Biography of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Mahatma Gandhi

Indian social and political leader and thinker. He/She was born in Porbandar (NE of Bombay) on October 2, 1869 and died in Delhi on January 30, 1948. Educated at the India and England, where he/she studied law, he/she began to practice as a lawyer in Mumbai, but in 1893 he/she accepted a lawsuit in South Africa and moved to this country. To contemplate the lack of rights suffered by Indian workers pledged in his defense, which prevented him from returning to the India for twenty years. Their stay in South Africa changed his conception of life: hindu religion, under the influence of Christianity was defining a pacifist ideology on non-violence. After the first world war his effort finally obtained the concession of various rights to the Indians, and thus, in 1915, returned to his native country.

There he/she ended up becoming the leader of the Indian self-determination against British domination and promoted several campaigns of non-violent disobedience. Also raised economic reforms (self-sufficiency based on yarn and simple industries) and social (abolition of castes). However, faced partial failures as of 1919 (Amritsar massacre) and 1930 (mass arrests of Indians), the disunity among the Indians (Hindus and Muslims) and various incarcerations. In these cases, it recommenced after a long time, sometimes years, of abandonment of political action. From the 1930s he/she resorted to hunger strikes to redirect too violent attitudes of his followers and British abuse of authority. Finally, the critical situation in which was found the British Government because of the second world war forced to grant independence to the India in 1947. Gandhi, one of the main architects of this success, soon after was murdered by a hindu extremist in the midst of a climate of division between Hindus and Muslims, which led to the creation of two different States, India and Pakistan. He/She received the nickname of mahatma "great soul".

Education and work as lawyer

It was the third of the four sons of Karamchad Gandhi and his fourth wife Putlibai, of the caste of the Bania or Vaishaya (for merchants). His father, who already had two daughters from their previous marriages was diwan (Prime Minister) in several States (Porbandar and Rajkot Vankaner) of Kathiawad Prince. Gandhi grew in the large family house in Porbandar. In 1876, aged seven, he/she went to Rajkot with his family. At school he/she gave signs of intelligence, like to learn and overcome in fulfillment of the duty, but also great timidity. On the same date was concluded his marriage with Kasturbai, of the same age and daughter of a merchant called Gokuldas Makanji. The link was made effective in 1883, when Gandhi was thirteen years old, two after having begun their studies media, also in Rajkot. That did not prevent that he/she based his wife. His father died in 1885.

In 1887, after passing the necessary examinations, he/she joined Samaldas College at Bhavnagar, but hardly pulled fruit since the classes were in English. A family friend recommended that Gandhi left to England to study law, and overcome the initial indecision of his family, embarked in September 1888 for that country. He/She entered the University College of London. The adaptation was difficult for him by language, the different way of life, and his shy nature. In London he/she discovered the value of vegetarianism, imposed by religion, and it gave him some security; wrote even some articles on the subject in a newspaper (The Vegetarian) vegetarian and founded a club of those characteristics in Bayswater.Por elsewhere, adopted the mode of dress British, but he/she had no relationship with the London cultural and political environments. He/She had contacts with other Indian students. After the acclimatisation period he/she devoted himself intensely to the study; Finally, graduated in June 1890, not without some doubts about his fitness for the legal profession. During this year, expanded knowledge, being interested in Buda and the Bible (especially the Sermon on the mount, in the New Testament); then would include authors European humanitaristas as Leo Tolstoy (, especially his book the Kingdom of God is within you). In 1891 he/she returned to the India.

Then he/she learned painfully that his mother had died during their stay in London. In addition, he/she met the enmity of a part of their caste, who saw his trip as sacrilegious. He/She began to think to put into practice the studied, and went to Bombay to learn Indian laws and gain experience. However, it barely had customers, and when he/she had to defend any, was unable to speak to the Court. To survive, he/she had to teach at a college and then used as editor of instances, which continued as to its return to Rajkot. Here he/she irrupted with the British political agent of the place, and when he/she received a job offer in South Africa, a civil lawsuit between two Indian merchants, accepted it.

The stay in South Africa and the defense of Indian rights (1893-1915)

In May 1893 he/she abandoned the India: would be outside it, except for short periods, the following twenty years.

The first arrival in South Africa: the impact

He stayed a week in Durban and then moved to Pretoria. It was enough to warn the strong prejudices of the South African British Indian workers, who lived in dramatic situation of constant humiliation. Little fighter until then, rebelled against the unjust situation, organized a rally that had great assistance and filed a complaint with the British authorities. After dealing with the litigation for which it had required its services (persuaded the parties to reach an agreement without going to court), returned to Durban with the intention of going back to the India. However it had knowledge of a bill that would remove his political rights to Indians and delayed his departure. The Defense organized had some resonance, but did not prevent the adoption of the law.

He decided to extend his stay at the request of the Indian community and he/she was admitted to the Supreme Court of Natal (August 1894). He/She created the Natal Indian Congress and managed the British Ministry of colonies to soften the law. In 1896 he/she was in India, promoting his cause with pamphlets and lectures, and visiting his family; When he/she returned to South Africa he/she took with him his wife and their two children. His campaign in the India aroused the enmity of much of the European population of Natal, and on landing (13 January 1897) was the subject of an attempted lynching.

In 1899 began the Guerra of the Boers between the British and boers ('settlers', of Dutch origin). Gandhi supported the first. He/She offered his services to the authorities, but only it was able to organize an Indian body of ambulances, which acted with great effectiveness and courage. This earned them an award. The improvement of the situation allowed him to return to India, where it was associated with the also lawyer Gokhale Lajpat Rai. However, they soon returned to apply new restrictive laws and it was called from South Africa on the occasion of the visit of the Secretary of State for the colonies, Joseph Chamberlain. It was a wonderful occasion to present the Indian claims, but the legal knowledge of Gandhi were needed for that.

Second South African period: war and solutions

In December 1902, he/she led the Indian delegation to Chamberlain, who heard them, but nothing did. He/She decided to stay and live in South Africa until you resolve the problem. He/She joined the Supreme Court of Transvaal and established his office in Johannesburg. In the following years his spiritual evolution would be very large. It deepened their religious knowledge with the reading of the Koran and Hindu books such as the Bhagavad Gita. Thanks to this he/she began to define the principle of non-violence. Eclectic in terms of its Hinduism, accepted the existence of God and valued life and love, means to the realization of God. Also, he/she abandoned the way of life of a British man of laws to adopt greater simplicity; more later (1906) would make a vow of chastity and renunciation of material goods. In 1904, influenced by the reading of Ruskin, he/she founded and settled on a farm in Phoenix (near Durban).

The following year escalated the persecution against the Indians on charges of illegal immigration. As a control measure was enacted in Transvaal (1906) the Asian registration law by which all Indians should register stamping their fingerprints. Gandhi initiated efforts to remove the law and even moved to England for a help that did not find. On September 11 of that year, at a rally in Johannesburg, said his opposition to the law and willingness to not submit to it. The assistants Indians also pledged to reject it. They were the first steps in the implementation of the "passive resistance", a constructive attitude that Gandhi called more accurately satyagraha ('steadfastness in the truth").

The law was passed. A new journey of Gandhi to England not had consequences: he/she then wrote in the Indian Opinion newspaper about the injustice of that legislation and organized a boycott against the register offices. When the registration period closed at the end of November, 1907, there had only been five hundred Indians from a census of 13,000. But the situation worsened further with the approval in December of the Immigration Act and the Decree of expulsion of Gandhi and some of his followers, ordered by origin boer leader Jan Smuts. He/She was finally jailed for two months. He/She earned the freedom to accept the registration of Indians in the register of Asians, in Exchange for repealing the Immigration Bill; Gandhi met but Smuts not. The Indians then burned their certificates of registration.

In 1908 he/she was arrested again, like many Indians, committed already openly in a campaign of civil disobedience. They had to perform forced labour and expulsion and economic pressures have been added. In 1909 he/she was in England to discuss the situation to English journalists and various authorities. To help relatives of those imprisoned, he/she founded other self-sufficient agricultural cooperative which gave the name of Tolstoy farm. Gandhi, who increasingly appreciate more natural life, received major donations from characters and Indian institutions.

It seemed that everything was going to be solved when King Jorge V allowed the free entry of Indians in the Transvaal (February, 1911) and the Indian politician Gokhale obtained the promise of the colonial Government withdraw legislation detrimental to Indians (1912). But soon they were attacked in another way: they were at variance with non-Christian marriages. In September 1913, once Gandhi had abandoned the mode of dress, the Natal coal miners went on strike. Gandhi and also his wife, Kasturbai, entered prison and the strikers were condemned to forced labor in the own mines. As a reaction, in the India new aid funds were raised and there was a hard press campaign. Smuts was forced to negotiate and granted requests that the Indians on immigration, taxes and marriages made them. Although not everything was well in front, it was a great success. Finally able to return to India, this time definitely (1915).

Mahatma Gandhi.

Return to the India and non-violent disobedience campaigns (1915-1948)

When Gandhi landed in Bombay on 9 January 1915 he/she was received with enthusiasm, but he/she surprised the country after long absence. Not he/she became interested at the moment in politics. He/She spoke with the Governor of Bombay and Rabindranath Tagore and traveled throughout India. Then he/she created in Ahmedabad a farm like the one in South Africa, which he/she called Ashram Satyagraha ('community of the firmness in the truth'). It hosted to some colleagues in that country and also untouchables, which didn't like many. Caste equality was precisely one of the reforms I wanted to apply through similar agricultural communities; appreciation for the work was another. The farm was also an aid to spiritual and moral growth through truth, non-violence and chastity. Many of those who were there then participated in campaign of passive resistance against the British authorities.

Gandhi, leader of the Indian resistance

From 1916, he/she studied the political situation in India, where grew the autonomist movements. Gandhi did not want to put pressure on the British until the end of the first world war, so that it not supported the Home Rule League movement (founded that year by Annie Besant, sympathizer with the Indian nationalism English) or participated in talks between Hindus and Muslims that allowed the Lunchnow agreement. On the other hand, it was not agreed with the ideology or mode of acting of the Indian National Congress. Yes, he/she agreed to mediate in various labour conflicts affecting farmers and textile workers, with uneven but generally good results for the weaker party.

In 1918 he/she attended the meeting convened by the viceroy for all Indian leaders. Gandhi, in the hopes of gaining after the war greater self-government, collaborated in the recruitment of Indians. He/She fell ill and was on the verge of death. By then, the British Government passed the Rowlatt Act that limited Indian civil liberties for security reasons. All Indian political groups tried to prevent it without success, and in February 1919 Gandhi decided it was time to apply a large campaign of passive resistance. He/She traveled across the country to explain their characteristics, but was prevented from reaching the Punjab. Amritsar, India the people revolted, and on 13 April the British army fired on an unarmed crowd, causing nearly four hundred dead. While King Jorge V ordered the implementation of reforms, the local authorities did not meet it adequately.

In February 1920 the Muslim Indians adhered to its plan of peaceful rebellion, and in September the Indian National Congress did the same. From 1921 the no cooperation was gradually applied to numerous Affairs: elections, taxes, military cam, justice, Commerce, dress, etc. He/She used to write articles in the newspaper Young India. The town, at this time, was already fully identified with Gandhi, to the point of Revere her as an incarnation divine; of time dates his nickname of mahatma "great soul". In December 1921, Congress appointed him its supreme authority.

Shortly after ordering the temporary cessation of non-cooperation because of certain violent actions uncontrolled, was arrested by order of the viceroy (March 10, 1922); It sentenced him to six years in prison. It was thus added to the thousands of supporters who had entered earlier in prison. At this time Gandhi rested and read widely, while in Congress, supporters were spreading and the for reforms within the British system. In January 1924 he/she was transferred to a hospital for surgery for appendicitis, and was released the following month.

He found the very divided Congress and undone the union between Hindus and Muslims. How to harness the energies of the people unless they desembocasen in violence was also raised. He/She came to the conclusion that it was necessary to start again: in 1925 retired from politics. He/She traveled throughout India to know more deeply the country, condemning the untouchability. It also promoted the yarn as a way that impoverished peasants may have higher incomes; that year he/she founded the Association of all the spinners, which at the end of 1926 included some 45,000 spinners and weavers. Yarn became the symbol of the struggle for national freedom and against materialism. Then he/she began his autobiography or the story of my experiments with truth.

The resumption of disobedience

In 1927 he/she returned to travel and speeches. In 1928 he/she had to moderate the independence demands of the Indian National Congress, which was led by Pandit Motilal Nehru, accepted within a year so that the British Government adopted a plan of self-government. This marked the returned Gandhi's politics and resistance to restart. The viceroy proposed the holding of a conference between the King and Indian and British representatives, but English's own pressures did the plan fail. Events leading to the resumption of non-cooperation on a large scale. Gandhi would be its director and Jawaharlal Nehru (son) the President of the Congress.

It is set as "Independence day" on January 26, 1930. Further important act was a March led by Gandhi from Ahmedabad to Dandi, by the sea, to get salt by evaporating sea water and thus symbolically breaking British law on the monopoly of this product. Later, the Indians refused to pay the salt tax. Thousands of them were imprisoned, including Nehru and other leaders, but this did not prevent the extension of the boycott all goods and business English. Gandhi's turn came on May 5. A Conference that Indian representatives, but no agreement is not reached and the viceroy decided to release Gandhi (January 25, 1931), sign a few Covenants with him and send him to the British capital for a second round table was held in London. It was held in September and was a complete failure. On the way back to the India he/she went through Switzerland and Italy, where he/she met with Benito Mussolini.

Shortly after he/she was rearrested (July 1932). On this occasion he/she started hunger (September 20) as protest strikes by new electoral laws that discriminated against untouchables, who began calling harijan, "sons of God"; with the fasted thousands of Indians. This time the English authorities relented. To ensure this conquest he/she sparked the creation of the Organization of the all India and the publication of the weekly Harijan. In May 1933 he/she was released, after announcing a second fast.

It pledged to abandon campaigns for a year, which took the opportunity to make another tour in defence of the untouchables, not without threats from Orthodox Hindus. In the following years he/she obtained the illegality of untouchability. In October 1934 he/she announced its withdrawal from the Congress, to not cause fragmentation, and attended the India economic reform. All the villages of the India Association of industries was created in the same month. In 1937, upon approval of the new Constitution for the India returned to the policy. Since then grew the differences between Hindus and Muslims, these led by Mohamed Alí Jinnah, who defended theory of the two Nations at the beginning of 1940 and the formation of a Muslim State, Pakistan.

Towards the India independence

The outbreak of the second world war pushed the British to seek the support of the Indians and was prepared to negotiate. Gandhi was willing to cooperate if the Indian independence was guaranteed. As the British responded with ambiguities, Congress declared in absentia and was harshly repressed. Gandhi, for his part, did not want to take advantage of English difficulties, but finally launched a campaign of individual disobedience.

The entry of Japan into war by the end of 1941 put to the British Government in a critical situation, and in March 1942 proposed the definition by which the Constitution in domain was offered at the end of the war, with self-government. But it facilitated the separatism and Gandhi welcomed it with coldness. In August stopped it again, and Indian leaders in the midst of widespread violence, and was held in the Palace of the Aga Khan. Accused of promoting violence began a 21-day fast (February 1943). On February 22, 1944 died his wife. Shortly after he/she was released.He tried to convince the viceroy and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that he/she granted freedom to India (1945).

At the beginning of 1946 the new Labour Government was favourable to the transfer of power, while in the India tension was growing rapidly and the Muslim League was separated from the Indian National Congress and demanded the formation of an independent Muslim State. Shortly after they began the massacres between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi condemned it. On August 15, 1947 was finally carried out the transfer of powers to the two new hindu and Muslim States. Gandhi, to put an end to the violence that possession of the streets, announced the start of an indefinite fast in Delhi (13 January 1948) until peace is achieved. The impact caused facilitated the signing of a Pact. On January 30, as he/she addressed the afternoon prayer, he/she was killed by a hindu extremist called Vinayuk Nathuram Godse shot. He/She was cremated the day following on the banks of the river Yamuna, having earned the admiration of the world.

Bibliography

DÍAZ PÉREZ, E. Gandhi. (Madrid, Instituto Emmanuel Mounier: 1998).

DREVET, C. Gandhi: his thought and action. (Barcelona, Fontanella: 1962).

FISCHER, L. Gandhi. (Barcelona, Plaza & Janés: 1983).

FRAGA, TO. The political thought of Gandhi. (Madrid, Ahimsa: 2000).

GANDHI, M.K. autobiography: the story of my experiments with truth. (Caracas, Monte Ávila: 1993).

MAHADEVAN, T.K. Gandhi: truth and non-violence. (Madrid, follow me: 1975).

NANDA, B.R. Gandhi. (Madrid, Cid: 1960).

NEHRU, j. Mahatma Gandhi. Reflection On His Personality And Teachings. (Bombay: 1989).

PAYNE, R. Gandhi. (Barcelona: 1971).

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Links on the Internet

http://www.gandhiinstitute.org/aboutmkg.html ; Page with extensive information on Gandhi (in English). http://www.gandhiserve.com/; Page with written and audiovisual resources about Gandhi (in English). http://www.kamat.com/mmgandhi/mmgandhi.htm ; Page with written and visual information, links, etc., on Gandhi (in English). http://web.mahatma.org.in/index.jsp ; Gandhi official site (in English). http://www.mkgandhi.org/ ; Very complete page on Gandhi: biography, photos, writings and other information (in English). http://www.nuvs.com/ashram/; Page with information on Gandhi (in English).