Essay Preview: Mahatma Gandhi
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Mahatma Gandhi was a major political and religious leader in India in the early 20th century. He played a crucial part in Indias attempt to achieve political Independence from Great Britain and is often assumed to be the Father of Modern India (Brown, 2).
Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869 to the fourth wife of an Indian Prime Minister; he lived an unremarkable life in his early years. Though his family would by no means be considered wealthy, they had their share of servants and were considered a part of the business caste in India. Gandhi grew up in a devout Hindu home and was married at a young age, as is Hindu custom. After his father died, it was determined that he would be the main supporter of his extended family even though he was not the eldest. At the age of 18, Gandhi moved to England to study to be a lawyer at the University College of London. During his time in London, Gandhi gained a greater understanding of his personal beliefs, met a wide range of people and learned the ways of Western social life. Though his legal training in London was extensive, he was unprepared for the challenges he faced on his return to India. Because he was unfamiliar with Indian law and understood very little about the Indian court system, Gandhi found it difficult to establish himself as a lawyer. After taking various odd-end jobs, Gandhi decided to accept a position with an Indian firm posted in Natal, South Africa.
In South Africa, Gandhi witnessed and suffered many acts of racism, which were commonly directed at Blacks and Indians at that time. These instances of social injustices caused Gandhi to question the status of his people and his own place in society.
Through hard work and determination Gandhi overcame his youthful shyness; became a skilled lawyer, and gained a capacity for political and social action. Gandhi became a leading advocate for Indian rights in South Africa and established the Natal Indian Congress in 1894. It was during this time of social injustice that Gandhi adopted his methodology of non-violent protest; calling on his fellow Indians to defy the laws set to oppress them and suffer the punishment rather than resist through violent means (Wikipedia).
In 1915, Gandhi returned to India. One of his first major achievements was in a small rural community called Champaran. There, Gandhi documented the conditions that the peasant tenets suffered and led a clean-up of the surrounding villages; building schools and hospitals. For his efforts, Gandhi was arrested and charged with creating unrest in the area. Thousands of people protested his arrest, and he was eventually released. It was during this time that Gandhi began to be addressed as Mahatma, meaning “Great Soul.”