Mahatma Gandhi Biography for Kids – makemegenius.com
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, a coastal town in present-day Gujarat, India.
- His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu Modh community, was the diwan (Prime Minister) of Porbander state, a small princely state in the Kathiawar Agency of British India.
As a youth (about 15-years-old)
He had his schooling in nearby Rajkot, where his father served as the adviser or prime minister to the local ruler.
In May 1883, the 13-year old Mohandas was married to 14-year old Kasturbai Makhanji in an arranged child marriage, as was the custom in the region.
Later Teen Years
On 4 September 1888, less than a month shy of his 19th birthday, Gandhi travelled to London, England, to study law at University College London and to train as a barrister.
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.
The London Years 1888-1891
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.
Attempting to Establish a Career in India: 1891-1893
His attempts at establishing a law practice in Mumbai failed.
Later, after failing to secure 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, he 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, South Africa, then part of the British Empire
Gandhi in South Africa: 1893- 1914
In South Africa, Gandhi faced the discrimination directed at Indians.
He was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg 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 travel on the footboard to make room for a European passenger.
These events were a turning point in his life, awakening him to social injustice and influencing his subsequent social activism.
The South Africa Years
Gandhi served in and lead an Ambulance Corps Unit in both the Boer War 1899-1892 and the Zulu War of 1906.
By supporting the British government, Gandhi hoped to gain full citizenship for Indians in South Africa, a goal he did not achieve.
Gandhi’s Struggle for Indian Independence (1915–1945)
Returning to India in 1915
In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India.
He spoke at the conventions of the Indian National Congress, but was primarily introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a respected leader of the Congress Party at the time.
Gandhi takes a leadership role
Role in World War I
- In April 1918, during the latter part of World War I, Gandhi was invited by the Viceroy to a War Conference in Delhi.
- Perhaps to show his support for the Empire and help his case for India’s independence, Gandhi agreed to actively recruit Indians for the war effort.
- In contrast to the Zulu War of 1906 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when he recruited volunteers for the Ambulance Corps, this time Gandhi attempted to recruit combatants.
Between the Wars
- In 1918, in Champaran, a district in the state of Bihar, tens of thousands of landless serfs, indentured labourers and poor farmers were forced to grow indigo and other cash crops instead of the food crops necessary for their survival.
- Gandhi proposed satyagraha – non-violence, mass civil disobedience. While it was strictly non-violent, Gandhi was proposing real action, a real revolt that the oppressed peoples of India were dying to undertake.
- His main assault came as he was arrested by police on the charge of creating unrest and was ordered to leave the province. Hundreds of thousands of people protested and rallied outside the jail, police stations and courts demanding his release, which the court unwillingly did.
Gandhi employed non-cooperation, non-violence and peaceful resistance as his “weapons” in the struggle against the British.
In Punjab, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of civilians by British troops (also known as the Amritsar Massacre) caused deep trauma to the nation, leading to increased public anger and acts of violence.
Gandhi criticized both the actions of the British Raj and the retaliatory violence of Indians. When he was arrested, he continued his non-violent protest through hunger strikes.
Gandhi is called to London for “talks.”
Gandhi became internationally known, so the British government could not afford to have him harmed or have him die while under arrest (this included dying from a self-imposed hunger strike too).
He became a respected world figure without ever doing anything violent. The British couldn’t ignore him; they had to talk with him.
Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He began his sentence on 18 March 1922.
He was released in February 1924 for an appendicitis operation, having served only 2 years.
World War II interrupted the independence process.
- After long deliberations, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied to India itself. As the war progressed, Gandhi intensified his demand for independence, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India.
- This was Gandhi’s and the Congress Party’s most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from India.
When the moment of freedom came, on 15 August 1947, Gandhi was nowhere to be seen in the capital, though Nehru and the entire Constituent Assembly were to salute him as the architect of Indian independence, as the ‘father of the nation’.
- In his last year, unhappy at the partition of India, Gandhi worked to stop the carnage between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs that raged in the border area between India and Pakistan.
- He was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godse who thought Gandhi was too sympathetic to India’s Muslims.
- 30th January is observed as Martyrs’ Day in India
Father of Nation
- He is known in India as the Father of the Nation
- His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated there as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Non-Violence.
- The honorific Mahatma (“Great Soul”) was applied to him by 1914.
- In India he was also called Bapu (“Father”).