Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in 1869 to Hindu parents in the state of Gujarat in Western India. He entered an arranged marriage with Kasturba Kapadia when both were 13 years old. His family later sent him to London to study law, where in 1891 he was admitted to the Inner Temple and called to the bar.
Gandhi’s legal career took him first to South Africa, where he worked to improve the rights of immigrant Indians. While in Africa, he developed his creed of passive resistance against injustice, which he called “satyagraha” (“truth force”). He was jailed frequently because of the protests he led. Yet before he returned to India with his wife and children in 1915, he had radically changed the lives of Indians living in Southern Africa.
Back in India, it was not long before he took the lead in the nation’s long struggle for independence from Britain. He never wavered in his unshakable belief in nonviolent protest and religious tolerance. When Muslim and Hindu compatriots committed acts of violence, whether against the British who ruled India or against each other, he fasted until the fighting ceased.
India’s independence, when it came in 1947, was due not to a military victory, but to a triumph of human will. To Gandhi's despair, however, the country was partitioned into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. The last two months of his life were spent trying to end the appalling violence which ensued. In protest, he fasted until he was at the brink of death—an act which finally quelled the riots. Sadly, in January 1948, when Gandhi was 79 years old, an assassin killed him as he walked through a crowded garden in New Delhi to address an evening prayer meeting.
More than a half century after his death, Gandhi’s legacy lives on. Inspired by his lifelong commitment to nonviolence, notable leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela carried forth his work in their own nations. Today, his is a household name and an inspiration to many people, providing a reminder that for those who live by their beliefs, nothing is impossible.
Soul. Pass It On!
This billboard about Soul features Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948); non-violent leader of Indian independence..