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Mahatma Gandhi

  Mahatma Gandhi (महात्मा गांधी)

           Mahatma Gandhi

     राष्ट्रपिता महात्मा गाँधी
   ( 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948)

  The whole world is commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s 146th Birth Anniversary on October 2, 2015.

Albert Einstein said about Gandhi (महात्मा गाँधी), "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood."
  Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa in its historic transition to multi- racial  democracy in 1994 says, “We in South Africa owe much to the presence of Gandhi in our midst for 21 years. His influence was felt in our freedom struggles throughout the African continent for a good part of the 20th century "



  International Day of Non-Violence

October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is the International Day of Non-Violence. The decision made by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 June 2007 to observe the International Day of Non-Violence every year on 2 October – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. This day is referred to India as Gandhi Jayanthi.

The UN General Assembly, "desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non -violence," invited States, UN bodies, regional and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to commemorate the Day, including through education and public awareness.

He is officially honored in India as the Father of the Nation; his birthday, 2 October, is commemorated there as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Non-Violence.

The country on January 30, 2012 paid homage to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi with prayer meetings and floral tributes on his 63rd death anniversary observed as Martyrs' Day. It was on January 30, 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi.

  Mahatma Gandhi

   Mahatma Ghandhi remembered on birth anniversary

Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace, was today fondly remembered on his  birth anniversary. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide drive at Rajpath on, October 2, 2014 Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, with a cleanliness pledge that about 30 lakh government employees will take all over the country.

The US President Barack Obama on Thursday said America has its "roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi."  "His teachings and ideals, shared with Martin Luther King Jr. on his 1959 pilgrimage to India, transformed American society through our civil rights movement," Obama said on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Americans owe enormous gratitude to Gandhi, he said. On behalf of the American people, Obama said he wants to express appreciation for the life and lessons of Mahatma Gandhi on the anniversary of his birth. "This is an important moment to reflect on his message of non-violence, which continues to inspire people and political movements across the globe," he said.

  Early Life

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbander, Gujarat on 2 October 1869. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, who belonged to the Hindu community, was the diwan a small princely state in the Kathiawar. His mother, Putlibai, was Karamchand's fourth wife was a religious lady. In the early life the young Mohandas  influenced too much by his devout mother and the Jain traditions of the region, that played an important role in his adult life. He learned the noble virtues that included compassion to sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance between individuals of different creeds.

In May 1883, the 13-year old Mohandas was married to 14-year old Kasturbai Makhanji in an arranged child marriage. In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple's first child was born, but survived only a few days. That year, Gandhi's father, Karamchand Gandhi, had passed away. Mohandas and Kasturbai had four more children, all sons: Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900. At his middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot, Gandhi remained an average student academically. He passed the matriculation exam for Samaldas College at Bhavnagar.

On 4 September 1888, Gandhi traveled to London, England, to study law at University College London and to train as a barrister. At the time leaving India to London,  a vow he had made to his mother in the presence of the Jain monk Becharji,  to observe the Hindu precepts of abstinence from meat, alcohol, and promiscuity. In London he joined the Vegetarian Society, was elected to its executive committee, and founded a local chapter. He later credited this with giving him valuable experience in organizing institutions. Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society, which had been founded in 1875 to further universal brotherhood, and which was devoted to the study of Buddhist and Hindu literature. They encouraged Gandhi to read the Bhagavad Gita. Not having shown a particular interest in religion before, he read works of and about Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and other religions.
  He returned to India after being called to the bar of England and Wales by Inner Temple, but had limited success establishing a law practice in Bombay. Later, after applying and being turned down for a part-time job as a high school teacher, he ended up returning to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants, but was forced to close down that business as well when he ran afoul of a British officer. In 1893 he accepted a year-long contract from an Indian firm to a post in Natal, South Africa, then part of the British Empire.

  Gandhi in South Africa

In South Africa, Gandhi faced discrimination directed at Indians. Initially, he was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to move from the first class to a third class coach while holding a valid first class ticket. Traveling further on by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver for refusing to travel on the foot board to make room for a European passenger. He suffered other hardships on the journey as well, including being barred from many hotels. In another of many similar events, the magistrate of a Durban court ordered him to remove his turban, which Gandhi refused. These incidents have been acknowledged as a turning point in his life, serving as an awakening to contemporary social injustice and helping to explain his subsequent social activism. It was through witnessing firsthand the racism, prejudice and injustice against Indians in South Africa that Gandhi started to question his people's status within the British Empire, and his own place in society.

Gandhi founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, and through this organization, he molded the Indian community of South Africa into a homogeneous political force. In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act compelling registration of the colony's Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time, calling on his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishments for doing so, rather than resist through violent means. This plan was adopted, leading to a seven-year struggle in which thousands of Indians were jailed (including Gandhi), flogged, or even shot, for striking, refusing to register, burning their registration cards, or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance. In the face of peaceful Indian protesters finally forced South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Gandhi's concept of Satyagraha matured during this struggle.

  Indian Independence Movement

In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India. Since 1915 through a long struggle and determination he became a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha —resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, firmly founded upon ahimsa or total non-violence—which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The major milestone of the Struggle for Indian Independence (1916–1945) were:

In 1918 : The Champaran agitation and Kheda Satyagraha. Gandhi employed non-cooperation, non-violence and peaceful resistance as his "weapons" in the struggle against British.
 In 1921:  Sabarmati Ashram became Gandhi's home in Gujarat in December 1921. Gandhi was invested with executive authority on behalf of the Indian National Congress. Under his leadership, the Congress was reorganized with a new constitution, with the goal of Swaraj. Gandhi expanded his non-violence platform to include the swadeshi policy — the boycott of foreign-made goods. Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning khadi in support of the independence movement.

In 1930:  26 January 1930 was celebrated by the Indian National Congress, meeting in Lahore, as India's Independence Day. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organization. Gandhi then launched a new satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930, highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from 12 March to 6 April, marching 400 kilometres (248 miles) from Ahmedabad to Dandi. Thousands of Indians joined him on this march to the sea. This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British hold on India; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people.

In 1931: The Gandhi–Irwin Pact was signed in March 1931 and the first Round Table Conference in London. In 1934, three unsuccessful attempts were made on his life.

7 April 1939 World War II broke out. As the war progressed, Gandhi intensified his demand for independence, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India.

In 1942, Quit India became the most forceful movement in the history of the struggle, with mass arrests and violence on large  scale. Thousands of freedom fighters were killed or injured by police gunfire, and hundreds of thousands were arrested. Gandhi and his supporters made it clear they would not support the war effort unless India were granted immediate independence. He called on all Congressmen and Indians to maintain discipline via ahimsa, and Karo Ya Maro ("Do or Die") in the cause of ultimate freedom.

On 9 August 1942, Gandhi was arrested in Bombay and held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. His wife Kasturba died after 18 months imprisonment in 22 February 1944. At the end of the war, the British agreed that power would be transferred to Indian hands. Gandhi called off the  struggle, and 100,000 political prisoners were released.

Gandhi  opposed to any plan that partitioned India into two separate countries, but the partition plan was approved by the Congress leadership as the only way to prevent a wide-scale Hindu-Muslim civil war. On 15th August 1947 India acquired Independence.

On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was shot and killed while having his nightly public walk on the grounds of the Birla Bhavan in New Delhi. The assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a Hindu radical. Gandhi's ashes were poured into urns which were sent across India for memorial services. Gandhi's memorial (or Samādhi) at Rāj Ghāt, New Delhi, bears the epigraph "Hē Ram", (हे ! राम ).

  Gandhism 

वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिए, जे पीर पराई जाणे रे...
  Truth: Gandhi dedicated his whole life to the wider purpose of discovering truth, or Satya. Truth in Gandhi's philosophy is "God".
  Nonviolence: Mahatama Gandhi was not the first as the originator of the principle of non-violence, but he was the first to apply it in the political field on a huge scale. He wrote in his autobiography "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always."

Vegetarianism: Gandhiji was a strict vegetarian. He wrote the book on Vegetarianism and several articles on the subject, some of which were published in the London Vegetarian Society's publications.
 Brahmacharya:   For Gandhi, brahmacharya meant "control of the senses in thought, word and deed."  Gandhi saw brahmacharya as a means of becoming close with God and as a primary foundation for self realization.
 Simplicity: His simplicity began by renouncing the western lifestyle, embracing a simple lifestyle and washing his own clothes. He dressed to be accepted by the poorest person in India, advocating the use of homespun khadi by the spinning wheel. He wore a dhoti for the rest of his life to express the simplicity of his life.
 Religion: Gandhi was born a Hindu and practised Hinduism all his life. He believed all religions to be equal and at the core of every religion was truth and love. Gandhi wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in Gujarati.

  Monuments and Currency on Gandhi

Sculpture of Gandhi in Union Square, New York. In the United Kingdom, there are several prominent statues of Gandhi, most notably in Tavistock Square, London near University College London where he studied law.

In 1996, the Government of India introduced the Mahatma Gandhi series of currency notes in rupees 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 denomination. Today, all the currency notes in circulation in India contain a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1969, the United Kingdom issued a series of stamps commemorating the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.

  

 

  Gandhi's philosophy

Throughout his life Gandhi dedicated himself to the exploration of truth. He sought it in the writings and experiences of society's foremost thinkers and in the many religious beliefs. Hinduism had a marked influence on his thinking and his actions. It is well known that he drew a great deal of inspiration from Gita. It is perhaps not as well known that Jainism, its principles and its philosophy, made an equally profound impression on him.

Gandhi bracketed Raichandbhai with Tolstoy and Ruskin as the three persons who most influenced him. In his autobiography he writes “Three moderns have left a deep impression on my life and captivated me, Raichandbhai by his living contact, Tolstoy by his book, “The Kingdom of God is within you” and Ruskin by his, “Unto the Last.” The Jain religious philosophy, its theory of knowledge and the Jain path all made a profound impression on Gandhi and moulded his actions in life. In order to appreciate these influences let us take a brief look at the Jain principles.

At the core of Gandhi's life was a passion for truth. He equated Truth to God. To Gandhi truth and nonviolence were not abstract ideals reserved merely for intellectual discussion, but concepts to be realized in life. The practice of nonviolence translated to love for all. Truth was something to be lived so that one practiced what one professed. Throughout his life Gandhi strove to achieve these ideals.

  Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore

  Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi. Tagore's influence over Mahatma Gandhi and the founders of modern India was enormous

 

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