“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
An advocate for peace, independence, and for the human rights of Indians, Mahatma Gandhi was always prepared to fight for these three things. Even if it meant using the method of resistance through mass non-violent civil disobedience. Gandhi was not a fan of violence, nor was he a violent man. He was the primary leader of India’s independence movement as well as the architect and pioneer of Satyagraha, a form of civil disobedience that would influence the world.
The Birth of a Leader
- Date and Place of Birth: October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India
- Date and Place of Passing: January 30, 1948, in New Delhi, India
Mahatma Gandhi, born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had studied law in England before travelling to South Africa in 1893 to fight for the rights of Indians there. Around 1914-1915, Gandhi returned to India and was given the titles ‘Father of the Nation’ and leader of Indian nationalism in the country, then ruled by the British. With this in mind, he became the leader of India’s independence movement and organized boycotts against British institutions in peaceful forms of civil disobedience.
The Fight for Liberation
This form of resistance through mass non-violent civil disobedience is known as Satyagraha, which he was a pioneer of, and with this, he became one of the major political and spiritual leaders of his time. Today, Satyagraha remains one of the most potent and worldwide known philosophies in freedom struggles.
In 1914, when Gandhi returned to India, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress, advocating a policy of non-violence to achieve independence for his country. His goal was to provide assistance to poor farmers and labourers to protest oppressive taxation and discrimination. He also struggled to alleviate poverty, liberate women, and put an end to caste discrimination with the objective of self-ruling for India. As a result of his strong contention following his civil disobedience campaign, Gandhi was jailed for conspiracy from 1922 to 1924. In 1930, Gandhi led a march to the sea and collect salt as a symbolic defiance of government monopoly. After his release from prison in 1931, he attended the London Round Table Conference on the constitutional reformation for India. In 1946, he negotiated with the Cabinet Mission and recommended the new constitutional structure for India.
Once India received its independence in 1947, Mahatma Gandhi tried to put a stop to the Hindu-Muslim conflict in Bengal. This resulted in his assassination in New Delhi at the hands of a Hindu fanatic by the name of Nathuram Godse. Even after the death of Mahatma Gandhi, his commitment to non-violence and his belief in a life of simplicity and devotion (making his own clothes, following a vegetarian diet, and fasting for self-purification as well as a means of protest) have become a beacon of hope for the oppressed and marginalized people throughout the world.
Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday which falls today on October 2 is now a national holiday in India. It is a widely celebrated event as well as one that is commemorated by the United Nations as the International Day of Non-Violence. Happy Birthday, Gandhi, and Happy International Day of Non-Violence to everyone! Let us enjoy the peace for just one day, love our neighbours the way we would love ourselves, and make love and peace, not war.