Mohandas Gandhi Essay

1129 words - 5 pages

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, the youngest child of his father’s fourth wife. His father was a chief minister of Rajkot, a poor Indian state, and it was here Gandhi began his schooling. Later his father became the chief minister of a more prosperous state with a better school. The Gandhi family belonged to the Vaishya caste of Hindus. Gandhi’s mother was a deeply religious woman who divided her time between her home and the temple. Mohandas Gandhi grew up instilled with religious idea such as nonviolence, the belief that all the universe is eternal, fasting for self purification, mutual tolerance between creeds and sects, and vegetarianism. Gandhi was a mediocre student who was reported as being diffident toward his studies and a young man who “shone neither in the classroom nor on the playing field.” At the age of thirteen his parents arranged a marriage for him, as was customary among the Hindus. As a teenager Gandhi went through a period of rebellion, including petty thievery, practicing secret atheism, eating meat, and smoking. After each episode of rebellion, however, Gandhi would promise himself that he would never do that thing again, and, astonishingly, never did.
Gandhi’s family was set on his becoming a barrister. After graduating high school, he attended an Indian college for a while before deciding to continue his studies in England. His mother did not want him to go to England, but after promising her that he would abstain from alcohol, meat, and women, she gave her permission. In England Gandhi found his time more occupied by “personal and moral issues” than those of law. He was teased for his religion and dress fashions and for his vegetarianism. At last he found a vegetarian restaurant and made friends with other patrons of the restaurant. They introduced him to the Bible and idealistic ideas such as the evils of capitalism and industrialism, urged the cult of the simple life, and stressed the superiority of moral over material values and cooperation over conflict. Gandhi began to emerge from his shyness and joined the London Vegetarian Society. Before long he was on Executive Committee and was writing articles and giving lectures on the benefits of vegetarianism. When he had completed his studies in England, Gandhi returned to India. By this time both his father and mother were dead and he discovered that his barrister’s degree did not guarantee a profitable career. He could find very little in the way of a job and after trying a few different things, he was offered and accepted a year’s contract with an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa. Indians were treated very poorly in South Africa and after a few episodes of discrimination, Gandhi decided to “Defend his dignity as an Indian and a man” and became a political campaigner for Indian rights. It was here in South Africa that Gandhi first put to practice the methods of protest he would later become famous for in India. He educated...

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