Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British rule, and in turn inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā (Sanskrit: "great-souled", "venerable"), first applied to him in 1914 in South Africa, is now used throughout the world.
Born and raised in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat, western India, Gandhi trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, and was called to the bar at age 22 in June 1891. After two uncertain years in India, where he was unable to start a successful law practice, he moved to South Africa in 1893, to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit. He went on to live in South Africa for 21 years. It was in South Africa that Gandhi raised a family, and first employed nonviolent resistance in a campaign for civil rights. In 1915, aged 45, he returned to India. He set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination.
Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, and above all for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.
The same year Gandhi adopted the Indian loincloth, or short dhoti and, in the winter, a shawl, both woven with yarn hand-spun on a traditional Indian spinning wheel, or charkha, as a mark of identification with India's rural poor. Thereafter, he lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community, ate simple vegetarian food, and undertook long fasts as a means of self-purification and political protest. Bringing anti-colonial nationalism to the common Indians, Gandhi led them in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India.
Gandhi's vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan.
Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.
Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence. Gandhi is commonly, though not formally, considered the Father of the Nation in India, and was commonly called Bapu (Gujarati: endearment for father, papa).
Truth never damages a cause that is just.
Freedom from all attachment is the realization of God as Truth.
Your words become your actions, your actions become your habits.
Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it.
Decency and tolerance, to be of any value, must be capable of withstanding the severest strain.
Decency requires that when a programme is approved by the majority, all should carry it out faithfully.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness.
Live simply that others may simply live.
The British are weak in numbers, we are weak in spite of our numbers.
The British power is the overlord without whom Indian princes cannot breathe.
Civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen.
We may attack systems. We must not attack men.
Islam appeals to people because it appeals also to reason.
The very word Islam means peace, which is nonviolence.
Equality of sexes does not mean equality of occupations.
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
If we are true servants of the masses, we would take pride in spinning for their sake.
Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.
A democratic organization has to dare to do the right at all costs.
When you make yourself into zero, your power becomes invincible.
The snakes have their place in the agricultural economy of the village, but our villagers do not seem realize it.
Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.
Hinduism loses its right to make a universal appeal if it closes its temples to Harijans.
Self-defense is the only honourable course where there is unreadiness for self-immolation.
Outward appearance is nothing to Him if it is not an expression of the inner.
If the lambs of the world had been willingly led, they would have long ago saved themselves from the butcher's knife.
You and I: we are one. I cannot hurt you without hurting myself.
A perfect Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands mankind is safe.
Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure. Not higher fortune, but deeper felicity.
Purity of life is the highest and truest art.
The idol in the temple is not God. But since God resides in every atom, He resides in that idol too.
Without real nonviolence, there would be perfect anarchy.
Punishment is God's. He alone is the infallible Judge.
It is easy to stand in the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.
That prince is acceptable to me who becomes a prince among his people's servants.
Yajna is not yajna if one feels it to be burdensome or annoying.
No two leaves were alike, and yet there is no antagonism between them or between the branches on which they grow.
God's ways are more than Man's arithmetic.
Jesus never uttered a loftier or a grander truth than when he said that wisdom cometh out of the mouths of babes.
Men to be men must be able to trust their womenfolk, even as the latter are compelled to trust them.
He who is ever brooding over result often loses nerve in the performance of his duty.
A successful bloody revolution can only mean further misery for the masses.
We are aware that the business of Swaraj will thrive only if the boycott of foreign cloth is successful.
Behaviour is the mirror in which we can display our image.
Compulsory obedience to a master is a state of slavery, willing obedience to one's father is the glory of son ship.
Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
All sins are committed in secrecy. The moment we realize that God witnesses even our thoughts, we shall be free.
Blaming the wolf would not help the sheep much. The sheep must learn not to fall in the clutches of the wolf.
Whoever is victor, there should be, after the war, a commonwealth of all nations.
At the moment the British Common-wealth is a Commonwealth of White nation.
Democracy and dependence on the military and police are incompatible.
What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated?
What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated? What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy. What is a war criminal? Was not war itself a crime against God and humanity, and, therefore, were not all those who sanctioned, engineered and conducted wars, war criminals? The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.
Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not of cowardice.
Cowards can never be moral.
Surely, conversion is a matter between man and his Maker who alone knows His creatures' hearts.
To change one's religion under the threat of force is no conversion but rather cowardice.
The cow is the purest type of sub-human life.
Cow protection means protection of the weak, the helpless, the dumb and the deaf.
Knowledge without devotion will be like a misfire.
Devotion to Truth is the sole justification for our existence.
If there is violence, it will certainly be crushed because violence can only end in a disgraceful rout.
All our philosophy is as dry as dust if it is not immediately translated into some act of living service.
Character alone will have real effect on the masses.
The more efficient a force is, the more silent and the more subtle it is.
Truthful movements spontaneously attract to themselves all manner of pure and disinterested help.
Non-co-operation is an attempt to awaken the masses to a sense of their dignity and power.
Disobedience, to be civil, implies discipline, thought, care, attention.
The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust.
The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth.
Freedom of worship, even of public speech, would become a farce if interference became the order of the day.
I retain the opinion that council entry is inconsistent with non-co-operation as I conceive it.
I believe that there is no prayer without fasting, and there is no real fast without prayer.
The world is weary of hate. We see the fatigue overcoming the Western nations.
Love and exclusive possession can never go together.
Violence is bound sooner or later to exhaust itself but peace cannot issue out of such exhaustion.
A smattering of English is worse than useless; it is an unnecessary tax on our women.
The Indian struggle is not anti-British, it is anti-exploitation, anti-foreign rule, not anti-foreigners.
I must fight unto the death the unholy attempt to impose British methods and British institutions on India.
I know that man who forsakes Truth can forsake his country and his nearest and dearest ones.
My effort should never be to undermine another's faith but to make him a better follower of his own faith.
Not to believe in the possibility of permanent peace is to disbelieve in the Godliness of human nature.
Love is a rare herb that makes a friend even of a sworn enemy and this herb grows out of nonviolence.
All society is held together by nonviolence even as the earth is held in her position by gravitation.
The golden rule is to act fearlessly upon what one believes to be right.
I have shut my mind against nothing and I am a friend of Great Britain. I always have been. I have no axe to grind.
If my nonviolence is to be contagious and infectious, I must acquire greater control over my thoughts.
There is no greater spellbinder of peace than the name of God.
I believe all war to be wholly wrong.
We dare not enter the kingdom of liberty with mere life-homage to truth and nonviolence.
My heart rebels against any foreigner imposing on my country the peace which is here called Pax-Britannica.
There is no road to freedom, freedom is the road.
Nonviolence to be worth anything has to work in the face of hostile forces.
Everything that we do is insignificant...and...it is very important that we do it!
I would like to say that that even the teachings of the Koran cannot be exempted from criticism.
A woman's intuition has often proved truer than a man's arrogant assumption of knowledge.
Labour is a great leveler of all distinctions.
I do not regard capital to be the enemy of labour.
Faith becomes lame, when it ventures into matters pertaining to reason!
Man can only conceive God within the limitation of his own mind.
No one has the capacity to judge God. We are drops in that limitless ocean of mercy.
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