Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps one of the most unforgettable people in history who have used nonviolence to fight for freedom. As the leading figure in India’s independence movement, Gandhi not only left teachings of love, he also influenced many modern thinkers, philosophers, students, and creative people worldwide.
Long after Gandhi has passed from this earth, let us look back to his life and what we can learn from the once shy and timid boy, who later grew up and changed the world.
Mahatma Gandhi: Early Years
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, India. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi was a dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar state (which was then under British sovereignty), while his mother, Putlibai was an extremely pious woman. She was in fact, the fourth wife of Karamchand.
Growing up, Mohandas Gandhi was an average child, despite focusing on books and school lessons. He was mostly shy and did not take an interest in games, as did his peers. By the time he turned 13, he was arranged to be married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia, as per tradition.
The young couple did get along quite well. They had their first child by the time Gandhi was 16 and Kasturbai was 17. Unfortunately, the baby only lived for a few days. During this time, Gandhi’s father also died. The two deaths caused him so much anguish. Still, he rose from his grief and was able to finish his education.
It was during his time in South Africa, after he graduated from law, that he encountered appalling and humiliating injustice. During a train ride to Pretoria, Gandhi was thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and even beaten up when he refused to give up his seat for a European passenger. This event woke up his determination to fight for prejudice.
It was that night, cold and shivering in the station in Pietermaritzburg that changed him from a timid boy to a man who would conduct peaceful ways of non-cooperation with authorities. In 1906, Mohandas Gandhi organized his first mass civil disobedience campaign he called “Satyagraha”.
From fighting for the Indian people’s right to vote, removing laws on imprisonment without trial, to his efforts in unifying Hindus and Muslims, Gandhi became the symbol of peace and self-reliance for many people. The name “Mahatma” was given to him by his followers. It is Sanskrit for “the great-souled one”.
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse.
Mahatma Gandhi and His Legacy
Even after many arrests, imprisonments, and injustice to him and his followers, Mahatma Gandhi remained steadfast in his belief of nonviolence.
His nonviolent campaigns he called “Satyagraha” (which means “truth and firmness”) is still one of the most followed principles today. Gandhi’s philosophy on truth and love influenced other historically significant individuals of our time, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
In honor of his lasting legacy, here are some of the most inspirational Gandhi quotes to remind you of the importance of truth and peace.
Inspirational Mahatma Gandhi Quotes