Mahatma Gandhi Biography
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Date of Birth : Oct 2, 1869
Date of Death : Jan 30, 1948
Place of Birth : Gujarat
Biography of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was born into a Hindu Modh family in Porbandar, Gujarat, India in 1869. He was the son of Karamchand Gandhi, the diwan (Chief Minister) of Porbandar, and Putlibai, Karamchand’s fourth wife (his previous three wives had died in childbirth), a Hindu of the Pranami Vaishnava order. Growing up with a devout mother and surrounded by the Jain influences of Gujarat, Gandhi learned from an early age the tenets of non-injury to living beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance between members of various creeds and sects. He was born into the vaishya, or business, caste.
In May 1883, at the age of 13, Gandhi was married through his parents’ arrangement to Kasturba Makhanji (also spelled “Kasturbai” or known as “Ba”), who was the same age as he. They had four sons: Harilal Gandhi, born in 1888; Manilal Gandhi, born in 1892; Ramdas Gandhi, born in 1897; and Devdas Gandhi, born in 1900. Gandhi was a mediocre student in his youth at Porbandar and later Rajkot. He barely passed the matriculation exam for the University of Bombay in 1887, where he joined Samaldas College. He was also unhappy at the college, because his family wanted him to become a barrister. He leapt at the opportunity to study in England, which he viewed as “a land of philosophers and poets, the very centre of civilization.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a major political and spiritual leader of India, and the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer and perfector of Satyagraha – the resistance of tyranny through mass civil disobedience strongly founded upon ahimsa (total non-violence) – which led India to independence, and has inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Gandhiji was truthful in his conduct right from the childhood. There is a very famous incident in this regard. A British school inspector once came to Gandhiji’s school and set a spelling test. Gandhiji spelled all the words correctly except kettle. The class teacher noticed the mistake and gestured Gandhiji to copy the correct spelling from the boy sitting next to him. Gandhiji refused to take the hint and was later scolded for his “stupidity”.
Gandhiji was married at the age of thirteen to Kasturbai. He was in high school at that time. Later on in his life, Gandhiji denounced the custom of child marriage and termed it as cruel. After matriculating from the high school, Gandhiji joined the Samaldas College in Bhavnagar. After the death of Gandhiji’s father in 1885, a family suggested that if Gandhiji hoped to take his father’s place in the state service he had better become a barrister which he could do in England in three years. Gandhi welcomed the idea but his mother was objected to the idea of going abroad. To win his mother’s approval Gandhiji took a solemn vow not to touch wine, women and meat and remained true to it throughout his stay in England.
Gandhiji sailed for England on September 4, 1888. Initially he had difficulty in adjusting to English customs and weather but soon he overcame it. Gandhiji completed his Law degree in 1891 and returned to India. He decided to set up legal practice in Bombay but couldn’t establish himself. Gandhiji returned to Rajkot but here also he could not make much headway. At this time Gandhiji received an offer from Dada Abdulla & Co. to proceed to South Africa on their behalf to instruct their counsel in a lawsuit. Gandhiji jumped at the idea and sailed for South Africa in April 1893.
It is generally conceded, even by his detractors, that the last years of his life were in some respects his finest. He walked from village to village in riot-torn Noakhali, where Hindus were being killed in retaliation for the killing of Muslims in Bihar, and nursed the wounded and consoled the widowed; and in Calcutta he came to constitute, in the famous words of the last viceroy, Mountbatten, a “one-man boundary force” between Hindus and Muslims. The ferocious fighting in Calcutta came to a halt, almost entirely on account of Gandhi’s efforts, and even his critics were wont to speak of the Gandhi’s ‘miracle of Calcutta’. When the moment of freedom came, on 15 August 1947, Gandhi was nowhere to be seen in the capital, though Nehru and the entire Constituent Assembly were to salute him as the architect of Indian independence, as the ‘father of the nation’. The last few months of Gandhi’s life were to be spent mainly in the capital city of Delhi. There he divided his time between the ‘Bhangi colony’, where the sweepers and the lowest of the low stayed, and Birla House, the residence of one of the wealthiest men in India and one of the benefactors of Gandhi’s ashrams. Hindu and Sikh refugees had streamed into the capital from what had become Pakistan, and there was much resentment, which easily translated into violence, against Muslims. It was partly in an attempt to put an end to the killings in Delhi, and more generally to the bloodshed following the partition, which may have taken the lives of as many as 1 million people, besides causing the dislocation of no fewer than 11 million, that Gandhi was to commence the last fast unto death of his life. The fast was terminated when representatives of all the communities signed a statement that they were prepared to live in “perfect amity”, and that the lives, property, and faith of the Muslims would be safeguarded.
A few days later, a bomb exploded in Birla House where Gandhi was holding his evening prayers, but it caused no injuries. However, his assassin, a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin by the name of Nathuram Godse, was not so easily deterred. Gandhi, quite characteristically, refused additional security, and no one could defy his wish to be allowed to move around unhindered. In the early evening hours of 30 January 1948, Gandhi met with India’s Deputy Prime Minister and his close associate in the freedom struggle, Vallabhai Patel, and then proceeded to his prayers. That evening, as Gandhi’s time-piece, which hung from one of the folds of his dhoti (loin-cloth), was to reveal to him, he was uncharacteristically late to his prayers, and he fretted about his inability to be punctual. At 10 minutes past 5 o’clock, with one hand each on the shoulders of Abha and Manu, who were known as his ‘walking sticks’, Gandhi commenced his walk towards the garden where the prayer meeting was held. As he was about to mount the steps of the podium, Gandhi folded his hands and greeted his audience with a namaskar; at that moment, a young man came up to him and roughly pushed aside Manu. Nathuram Godse bent down in the gesture of an obeisance, took a revolver out of his pocket, and shot Gandhi three times in his chest. Bloodstains appeared over Gandhi’s white woolen shawl; his hands still folded in a greeting, Gandhi blessed his assassin: He Ram! He Ram! As Gandhi fell, his faithful time-piece struck the ground, and the hands of the watch came to a standstill. They showed, as they had done before, the precise time: 5:12 P.M.