Mahatma Gandhu,the Great Soul of the Nation

Published: 06th January 2006
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Mohandas Gandhi, the father of modern India was born in Gujarat in 1869. He underwent a childhood marriage at 13 and was later sent by his family to study law in London. Once he had graduated from the Inner Temple he moved to South Africa where he remained until 1915. It was during his stay in South Africa, where he was practicing law, that he became painfully aware of the plight of he immigrant Indian community who were frequently persecuted and discriminated against due to the strict racial laws then in force in South Africa. It was his involvement in this field that shaped his political destiny"and helped him develop his creed of passive resistance against injustice known as satyagraha.

Once whilst traveling in a third class train compartment he lost his shoe whilst transferring from one carriage to another. Instead of getting upset or disturbed by the incident, he surprised his companion by throwing the other shoe after the first saying: "One shoe is no good to me, but it might profit somebody else!"

On returning to India he quickly entered the Movement striving for independence form British colonial rule. There was frequently tension which escalated into violence, not only between the native Indian population and the British authorities but also between rival Hindu and Muslim factions that was later to lead to partition. Gandhi's answer to the turbulence was to fast until the protagonists stopped their battles!

When independence came two years after the end of the Second World War, it was not due to military might but as a triumph of the human will and the fact that Britain, depleted by the ravages of its fight with Germany could no longer sustain an Empire.
After independence the country was divided into India and Pakistan on religious grounds. This led to a lot of bloodshed and "the Mahatma" spent the last two months of his life trying to quell this rising tide of blood by non-violent means. He was forced to fast until the brink of death before his efforts had any effect!

Ironically, Gandhi's life was ended by an assassin's bullet as he attended evening prayer in New Delhi in January 1948. He was 79 years old. It was tragic to think that a man who had been so passionately devoted to achieving his ends by peaceful means should himself have died violently, at the end of a pistol.

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