October 2, 1869 saw the birth of a famous Indian personality, lovingly called, the Father of the Nation. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born to the Diwan of Porbandar, in the state of Kathewar in Gujarat. His mother, Putlibai, was a very religious lady and brought up her son with stories from the scriptures and mythology. Little Gandhi grew up to be an honest, upright student.
At the tender age of 13 he was married to a beautiful damsel named Kasturba. At 19, much to his mother’s chagrin, he was sent to England to study law. He promised his mother that he would keep away from wine, women and non-vegetarianism – and he managed to stick to his word.
A Mission in South Africa
He returned to India as a barrister in 1891 and started his own practice at Bombay and Rajkot. In 1893 he went to S. Africa to fight a case. It was there that his life’s mission was determined – to fight against injustice. Gandhiji could not tolerate the oppression of the Indians by the whites. So he stayed on in Africa for 12 years and established the Natal Indian Congress to improve the conditions of the Indians there, through peaceful, non-violent methods.
Struggle for Swadeshi
In 1914, Gandhiji returned to India and established the Satyagraha Ashram near Ahmedabad. Inspired by G.K.Gokhale and Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhiji toured the country listening to the woes of the common man. Gandhiji was touched by the plight of his countrymen and so entered the political arena.
He launched 3 significant movements with one goal – freedom from the British rule. The first one was the Non-Cooperation Movement, the objective of which was ‘the attainment of swaraj by peaceful and legitimate means’. The method was to boycott foreign goods and official durbars, British courts and schools, give up honours and titles and go back to the use of swadeshi goods.
The second was the Civil Disobedience Movement. Launched on April 6, 1930, it began with the historic Dandi March or the ‘Salt Satyagraha’. In order to oppose the British Salt Law, Gandhiji marched to Dandi along with his followers to make their own salt.
The third one was the Quit India Movement of 1942, which resulted in the ‘Quit India’ resolution on August 8, 1942 urging the British to leave India. Finally India gained independence on 15th August 1947. Thanks to the efforts of Gandhiji.
On January 30, 1948, the Mahatma was shot dead by a misguided communalist. As Pandit Nehru put it, ‘the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere’.