Mohandas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Gujarat, India on October 2, 1869, and got taught law at University College, London. In 1891, Gandhi returned to India and attempted to establish a practice in Bombay, with almost no success. Two years later, an Indian firm with interests in South Africa kept him as legal adviser in the office. After arriving there, Gandhi found himself treated as a member of an inferior race. He was shocked at the general rejection of civil liberties and political rights to Indians to South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for basic rights.
Gandhi remained in South Africa for 20 years, getting thrown in jail many times. In 1896, after being attacked and beaten by white South Africans, Gandhi began to teach a rule of passive resistance to, and non-cooperation with, the South African authorities. During the Boer War, Gandhi organized an ambulance corps for the British army and commanded a Red Cross unit. After the war stopped he returned to his campaign for Indian rights.
Economic independence for India, involving the complete boycott of British goods, was made a corollary of Gandhi's Swaraj, or "self-ruling" movement. The economic features of the movement were significant, for the misuse of Indian villagers by British industrialists had resulted in a lot poverty in the country and the near destruction of Indian home industries. As a cure for such poverty, Gandhi supported restoration of cottage industries; he began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to the simple village life he preached.
Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. His union with his wife became, as he himself stated, that of brother and sister. Refusing earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth and shawl of the lowliest Indian and subsisted on vegetables, fruit juices, and goat's milk. Indians honored him as a saint and began to call him Mahatma, a title reserved for the greatest people. Gandhi's support of nonviolence was a way of life in the Hindu religion. By the Indian practice of nonviolence Gandhi held, Great Britain would eventually consider violence useless and would leave India.
The Mahatma's political and spiritual influence on India was so great that the British authorities dared not get in the way of him. In 1921 the Indian National Congress, the group that led the movement for nationhood, gave Gandhi complete decision making authority, with the right of naming his own successor. The Indian population, however, could not understand the unworldly ahimsa'. A series of armed revolts against Great Britain broke out, culminating in such violence that Gandhi confessed the failure of the civil-disobedience campaign he had called, and ended it. The British government again seized and imprisoned him in 1922.
After his release from prison in 1924, Gandhi withdrew from active politics and dedicated himself to...