, India received independence on 15th August 1947 from the British.
Gandhiji was unhappy that India got divided into India and Pakistan on its Independence. He wanted Hindus and Muslims to live together. On 30th January 1948, a man named Nathuram Godse shot Gandhiji. It is an irony that an act of violence killed the man who preached non-violence all his life.
Gandhiji is dearly known by all Indians as Bapu and also Father of the Nation.