Life of Mahatma Gandhi: Biography, Quotes and Facts

Here you will find great Mahatma Gandhi quotes on independence, education, swachh Bharat, and many more and a short biography of his life and struggle.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was the face of the struggle for the Indian Independence Movement against the British Rule in India. 

He is honoured as one of the twentieth century’s greatest political leaders and pioneer of Satyagraha’s principle.

Popularly known as “Baapu,” Gandhiji has preached nonviolence throughout his life. 

He went on to influence the world through his Nonviolence, Non-cooperation, and Civil Disobedience movements.

He inspires many great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., James Lawson, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama.

He is regarded as one of the most influential figures in his preaching of the nonviolent movement for Independence and advocating civil rights in South Africa.

Who was Mahatma Gandhiji?

mahatma gandhi speech
Young M.K. Gandhi

Early Life

Born on 2nd October 1869, at Porbandar, Kathiawar, British India (present-day state of Gujarat). His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

His father, Karamchand Gandhi, was a Deewan (chief minister), while his mother, Putlibai was deeply religious following Vaishnavism (devotee of Hindu god Vishnu).

Gandhi was the youngest child of Karamchand Gandhi’s fourth wife. Putlibai followed Jainism, which basic tenets were nonviolence and belief of eternity.

Influenced by her mother, Gandhi adopted Ahimsa (noninjury or nonviolence), fasting, and mutual tolerance between different sects and religions.

gandhi imagesEducation

As a child, though he used to win many prizes and scholarships, he barely did good in overall subjects.

His school records state that he was great in English and Arithmetic while poor in Geography subjects with bad handwriting.

Losing a year of school being married at the age of 13, to Kasturba Gandhi (1883-1944), he used to look for his ailing father and help his mother in household chores.

At the age of 19, Gandhi left for London to study law at Inner Temple, city’s law college.

He returned to India in mid-1891, to practice law in the Presidency of Bombay but met with little success.

Later, he accepted a position in an Indian firm office in South Africa. Gandhi, with his wife and children, lived in South Africa for around 20 years.

It was a turning point in Gandhi’s life, where he started activism for the discrimination he experienced living in South Africa.

gandhiji drawing
Gandhiji in turban

Struggle in Africa

In one incident, Gandhi was asked to remove Turban (a long cloth used to cover men’s heads) by a European magistrate in Durban.

It infuriated Gandhi, who then left the courtroom, refusing to remove it.

And in another incident, while travelling to Pretoria by train, he was beaten up and thrown out of the first-class coach after refusing to give his seat to a European passenger.

It was a trigger point for him for this kind of racial discrimination against the Indians.

While this experience was new to Gandhi, it was the daily life of the Indian traders who learned to live with it.

Gandhi then started studying the conditions and discrimination his fellow south Asian people are living within the country.

He developed and preached Satyagraha’s idea (way of truth and struggle) and resistance to the Indian Population in South Africa.

Gandhi started filing petitions against the ongoing injustice and had them signed by hundreds of Indians.

Though he had no wish to live in South Africa, he stayed there to improve the living conditions of the Indians.

Natal Indian Congress was founded in 1894 by him and placing himself as the secretary of the party.

In 1906, the Transvaal government passed a bill required for the registration of the Indian Population in the country and opposed their right to vote.

Gandhi, along with the other Indians, launched a campaign of Civil Disobedience against the authorities that lasted for nearly eight years.

images of mahatma gandhi
Gandhi outside prison in South Africa

In 1913, at the peak of the protest, the government started arresting Indians, including women and children living in South Africa.

Thousands of Indians were arrested and even shot to topple up the protest.

After the pressure from the British and Indian governments, the government of South Africa accepted the proposal of negotiating.

The South African government accepted a negotiating deal by Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts.

The deal allowed the recognition of Indian marriages in the country and abolishing the poll tax on Indians.

quotes of mahatma gandhiReturn to India 

Gandhi left South Africa and returned to India in July 1914. Smuts wrote, “The saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever.”

He spent several months in London at the outbreak of war, Gandhi supported British war efforts in World War 1 though he remained anti-colonist.

Gandhi established an Ashram in Ahmedabad for people of all caste and religions. 

Wearing a simple loincloth and shawl, he lived his life with simplicity, devotion, and meditation. Therefore, he came to be known as “Mahatma,” meaning a great soul.

Fight for Independence against the British Rule in India

mahatma gandhi father name
Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Gandhi started a political campaign for India was totally under British Rule then, against the Rowlatt Act in 1919.

The Act gave the British authorities to detain any people they suspected for sedition charges without any trial.

Gandhi launched the Satyagraha Movement, a peaceful protest against the Rowlatt Act.

Violence broke out after British General Reginald Dyer opened fire on the peaceful protesters by machine guns in Jallianwala Bagh.

Nearly 400 unarmed peaceful protestors were killed in the massacre of Amritsar.

Appalled by this bloody incident, Gandhi took the oath of non-allegiance to the British government and returned his medals and title he earned for his service in South Africa.

 He started opposing the drafts for mandatory Indian soldiers’ mandatory recruitments in the British military to serve in World War 1.

Gandhi called for mass boycotts to the British governments. He asked Indians to stop paying taxes, and students to stop studying in British schools.

Appealed to the Indian stop working for crowns and boycott of British made goods.

mahatma gandhi picture
Mahatma Gandhi using spinning wheel

He introduced the concept of Swadeshi (made in India) goods; he started weaving his cloth made by a portable spinning wheel. 

The spinning wheel soon became the symbol of self-reliance and Independence, and many started following Gandhi’s path.

He voraciously advocated the idea of leadership of the Indian National Congress and his policy for non-cooperation and nonviolence for Independence to the nation.

Following such a wide-scale demonstration and movements, he was arrested and charged for treason with six years of rigorous imprisonment in 1922.

He was released shortly after two years in 1924 following an appendicitis surgery.

After discovering violence broke out between the two communities, Gandhi held three weeks fast, urging for unity between the two communities in 1924.

mahatma gandhi sketch

In 1930, Gandhi launched the Salt March to protest against Britain’s Salt Act, which prohibited collecting or selling salt and imposed heavy taxes on salts.

The Salt March was a 240 long mile march by foot wearing just simple sandals and shawl with a walking stick to the Arabian Sea where he would break the government monopoly.

The Salt March led the way to several similar marches and civil disobedience movements.

Nearly 60,000 Indians were arrested in the Salt March and were imprisoned along with Gandhi in May 1930.

With a series of movements and his teaching for nonviolence, he became a father figure popularly called “Baapu.”

He was named “Man of the Year” in 1930 by Time Magazine.

mahatma gandhi family
Mahatma Gandhi with Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru

India’s Independence from the British Rule

In World War II in 1942, England was engulfed. Gandhi launched the Quit India movement, which called for the total withdrawal of British authorities from India.

mahatma gandhi father name
Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Gandhi, along with his wife and other leaders were arrested and detained in the Prince Aga Khan Palace in Pune by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

After the Labour Party defeated Winston Churchill’s government in the British General Election in 1945, the negotiations of India’s Independence began.

Gandhi played an important role in the negotiations of Independence, but his dream of a unified nation was not fulfilled.

Another violence broke out between Hindu and Muslim communities before the Independence, which resulted in mass killings of innocent peoples before the Independence.

Gandhi paid a visit to the riot-hit place to advocate for peace and unity. However, after the killings increased further, India was divided into two nations.

Gandhi first opposed the proposal but later accepted it hoping that peace could be achieved internally through peace talks.

quotes on independence
His wife Kasturba Gandhi along with four sons

Gandhi’s wife and sons

Gandhi married Kasturba Makanji, daughter of a merchant, in an arranged marriage at the age of 13. She died at the age of 74 in February 1944.

He had four sons through Kasturba named as Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas.

Why was Mahatma Gandhi assassinated?

Gandhiji carried out a fast again after Independence with the hope of bringing unity and peace.

After 12 days, the fast ended on 30th January, Gandhi was on his way for an evening prayer meeting when he was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse.

Nearly 1 million people attended his funeral procession being carried out in the streets of the city. 

He was cremated at the banks of the river Yamuna.

Click here to read more about Mahatma Gandhi and his life

What are the good qualities of Mahatma Gandhi?

The listed are the good qualities of Mahatma Gandhi and which advocated the people as well:

  1. Truthfulness
  2. Love and Peace
  3. Unity
  4. Strength of character
  5. Forgiveness
  6. Resistance & Persistence 
  7. Live in present

Why Mahatma Gandhi is important?

Regarded as Mahatma or the great-souled one by his followers, he preached the idea of nonviolence, passive resistance, and swadeshi in his struggle for discrimination in South Africa and fought for Indian Independence.

He was totally against the preaching of violence and advocated peace and unity. 

Why Mahatma Gandhi is a hero?

Mahatma Gandhi stood alone against the British Empire in his fight for freedom of the nation.

While the British were ruling India with violence and malice followed by discrimination and enslaving people.

He fought against them with nonviolence and even taught the people the same thing.

Also read the fight for India’s independence from the British Rule

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