One of the most important dates of Indian history is 2nd October 1869. On this day, a devout Hindu pious lady Putli Bai gave birth to a child, who was to become the father of the nation. His father Karam Chand Gandhi was the Diwan of Rajkot in Gujarat. Mohan Das went to school at the age of seven. Though he was an average student, he was regular and punctual in attending the classes.
When still a child, he was married to Kasturba. After completion of matriculation and college studies, he went to England to study law. On becoming a barrister in England, he returned to India. He began his practice in law in Mumbai (then called Bombay). He was not successful in his practice. He then returned to Rajkot. But even there he could not excel as a lawyer.
He always took up cases that were genuine and true. He always stood for truth and spurned cases that were not truthful. It was a chance that took him to South Africa. He went there to fight a lawsuit for his client based in South Africa. Circumstances made him stay there for over two decades.
The pathetic condition of Indians living there moved him so much that he decided to fight for their cause. This brought him into direct conflict with the authorities. He was once thrown out of a train just because he was traveling in the first class, a facility that was denied to Indians. This did not put him off. Instead, it made him resolute to fight things out.
After achieving success in South Africa, he returned to India in 1915, joined Congress Party, and began to take an active part in India’s movement for freedom. The Satyagraha Movement was his brainchild. The mighty English empire became helpless against this movement based on the principle of non-violence. It was an unheard-of thing.
Non-violent movement coupled with non-cooperation almost crippled the British Empire. The Empire was at a loss. It simply did not have any clue on how to deal with this. Tackling a violent mob or violent movement is always easy and tried out methods are easily resorted to achieve desired results.
But here was a movement where no one was resorting to any kind of violence. It was a new instrument and the English were not trained to tackle this. The historic parade breaking the Salt Law unsettled the British Government. The Quit India Movement of 1942 proved almost decisive for the English. It fully dawned on the British Empire that it was no longer possible to rule India. Finally, in 1947, India secured its independence.
Even though India had achieved the objective of freeing it from the clutches of the English, Gandhi was not quite happy with the turn of events. First, he was firmly against division of the country on the basis of religion. He had even declared publicly that India could be divided only on his dead body.
Second, he wanted Congress to wind up as a political party. None of these two pious wishes was fulfilled. India was divided and caused havoc as Hindus and Muslims resorted to looting and killing. Gandhi was dismayed and hopelessly left alone to nurse his wound.
The leaders who were with him in the struggle for independence were with the government and relishing the use of power and that went with it. Gandhi had clearly not bargained for it.
Thus disillusioned, he withdrew himself to seclusion and prayers. He had said that India could be divided only on his dead body. But he was forced by the circumstances to preside over the division of India.
This angered some and he was done to death on 30th January 1948. Irrespective of what one might think of Gandhi after over six decades of India’s journey post-independence, the fact remains that there has not been another personality in the world that has stirred up so much emotion of the question of non-violence.
Gandhi continues to be one of the most celebrated personalities in the world who influenced the course of events not just in India but in other parts of the world as well. He is the ‘Father of Nation’ of India.
A Hollywood film made on him drew acclaim from all over the world and is one of the recipients of maximum number of awards. Even though times have changed and old values have taken a tumble, there is no denying the fact that Gandhi continues to be relevant and there is no dearth of people in any walk of life swearing by his name.