Mahatma Gandhi: biography of the Hindu pacifist leader

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; is the name of one of the most recognized spiritual leaders and influential in recent times, who took an active part in achieving Indian independence and whose belief in peaceful resistance and non-violence would become particularly well known. Better known as Mahatma Gandhi, the figure of this spiritual leader is still revered by many today.

Below we will do a brief review of the life of this reference of nonviolent political action, which has changed the way of thinking of many people on the planet.

To understand who Mahatma Gandhi was, it is first important to understand how his ideas developed. Let’s start with his early years, which serve to know the context in which he was educated.

Origins of Gandhi’s biography

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in the town of Porbandar in northwest India. His father was Karamchand Gandhi, prime minister of the city and belonging to the merchant caste. Her mother was Putlibai Gandhi, a deeply religious woman who expressed her respect for different beliefs and ways of life and who came from pranami, a religious tradition that blended the precepts of Hinduism and Islam.

In his childhood and adolescence, Gandhi was a young criticism that did not stand out academically. He married at the age of thirteen a woman of the same age named Kasturbai, and it was an arranged marriage. Mohandas would fall in love with her.

Gandhi later he moved to London to study law at University College. There he would end his career and also be able to read various classics of Western and Eastern literature (highlighting books such as Bhagavad Gita and reading the works of Tolstoy) and contemplate from the Western perspective on his land.

As for the spiritual and religious facet it would be influenced by a large number of different religions and beliefs: in addition to Hinduism, it would be influenced by Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism (the latter advocating non-violence and respect for both living beings as different elements, this being an aspect that he would use as a basis in his political struggle). For Gandhi, all these beliefs had in common the idea of ​​renunciation.

After completing his law studies, he returned to his home country, shortly after the death of his mother. where he would start practicing as a lawyer. However, his early professional experiences were extremely negative and he was not very successful. He was offered a contract in South Africa, which led him to move with his family to the country in 1893.

Stay in South Africa

Once in the African country, Gandhi observed the high degree of discrimination that exists against Hindus, Suffering from many humiliations and harassments. After fulfilling his contract, he learns of the creation of a new law which aims to withdraw the suffrage from the Indian population. This fact will lead him to decide to postpone his return to his country of origin, which will not happen until more than two decades later.

After having written several unanswered petitions addressed to the colonial government, he decided to help the Indian community in the country by various means: opening law firms, founding newspapers and organizing the Indian Congress Party of Natal. all that this would help to make visible the abuses committed against his people by the British.

At that time he was reading Western writers and thinkers who influenced his thinking, eventually forging his ideals regarding respect for every creature regardless of their opinion, religion or social status and the usefulness of fighting through non-violence.

Later, after the worsening of the situation of the Hindu population and the drafting of a law requiring Indians to register, would begin to employ and encourage nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. Although he has been imprisoned several times and protests have been harshly suppressed by the government (including torture and executions), the country has come under heavy pressure from outside which ultimately resulted in a negotiation of ‘a solution with Gandhi in 1913, the Smuts-Gandhi pact. Thus, the peaceful resistance and the various organized marches would end up being successful,

It was also at this time that he decided to become single., Aided in part by the sense of guilt that made him feel that during his youth his father died while having relations with his wife.

Return to India: the pacifist struggle continues

In 1914, Gandhi and his family were returning to India, traveling across the country for various causes, such as the fight for free cultivation or tax cuts. Mohandas would begin to be called Mahatma (which in Sanskrit means “great soul”) at that time, being this nickname thought by the poet Tagore.

Therefore, Gandhi began to fight to eliminate the caste system existing until then, Using methods like the hunger strike to reach agreements like the cessation of separate votes for the outcasts and the rest of the Hindu population.

too much he would start to be interested in the independence of his country. The onset of World War I in 1914 led Gandhi to consider it necessary to support the British in their struggle, believing in the need for the Indian people to be represented in the conflict.

However, the adoption of Rowlatt’s law according to which any act which could be considered as sedition by the illegal detention of any suspect would be strongly prosecuted would cause great controversy and great concern and that it aroused several protests among the population. , what they were harshly repressed during the Amritsar massacre.

All this would lead Gandhi to decide in 1919 to take an active part in the pursuit of the country’s independence and to make use of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience. Among other actions, he participated in the organization of the congress and fed various marches, like the so-called salt march of 1930, Came because of the high taxes around this issue. Mohandas will go to jail many times during this time.

Mahatma Gandhi and World War II

The onset of World War II in 1939 also led to a greater search for independence from Gandhi and India in general, being unilaterally included in the conflict by the British without the advice of the city. this it generated a deep movement of resistance and the desire to end British rule over the country.

As a result, there were a large number of arrests, including that of Gandhi, and the death of a large number of demonstrators. While in Kasturbai Prison, his wife died. Gandhi was released before the end of the war because he was weak and sick. After the end of the war, Great Britain would definitively decide to withdraw from India.

The arrival of independence and the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus

In 1947 India was finally declared independent. Gandhi and many others sought to achieve a united India, but part of the country’s Muslim sector would refuse to do so as a minority. demanding separation from Pakistan. This would ultimately trigger various armed conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. In response, the government decided to divide the territory into two countries, India and Pakistan.

Gandhi he took several steps to stop the bloodshed and to restore peace, although both sides tried to attack his life on several occasions. He would later go on a hunger strike to this end. After five days of this strike, the leaders of the various parties agreed to cease hostilities.

Death and funeral

Mahatma Gandhi he was assassinated in 1948 in Delhi, Hours after receiving several blows as he was going to pray. The perpetrator was Nathuram Godse, a member of an extremist Hindu organization that opposed freedom of belief and considered Gandhi a traitor for his defense of peace between Hindus and Muslims.

After the death of the spiritual leader, the government would decree thirteen days of mourning. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in numerous urns that would be spread all over India, many of which were scattered by the rivers of his country.

Bibliographical references:

  • Gandhi, MK (1993). An autobiography: the story of my experiences with the truth. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Wolpert, S. (2001). Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. Oxford University Press.

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