Mahatma Gandhi: An EraJuly 13, 2021
“The right hand is already pledged to Porbandar”, quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s grandfather, who was a man of great principles. He had six sons by two of his wives. Karamchand Gandhi was the fifth of these six sons. Mahatma Gandhi born to Karamchand Gandhi, Alias Kaba Gandhi, served with his brother Tulsidas Gandhi, as Prime Minister of Porbandar. Kaba Gandhi was also a member of Rajisthanik court, which was an influential body. His wife having passed away, he married in succession for four times. Mahatma Gandhi adored his father for his truthfulness, generosity, brevity, and impartiality, and equally adored his mother who left on him an impression of saintliness and was a religiously devout woman. Mahatma Gandhi, a mediocre student, completed his education in an ordinary suburban school. He used to be a shy boy who never had the habit of lying to anyone. He was known for his honesty and never tried to find fault with others. He was married at a very early age. During his tenure at high school, he was much appreciated by his teachers, who praised him for his good character and progress in his studies. He won many prizes in his extract curricular activities. In 1885, his father fell sick and was bedridden. Gandhiji loved to nurse his father during his illness. In 1887, he passed his matriculation examination and sailed to England on September 4 in 1888, as his family wanted to see him qualify as a barrister, to follow the legacy of a Deewan, like his father. He then went to Samaldas College but dropped out at the end of the first term and returned home. An old family friend, Mavji Dave, advised Gandhiji’s mother and elder brother to send him to England to study law and become a barrister. In the initial years in England, Gandhiji could not complement the ways and life of English men, due to his lack of command, over the English language. Even though his college mates forced him to taste meat, he did not touch meat, and he chose to be a strict vegetarian, influenced by Salt’s book “Plea for Vegetarianism.” He remained a strict vegetarian and had promised his mother that he would not touch meat and liquor.
He happened to read the Bhagwat Gita and the Bible inspired by a Theosophist and a Christian, who offered him the Bible. This in-depth reading made him bring out the similarities in the two religions. In 1890, his last year in England, Gandhiji learned simplicity and adopted it from Narayan Hemchanden the author, whom he met and spent time with him in England.
Gandhiji found himself meager in knowledge as an advocate. But fortunately for him, he happened to meet Mr. Fredrick Pincutt, who suggested him to read Indian History and the Mutiny of 1857. He returned back to India. His brother had come to Bombay to meet him, where he was informed about the death of his mother, while he was in England.
He continued the acquaintance with Dr. Mehta whom he had met in England which turned into a permanent family friendship. Gandhiji had been introduced to many well-known men of his time, such as Shri Ravashankar Sagjiran Raychand, the poet. Gandhiji’s brother helped him peruse a smooth path towards his practice as an advocate, through his many acquaintances with friends in the field of law. He handled his first case in Bombay, and few more others, which made him reside there for some more time. Soon he set up his own office in Rajkot, where he was able to earn better when compared to Bombay. During this period in Porbandar, Gandhiji was offered an opportunity to visit South Africa, to handle a case there, as an instructor or counsel. He set sail and reached South Africa in 1893. He was received by Addulla Seth. There he found a lot of division among Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. He was in the middle of a controversy, over the wearing of his turban, which he had refused to remove. On the advice of Seth Abdullah, he appealed to the court, of his right to wear a turban, which he won favourably, and which earned him recognition in Durban, within a few days. He happened to make acquaintance with the court Interpreter, Mr. Raul, a Roman Catholic.
He also made contact with eminent personalities like Mr. Subhan Godfrey, a teacher, and father of James Godfrey, the Parsi Rustomji, and Adamji Miyakhan. Gandhiji was asked to take charge of the case for which had been summoned to South Africa. He left Durban for Pretoria, and during his journey, he was thrown out of the train compartment which was meant for whites alone. He refused to change compartments on the basis of colour. This incident greatly affected him, and from then, he decided to fight for justice. Which took him on further battles in his fight for equality, in South Africa. During the period of these harsh experiences, with the help of Sheth Tyeb Haji Khan Mohammed he arranged a meeting at the house of Sheth Haji Mohammed Haji Joosab, where he addressed a gathering publicly, for the first time in his life. He preached that truthfulness is the essence of any religion. He formed an association to represent the hardships faced by Indian settlers. He later, settled in Natal, where, with the help of a few others, founded the Indian National Congress, on 22nd May 1894.
It was an organization that aimed to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. After three years of dedicated service as the Honorary Secretary to the organization, Gandhi ji decided vacation of six months to India. On a fortune or unfortunate note, he missed his train at the Allahbad station on his way to Bombay. Where he managed to meet Mr. Cherry, the editor of The Pioneer newspaper, who took Gandhi ji in trust promising, he would consider his writings in the paper.
Gandhiji published pamphlets, popular as Green Pamphlets, which stated the series of lynching incidents Gandhi ji faced in Natal and the suppression of Indians in South Africa. During this period, Bombay confronted fear and panic of the Plague, the Pandemic, which was broken down in India. Gandhiji gave his services emphasizing cleanliness which made him get acquainted with the British and he celebrated loyalty. He had been invited to join the committee. However, his focus on the ahimsa concept was growing to its peak. He became more cautious in using language in his speeches. He visited various cities in India with his aim to educate Indians.
The National movement took a stronger shape with the arrival of Gandhi ji in the politics of India. He led many movements and evoked a sense of subjugation in Indians. Which led to a war against the British for Indian independence without drawing swords and shedding blood. The movements Satyagraha (fight for the truth) and Ahimsa (non-violence), led by him brought peaceful demonstrations and non-cooperation with the British machinery. Indians dedicatedly supported Gandhi ji in the movements by boycotting their schools, offices, and courts. He also evoked his ideology of non-payment of taxes by boycotting foreign goods. The growing nationalist feelings made the British pass the Rowlett Act in 1919. Gandhiji called Indians for Satyagraha against this Act. Gandhiji was imprisoned on April 6th, 1919, during such a call. Gandhiji joined the Congress of India in 1921 and escalated demands to declare the Independence of India. However, the British focused on negotiations. Gandhiji with his party with his support to the Raja in September 1939 when the Viceroy declared war on Germany. In 1942, Gandhi ji demanded immediate independence. The British imprisoned him with thousands of Congress leaders. In the meantime, the Muslim league went against Gandhiji’s opposition by co-operating with the British and demanded a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. The Partition of the nations took place in August 1947 on the terms Gandhi ji had disapproved.
To conclude: Mahatma Gandhi, the man who was born with leadership qualities showcased his different ideologies at different times and won his desired results. He did not surrender his willpower to fight against overall social discrimination. He, with his truthfulness, committed himself to bring changes in the cultural, economic, and political systems. He emphasized social transformation. Which earned him the landmark achievement of the nation as Independence which will be glorified till the world sees the sun every day.
To quote: “Without a material revision of vested interests the condition of the masses can never be improved”
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” “Action expresses priorities”
Bibliography: Experiments with Truth: an autobiography (1927), Mahatma Gandhi India’s Struggle for Independence (1988), Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, Suchetra Mahajan, and K. N. Panikkar History and Civics Class 8, Viva Education: ICSC Internet source: Mahatma Gandhi Wikipedia
Article by: Naheed Akhtar
Naheed Akthar, an Indian poet, holds a master’s degree in English literature. She is a lecturer, poet, and writer. She seems in love with Classical and Romantic poetry; however, a sense of originality is vividly seen in her way of writing. Her poems have been published in various anthologies. And have also been published in her own book of poetry, ” Phantasms of My Heart”