Satyagraha. Meaning “force or firmness of truth, Mohandas Gandhi worked and lived by this word.
By peaceful, non-violent demonstrations he little by little took hold of the people of India’s love and honor and freed them from British rule. This is his story: On October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India, a region of Queen Victoria, Mohandas Gandhi was born to Kaba Gandhi and his wife. Although his father, Kaba, was the chief Minister for the Maharaja of Porbandar, he and his family lived in a small house and belonged to a Hindu caste of merchants called “banjas.
” As he grew, Mohandas became a small, shy and skinny boy, afraid of others’ opinions. He never spoke out, but although he was never a clever child, others weresurprised by his gentleness. At the age of thirteen, he was married to Kastaurbai, a pretty yet strongwilled girl of the same caste.
He would now live with his wife,instead of his mother and father whom he had cared for for so long. Before this, Mohandas had told lies, had smoked, and had eaten meat, which was strictly forbidden of Hindus. Now, suddenly, he felt guilty and that he had hurt himself and in some ways those who he cared for. So, in desperation, he told his father, and they cried together. One year later Kaba Gandhi died. Mohandas was sixteen. At eighteen he traveled to England to study law and secretly tosee for himself what made the English so powerful.
He enrolled in acollege of law but quit after one term. He felt that he didn’t fitin, so he studied the ” Standard Elocutionist” for use and knowledgeof proper ettiquitte. After a while he quit this also because he sawno use anymore. Quitting became a popular theme in his early life. Sometimes he quit because he was bored with something and just grewout of it, or sometimes when he just couldn’t accomplish anything. For example, he took English dancing and violin lessons to become moredistinguished, but he was very clumsy and quit after six lessons.
He did not quit every thing though. He worked at some things ifhe thought that it would in some way help him. He studied material onCommon & Roman laws and had to pass major exams on it.
Despite all ofthe quiting and studying, he became a lawyer. He was not a verydistinguished or even good one at first, but later became respectedby his friends and clients after his work on a case in South Africa. Becoming a moral leader was a very long and slow process. Gandhiwas not looking for success or fame but something more; equality, respect, but most of all, peace.
He had seen the hate the white manhad for Indians. And for what reason? Their color or heritage? Thisdid not seem right to him, so he began his life long struggle of neverending peaceful protests and his silent fight for justice for all. Mohandas Gandhi died in January of 1948. (The actual date is indispute. The information from my book said that his death was on the30th, but the World Book Encyclopedia says that it was Jan. 13th) Hewas shot 3 times by Godse, a Hindu himself. The whole world mournedfor Gandhi, a man who had no authority in government, but definitelyhad earned the respect and most importantly, the love of his people.
Showing love and humanity through peaceful acts, he became well-known and well-liked. For instance, in 1906 the Zulus in Africa(blacks) rebelled. A new tax had been forced upon them and they hadrefused to pay and decided to instead, fight. Sadly, they were almostat once crushed by the well-armed white people.
There were manywounded so showing as much fortitude as possible, Gandhi and a groupof his volunteers marched 40 miles a day through hilly countrycarrying much needed medical supplies to heal them. At first some ofthe soldiers wouldn’t let him go, but eventually they understood. Some even thanked him. Gandhi also, no matter how they hated this, wanted peace between the Muslims and the Hindus. Their religions were always against eachother and were fighting. The Hindus thought that Gandhi was becominga traitor and siding with the Muslims.
This was far from the truth-Gandhi was only looking for peace. He felt strongly about this and was, unfortunately, the cause of his assassination. Gandhi did not struggle against others for his race only.
Hefought for equality for all. He led Indian workers against otherIndians in a cotton mill strike which was successful. He also workedto show that the “untouchables” (very poor and supposedly uncleanpeople) were the same as everyone else. He did this by living assimply as they did and sometimes with them. It never quite did solvethe problem, but it did help. A major decision in Gandhi’s life was that of his marriage toKasturbai.
In India it was tradition to marry early, at 13 in hiscase, and to have your child married to the same caste. His marriagewas preplanned from years back to ensure that he would have enoughmoney and marry into a rich family. Kasturbai’s family was well-off, her father was a wealthymerchant. Mohandas’s father was the Prime Minister of the state, butonly because his father (Mohandas’s grandfather) had begun a newcareer also as Prime Minister. Therefore, his son had followed in hisfootsteps. The men in the Gandhi family before him had once beenmerchants and traders like Kasturbai’s family.
So to save thetrouble, they had decided to stay in the same caste. During the beginning of his marriage (and this is why is such animportant part of his life), he was shy towards Kasturbai. When hefinally overcame this, he started to be somewhat of a bully towardsher, since she was brought up to “obey her husband meekly.” Suddenlyshe found a strong will of her own though, when he forbade her to goanywhere without his permission. Because of the clash ofpersonalities they fought often but did grow to love each other.
Gandhi learned to truly respect others from this relationship not thatjust all men are equal, but that all men and women are equal.Gandhi’s impact on other occurred in many ways but all of themgood During his life many loved him and others respected him for hisCrusades for peace. His followers loved him, but almost to the pointof worship, and that he truly hated.Toward the end of his life, people’s thoughts about him hadchanged dramatically. Most were sick of peaceful demonstrationsbecause they took too long to get results and some of the time didn’taccomplish anything.
They were ready to look to someone new forleadership. Gandhi himself stopped protesting and leading for a whileand was teaching skills and helping the poor live better and simplerlives. Over all, everyone was just sick of hearing the name MohandasGandhi.For some reason when he was killed though, all of that changed. Everyone was sad, and the Hindu people were ashamed that it was one ofthem who had killed him. People began to worship Gandhi in the waysthat he had hated.
They knew that if he would have been able to speaka few words before he died he would have said to the people to “havemercy on the misguided Godse”, but knowing this, they still hanged hisassassin. Gandhi once said: “I have no strength, save what God givesme. I have no authority over my country men, save the purely moral.
” And he more than anyone knew how weak that authority could be. Over time, Mohandas freed India from the British rule, earningrights and respect for his people and a lasting place in history. Inmy opinion, like everyone else’s. he was a great man putting othersahead of himself, but above all else wanting, hoping, and dying forpeace.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Franda, Marcus and Vonetta J. ” Gandhi, Mahatama.” The New Electronic Encyclopedia. 1991, Grolier Electronic Publishing. Iyer, Raghavan. ” Gandhi, Mohandas.
” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1989 ed.Reynolds, Reginald.
The True Story of Gandhi, Man of Peace. Chicago: Children’s press, 1964.