Gandhi


On October 2, 1869, the “little brown saint” was brought into the world;
during this time India was under the British monarchy. During his early years
he did not show the signs of developing into the great leader that he eventually
became but nevertheless Gandhi aspired to be a lawyer, follow in the footsteps
of his father and become a respected member of the community. Throughout his
life Gandhi fought against colour prejudice, promoted religious harmony and
toiled laboriously to gain independence for his country.

Gandhi was a great man who brought about many changes all over the world
but especially in India. His means of bringing about change and the effect he
had on people made him a respected and loved individual.

Gandhi travelled to South Africa for the first time in the summer of
1892, to try his luck at a law firm. He was not aware of how deeply he would be
involved in South African affairs while he proceeded on his journey. Indians
in South Africa suffered many disabilities. For instance, an Indian “had to
carry a pass if he appeared on the streets after 9 p.m.”(Pg. 24). Gandhi felt
this was completely unfair and by the time he had finished his campaign against
colour prejudice in South Africa, “the three pound tax on farm indentured
labourers was annulled, Hindu, Muslim and Parsi marriages were declared valid;
free Indians and their wives could continue to come into the country from India”
(Pg. 47-48). Gandhi achieved this status for Indians in South Africa by a method
called “Satyagraha” or “passive resistance”. This involved a non-violent means
of refusing to co-operate with the government’s wishes, thus forcing the
government to meet the demands of the resistors. This method of nonco-operation
earned Gandhi a great deal of respect, world-wide acclaim and helped him
considerably reduce legalized racism against Indians in South Africa.

Gandhi was a very patriotic man and believed that people in his country
should become one in unity, but he knew that there were obstacles that had to be
overcome. One of the hardest of these obstacles was easing Muslim and Hindu
tensions. Religious tension was one aspect that Gandhi felt he should try to
bring to an equilibrium. He knew that the relations between Hindus and Muslims
would determine the future of India. He wrote a “6,000 word article on ‘Hindu-
Muslim Tension. Its Cause and Cure’”(Pg. 36). Gandhi did not feel that this
was enough and was assured of it when he heard about “Hindu-Muslim riots (and)
the forcible kidnapping and conversion of women and children from one religious
community by men of the other” (Pg. 49). The situation, as Gandhi, concluded
were getting out of hand and so he decided that he needed another means of
communicating with his fellow man. He fasted, abstained from eating, “to reform
those who loved him. (He said) ‘you cannot fast against a tyrant for (he) is
incapable of love therefore inaccessible to a weapon of love like fasting”(Pg.
23). Gandhi made up his mind to fast either until death or until reform. This
was enough to bring instantaneous results and soon riots ceased and there were
weeks without religiously motivated killings or demonstrations. Gandhi’s ploy
had worked. People all over the world admired the “Mahatma” (father) and his
methods of controlling a whole population by their love for him. This was one
stepping stone which had been safely passed and no longer posed a threat to
India.

Throughout his life Gandhi always pondered ways to better the lives of
others. He put himself and his needs last before those of others. Gandhi knew
that to better the lives of Indians living in India he had to work towards
Independence. One major event that paved the way to achieving this was the
civil disobedience of the Salt Laws. The laws “made it punishable to possess
salt not purchased from the government salt monopoly” ( Pg. 23). Gandhi felt
that “nothing but organized non-violence (could) check the organized violence of
the British government...the non-violence would be expressed through civil-
disobedience... and convert the British people making them see the wrong they
have done to India”(Pg. 33). Gandhi proceeded to march “241 miles in 24 days” (
Pg. 35) thus rivet the attention of all of India. When Gandhi reached the end
of his march, he was at the coast where there were piles of salt, so he picked
up a pile of salt as an act of defiance. He was arrested but people all over
the country were fascinated and intrigued and followed his example by also
disobeying the