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Gandhi

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									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. 4748). 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 Salt Laws. This demonstrated to the British government that they were "subjugating India and gave the Indians conviction that they should lift the foreign yoke off their shoulders"(Pg. 102). This event foreshadowed the achievement of India gaining Independence in the August of 1947. People in India now felt that they had some reason to work towards independence and others joined in the efforts to free the country from British rule. Although Gandhi did lead his country to Independence, his attempts in unifying Hindus and Muslims in India failed miserably. Riots ceased for a while but restarted. He led a bad example by getting imprisoned. Some people viewed this as breaking the law and not changing the system. Although Gandhi may have failed in his attempts of unifying Hindus and Muslims, he did succeed in achieving Independence for India and as a bonus Muslims in India additionally gained something, the birth of their new nation, Pakistan. Gandhi's preaching of non-violence worked on many occasions but also resulted in the bloodshed of thousands of others. People were so caught up in gaining Independence from the British that they forgot Gandhi's preachings of non-violence and riots ensued and thousands upon thousands of people were killed. Although many people were killed, if Gandhi hadn't preached non-violence, a great many more people would have lost their lives fighting for Independence, instead millions of people were saved and the end result was victory. Gandhi was very successful in changing the ways many Hindus viewed Hinduism and he strengthened their beliefs in the religion. He changed their ideas about the caste system and he preached peace and non-violence to Hindus all over the country. He most of all emphasized abstinence,

self-denial and sacrificing. These various lessons made people better human beings with a better outlook on life. Mahatma (Mohandas K.) Gandhi was a great leader who captured the hearts of many all over the world just by the techniques he used to achieve his objectives. He was the most unselfish, hardworking and saintly character anyone ever met until an assassin's bullet prematurely ended his life at the age of seventy-eight. He fought hard and abolished prejudice against Indians in South Africa, he worked towards easing religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India and he freed India from British rule and gained them independence through a means unlike any country has ever used, non-violence. His legacy is courage, his lesson truth, his weapon love. His life is his monument.


								
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