Mahatma Gandhi : The Apostle Of Non-violence
The life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer is a must-read book for every Indian out there irrespective of his or her caste, creed, religion, colour, ethnicity and gender.
The author of this book not only lived with Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram. But he also interviewed him and his close associates several times. That’s the USP of this brilliantly written Biography.
Interpreting the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi is not that easy. Here, I’ll try to explain about him in a layman’s term.
We will start by asking some questions related to Gandhiji.
Who was Mahatma Gandhi?
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian patriot and one of the most important leaders of the Indian freedom struggle.
In fact, he was the leader of the Indian Freedom Fighters who not only guided them through thick and thin. But he also made sure that India followed the creed of Non-violence. That’s why Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the ‘Father of the Nation’ of India.
Early life of Gandhi:-
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born to Karamchand Gandhi and Putli Bai on October 2, 1869 at Porbandar, Gujarat. He was from a well-to-do family. His grandfather and his father were the bureaucrats of the Kathiawar kings who were ruling the western part of British India.
Young Mohandas completed his schooling from Porbandar but later on he along with his father shifted to Rajkot where he finished his studies. Gandhiji was an average student. There was nothing extraordinary about him.
In fact, no one could’ve predicted at that time that one day Mohandas will be remembered as the Mahatma who not only inspired multitudes and still continue to do so, but he also led his country to freedom without using the concept of violence.
During his childhood days young Mohandas not only smoked but he also visited a brothel, ate meat and tried to commit suicide. He himself mentioned all the things mentioned above in his autobiography, ‘My experiments with truth’.
Although, Gandhiji was a religious man. But his religion and philosophy was not dogmatic. This is because of the influence of his mother, Putli Bai who herself was very religious but not rigid in her thoughts.
After completing his early education Mohandas decided to visit London to study law there. But, during the 19th century it was easier said than done, especially for the caste Hindus.
Gandhiji was from the Bania community (Traders). When the elders of his Community heard that he is going to London. They called him and said that if he decided to go then he will be debarred from his caste. And will be considered as an outcast. At that time his elder brother Laxmidas Gandhi came to his rescue who not only supported him financially but also gave him his full support.
Although, before leaving for London. His mother made him to take three vows, not to touch wine, women and meat. And he followed this through thick and thin.
Life in London :-
After arriving in London, Gandhiji enrolled himself in the inner temple as a law student. During his sojourn in London. He joined a vegetarian society. In fact, he read ‘Gita’, one of the most holiest books in Hinduism while studying there.
After completing his graduation from law, Gandhiji went to India to support his family. But, after coming back to his homeland Mohandas couldn’t find a good Job. He tried his luck as a lawyer but he failed.
He couldn’t utter a word while presenting his case. Although, destiny had planned something else for him. One day, Mohandas received an invitation from a muslim man by the name of Dada Abdullah to fight his case in South Africa. And it was in South Africa where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi.
Life in South Africa :-
When Barrister (Inner temple) Mohandas Gandhi landed in South Africa. The country at that time was a den of racism and racist laws. The British and the Dutch were the occupying forces there.
The aboriginals (Negros) and the Indian settlers were considered as the second or third class people by the white supremacist. The task of Gandhi was not only to fight against the unjust racial laws but he also had to unite the Indian community there.
And he did all of this successfully. It was in South Africa where he invented his most important weapon, ‘Satyagraha’, or the ‘Truth force’. Although, the original term was ‘Sadagraha’ gave by his cousin Maganlal Gandhi. But, Gandhiji amended it to Satyagraha.
It was in South Africa where Gandhiji used the methods of passive resistance several times. He went to jail. He was beaten black and blue several times.
But at the end he and his methods triumphed. That’s why the great Nelson Mandela said –
You gave us a lawyer and in return we gave you a Mahatma.
It was in South Africa that Gandhiji established several farms like the Phoneix farm and the Tolstoy farm. And most importantly while living there he took the vow to remain as celibate throughout his life, and he followed this miraculously until he died at the age of seventy-eight.
Gandhiji had achieved total control over himself that’s why he became immortal. One thing which we need to grasp while studying Gandhi that he remained loyal to the British until 1942. In fact, he had participated in the Boer war, Zulu rebellion and even during the WW1 he recruited Indian men for the British.
It doesn’t mean that he was a stooge of the British Government. It was his style of functioning. Through love and deeds he tried to win over his enemy and the same he did with the British imperialists.
After completing his tasks in South Africa, Gandhiji along his family sailed back to India.
Gandhi and his family :-
Gandhiji married to Kasturba Gandhi when he was a teenager. They had four sons together by the name of Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas Gandhi.
Although, majority of the people will sing the paean of Gandhi. But, we also need to understand the contribution of Kasturba Gandhi in the life of Bapu was immense. She not only supported her husband but she also sacrificed a lot. That’s why the only woman with whom Gandhiji feared the most was his wife.
The relationship of Gandhiji with his sons was like a ringmaster controlling the life of others around him. He was a strict father. That’s why his eldest son Harilal became so estranged with Gandhiji that he not only converted to Islam but became a heavy drinker.
Although, it’s an irony that the real Gandhis are forgotten and the Pseudo-Gandhis captured the power by cleverly changing the surname from Gandhy to Gandhi.
India and Gandhi :-
On 9 January 1915, Mahatma Gandhi along with his wife Kasturba Gandhi landed in Bombay. For more than two decades he worked in South Africa. And became renowned as the champion of the indentured labourers.
After arriving in India, Gandhiji on the advice of Gopal Krishna Gokhale stayed away from the Indian politics for almost a year or so. During that time he travelled to the length and breadth of the country. Understood the negatives and positives of Hindustan.
Later on he proved his mettle for the first time in India during the champaran satyagraha of Bihar in 1917. When he successfully fought for the indigo farmers. And it was the starting point of his political career in India.
The Indian National Congress (INC) which was formed in Dec 1885 became an organisation of the elites. It was Gandhi who turned the INC into a political party of the masses. For Gandhi, Congress was the unofficial parliament of India.
The leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Acharya Kriplani and many others became the disciples of Gandhi and considered him as their father.
Throughout his life Bapu worked for the Hindu-Muslim unity. That’s why he supported the Khilafat movement.
He tried whatever he could to maintain the unity. But, it was a tragedy that his efforts goes in vain only because of the madness of few communal minded people. Be it non-cooperation movement, Dandi March, Quit India movement. Hindu-Muslim unity was the plank on which he launched all of his political movements to not only free India from the yoke of British imperialism but also to unite Hindustan as an one entity.
But, destiny had planned something else for Gandhi and his motherland India.
Partition of India and Gandhi’s assassination:-
On 3 June 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten announced the Partition Plan of India. With that announcement the dream of a United India shattered. The man who felt the immense pain of partition was Mahatma Gandhi.
Prior to Mountbatten plan of partition, Gandhiji tried whatever he could to save India from division. He had cajoled the supreme leader of Muslim league, Muhmmad Ali Jinnah. Had several meetings with him but all in vain. Against Jinnah’s communalism his message of love and non-violence became unattractive to many.
The cocktail of religion and politics is too dangerous. And Gandhiji knew this very well. That’s why he fought through thick and thin against the partition of Hindustan. He along with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Ghaffar khan aka ‘Frontier Gandhi’ opposed the partition of Hindustan till the very last moment.
But, other stalwarts of the Congress Party like Sardar Patel, Nehru already accepted the partition plan. In fact, Sardar Patel was among the first one who gave his nod to the Partition.
Although, India was divided. But, the chaos it unleashed was unimaginable. Uncountable number of innocent people had lost their lives. Even at that time Gandhiji decided to fast to maintain the unity and the communal harmony.
It was because of him that the region of West Bengal, especially after the horrible act of ‘Direct Action Day’ of Jinnah, the city of Calcutta after India’s partition remained riot free unlike Punjab and many other parts of India.
But, fanatics don’t like peace, harmony and unity. That’s why on 31 January 1948, a zealot by the name of Nathuram Godse shot down Mahatma Gandhi. He died while muttering the name of God on his lips. And it was not a muslim nor a Sikh who killed him. In fact, it was his co-religionists who did this horrible act.
Although, physically they had removed Gandhi by assassinating him. But, they can’t kill that idea which Gandhi preached throughout his career.
As they say,
No force on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.
And Gandhiji and his deeds are omnipotent. It will guide not only India but also to those who wanna contribute something good for the society.
Do you hate Gandhi?
There are people especially in India who unnecessarily hate Gandhi. Are you one of them, if yes then do heed what I’m going to say now. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, gave the title of the ‘Father of the nation’ to Mahatma Gandhi.
Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore gave him the epithet of Mahatma or the great soul. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Hussein Obama and many more statesmen like them considered Mahatma Gandhi as their role model.
Bapu never asked for such kind of titles. He was a man of action. He was a Karma yogi. He not only worked for the Hindu-Muslim unity but he also contributed a lot for the upliftment of the Dalit community.
He popularised the concept of Khadi. He taught the masses to believe in themselves. He gave them confidence to fight against the mighty British empire. And when people like Netaji Bose and Tagore respected Bapu and considered him as a man of God. Then, who are You?
First read about him. Try to live like he lived then you have all the rights to say anything about him.
As someone once said :-
If no one responds to your call, Walk Alone, Walk Alone.
The only shortcoming with this book is that you will need a magnifying glass to read it. The fonts are too small. Rest are fine.
I hope you like this, Thanks for Reading, Jai Hind.
My Ratings : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)
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