What We Know About Mahatma Gandhi
Born in Porbandar, Gujarat, India, in October 1869. His family belonged to the merchant caste but his father was prime minister. Since his parents were Vishnuiten, i. they lived according to the laws of Ahimsha (doctrine of nonviolence). This teaching is present in all three religions represented in India, and even Gandhi had early contact with people of other religions. His mother was a very religious woman, and her devotion deeply influenced him, as he fully absorbed the Ahimsha and built on his later convictions. At the age of seven, he came to primary school in Rajkot, but he was not a good student. a. because he had difficulties, especially in English, because his parents barely mastered the language, and he had not heard them before and they could not help him either. Also, it was very shy and had great difficulty to participate successfully in physical education.
The high school completed Gandhi very successfully and got thereby the admission to the university. Now he wanted to study law and went against the will of his caste to England, because she believed that he would be tempted in the West and the rules of his religion could no longer comply. Since he went to Europe anyway, he was expelled from his caste, but his family respected his wish. So Gandhi began to study in London in 1880 and dealt with the other world religions in detail, such as Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Later he compared e.g. the Sermon on the Mount with his concept.
After returning to India, he found it difficult to reintegrate into Indian society because he saw himself as an English citizen but was regarded as a “casteless man” there. In addition, due to his foreign studies, he had no ties in India, so it was difficult to start his own law firm. Therefore, he accepted an offer to work in South Africa immediately and then traveled there in 1893 without a family.
In addition to his job, he was involved in the Indian community and sat down with speeches in public for the equal rights of the Indians in South Africa. Of course, he also represented the Indians in court cases and, as a lawyer for the Supreme Court in Natal, he also had opportunities to work for the interests of the Indians at a higher political level. When another discriminatory law was passed by the South African government, Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress, which he founded, objected to this, which led to a loosening of the law. Here, in South Africa, he was very successful and even wrote writings on the situation of the Indians in South Africa.
During his brief stay in India, he met with some politicians who had read his writings and now wanted in India, the Indian equality with the British.
His hope of better British-Indian relations was not fulfilled. Instead, there were other laws that made life difficult for the Indians: they were forced to register and all non-Christian marriages were not recognized (which was true of all Indian marriages) leading to the nationawide strike. Of course, that did not go unnoticed by the world, and so the British and Boers faced pressure from the world to force them to act.
Gradually, the situation of the Indians in South Africa improved. In a contract, the Indian marriages were recognized and the compulsory registration abolished. Gandhi now saw his work completed here and returned to India in 1914.
There he had become a celebrity and they called him now “Mahatma”, “Great Soul”. The Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore first used it when Gandhi returned from South Africa.
Gandhi built an Ashram in India, modeled on Tolstoy Farm, where everyone lived together in a community.
He continued to engage in India for the oppressed Indians. Already in 1917 he helped farmers at the foot of the Himalayas to prevail against the British government. Also, the world public was behind him, and so the British were forced to treat him mildly.
Slowly, however, the politically engaged Indians got more rights and they were scheduled to participate in governments. However, the British quickly doubted the correctness of this decision because they feared that they would not be able to reach the troubled Indians. Eventually, the Indians decided not to cooperate with the British, which led to a general strike. But the Indians also used violence, which showed Gandhi that people were not yet prepared to resist according to his principles, ahimsha and satyagraha. As he saw his fault in this, he traveled all over India in the next few years to “educate” the people and show him that the conflict could be better solved with his principles. But he did not want to teach but help. He started the “Spinning Wheel Campaign” and called on all Indians to boycott the British fabric and import and to spin it themselves. This campaign was directed against the British textile mill workers, but they showed understanding for the situation of the Indians.
So Gandhi made the spinning wheel a symbol for the independence of India and even today, a spinning wheel can be seen on the Indian flag.
The next action that Gandhi planned was the well-known Salt Marsh. This satyagraha campaign was directed against the salt tax that had been introduced to make imported salt from Britain cheaper than domestic salt. This tax was only a small thing, but important for the Indian population. Gandhi and his comrades were arrested. But the movement was unstoppable. A number of people marched on the policemen guarding it. She was crushed and suffered serious injuries. Then followed more ranks of the first and were also knocked down by the police. They did not resist, and it was precisely this fact that policemen beat defenseless people that outraged the global press. The horror was great and due to international pressure, Gandhi was released in 1931 and the salt tax was abolished.
At the beginning of World War II, Gandhi called on the Indians not to support the war and then he was arrested again. During his detention, his wife Kasturbai, who had always supported him, but also had a hard time with his liberal views, died.
In 1942, Gandhi demanded immediate independence, and the British, who were plagued by Japan’s declaration of war and needed the Indian forces, were willing to make concessions as long as the Indians supported the British with their soldiers. Nevertheless, Gandhi was arrested for his demand for an independent India. After two years he was dismissed for health reasons Under the new British government, India gained independence on 3 June 1947, but only in two separate states, predominantly Hindu India and predominantly Muslim Pakistan. Gandhi had never agreed to divide India into two states and wanted a united India.
In the course of the separation there were migrations of the followers of both religious groups. There were violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims that Gandhi tried to settle. But he did not succeed, as both groups faced each other irreconcilably. He then decided to fast to death. But neither Hindus nor Muslims wanted to be responsible for Gandhi’s death and temporarily made peace. This did not appeal to the fanatical followers of both religions, since they only saw their own religion as correct and “hated” the other religion.
Mahatma Gandhi was also shot dead by a fanatical Hindu in New Delhi on January 30, 1948.
He was loved and revered by the people and known as the “father of the nation” for his non-violent struggle for India’s independence. He also always followed the rules of Ahimsha and Satyagraha, as well as his belief in Swaraj, self-control and self-determination. He was considered to be very disciplined, which certainly contributed to his success and continued to serve as a role model to this day.