Indian Statesman, Spiritual Leader. Mohandas Gandhi, who come to be popularly known as "Mahatma" or the Great Soul, was born a colonial subject of the British Empire. He studied law at University College in London and was admitted to the bar in 1891. In 1893, Gandhi took a position as a legal advisor for an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa, which was a British colony. Appalled at the racism against South Asians there, Gandhi became an activist for equal rights. Gandhi disdained the violent tactics often employed by socialist and anarchist activists, however, and advocated new forms nonviolent resistance, collectively known as "Satyagraha" or truth and firmness. Influenced by traditional Hinduism as well as the works of Jesus, Leo Tolstoy, and Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi's methods stressed change by noncooperation with colonial authorities, including disruptive, nonviolent demonstrations and general strikes and boycotts. Though his position on nonviolence was not absolute as he would later be a British Army recruiter during World War I. Gandhi would willingly take beatings from British police throughout his career and would require his supporters to do the same. In 1914, the newly-autonomous South African government recognized Indian marriages and abolished the Indian poll tax, and Gandhi returned to India. After World War I, Gandhi became a major advocate for Indian home rule, again applying the methods of Satyagraha. On April 13, 1919, the British Army, at the command of British General Harry Dyer, opened fire on over 2,000 peaceful demonstrators in Amritsar, killing nearly 400 people including several children. In response, Gandhi accelerated his campaign of noncooperation. Indian officeholders resigned, British courts and schools were boycotted, and demonstrators blocked streets all over the country. When this movement escalated to violent extremes, Gandhi ceased the demonstrations. Gandhi also advocated the revival of Indian cottage industry for economic independence from Britain, especially in the field of textiles; he would wear only simple homespun clothes to illustrate this point. He was jailed from 1922 to 1924, but would return to his position in the Indian National Congress and call for a tax revolt in 1930. Leading a march of thousands of Indians from Ahmadabad to the Arabian sea, he openly violated the British monopoly on salt production by making salt from sea water. Gandhi was again arrested, but was released in 1931 and represented India at a conference in London, arguing for and gaining new levels of self-rule. Gandhi continued to work for Indian autonomy throughout the 1930s, often fasting to motivate social change, which included the end of the British recognition of the Indian caste system and to quell riots. Though he would not hold any official position after resigning from his leadership post in 1934, Gandhi would remain the central figure in Indian nationalism, negotiating limited self-rule in 1935 and precipitating the liberalization of Indian princely states with a three-day fast in 1939. With the advent of World War II, Gandhi refused to support Indian participation without full independence. He was jailed in 1942, but released in 1944 to negotiate the formation of an independent Indian government. Since he was quoted as saying that he was "a Hindu and a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew,” he desired a united, religiously pluralistic India, but he would eventually acquiesce to a partition along religious lines, forming independent India and Pakistan in 1947. The resulting population exchanges led to riots all over the country. Gandhi helped stop several riots by fasting for peace before being assassinated in 1948 by Hindu radical Nathuram Godse. Shot on the way to a prayer meeting, Gandhi made the Hindu gesture of forgiveness to Godse before losing consciousness and dying with his head in the lap of his 16-year-old niece, Mani. Becoming one of the strongest symbols of non-violence in the 20th century, Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize even though he was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before he was assassinated in January of 1948. He was on the short list to receive the award prior to his death. Nobel Prizes are not issued posthumously. There was no 1948 Nobel Prize Peace given, but the formal statement was announced: "there was no suitable living candidate."
Bio by: Stuthehistoryguy
Gravesite Details Some final remnants of his ashes, kept for decades by a family friend after his assassination, were scattered off South Africa's coast on January 30, 2010