His nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance gave Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi the title of "the great-souled one" or Mahatma. He began his quest as an India immigrant in South Africa in 1900 and was one of the leading figures in India's' struggle to gain independence from Great Britain. He dressed in only a loincloth and shawl and was imprisoned several times for his devout Hindu faith and pursuit of non-cooperation with the British government.
Born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar in the state of Gujarat, Gandhi was the son of a chief minister and a deeply religious mother. He left at 19 to study law in London and returned to India in 1981. He accepted a position with an Indian firm that sent him to South Africa along with his wife Kasturbai and their children. Here they lived for 20 years.
In 1906 the Transvall government passed a law regarding the registration of the Indian population. Gandhi led a campaign of civil disobedience that lasted for eight years. In 1910 following the passive resistance of Gandhi, many Indians in South Africa were thrown in jail, striking Indian miners were confined, thrashed and shot. Finally a treaty was signed by the British, Gandhi, the d Indian government and South African government that included concessions such as recognition of Indian marriages and no more poll taxes for Indians.
Gandhi returned to India in July 1914 and began to campaign nonviolently against colonial authorities who could suppress subversive activities. Gandhi stressed economic independence for India. He advocated the manufacture of khgaddar to replace textiles from Britain. He taught an ascetic lifestyle using prayer, meditation and fasting. He non-violently protested any British influence including legislatures and schools.
In 1947 negotiations granted India its independence but divided the country into Pakistan and India. Gandhi pleaded with Hindus and Musims to live peacefully and began a hunger strike to stop riots in Calcutta. He began another fast to bring peace to the city of Delhi. He was on his way to evening prayer when he was shot to death by Nthuram Godse on January 30, 1948. Over 1 million people followed Gandhi's body to his final resting place.
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