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A Biography On Gandhi. Essay

2409 words - 10 pages

Although short in stature, he stood for towering ideals, among them political liberty, social justice, and religious tolerance. "In an age of empire and military might," writes Johanna McGeary of TIME magazine, "he proved that the powerless had power and that force of arms would not forever prevail against force of spirit" (McGeary 1). His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but he was known popularly as Mahatma, or "Great Soul." Mark Shepard, a journalist specializing in Gandhi's life and method of nonviolence, describes the title of "Mahatma" as "somewhere between a saint and a Messiah," and in many respects, that description fits Gandhi well (Shepard 1). Considered the founding father of modern India, Gandhi not only helped bring about India's independence, but also inspired countless people around the world to struggle nonviolently for their own freedom. He remains to this day the greatest advocate of nonviolent protest the world has ever seen. Since his death, numerous democratic and anti-racist activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, have applied his principle of Satyagraha, or "truth force," with great success. All told, Gandhi was and forever will be India's "Great Soul"--a blazing testament to the indomitable power of truth, love, and faith.Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born into a Hindu family in the town of Porbandar in Gujarat, India on October 2, 1869. As the descendant of traders (the word "Gandhi" means grocer), and the son of the dewan, or Chief Minister, of Porbandar, Gandhi was considered to be a member of the Vaishya, or merchant caste in Hindu society (Mahatma Gandhi 1). Despite his relatively comfortable background, however, Gandhi would come to dedicate his life to eradicating the unjust social and economic aspects of the caste system, especially for the untouchables--who were considered to be outside of and below the caste hierarchy. At the age of 19, Gandhi went to study law at the University of College London in England. There he read the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita for the first time--the two sacred texts that would have the greatest impact on his life. After being admitted to the British bar in 1891, Gandhi returned to India, where he attempted to establish a law practice in Bombay with little success. Two years later, in 1893, an Indian firm sent Gandhi to Durban, South Africa, where he was retained as a legal adviser.In South Africa Gandhi was appalled by the widespread denial of civil liberties and political rights to Indian immigrants. Soon after he arrived he began using his legal expertise to protest the blatant racial discrimination in the country. Nevertheless, Gandhi was forced to rethink his approach in 1896 when he was attacked and beaten by white South Africans. As a result of this encounter, he began teaching a policy of passive resistance to and noncooperation with the South African authorities. Much of the inspiration for this policy came from the teachings of the Hindu...

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