Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Besides being a critical spearhead in the Indian Independence Movement, he is also a guiding light for many in aspects of life, spirituality and religion. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.God has given me no control over the following moment. His father Karamchand was the prime minister, first, to the ruler of Porbandar and later on to that of Rajkot in Kathiawar, and still later on to that of Wankaner. At the age of thirteen when he was still a school student Gandhi married Kasturbai, the daughter of a Porbandar merchant. The bride was of practically the same age as the bridegroom, and the marriage lasted till the death of Kasturbai in a British prison sixty-two years later. At the age of eighteen Gandhi became the father of a son and next year he, left for England where he stayed for three years (1888-91) and qualified himself as a barrister-at-law. On his return to India he practised law at Rajkot and in Bombay but he had little success.So when in 1892 an offer of a brief came from an Indian Muhammadan firm which had business in South Africa Gandhi readily accepted it and went to South Africa in 1893.
Ere long he had the bitter experience of the humiliating treatment to which Indians were then subjected in South Africa. On the way at Maritzburg a white man entered the compartment in which Gandhi was travelling and had him ejected from the compartment with the help of the local police, for in South Africa no Indian, however rich and respectable, was to be allowed to travel in the first class along with white passengers.
As he himself wrote, “I was pushed out of the train by a police constable at Maritzburg, and the train having left, was sitting in the waiting room, shivering in the cold. I did not know where my luggage was nor did I dare to enquire of anybody, lest I might be insulted and assaulted once again. Doubt took possession of my mind.Late at night I came to the conclusion that to run back to India would be cowardly.
So for the next twenty years (1893-1914) Gandhi stayed, with short breaks, in South Africa where he soon took the leadership in a movement for removing the disabilities under which the Indians there were suffering. In pursuit of this movement he gave up the lucrative legal practice that he had soon acquired in South Africa: devoted himself to a drastic course of brahmacharya or self-discipline and lived with his family and friends in a self-supporting colony which he called Tolstoy Farm.
He formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 and in the course of the long South African agitation he, his wife and companions suffered arrest and imprisonment.
Gandhi himself was assaulted personally on one occasion by Europeans who hated his presence in South Africa and on another occasion by some Indian Pathans because he supported a compromise with the South African leader, General Smuts who, however, proved untrue to his own pledged words. During the South African War of 1899-1902 and the Zulu rebellion of 1906 he organised with Indians an ambulance corps to nurse the wounded British soldiers, for he considered that it was the duty of the Indians to assist the British Empire in times of stress, as it was essentially beneficent.
On the other hand, on the heels of a series of repressive measures an act was passed requiring every Indian living in the Transvaal to register himself along with every member of his family each of whom was to carry on his person an identity card.
Against this humiliating law Gandhi organised a mighty movement of resistance amongst the Indians in South Africa based on the policy of non-violent civil disobedience.
Under his leadership bands of Indians refused to register themselves and repeatedly crossed the Transvaal frontier in violation of the law and were put into prison until at last more than 2000 Indians followed Gandhi, non-violently disobeyed the law, crossed the frontier and were put into prison.


The voluntary sufferings of these civil resisters at last forced the South African Government to repeal in 1914 most of the obnoxious acts and Gandhi and his creed of non-violent civil disobedience had their first great success.In 1914 Gandhi returned to India and was received with great admiration by his countrymen who henceforth preferred to call him Mahatma. He spent the next four years in studying the Indian situation and in preparing himself and those who wanted to follow him for Satyagraha or the application of soul force based on truth for the removal of the social and political inequities then prevalent in India. In 1917 he went to Champaran in north Bihar and by means of civil disobedience put a new courage and faith in the hearts of the down-trodden peasants and thus ended the long standing exploitation of the peasants by the European indigo-planters and Indian landlords.
Soon afterwards he lent his leadership to the mill-hands at Ahmedabad who were badly underpaid, organised a strike by them which lasted 21 days and ended with the acceptance of the. At his call a hartal was observed in Bombay and all other important cities in India on March 10, 1919, by way of protest against the Rowlatt Acts and in the villages on April 6, 1919. Cities were all paralysed, all business was at a standstill and the British were helpless spectators. In 1920 Gandhi became the leader of the Congress and under his direction and inspiration thousands of Indians gave up their connection, often very lucrative, with the British Government.
Thousands of the non-co-operators were put into British prisons and many more thousands were extremely cruelly dealt with by the Government officials. In the face of such provocation the people could not remain non-violent and they broke out into violent acts in several places.
But non-violent non-co-operation had really been a tremendous success; it had effectively shaken the cornerstone of the British empire in India by instilling in the minds of the conquered Indians the priceless virtue of fearlessness.
1n 1922 Gandhi was arrested on a charge of sedition, tried and sentenced by a sweet-tongued British judge to six years’ imprisonment. He supported the demand of the Indian Muslims for the preservation of the Turkish Khilafat as a symbol of the unity of Islam; but his efforts failed to produce any permanent effect. In September, 1924, therefore, he undertook a three weeks’ fast at Delhi in the house of the Muslim leader, Muhammad Ali, hoping thereby to bring about a complete understanding between the Hindus and the Muslims.
For a time it seemed that his rigorous fast had attained its object, but the two communities soon drifted away from each other as a result of their mutual distrust and clashing interests which were encouraged by the Anglo-Indian Government. They apprehended that with the passing of power from the British to Indian hands the Muhammadans who were in a minority in India, would be placed under the rule of the Hindus who formed the vast majority of the population of India.
This apprehension which was encouraged by the British rulers and the reality of which had been recognised by them by the introduction of communal representation in the Indian and provincial legislatures by the Government of India Acts of 1909 and 1919 could not be allayed by Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. Nor could any means be devised by which the Muhammadans could be assured of an equal share in the administration of a country where they were a minority. Herein lay the failure of Gandhi and of the Indian National Congress which he led and the genesis of Pakistan.In 1925 being out of sympathy with the desire of most Congressmen to enter the legislatures set up by the Government of India Act, 1919, Gandhi retired for a time from active politics and during the next three years he devoted himself to the uplifting of the Indian villages by popularising amongst them hand-spinning with the charkha (spinning wheel) as a remedy for their dire poverty and on the removal of untouchability amongst the Hindus.
He moved from village to village visiting every part of India, dressed like a common villager and speaking to them in an Indian language. Thus he made the teeming millions of Indian villagers politically more conscious than ever before and changed the demand for national government from the level of the middle class agitation that it had so long been to a popular mass movement which soon became irresistible. In 1927 Gandhi resumed his political activities, as he saw that owing to the slow progress of the constitutional development the country was on the verge of plunging into a movement for violence. This Salt March from Sabarmati to Dandi amounted to an active step of disobedience, defiance and revolution.


It had an extraordinary effect on the country and before long many thousands of Indians all over the land followed his lead, broke such laws as they found convenient to do and the country was again plunged into a great agitation. The British Government at first tried its old remedy of severe repression and persecution, clapping thousands into the prisons. Gandhi was received in ,audience by the King-Emperor, but he was disappointed with the result of the Conferences. On his way back he declared his intention to resume the Civil Disobedience Movement on his return to India. Gandhi appreciated the danger inherent in this new proposal and, in protest, started a fast unto death.
He could not tolerate the idea of the perpetual separation of the untouchables from the rest of the Hindus. Gandhi was released in 1933 and for the next few years he concentrated his main attention to work for the untouchables, for the promotion of which he started a journal called the Harijan or Children of God. This weekly paper he continued to edit and publish during the rest of his life.When the Second World War broke out, Gandhi was prepared to give his moral support to Great Britain and would do nothing that would embarrass Great Britain in a time of stress.
The British were again confronted with a mighty popular agitation; thousands were arrested and imprisoned and Gandhi himself was imprisoned, along with all Congress leaders, in 1943. The British and their allies won the war, but the British felt that in the face of the mighty popular demand for India’s freedom they could no longer retain India, and they decided to transfer power to the Indians. But the question was whether free India should be one united country or divided into two on a communal basis, Self-interested leaders of both the communities plunged the country into a terrible communal riot in 1946.
He moved from village to village in Bengal, Bihar and the Punjab trying to instill into the popular mind the desirability and benefit of communal amity and national unity.
His comrades in the Congress accepted independence on the basis of a partition of the country into India and Pakistan and Gandhi had to fall in line with them.India got her independence on the 15th August, 1947. Horrible communal riots soon broke out and unspeakable horrors were committed against the minority communities on both sides of the western frontier.
Delhi itself was badly affected by the communal riots and in the middle of January, 1948, Gandhi in Delhi again undertook a fast to allay communal discord. Within a few days a compromise was effected and communal amity was restored in the capital.
Through Gandhi’s intervention the newly established Government of India paid the Pakistan Government a very large sum of money to which many Hindus thought the Pakistan Government were not legally entitled. Gandhi thus came to be considered by some Hindus as an obstacle to the establishment of a Hindu Raj in India.



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