Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
M.K. Gandhi — the man considered by many as the preeminent leader of India’s movement of Independence against the British rule. Famous for preaching non-violence and tolerance, he is one of the most celebrated leader of the modern times. He was assassinated on January 30, 1948, and on the 68th anniversary of his death, we take a walk down the memory lane!
Quotes, Facts & Factoids
- “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Gandhi preached the gospel of forgiveness all his life and believed in giving second chances.
- Gandhi was a mediocre student, but had high ethics and a good command on English. One of his report cards suggest: “good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting”. His bad handwriting is something he despised as long as he lived.
- Gandhi spoke English with a tinge of an Irish accent because one of his first English teacher was Irish.
- He was educated at London University and became an attorney. But the first time he attempted to make a speech in court, his knees trembled. He was so frightened that he had to sit down in confusion and defeat.
- During his movement he walked around 18 km everyday, nearly for 40 years. During his campaign from 1913 to 1938, he walked around 79,000 km, equivalent to encompassing the Earth-twice.
- “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” One of the most famous quotes from Gandhi, teaches us to change ourselves rather than looking to change others.
- Marrying Kasturba (who was 14) when he was 13, in 1882, Gandhi initially didn’t like her as much. But soon the couple started exploring the pleasures of sexuality, as narrated by Gandhi in one of his accounts. Three years later, Kasturba gave birth to their first child, who didn’t survive for long. The death of their first child had a significant impact on Gandhi. It later played pivotal role in Gandhi’s firm stand against child marriage, which he often referred to as “an emotional curse to Indian women”.
- “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
- During his initial days in South Africa, Gandhi served voluntarily in the British Army for medical ill, as the stretcher bearer in the Boer-War. The horrors of the war further solidified Gandhi’s fierce belief in the idea of non-violence.
- He was the man of peace, but ironically he never won the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated 5 times for it, in 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1947. Mahatma Gandhi was chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948, but he was assassinated before it was conferred to him. In response to this, the Nobel Committee decided not to award the Peace Prize for that year.
- Gandhi wrote his autobiography, in Gujarati. His personal assistant Shri Mahadev Desai had translated it into English. The autobiography titled “An Autobiography of My Experiments with Truth” was declared as one of the ‘100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century’ by HarperCollins publishers.
- Gandhi was regularly corresponding with Russian Novelist Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein & even Adolf Hitler. He even wrote a letter to Hitler, asking him to stop World War 2 from happening
- “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” He was well known for preaching the power of will. He considered will power well over physical power. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
- Mahatma Gandhi experimented with diets to see how cheaply he could live and remain healthy. He started living principally on fruit and goats’ milk and olive oil.
- Mahatma Gandhi inspired millions of people world over to take the path of non-violence and civil disobedience. 5 world leaders who got Noble Peace prize viz. Martin Luther King Jr. (USA), Dalai Lama (Tibet), Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar), Nelson Mandela (S. Africa) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina) have acknowledged the fact that they were influenced by the philosophy of Gandhi.
- Gandhi remains to this day as the only Indian to be named Time Person of The Year.
- He had a set of false teeth, which he carried in a fold of his loincloth. He put them in his mouth only when he wanted to eat. After his meal, he took them out, washed them and put them back in his loin cloth again.
- Gandhi, as a lawyer to Dada Abdulla & Co. in Natal, South Africa, was paid 15,000 dollars every year at the time. But he gave all that up to return to India and work as a Satyagrahi.
- Gandhi had established 3 football clubs in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg all of which were given the same name: Passive Resisters Soccer Club. It was because of the treatment given to Indians in South Africa.
- “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” One of the many proofs that he was extremely dedicated to non violence. An anecdote often told about him is, that once someone slapped him. Instead of slapping the person back he turned his other cheek towards the person.
- In middle life, he fell for Saraladevi Choudhurani, niece of legendary poet Rabindranath Tagore and a Bengali nationalist activist. Gandhi’s attraction to her was such that he even confessed that he was toying with breaking his own rules. Gandhi wrote to a friend calling her ‘my spiritual wife’.
- He was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, an extremist Hindu. Godse held him responsible for the formation of Pakistan. Over 2 million people joined his 5 mile long funeral procession.
A martyr, Gandhi is still considered one of the most widely followed person of the world. Currency denominations in India have his photographs, stamps in his name have been launched all over the globe. He may no longer be with us, but his teachings, his principles continue to guide us. He is an inspiration for generations to follow!!