Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Overview
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced moːˈɦənd̪aːs kəˈrəmtʃənd̪ ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi. 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 during the Indian independence movement
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

. A pioneer of satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

—a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

, or total nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

—Gandhi led India to independence
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
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Quotations

In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?

Comments on a court case in The Indian Opinion (25 March 1905)

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.

Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13 ( 3 May 1919)

I came in contact with every known Indian anarchist in London. Their bravery impressed me, but I felt that their zeal was misguided. I felt that violence was no remedy for India's ills, and that her civilisation required the use of a different and higher weapon for self-protection.

"A Word of Explanation" on his work Swaraj|Hind Swaraj (1908) in Young India (January 1921)

If India adopted the doctrine of love as an active part of her religion and introduced it in her politics. Swaraj|Swaraj would descent upon India from heaven. But I am painfully aware that that event is far off as yet.

"A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)

I have even seen the writings suggesting that I am playing a deep game, that I am using the present turmoil to foist my fads on India, and am making religious experiments at India's expense. I can only answer that Satyagraha|Satyagraha is made of sterner stuff. There is nothing reserved and nothing secret in it.

"A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)

If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should feel free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite violence.

Statement during his trial for "exciting disaffection toward His Majesty's Government as established by law in India" (18 March 1922)

Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.

Opening words of his defense speech at his trial Young India (23 March 1922)
Encyclopedia
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced moːˈɦənd̪aːs kəˈrəmtʃənd̪ ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi. 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 during the Indian independence movement
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

. A pioneer of satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

—a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

, or total nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

—Gandhi led India to independence
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma (məˈɦaːt̪maː; Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: महात्मा mahātmā
Mahatma
Mahatma is Sanskrit for "Great Soul". It is similar in usage to the modern Christian term saint. This epithet is commonly applied to prominent people like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule and Branch Rickey...

or "Great Soul," an honorific first applied to him by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

). In India, he is also called Bapu and officially honoured as the Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment of their country, state or nation...

. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti is a National Holiday celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, the "Father of the Nation." He was born on October 2, 1869. Hence Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated every year on the 2nd of October. It is one of the three official declared National...

, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence
International Day of Non-Violence
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi. This day is referred to in India as Gandhi Jayanti....

.

Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers in protesting excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability
Dalit
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions...

, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj
Swaraj
Swaraj can mean generally self-governance or "self-rule", and was used synonymously with "home-rule" by Gandhi but the word usually refers to Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance...

—the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (248.5 mi) Dandi Salt March
Salt Satyagraha
The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagrahah began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider...

 in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, on many occasions, in both South Africa and India.

Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community
Sabarmati Ashram
Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Ahmedabad suburb of Sabarmati adjoining to famous Ashram Road, at the bank of River Sabarmati, 4 miles from the town hall. This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi...

 and wore the traditional Indian dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.

Early life and background




Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency
Bombay Presidency
The Bombay Presidency was a province of British India. It was established in the 17th century as a trading post for the English East India Company, but later grew to encompass much of western and central India, as well as parts of post-partition Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.At its greatest...

, British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. He was born in his ancestral home, now known as Kirti Mandir
Kirti Mandir, Porbandar
Kirti Mandir is the memorial temple built in memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi located in city of Porbandar, Gujarat, India.-Background:...

, Porbandar. His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Modh
Modh
Modh are the followers of Modheshwari Maa , a form of Amba Maa with eighteen hands. They originally lived in a town called Modhera in Patan District in the northern part of Gujarat...

 community, served as the diwan (a high official) of Porbander state
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a small princely state
Princely state
A Princely State was a nominally sovereign entitity of British rule in India that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule such as suzerainty or paramountcy.-British relationship with the Princely States:India under the British Raj ...

 in the Kathiawar Agency
Kathiawar Agency
The Kathiawar Agency, on the Kathiawar peninsula in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, was a political unit of some 200 small princely states under the suzerainty of the Bombay Presidency of British India. Soon after India's independence in 1947, all but one of them acceded to the new...

 of British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. His grandfather was Uttamchand Gandhi, fondly called Utta Gandhi. His mother, Putlibai, who came from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community, was Karamchand's fourth wife, the first three wives having apparently died in childbirth. Growing up with a devout mother and the Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 traditions of the region, the young Mohandas absorbed early the influences that would play an important role in his adult life; these included compassion for sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance among individuals of different creeds.

The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and Maharaja Harishchandra
Harishchandra
Harishchandra, in Hindu religious texts is the 36th king of the Solar Dynasty, Surya Maharishi Gothram . His legend is very popular and often told as a benchmark for an ideal life. He was renowned for his piety and justice. His name is Sanskrit for "having golden splendour".Harishchandra had two...

, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that it left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: "It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number." Gandhi's early self-identification with Truth and Love as supreme values is traceable to these epic characters.

In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji
Kasturba Gandhi
Kastürbā Gāndhi was the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, marrying him in an arranged marriage in 1883.-Early life and background:...

 (her first name was usually shortened to "Kasturba", and affectionately to "Ba") in an arranged child marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

, according to the custom of the region. Recalling the day of their marriage, he once said, "As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was also the custom of the region, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband. In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple's first child was born, but survived only a few days, and Gandhi's father, Karamchand Gandhi, had died earlier that year. Mohandas and Kasturba had four more children, all sons: Harilal
Harilal Gandhi
Harilal Mohandas Gandhi , was the first son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.-Early life:Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies and hoped to become a barrister as his father had once been...

, born in 1888; Manilal
Manilal Gandhi
Manilal Mohandas Gandhi was the second of four sons of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi. Manilal was born in Rajkot, India. In 1897 Manilal traveled to South Africa for the first time, where he spent time working at the Phoenix Ashram near Durban...

, born in 1892; Ramdas
Ramdas Gandhi
Ramdas Gandhi was the third son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa. He outlived his parents and all of his brothers. He and his wife Nirmal had three children; Sumitra Gandhi, Kanu Gandhi and Usha Gandhi...

, born in 1897; and Devdas
Devdas Gandhi
Devdas Gandhi was the fourth and youngest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa and returned to India with his parents as a young man. He became active in his father's movement, spending many terms in jail.He spent a lot of time with his father...

, born in 1900. At his middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot, Gandhi remained an average student. He passed the matriculation exam
Matriculation
Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings...

 for Samaldas College at Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar
-Topography:Bhavnagar is a coastal city in the eastern coast of Saurashtra, also known as Kathiawar, located at . It has an average elevation of 24 metres . It occupies area of 53.30 km². General slope dips in the northeasterly direction at the apex of Gulf of Khambhat...

, Gujarat, with some difficulty. While there, he was unhappy, in part because his family wanted him to become a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

.

On 4 September 1888, Gandhi travelled to London, England, to study law at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 where he studied Indian law and jurisprudence and to train as a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 at the Inner Temple
Inner Temple
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

. His time in London, the Imperial capital, was influenced by a vow he had made to his mother in the presence of the Jain monk Becharji, upon leaving India, to observe the Hindu precepts of abstinence from meat, alcohol, and promiscuity. Although Gandhi experimented with adopting "English" customs—taking dancing lessons for example—he could not stomach the bland vegetarian food offered by his landlady, and he was always hungry until he found one of London's few vegetarian restaurants. Influenced by Salt's
Henry Stephens Salt
Henry Stephens Salt was an English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions, and the treatment of animals. He was a noted ethical vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist, socialist, and pacifist, and was well known as a literary critic, biographer,...

 book, he joined the Vegetarian Society
Vegetarian Society
The Vegetarian Society is a British registered charity established on 30 September 1847 to "support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK."-History:...

, was elected to its executive committee, and started a local Bayswater chapter. Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

, which had been founded in 1875 to further universal brotherhood, and which was devoted to the study of Buddhist and Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 literature. They encouraged Gandhi to join them in reading the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

both in translation as well as in the original. Not having shown interest in religion before, he became interested in religious thought and began to read Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Muslim and Christian scriptures.

Gandhi was called to the bar on 10 June 1891. Two days later, he left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him. His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed and, later, after applying and being turned down for a part-time job as a high school teacher, he ended up returning to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants, a business he was forced to close when he ran afoul of a British officer. In his autobiography, Gandhi refers to this incident as an unsuccessful attempt to lobby on behalf of his older brother. It was in this climate that, in April 1893, he accepted a year-long contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

, South Africa, then part of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Civil rights movement in South Africa (1893–1914)



In South Africa, Gandhi faced the discrimination directed at Indians. He was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838, and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its "purist" Zulu name is umGungundlovu, and this is the name used for the district municipality...

 after refusing to move from the first-class to a third-class coach while holding a valid first-class ticket. Travelling farther on by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver for refusing to move to make room for a European passenger. He suffered other hardships on the journey as well, including being barred from several hotels. In another incident, the magistrate of a Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 court ordered Gandhi to remove his turban
Turban
In English, Turban refers to several types of headwear popularly worn in the Middle East, North Africa, Punjab, Jamaica and Southwest Asia. A commonly used synonym is Pagri, the Indian word for turban.-Styles:...

, which he refused to do. These events were a turning point in Gandhi's life: they shaped his social activism and awakened him to social injustice. After witnessing racism, prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 and injustice against Indians in South Africa, Gandhi began to question his place in society and his people's standing in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Gandhi extended his original period of stay in South Africa to assist Indians in opposing a bill to deny them the right to vote. Though unable to halt the bill's passage, his campaign was successful in drawing attention to the grievances of Indians in South Africa. He helped found the Natal Indian Congress
Natal Indian Congress
The Natal Indian Congress was an organization that aimed to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The Natal Indian Congress was started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma...

 in 1894, and through this organisation, he moulded the Indian community of South Africa into a unified political force. In January 1897, when Gandhi landed in Durban, a mob of white settlers attacked him and he escaped only through the efforts of the wife of the police superintendent. He, however, refused to press charges against any member of the mob, stating it was one of his principles not to seek redress for a personal wrong in a court of law.

In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act compelling registration of the colony's Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time. He urged Indians to defy the new law and to suffer the punishments for doing so. The community adopted this plan, and during the ensuing seven-year struggle, thousands of Indians were jailed, flogged, or shot for striking, refusing to register, for burning their registration cards or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance. The government successfully repressed the Indian protesters, but the public outcry over the harsh treatment of peaceful Indian protesters by the South African government forced South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Gandhi's ideas took shape, and the concept of satyagraha matured during this struggle.

Accusations of racism


Some of Gandhi's South African articles are controversial. On 7 March 1908, Gandhi wrote in the Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

of his time in a South African prison: "Kaffirs
Kaffir (racial term)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

 are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals... The kaffirs' sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness. They're loafers... a species of humanity almost unknown among the Indians." Writing on the subject of immigration in 1903, Gandhi commented: "We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do... We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race." During his time in South Africa, Gandhi protested repeatedly about the social classification of blacks with Indians, whom he described as "undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs". Remarks such as these have led many South Africans to accuse Gandhi of racism.

Two professors of history who specialise in South Africa, Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, examined this controversy in their text, The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. (New Delhi: Manohar, 2005). They focus in Chapter 1, "Gandhi, Africans and Indians in Colonial Natal" on the relationship between the African and Indian communities under "White rule" and policies which enforced segregation (and, they argue, led to inevitable conflict between these communities). Of this relationship, they state that, "the young Gandhi was influenced by segregationist notions prevalent in the 1890s." At the same time, they state, "Gandhi's experiences in jail seemed to make him more sensitive to their plight...the later Gandhi mellowed; he seemed much less categorical in his expression of prejudice against Africans, and much more open to seeing points of common cause. His negative views in the Johannesburg jail were reserved for hardened African prisoners rather than Africans generally." However, when plans to unveil a statue of Gandhi in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 were announced, a movement unsuccessfully tried to block it because of these allegations of racism.

Role in Zulu War of 1906



In 1906, after the British introduced a new poll-tax in South Africa, Zulus killed two British officers. In response, the British declared war against the Zulu kingdom
Zulu Kingdom
The Zulu Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or, rather imprecisely, Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north....

. Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts in order to legitimise their claims to full citizenship. The British, however, refused to commission Indians as army officers. Nonetheless, they accepted Gandhi's offer to let a detachment of Indians volunteer as a stretcher-bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. This corps was commanded by Gandhi. On 21 July 1906, Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

: "The corps had been formed at the instance of the Natal Government by way of experiment, in connection with the operations against the Natives consists of twenty three Indians". Gandhi urged the Indian population in South Africa to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion: “If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.”

In Gandhi's opinion, the Draft Ordinance of 1906 brought the status of Indians below the level of Natives. He therefore urged Indians to resist the Ordinance along the lines of satyagraha by taking the example of "Kaffirs
Kaffir (ethnic slur)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

". In his words, "Even the half-castes and kaffirs, who are less advanced than we, have resisted the government. The pass law applies to them as well, but they do not take out passes."

In 1927, Gandhi wrote of the event: "The Boer War
Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

 had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that the [Zulu] 'rebellion' did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion, but also in that of many Englishmen with whom I had occasion to talk."

Struggle for Indian Independence (1915–45)



In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India. He spoke at the conventions of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

, but was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, CIE was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and founder of the Servants of India Society...

, a respected leader of the Congress Party at the time.

Role in World War I


In April 1918, during the latter part of World War I, the Viceroy
Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford
Frederic John Napier Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GBE, PC was a British statesman who served as Governor of Queensland , Governor of New South Wales from 1909 to 1913, and Viceroy of India from 1916 to 1921, where he was responsible for the creation of the Montagu-Chelmsford...

 invited Gandhi to a War Conference in Delhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced moːˈɦənd̪aːs kəˈrəmtʃənd̪ ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi. 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 during the Indian independence movement
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

. A pioneer of satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

—a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

, or total nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

—Gandhi led India to independence
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.Gandhi, "The Momentous Issue", Young India, 10 November 1921, in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, electronic edition, vol. 25, pp. 76–8; and letter to P. Kodanda Rao, 10 September 1935, in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, electronic edition, vol. 67, p. 400, where he stated: "... I found that even civil disobedience failed to convey the full meaning of the struggle. I therefore adopted the phrase civil resistance." Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma (məˈɦaːt̪maː; Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: महात्मा mahātmā
Mahatma
Mahatma is Sanskrit for "Great Soul". It is similar in usage to the modern Christian term saint. This epithet is commonly applied to prominent people like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule and Branch Rickey...

or "Great Soul," an honorific first applied to him by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

). In India, he is also called Bapu and officially honoured as the Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment of their country, state or nation...

. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti is a National Holiday celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, the "Father of the Nation." He was born on October 2, 1869. Hence Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated every year on the 2nd of October. It is one of the three official declared National...

, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence
International Day of Non-Violence
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi. This day is referred to in India as Gandhi Jayanti....

.

Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers in protesting excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability
Dalit
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions...

, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj
Swaraj
Swaraj can mean generally self-governance or "self-rule", and was used synonymously with "home-rule" by Gandhi but the word usually refers to Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance...

—the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (248.5 mi) Dandi Salt March
Salt Satyagraha
The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagrahah began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider...

 in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, on many occasions, in both South Africa and India.

Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community
Sabarmati Ashram
Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Ahmedabad suburb of Sabarmati adjoining to famous Ashram Road, at the bank of River Sabarmati, 4 miles from the town hall. This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi...

 and wore the traditional Indian dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.

Early life and background




Mohandas Karamchand GandhiGandhi means "grocer" in Gujarati (L. R. Gala, Popular Combined Dictionary, English-English-Gujarati & Gujarati-Gujarati-English, Navneet), or "perfumer" in Hindi (Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary Hindi-English). was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency
Bombay Presidency
The Bombay Presidency was a province of British India. It was established in the 17th century as a trading post for the English East India Company, but later grew to encompass much of western and central India, as well as parts of post-partition Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.At its greatest...

, British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. He was born in his ancestral home, now known as Kirti Mandir
Kirti Mandir, Porbandar
Kirti Mandir is the memorial temple built in memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi located in city of Porbandar, Gujarat, India.-Background:...

, Porbandar. His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Modh
Modh
Modh are the followers of Modheshwari Maa , a form of Amba Maa with eighteen hands. They originally lived in a town called Modhera in Patan District in the northern part of Gujarat...

 community, served as the diwan (a high official) of Porbander state
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a small princely state
Princely state
A Princely State was a nominally sovereign entitity of British rule in India that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule such as suzerainty or paramountcy.-British relationship with the Princely States:India under the British Raj ...

 in the Kathiawar Agency
Kathiawar Agency
The Kathiawar Agency, on the Kathiawar peninsula in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, was a political unit of some 200 small princely states under the suzerainty of the Bombay Presidency of British India. Soon after India's independence in 1947, all but one of them acceded to the new...

 of British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. His grandfather was Uttamchand Gandhi, fondly called Utta Gandhi. His mother, Putlibai, who came from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community, was Karamchand's fourth wife, the first three wives having apparently died in childbirth. Growing up with a devout mother and the Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 traditions of the region, the young Mohandas absorbed early the influences that would play an important role in his adult life; these included compassion for sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance among individuals of different creeds.

The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and Maharaja Harishchandra
Harishchandra
Harishchandra, in Hindu religious texts is the 36th king of the Solar Dynasty, Surya Maharishi Gothram . His legend is very popular and often told as a benchmark for an ideal life. He was renowned for his piety and justice. His name is Sanskrit for "having golden splendour".Harishchandra had two...

, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that it left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: "It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number." Gandhi's early self-identification with Truth and Love as supreme values is traceable to these epic characters.Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin, The ways and power of love, Templeton Foundation Press 2002, p.169 ISBN 1890151866Lloyd I. Rudolph Gandhi, the traditional roots of charisma, University of Chicago Press 1983 ISBN 0226731367

In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji
Kasturba Gandhi
Kastürbā Gāndhi was the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, marrying him in an arranged marriage in 1883.-Early life and background:...

 (her first name was usually shortened to "Kasturba", and affectionately to "Ba") in an arranged child marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

, according to the custom of the region. Recalling the day of their marriage, he once said, "As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was also the custom of the region, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband. In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple's first child was born, but survived only a few days, and Gandhi's father, Karamchand Gandhi, had died earlier that year. Mohandas and Kasturba had four more children, all sons: Harilal
Harilal Gandhi
Harilal Mohandas Gandhi , was the first son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.-Early life:Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies and hoped to become a barrister as his father had once been...

, born in 1888; Manilal
Manilal Gandhi
Manilal Mohandas Gandhi was the second of four sons of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi. Manilal was born in Rajkot, India. In 1897 Manilal traveled to South Africa for the first time, where he spent time working at the Phoenix Ashram near Durban...

, born in 1892; Ramdas
Ramdas Gandhi
Ramdas Gandhi was the third son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa. He outlived his parents and all of his brothers. He and his wife Nirmal had three children; Sumitra Gandhi, Kanu Gandhi and Usha Gandhi...

, born in 1897; and Devdas
Devdas Gandhi
Devdas Gandhi was the fourth and youngest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa and returned to India with his parents as a young man. He became active in his father's movement, spending many terms in jail.He spent a lot of time with his father...

, born in 1900. At his middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot, Gandhi remained an average student. He passed the matriculation exam
Matriculation
Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings...

 for Samaldas College at Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar
-Topography:Bhavnagar is a coastal city in the eastern coast of Saurashtra, also known as Kathiawar, located at . It has an average elevation of 24 metres . It occupies area of 53.30 km². General slope dips in the northeasterly direction at the apex of Gulf of Khambhat...

, Gujarat, with some difficulty. While there, he was unhappy, in part because his family wanted him to become a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

.

On 4 September 1888, Gandhi travelled to London, England, to study law at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 where he studied Indian law and jurisprudence and to train as a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 at the Inner Temple
Inner Temple
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

.Gangrade, K.D., Moral Lessons From Gandhi S Autobiography And Other Essays, p. 154 His time in London, the Imperial capital, was influenced by a vow he had made to his mother in the presence of the Jain monk Becharji, upon leaving India, to observe the Hindu precepts of abstinence from meat, alcohol, and promiscuity. Although Gandhi experimented with adopting "English" customs—taking dancing lessons for example—he could not stomach the bland vegetarian food offered by his landlady, and he was always hungry until he found one of London's few vegetarian restaurants. Influenced by Salt's
Henry Stephens Salt
Henry Stephens Salt was an English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions, and the treatment of animals. He was a noted ethical vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist, socialist, and pacifist, and was well known as a literary critic, biographer,...

 book, he joined the Vegetarian Society
Vegetarian Society
The Vegetarian Society is a British registered charity established on 30 September 1847 to "support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK."-History:...

, was elected to its executive committee, and started a local Bayswater chapter. Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

, which had been founded in 1875 to further universal brotherhood, and which was devoted to the study of Buddhist and Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 literature. They encouraged Gandhi to join them in reading the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

both in translation as well as in the original. Not having shown interest in religion before, he became interested in religious thought and began to read Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Muslim and Christian scriptures.

Gandhi was called to the bar on 10 June 1891. Two days later, he left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him. His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed and, later, after applying and being turned down for a part-time job as a high school teacher, he ended up returning to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants, a business he was forced to close when he ran afoul of a British officer. In his autobiography, Gandhi refers to this incident as an unsuccessful attempt to lobby on behalf of his older brother. It was in this climate that, in April 1893, he accepted a year-long contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

, South Africa, then part of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Civil rights movement in South Africa (1893–1914)



In South Africa, Gandhi faced the discrimination directed at Indians. He was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838, and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its "purist" Zulu name is umGungundlovu, and this is the name used for the district municipality...

 after refusing to move from the first-class to a third-class coach while holding a valid first-class ticket. Travelling farther on by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver for refusing to move to make room for a European passenger. He suffered other hardships on the journey as well, including being barred from several hotels. In another incident, the magistrate of a Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 court ordered Gandhi to remove his turban
Turban
In English, Turban refers to several types of headwear popularly worn in the Middle East, North Africa, Punjab, Jamaica and Southwest Asia. A commonly used synonym is Pagri, the Indian word for turban.-Styles:...

, which he refused to do. These events were a turning point in Gandhi's life: they shaped his social activism and awakened him to social injustice. After witnessing racism, prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 and injustice against Indians in South Africa, Gandhi began to question his place in society and his people's standing in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Gandhi extended his original period of stay in South Africa to assist Indians in opposing a bill to deny them the right to vote. Though unable to halt the bill's passage, his campaign was successful in drawing attention to the grievances of Indians in South Africa. He helped found the Natal Indian Congress
Natal Indian Congress
The Natal Indian Congress was an organization that aimed to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The Natal Indian Congress was started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma...

 in 1894, and through this organisation, he moulded the Indian community of South Africa into a unified political force. In January 1897, when Gandhi landed in Durban, a mob of white settlers attacked him and he escaped only through the efforts of the wife of the police superintendent. He, however, refused to press charges against any member of the mob, stating it was one of his principles not to seek redress for a personal wrong in a court of law.

In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act compelling registration of the colony's Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time. He urged Indians to defy the new law and to suffer the punishments for doing so. The community adopted this plan, and during the ensuing seven-year struggle, thousands of Indians were jailed, flogged, or shot for striking, refusing to register, for burning their registration cards or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance. The government successfully repressed the Indian protesters, but the public outcry over the harsh treatment of peaceful Indian protesters by the South African government forced South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Gandhi's ideas took shape, and the concept of satyagraha matured during this struggle.

Accusations of racism


Some of Gandhi's South African articles are controversial. On 7 March 1908, Gandhi wrote in the Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

of his time in a South African prison: "Kaffirs
Kaffir (racial term)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

 are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals... The kaffirs' sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness. They're loafers... a species of humanity almost unknown among the Indians." Writing on the subject of immigration in 1903, Gandhi commented: "We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do... We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race." During his time in South Africa, Gandhi protested repeatedly about the social classification of blacks with Indians, whom he described as "undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs". Remarks such as these have led many South Africans to accuse Gandhi of racism.

Two professors of history who specialise in South Africa, Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, examined this controversy in their text, The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. (New Delhi: Manohar, 2005). They focus in Chapter 1, "Gandhi, Africans and Indians in Colonial Natal" on the relationship between the African and Indian communities under "White rule" and policies which enforced segregation (and, they argue, led to inevitable conflict between these communities). Of this relationship, they state that, "the young Gandhi was influenced by segregationist notions prevalent in the 1890s."The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, 2005: p.44 At the same time, they state, "Gandhi's experiences in jail seemed to make him more sensitive to their plight...the later Gandhi mellowed; he seemed much less categorical in his expression of prejudice against Africans, and much more open to seeing points of common cause. His negative views in the Johannesburg jail were reserved for hardened African prisoners rather than Africans generally."The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, 2005: p.45 However, when plans to unveil a statue of Gandhi in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 were announced, a movement unsuccessfully tried to block it because of these allegations of racism.

Role in Zulu War of 1906



In 1906, after the British introduced a new poll-tax in South Africa, Zulus killed two British officers. In response, the British declared war against the Zulu kingdom
Zulu Kingdom
The Zulu Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or, rather imprecisely, Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north....

. Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts in order to legitimise their claims to full citizenship. The British, however, refused to commission Indians as army officers. Nonetheless, they accepted Gandhi's offer to let a detachment of Indians volunteer as a stretcher-bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. This corps was commanded by Gandhi. On 21 July 1906, Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

: "The corps had been formed at the instance of the Natal Government by way of experiment, in connection with the operations against the Natives consists of twenty three Indians".Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol 5 Document#393 from Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity p106 Gandhi urged the Indian population in South Africa to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion: “If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.”

In Gandhi's opinion, the Draft Ordinance of 1906 brought the status of Indians below the level of Natives. He therefore urged Indians to resist the Ordinance along the lines of satyagraha by taking the example of "Kaffirs
Kaffir (ethnic slur)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

". In his words, "Even the half-castes and kaffirs, who are less advanced than we, have resisted the government. The pass law applies to them as well, but they do not take out passes."Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 5, p. 410

In 1927, Gandhi wrote of the event: "The Boer War
Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

 had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that the [Zulu] 'rebellion' did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion, but also in that of many Englishmen with whom I had occasion to talk."

Struggle for Indian Independence (1915–45)



In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India. He spoke at the conventions of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

, but was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, CIE was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and founder of the Servants of India Society...

, a respected leader of the Congress Party at the time.

Role in World War I


In April 1918, during the latter part of World War I, the Viceroy
Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford
Frederic John Napier Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GBE, PC was a British statesman who served as Governor of Queensland , Governor of New South Wales from 1909 to 1913, and Viceroy of India from 1916 to 1921, where he was responsible for the creation of the Montagu-Chelmsford...

 invited Gandhi to a War Conference in Delhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced moːˈɦənd̪aːs kəˈrəmtʃənd̪ ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi. 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 during the Indian independence movement
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

. A pioneer of satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

—a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

, or total nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

—Gandhi led India to independence
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.Gandhi, "The Momentous Issue", Young India, 10 November 1921, in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, electronic edition, vol. 25, pp. 76–8; and letter to P. Kodanda Rao, 10 September 1935, in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, electronic edition, vol. 67, p. 400, where he stated: "... I found that even civil disobedience failed to convey the full meaning of the struggle. I therefore adopted the phrase civil resistance." Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma (məˈɦaːt̪maː; Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: महात्मा mahātmā
Mahatma
Mahatma is Sanskrit for "Great Soul". It is similar in usage to the modern Christian term saint. This epithet is commonly applied to prominent people like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule and Branch Rickey...

or "Great Soul," an honorific first applied to him by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

). In India, he is also called Bapu and officially honoured as the Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation
Father of the Nation is an honorific title given to a man considered the driving force behind the establishment of their country, state or nation...

. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti is a National Holiday celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, the "Father of the Nation." He was born on October 2, 1869. Hence Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated every year on the 2nd of October. It is one of the three official declared National...

, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence
International Day of Non-Violence
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi. This day is referred to in India as Gandhi Jayanti....

.

Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

 as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers in protesting excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability
Dalit
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions...

, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj
Swaraj
Swaraj can mean generally self-governance or "self-rule", and was used synonymously with "home-rule" by Gandhi but the word usually refers to Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance...

—the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (248.5 mi) Dandi Salt March
Salt Satyagraha
The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagrahah began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider...

 in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, on many occasions, in both South Africa and India.

Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community
Sabarmati Ashram
Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Ahmedabad suburb of Sabarmati adjoining to famous Ashram Road, at the bank of River Sabarmati, 4 miles from the town hall. This was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi...

 and wore the traditional Indian dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.

Early life and background




Mohandas Karamchand GandhiGandhi means "grocer" in Gujarati (L. R. Gala, Popular Combined Dictionary, English-English-Gujarati & Gujarati-Gujarati-English, Navneet), or "perfumer" in Hindi (Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary Hindi-English). was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency
Bombay Presidency
The Bombay Presidency was a province of British India. It was established in the 17th century as a trading post for the English East India Company, but later grew to encompass much of western and central India, as well as parts of post-partition Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.At its greatest...

, British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. He was born in his ancestral home, now known as Kirti Mandir
Kirti Mandir, Porbandar
Kirti Mandir is the memorial temple built in memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi located in city of Porbandar, Gujarat, India.-Background:...

, Porbandar. His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Modh
Modh
Modh are the followers of Modheshwari Maa , a form of Amba Maa with eighteen hands. They originally lived in a town called Modhera in Patan District in the northern part of Gujarat...

 community, served as the diwan (a high official) of Porbander state
Porbandar
Porbandar is a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sudama...

, a small princely state
Princely state
A Princely State was a nominally sovereign entitity of British rule in India that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule such as suzerainty or paramountcy.-British relationship with the Princely States:India under the British Raj ...

 in the Kathiawar Agency
Kathiawar Agency
The Kathiawar Agency, on the Kathiawar peninsula in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, was a political unit of some 200 small princely states under the suzerainty of the Bombay Presidency of British India. Soon after India's independence in 1947, all but one of them acceded to the new...

 of British India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. His grandfather was Uttamchand Gandhi, fondly called Utta Gandhi. His mother, Putlibai, who came from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community, was Karamchand's fourth wife, the first three wives having apparently died in childbirth. Growing up with a devout mother and the Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 traditions of the region, the young Mohandas absorbed early the influences that would play an important role in his adult life; these included compassion for sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance among individuals of different creeds.

The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and Maharaja Harishchandra
Harishchandra
Harishchandra, in Hindu religious texts is the 36th king of the Solar Dynasty, Surya Maharishi Gothram . His legend is very popular and often told as a benchmark for an ideal life. He was renowned for his piety and justice. His name is Sanskrit for "having golden splendour".Harishchandra had two...

, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that it left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: "It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number." Gandhi's early self-identification with Truth and Love as supreme values is traceable to these epic characters.Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin, The ways and power of love, Templeton Foundation Press 2002, p.169 ISBN 1890151866Lloyd I. Rudolph Gandhi, the traditional roots of charisma, University of Chicago Press 1983 ISBN 0226731367

In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji
Kasturba Gandhi
Kastürbā Gāndhi was the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, marrying him in an arranged marriage in 1883.-Early life and background:...

 (her first name was usually shortened to "Kasturba", and affectionately to "Ba") in an arranged child marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

, according to the custom of the region. Recalling the day of their marriage, he once said, "As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was also the custom of the region, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband. In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple's first child was born, but survived only a few days, and Gandhi's father, Karamchand Gandhi, had died earlier that year. Mohandas and Kasturba had four more children, all sons: Harilal
Harilal Gandhi
Harilal Mohandas Gandhi , was the first son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.-Early life:Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies and hoped to become a barrister as his father had once been...

, born in 1888; Manilal
Manilal Gandhi
Manilal Mohandas Gandhi was the second of four sons of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi. Manilal was born in Rajkot, India. In 1897 Manilal traveled to South Africa for the first time, where he spent time working at the Phoenix Ashram near Durban...

, born in 1892; Ramdas
Ramdas Gandhi
Ramdas Gandhi was the third son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa. He outlived his parents and all of his brothers. He and his wife Nirmal had three children; Sumitra Gandhi, Kanu Gandhi and Usha Gandhi...

, born in 1897; and Devdas
Devdas Gandhi
Devdas Gandhi was the fourth and youngest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa and returned to India with his parents as a young man. He became active in his father's movement, spending many terms in jail.He spent a lot of time with his father...

, born in 1900. At his middle school in Porbandar and high school in Rajkot, Gandhi remained an average student. He passed the matriculation exam
Matriculation
Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings...

 for Samaldas College at Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar
-Topography:Bhavnagar is a coastal city in the eastern coast of Saurashtra, also known as Kathiawar, located at . It has an average elevation of 24 metres . It occupies area of 53.30 km². General slope dips in the northeasterly direction at the apex of Gulf of Khambhat...

, Gujarat, with some difficulty. While there, he was unhappy, in part because his family wanted him to become a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

.

On 4 September 1888, Gandhi travelled to London, England, to study law at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 where he studied Indian law and jurisprudence and to train as a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 at the Inner Temple
Inner Temple
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

.Gangrade, K.D., Moral Lessons From Gandhi S Autobiography And Other Essays, p. 154 His time in London, the Imperial capital, was influenced by a vow he had made to his mother in the presence of the Jain monk Becharji, upon leaving India, to observe the Hindu precepts of abstinence from meat, alcohol, and promiscuity. Although Gandhi experimented with adopting "English" customs—taking dancing lessons for example—he could not stomach the bland vegetarian food offered by his landlady, and he was always hungry until he found one of London's few vegetarian restaurants. Influenced by Salt's
Henry Stephens Salt
Henry Stephens Salt was an English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions, and the treatment of animals. He was a noted ethical vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist, socialist, and pacifist, and was well known as a literary critic, biographer,...

 book, he joined the Vegetarian Society
Vegetarian Society
The Vegetarian Society is a British registered charity established on 30 September 1847 to "support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK."-History:...

, was elected to its executive committee, and started a local Bayswater chapter. Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

, which had been founded in 1875 to further universal brotherhood, and which was devoted to the study of Buddhist and Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 literature. They encouraged Gandhi to join them in reading the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

both in translation as well as in the original. Not having shown interest in religion before, he became interested in religious thought and began to read Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Muslim and Christian scriptures.

Gandhi was called to the bar on 10 June 1891. Two days later, he left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him. His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed and, later, after applying and being turned down for a part-time job as a high school teacher, he ended up returning to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants, a business he was forced to close when he ran afoul of a British officer. In his autobiography, Gandhi refers to this incident as an unsuccessful attempt to lobby on behalf of his older brother. It was in this climate that, in April 1893, he accepted a year-long contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal
Colony of Natal
The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4, 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its...

, South Africa, then part of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Civil rights movement in South Africa (1893–1914)



In South Africa, Gandhi faced the discrimination directed at Indians. He was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838, and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its "purist" Zulu name is umGungundlovu, and this is the name used for the district municipality...

 after refusing to move from the first-class to a third-class coach while holding a valid first-class ticket. Travelling farther on by stagecoach, he was beaten by a driver for refusing to move to make room for a European passenger. He suffered other hardships on the journey as well, including being barred from several hotels. In another incident, the magistrate of a Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 court ordered Gandhi to remove his turban
Turban
In English, Turban refers to several types of headwear popularly worn in the Middle East, North Africa, Punjab, Jamaica and Southwest Asia. A commonly used synonym is Pagri, the Indian word for turban.-Styles:...

, which he refused to do. These events were a turning point in Gandhi's life: they shaped his social activism and awakened him to social injustice. After witnessing racism, prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 and injustice against Indians in South Africa, Gandhi began to question his place in society and his people's standing in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Gandhi extended his original period of stay in South Africa to assist Indians in opposing a bill to deny them the right to vote. Though unable to halt the bill's passage, his campaign was successful in drawing attention to the grievances of Indians in South Africa. He helped found the Natal Indian Congress
Natal Indian Congress
The Natal Indian Congress was an organization that aimed to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The Natal Indian Congress was started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma...

 in 1894, and through this organisation, he moulded the Indian community of South Africa into a unified political force. In January 1897, when Gandhi landed in Durban, a mob of white settlers attacked him and he escaped only through the efforts of the wife of the police superintendent. He, however, refused to press charges against any member of the mob, stating it was one of his principles not to seek redress for a personal wrong in a court of law.

In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act compelling registration of the colony's Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or non-violent protest, for the first time. He urged Indians to defy the new law and to suffer the punishments for doing so. The community adopted this plan, and during the ensuing seven-year struggle, thousands of Indians were jailed, flogged, or shot for striking, refusing to register, for burning their registration cards or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance. The government successfully repressed the Indian protesters, but the public outcry over the harsh treatment of peaceful Indian protesters by the South African government forced South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Gandhi's ideas took shape, and the concept of satyagraha matured during this struggle.

Accusations of racism


Some of Gandhi's South African articles are controversial. On 7 March 1908, Gandhi wrote in the Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

of his time in a South African prison: "Kaffirs
Kaffir (racial term)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

 are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals... The kaffirs' sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness. They're loafers... a species of humanity almost unknown among the Indians." Writing on the subject of immigration in 1903, Gandhi commented: "We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do... We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race." During his time in South Africa, Gandhi protested repeatedly about the social classification of blacks with Indians, whom he described as "undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs". Remarks such as these have led many South Africans to accuse Gandhi of racism.

Two professors of history who specialise in South Africa, Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, examined this controversy in their text, The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. (New Delhi: Manohar, 2005). They focus in Chapter 1, "Gandhi, Africans and Indians in Colonial Natal" on the relationship between the African and Indian communities under "White rule" and policies which enforced segregation (and, they argue, led to inevitable conflict between these communities). Of this relationship, they state that, "the young Gandhi was influenced by segregationist notions prevalent in the 1890s."The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, 2005: p.44 At the same time, they state, "Gandhi's experiences in jail seemed to make him more sensitive to their plight...the later Gandhi mellowed; he seemed much less categorical in his expression of prejudice against Africans, and much more open to seeing points of common cause. His negative views in the Johannesburg jail were reserved for hardened African prisoners rather than Africans generally."The Making of a Political Reformer: Gandhi in South Africa, 1893–1914. Surendra Bhana and Goolam Vahed, 2005: p.45 However, when plans to unveil a statue of Gandhi in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 were announced, a movement unsuccessfully tried to block it because of these allegations of racism.

Role in Zulu War of 1906



In 1906, after the British introduced a new poll-tax in South Africa, Zulus killed two British officers. In response, the British declared war against the Zulu kingdom
Zulu Kingdom
The Zulu Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or, rather imprecisely, Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north....

. Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He argued that Indians should support the war efforts in order to legitimise their claims to full citizenship. The British, however, refused to commission Indians as army officers. Nonetheless, they accepted Gandhi's offer to let a detachment of Indians volunteer as a stretcher-bearer corps to treat wounded British soldiers. This corps was commanded by Gandhi. On 21 July 1906, Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion
Indian Opinion
The Indian Opinion was a newspaper established by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil rights for the Indian immigrant community in South...

: "The corps had been formed at the instance of the Natal Government by way of experiment, in connection with the operations against the Natives consists of twenty three Indians".Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol 5 Document#393 from Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity p106 Gandhi urged the Indian population in South Africa to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion: “If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and give Indians the opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.”

In Gandhi's opinion, the Draft Ordinance of 1906 brought the status of Indians below the level of Natives. He therefore urged Indians to resist the Ordinance along the lines of satyagraha by taking the example of "Kaffirs
Kaffir (ethnic slur)
The word kaffir, sometimes spelled kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries...

". In his words, "Even the half-castes and kaffirs, who are less advanced than we, have resisted the government. The pass law applies to them as well, but they do not take out passes."Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 5, p. 410

In 1927, Gandhi wrote of the event: "The Boer War
Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

 had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that the [Zulu] 'rebellion' did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion, but also in that of many Englishmen with whom I had occasion to talk."

Struggle for Indian Independence (1915–45)



In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India. He spoke at the conventions of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

, but was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, CIE was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and founder of the Servants of India Society...

, a respected leader of the Congress Party at the time.

Role in World War I


In April 1918, during the latter part of World War I, the Viceroy
Frederic Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford
Frederic John Napier Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GBE, PC was a British statesman who served as Governor of Queensland , Governor of New South Wales from 1909 to 1913, and Viceroy of India from 1916 to 1921, where he was responsible for the creation of the Montagu-Chelmsford...

invited Gandhi to a War Conference in Delhi