Mahatma Gandhi's Influence and Ideas
Mahatma Gandhi was a man of faith and great conviction. He was born into an average Hindu family in India. Like most teenagers he had a rebellious stage when he smoked, spent time with girls and ate meat (forbidden to strict Hindus). The young Gandhi changed as a person while earning a living as a lawyer in South Africa. He came in contact with the apartheid and the future Mahatma began to emerge, one who championed the truth through non-violent resistance. It was between 1915 and his assassination in 1945 that he struggled for India's freedom.
Gandhi's teachings of non-violent resistance, known as satyagraha, has had a lasting effect and influence on the world today. He has been the role model for many famous, influential people such as American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and former South African President Nelson Mandela. His continued influence can still be felt today in many non-violent peace organizations around the world bearing his name or teaching his philosophy.
Gandhi has obviously had the greatest influence in India and South Africa where he worked for the rights of Indian citizens under British rule. While working in South Africa Gandhi experienced first hand the oppression Indian immigrants were facing. In 1984 he organized the Natal Indian Congress to help the Indian community in South Africa. Gandhi's ability as a leader first showed itself during the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 when he had over 1000 Indians serving under him in the Ambulance Corps to help the injured on the British Side.
It was in 1906 while working in his law office in Johannesburg that Gandhi invented the satyagraha. "The term meant Indians would stand up against injustice and would carry out protests but that they would never do so violently." (Wilkinson, 32) Indian citizens followed Gandhi's example and protested in ways such as refusing to register with the Transvaal government and crossing from one state to another without permission. Many of them were put in prison but, as Gandhi taught, served their sentences with dignity. Eventually, In 1914, the government gave in and abolished the special tax, agreed to recognized the Hindu marriage ceremony and changed the registration law. It is a testament to both Gandhi's abilities as a leader and the power of his ideals that he was able to rally the Indian population and bring about these vital changes. Feeling that his work in South Africa was complete he returned to India.
By 1919 Gandhi had become one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress. In 1920 he became president of the All-Indian Home Rule League and began to draw together different groups who wanted independence for India. Gandhi began a campaign of "non-cooperation" against the British and was joined by thousands of people, some of whom had given up working for the British. When violence broke out in one region Gandhi was arrested. During his trial he told the court, "I ran the risk...