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Bringer of Peace
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
was a man of the Indian nationality
who was born in a well-to-do Indian family on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar,
in the Indian state of Gujarat. His father was the Prime Minister in his local state.
The young Gandhi was born into the business caste
and educated as a barrister in England.
Gandhi was brought up under the Hindu religion and practised it all of his life
He believed that all religions are equal.
When he felt sad, he often turned to the Bhagavad Gita to find confort.
He was a righteous man who wanted above all to do the right thing
And felt very guilty when he lied on a few occasions and also when he ate meat.
Later in his life when he was asked whether he was a Hindu,
“Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.”
He was a strict vegetarian.
This was difficult to follow in the late 1800s while living in England.
His landlady tried to give him meat but he could not stomach it
and he was directed to go to the only vegetarian restaurant in London.
He then joined a vegetarian group and later was elected to the executive committee
and eventually started a local chapter.
After completing his study, Gandhi was unable to find work in his native India
and took a post in South Africa where he experience first-hand the ravages of apartheid.
It changed him dramatically. It turned a young gentle apolitical man
into one who wanted to fight against this injustice.
He worked against a bill that prohibited the vote to Indians in South Africa.
When this did not succeed, he started the Natal Indian Congress.
Which brought the Indians in that country into a homogeneous force.
When the Transvaal government tried to pass
an act requiring the Indian population to register,
he began his methodology of satyagraha which means devotion to the truth
and was his first non-violent protest.
After seven years of this struggle which turned public opinion against the harsh tactics
of the government, they finally negotiated a compromise with Gandhi.
Gandhi returned to India in 1915 to start an ashram.
When World War I broke out Gandhi told his countrymen to join the army
to prove that they deserved full citizenship and rights in the Empire.
In 1928 he organized civil resistance for tens of thousands of landless or poor farmers
and serfs who were forced to grow indigo as well as other cash crops
instead of much needed food.
Gandhi established another ashram
to help organize an effort to better the lives of the people who lived there.
He was arrested on the charge of creating unrest
and ordered to leave the province.
But as hundreds of thousands of people rallied outside the jail,
the court unwillingly released him.
He succeeded in getting the farmers more rights
and they did not have to pay anything until after the famine ended.
The people stared to call Gandhi Bapu which means Father
and also Mathatma which means Great Soul.
British troops massacred many Indian people and this caused much more violence.
Gandhi was against violence by both sides.
After this Gandhi set his sights upon full independence for India.
He put forth his idea of Swaraj or complete individual,
spiritual and political independence.
December 1921 he was granted executive authority of the Indian National Congress.
They boycotted foreign made goods
and everything British even totals and honours bestowed by the British.
Cloth was to be homespun each day and worn by all Indians.
This was to instil discipline and dedication.
This was to hold equally for women who were also an important part of the movement.
When World War II broke out Gandhi offered non-violent moral support
but when the British congress leaders included India in the war,
without consultation all of the congressmen resigned.
Gandhi did not want India to be a part of the war
that fought for democracy while that very right was denied in India.
Soon after Gandhi asked Britain to leave India which they conceded to do.
When this occurred,
he did not celebrate with others but mourned the partition of India and Pakistan.
Thereafter he worked to bring about peace
between the Hindu and Muslim communities
even doing a fast until death until Pakistan be granted some partition money.
Gandhi’s mission was his discovering of truth.
He was an individual who strived to overcome his weaknesses
and monitored himself constantly.
His experiences with this are written in his autobiography called
The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
Gandhi once said this about violence,
“What difference does it make to the dead,
the orphans, and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought
under the name of totalitarianism
or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”
When Gandhi died, Albert Einstein said,
“I believe that Gandhi’s views were
the most enlightened of all the political men in our time.
We should strive to do things in his spirit,
Not to use violence in fighting for our cause,
But by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.”
In his striving for peace and truth,
Gandhi was both praised and criticized.
He was himself a critical thinker who
meditated, prayed and fasted often.
He never won the Nobel Prise for Peace
although he was nominated five times.
They later expressed regret for this.
The year he died it was not awarded to anyone because
they said that there was not a suitable living candidate.
He was killed by an extreme Hindu
who did not want any payment to go to Pakistan
after their independence and separation.
Gandhi left us with these inspirational words,
“When I despair,
I remember that all through history
the way of truth and love has always won.
There have been tyrants and murderers
And for a time they seem invincible,
but in the end,
they always fall – think of it,
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Updated July 27, 2011
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