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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was one of the leading spiritual, political, moral, and cultural leaders of the 1900's. He helped free India from British control by using a unique method of nonviolent resistance. Gandhi is honored by the people of India, as the father of their nation. He was slight in build, but had great physical and moral strength. He was assassinated, by an Indian, who resented his program of tolerance for all creeds and religions.

Gandhi was born on Oct. 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India. His parents belonged to a Vaisya (merchant) caste of Hindus. Young Gandhi was a shy, serious boy. When he was 13 years old, he married Kasturba, a girl the same age. Their parents had arranged the marriage. Gandhi had four children. Gandhi studied law in London. He returned to India in 1891 to practice law, but he met with little success.

People in India called Gandhi the Mahatma (Great Soul). His life was guided by a search for truth. He believed truth could be known only through tolerance and concern for others and that finding a truthful way to solutions required constant testing. He called his autobiography My Experiments with Truth. Gandhi overcame fear and taught others to master fear.

He believed in nonviolence and taught that to be truly nonviolent required courage. He lived a simple life and thought it was wrong to kill animals for food or clothing. Gandhi developed a method of direct social action, based upon principles of courage, nonviolence, and truth, which he called Satyagraha. In this method, the way people behave is more important than what they achieve. Satyagraha was used to fight for India's independence and to bring about social change.

Gandhi led many campaigns for Indian rights in South Africa. He was arrested many times by the British, but his efforts brought important reforms. Gandhi also worked for the British when he felt justice was on their side. In 1914, Gandhi returned to India. Within five years, he became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement. Gandhi led a Satyagraha campaign that succeeded in preventing passage of one of these bills. The other was never enforced. Gandhi called off the campaign when riots broke out. He then fasted to impress the people with the need to be nonviolent. His belief in the cruelty of imperial rule was demonstrated by the Amritsar Massacre of April 13, 1919. A British general ordered his men to fire on an unarmed crowd, and almost 400 Indians were killed. This made Gandhi even more determined to develop Satyagraha and to win independence

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