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The Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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The life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a classic example of a person who understood the nature and power of politics. It was through Gandhi's skillful ability to not only to wrestle power away from the British but also to rally the masses of millions of Indians through non-violent civil disobedience that he was able to achieve his goal of independence for India. As Gandhi stated, "It is wrong normally for one nation to rule over another. British rule in India an evil but we need not to believe that any very great advantage would accrue to the Indians if the British were to leave India. The reason why they rule over us is to be found in ourselves; that reason is our disunity, our immorality and our ignorance".

Gandhi was born on October 2nd 1869 at Porbandar, the capital of a small princely state on the peninsula of Kathiawar that juts into the Arabian Sea. He was the fourth and last child for his parents. Gandhi's grandfather, and his father and uncle were each in turn dewan, or prime minister, to the ruler of Probandar, which was not subject to direct British, rule. Consequently old Indian customs and traditions were much more in evidence there than in most parts of British India.

Gandhi's father was moderately a religious man, but religion was the very breath of his mother who was deeply religious and addicted to prayer and fasting. Gandhi inherited his father's stubbornness, incorruptibility and practical sense and his mother's life of religious, devotion and asceticism. His life was influenced by both Vaishnavism and Jainism, the two religious cults which regard all forms of life as God's creation and hence sacred. Humility, tenderness and affection for all living things were the watchwords of the Vaishnavas, or followers of Vishnu, one of the three supreme gods of the Hindu. Gandhi's exposure to these teachings didn't develop into a deep faith in religion or in ahisma (Nonviolence) at early age. However, one thing took deep root in him was that morality is the basis of all things, and that truth is the substance of all morality. He learned then the guiding principle: Return good for evil.

Gandhi went to London to study law from 1888 - 1891, but his studies of English and Roman law had give him no knowledge of Indian law and no practical experience of the conduct of cases in court. He had to study Indian law and went to Bombay for a period of time in order to gain experience of the High Court. Later, Gandhi returned to Rajkot, where he set up his own office. In 1893 Gandhi accepted a job in South Africa as a barrister and soon became a political activist for the rights of Indians. A key incident that of being thrown out of his train compartment because nonwhites were not permitted to travel first class. In South Africa he became more exposed to Christianity and delighted at Christian faith but he could see no genuine reason to change his Hindu religion. Thus Gandhi couldn't accept Christianity as the greatest religion, but nor did he advocate Hinduism as being such.

In 1896, Gandhi returned from South Africa for the first time to India and started writing a pamphlet entitled The Grievances of the British Indians in South Africa, which became known as the Green Pamphlet. Gandhi had aroused public opinions with speeches and pamphlets that detailed the suffering of Indians in South Africa. Between 1906 and 1908, he led protests in South Africa against the law that required all Indians to carry their registration papers at all times.

In 1915, Gandhi returned to India permanently and began to advocate non violent protest against British rule. He started calling the country to observe a general hartal (that is, closing down of all places of business and work). In one of his speeches, Gandhi criticized the state violence exhibited and reminded his followers that their noisy protest in response to the British government's use of force to stop the hartal was not desirable. He said, "When we have acquired habits of discipline, self-control, qualities of leadership and obedience, we shall be better able to offer collective civil disobedience. But until we have developed

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