Alex Sturtevant Dec 18, 1996
MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI
Mohandas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma (Sanskrit for "great-souled") was the major political and spiritual leader in the fight for Indian independence in the early to mid 1900's. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar in the present state of Gujarat. He got a law degree at University College in London, and was admitted to the British bar. In 1893 Gandhi was working for an Indian law firm, and was stationed at the branch in Durban, South Africa. Soon after arriving, Mohandas was subject to the severe mistreatment of the Apartheid rulers, and quickly became an active member in the struggle for civil liberties and political rights.
The main teaching of Gandhi was that of Passive Resistance, and nonviolent, non-cooperation with South African (and later British) authorities. Instead of messy, physical riots, Gandhi taught of the value of peaceful protests, such as fasting, boycotting, and marching. The greatest inspiration for his teachings came from Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, author of the classic War and Peace. Gandhi was also influenced by American writer Henry David Thoreau, especially by Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience".
Later on, Mahatma Gandhi fought in his homeland for Indian independence from British rule. Gandhi quickly became the most prominent figure in Indian/British, if not international, politics. Always very intelligent, Gandhi was able to use that very fact as a weapon. He would often go on hunger strikes, for long periods of time if need be, since the British government knew that if Gandhi died there would be many riots and fights, they had to give in to Gandhi's demand just so he would survive.
The most awe-inspiring thing about Gandhi is not that he introduced many nonviolent ways of conflict resolution, but rather that they worked. In 1947 India finally was granted it's independence from Britain. All was not well, however, and there was still much civil feuding between the Muslims League and the Congress party. On January 30, 1948 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by a fanatic Hindu while on his way to evening prayer. Gandhi truly was one of the greatest leaders of all time, inspiring peoples of all different nationalities, from every corner of the Earth.