Mahatma Gandhi’s name is a household word practically in all parts-of the world. He is perhaps the greatest man the modern world has produced. He is respected by all for his high ideals in a decadent Indian society. He shook the mighty British Empire and won freedom by his novel method of “Ahimsa” or non-violence. He is lovingly called “Bapu” by his grateful countrymen and is also known as Father of Nation. He led the nation to victory without much bloodshed and bitterness against the white rulers. His fight against untouchability is a glorious chapter in Indian history. He never sacrificed the means to attain the end.
Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat. His father was a Dewan of Rajkot Province. He was an average student and did not show promise either in studies or in extra-curricular activities. He passed the matriculation examination in 1888 and then was sent to England to study law. He was called to the Bar in 1891.
He returned home and started his practice as a lawyer at Rajkot and Bombay. In 1893, he went to South Africa where many Indians had settled. He stayed there and during his stay led the community in their struggle against injustice and racial discrimination practised by the white regime. He succeeded to some extent in secruring some relief for his countrymen. In 1915, he came back to India.
On his return from abroad, he found the British government doing great wrong and injustice to his countrymen. He took over the leadership of the struggle and fought the British rulers not with weapons but with his own novel weapon—Satyagraha. He courted arrest several times and undertook fasts. His non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements went a long way in giving a shattering blow to the British Government in India and it was under his wise leadership that India became free in 1947.
Besides taking part in the freedom movement, he engaged himself in many constructive activities like swadeshi, abolition of untouchability and uplift of Harijans, promotion of communal harmony, prohibition, revival of village industries to provide employment to the rural people and gram-samaj. The symbol of his constructive activities was the “Charkha” or the spinning wheel which he plied everyday. He wanted the Indian villages to become economically self-sufficient rather than remaining dependent on the towns. He cautioned his countrymen against imitating the west blindly. The good of Harijans and other weaker sections of society was uppermost in his heart. He was not a dreamer but a man of practical wisdom and action. He brought about radical change in the life and thinking of his countrymen.
Gandhiji believed in “Satya”, truth, and “Ahinsa”, nonviolence. For him Truth is God and God is Truth. He shunned violence both in national and international life. He laid great emphasis on “Brahmcharya”. He believed in austere living and controlling base instincts. He was a great votary of love and wanted to win over others by love. His book “My Experiments with Truth” is a frank record of his achievements and failings and is read with great interest by all educated persons. On the fateful day of 30th January, 1948, he was shot dead by a misguided young man while attending daily prayer-meeting in the grounds of Birla House, New Delhi. What a sad calamity to human affairs! A great benefactor of the country and humanity fell a victim to the bullet of his own countryman.