Saturday, November 21, 2009

People You Should Know About - Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was the political and spiritual leader of India during their move towards independence from British colonial rule. Known as the 'Father of the Nation', Gandhi's strategy for leading his nation away from the shackles of the British Empire was not to incite violence or hatred. Instead Gandhi pioneered a concept called satyagraha; a resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience. His movement was entirely pacifistic, even when the British military were massacring Indians in their own country. His values and determination have inspired civil rights movements around the world and he is often quoted wherever there is need for a spot of wisdom.

Following a British imposed salt tax, Gandhi famously marched 388km across the country in 1930 with a band of followers to make salt himself in the Bay of Bengal. This move was to greatly upset the British hold on India, but not before the Empire imprisoned 60,000 Indian people in retaliation for Gandhi's public display of defiance. His mantra was to tell the truth at all times and live a simple life; only wearing the traditional dhoti and shawl which he spun himself and eating a simple vegetarian diet.

In response to his call for independence, the 'Quit India' movement was launched. This was founded on Gandhi's pacifistic principles and aimed at encouraging Britain to withdraw their hold on India. During negotiations with King George, Gandhi was invited to stay at Buckingham Palace but famously declined the invitation, choosing instead to stay among the poor in the East End of London.

India became an independent nation at midnight on 15th August 1947.

On 30th January 1948, Gandhi was shot whilst having his nightly public walk around the grounds of Birla House in New Delhi. The assassin was a Hindu extremist who cited Gandhi as responsible for weakening India by insisting upon a payment to Pakistan.

Gandhi remains an icon for truth and pacifism.

"There is no god higher than truth"

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes"

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it"

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty"

"You must be the change you want to see in the world"

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