महात्मा गाँधी (जन्म: 2 अक्तूबर, 1869)
महात्मा गाँधी (अंग्रेज़ी: Mahatma Gandhi, जन्म: 2 अक्तूबर, 1869 - मृत्यु: 30 जनवरी, 1948) को ब्रिटिश शासन के ख़िलाफ़ भारतीय राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन का नेता और 'राष्ट्रपिता' माना जाता है। इनका पूरा नाम मोहनदास करमचंद गाँधी था। राजनीतिक और सामाजिक प्रगति की प्राप्ति हेतु अपने अहिंसक विरोध के सिद्धांत के लिए उन्हें अंतर्राष्ट्रीय ख्याति प्राप्त हुई। मोहनदास करमचंद गाँधी भारत एवं भारतीय स्वतंत्रता आंदोलन के एक प्रमुख राजनीतिक एवं आध्यात्मिक नेता थे। 'साबरमती आश्रम' से उनका अटूट रिश्ता था। इस आश्रम से महात्मा गाँधी आजीवन जुड़े रहे, इसीलिए उन्हें 'साबरमती का संत' की उपाधि भी मिली।
महात्मा गाँधी का जन्म 2 अक्तूबर 1869 ई. को गुजरात के पोरबंदर नामक स्थान पर हुआ था। उनके माता-पिता कट्टर हिन्दू थे। इनके पिता का नाम करमचंद गाँधी था। मोहनदास की माता का नाम पुतलीबाई था जो करमचंद गाँधी जी की चौथी पत्नी थीं। मोहनदास अपने पिता की चौथी पत्नी की अन्तिम संतान थे। उनके पिता करमचंद (कबा गाँधी) पहले ब्रिटिश शासन के तहत पश्चिमी भारत के गुजरात राज्य में एक छोटी-सी रियासत की राजधानी पोरबंदर के दीवान थे और बाद में क्रमशः राजकोट (काठियावाड़) और वांकानेर में दीवान रहे। करमचंद गाँधी ने बहुत अधिक औपचारिक शिक्षा तो प्राप्त नहीं की थी, लेकिन वह एक कुशल प्रशासक थे और उन्हें सनकी राजकुमारों, उनकी दुःखी प्रजा तथा सत्तासीन कट्टर ब्रिटिश राजनीतिक अधिकारियों के बीच अपना रास्ता निकालना आता था।
1887 में मोहनदास ने जैसे-तैसे 'बंबई यूनिवर्सिटी' की मैट्रिक की परीक्षा पास की और भावनगर स्थित 'सामलदास कॉलेज' में दाख़िला लिया। अचानक गुजराती से अंग्रेज़ी भाषा में जाने से उन्हें व्याख्यानों को समझने में कुछ दिक्कत होने लगी। इस बीच उनके परिवार में उनके भविष्य को लेकर चर्चा चल रही थी। अगर निर्णय उन पर छोड़ा जाता, तो वह डॉक्टर बनना चाहते थे। लेकिन वैष्णव परिवार में चीरफ़ाड़ के ख़िलाफ़ पूर्वाग्रह के अलावा यह भी स्पष्ट था कि यदि उन्हें गुजरात के किसी राजघराने में उच्च पद प्राप्त करने की पारिवारिक परम्परा निभानी है, तो उन्हें बैरिस्टर बनना पड़ेगा। इसका अर्थ था इंग्लैंड यात्रा और गाँधी ने, जिनका 'सामलदास कॉलेज' में ख़ास मन नहीं लग रहा था, इस प्रस्ताव को सहर्ष ही स्वीकार कर लिया। उनके युवा मन में इंग्लैंड की छवि 'दार्शनिकों और कवियों की भूमि, सम्पूर्ण सभ्यता के केन्द्र' के रूप में थी। सितंबर 1888 में वह पानी के जहाज़ पर सवार हुए। वहाँ पहुँचने के 10 दिन बाद वह लंदन के चार क़ानून महाविद्यालय में से एक 'इनर टेंपल' में दाख़िल हो गए।
डरबन न्यायालय में यूरोपीय मजिस्ट्रेट ने उन्हें पगड़ी उतारने के लिए कहा, उन्होंने इन्कार कर दिया और न्यायालय से बाहर चले गए। कुछ दिनों के बाद प्रिटोरिया जाते समय उन्हें रेलवे के प्रथम श्रेणी के डिब्बे से बाहर फेंक दिया गया और उन्होंने स्टेशन पर ठिठुरते हुए रात बिताई। यात्रा के अगले चरण में उन्हें एक घोड़ागाड़ी के चालक से पिटना पड़ा, क्योंकि यूरोपीय यात्री को जगह देकर पायदान पर यात्रा करने से उन्होंने इन्कार कर दिया था, और अन्ततः 'सिर्फ़ यूरोपीय लोगों के लिए' सुरक्षित होटलों में उनके जाने पर रोक लगा दी गई। नटाल में भारतीय व्यापारियों और श्रमिकों के लिए ये अपमान दैनिक जीवन का हिस्सा था। जो नया था, वह गाँधी का अनुभव न होकर उनकी प्रतिक्रिया थी। अब तक वह हठधर्मिता और उग्रता के पक्ष में नहीं थे, लेकिन जब उन्हें अनपेक्षित अपमानों से गुज़रना पड़ा, तो उनमें कुछ बदलाव आया।
1906 में टांसवाल सरकार ने दक्षिण अफ़्रीका की भारतीय जनता के पंजीकरण के लिए विशेष रूप से अपमानजनक अध्यादेश जारी किया। भारतीयों ने सितंबर 1906 में जोहेन्सबर्ग में गाँधी के नेतृत्व में एक विरोध जनसभा का आयोजन किया और इस अध्यादेश के उल्लंघन तथा इसके परिणामस्वरूप दंड भुगतने की शपथ ली। इस प्रकार सत्याग्रह का जन्म हुआ, जो वेदना पहुँचाने के बजाय उन्हें झेलने, विद्वेषहीन प्रतिरोध करने और बिना हिंसा के उससे लड़ने की नई तकनीक थी।
गाँधी जी की धार्मिक खोज उनकी माता, पोरबंदर तथा राजकोट स्थित घर के प्रभाव से बचपन में ही शुरू हो गई थी। लेकिन दक्षिण अफ़्रीका पहुँचने पर इसे काफ़ी बल मिला। वह ईसाई धर्म पर टॉल्सटाय के लेखन पर मुग्ध थे। उन्होंने क़ुरान के अनुवाद का अध्ययन किया और हिन्दू अभिलेखों तथा दर्शन में डुबकियाँ लगाईं। सापेक्षिक कर्म के अध्ययन, विद्वानों के साथ बातचीत और धर्मशास्त्रीय कृतियों के निजी अध्ययन से वह इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुँचे कि सभी धर्म सत्य हैं और फिर भी हर एक धर्म अपूर्ण है। क्योंकि कभी-कभी उनकी व्याख्या स्तरहीन बुद्धि संकीर्ण हृदय से की गई है और अक्सर दुर्व्याख्या हुई है। भगवदगीता, जिसका गाँधी ने पहली बार इंग्लैंड में अध्ययन किया था, उनका 'आध्यात्मिक शब्दकोश' बन गया और सम्भवतः उनके जीवन पर इसी का सबसे अधिक प्रभाव पड़ा। गीता में उल्लिखित संस्कृत के दो शब्दों ने उन्हें सबसे ज़्यादा आकर्षित किया। एक था 'अपरिग्रह' (त्याग), जिसका अर्थ है, मनुष्य को अपने आध्यात्मिक जीवन को बाधित करने वाली भौतिक वस्तुओं का त्याग कर देना चाहिए और उसे धन-सम्पत्ति के बंधनों से मुक्त हो जाना चाहिए। दूसरा शब्द है 'समभाव' (समान भाव), जिसने उन्हें दुःख या सुख, जीत या हार, सबमें अडिग रहना तथा सफलता की आशा या असफलता के भय के बिना काम करना सिखाया।
Mahātmā Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ( 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā (Sanskrit: "high-souled", "venerable")—applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa—is now used worldwide. In India, he is also called Bapu ji (Gujarati: endearment for father,papa) and Gandhi ji. He is unofficially called the Father of the Nation.
Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.
Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.
Gandhi's vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism, however, was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. Eventually, in August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.
Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 to a Hindu Modh Baniya family in Porbandar (also known as Sudamapuri), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula and then part of the small princely state of Porbandar in the Kathiawar Agency of the Indian Empire. His father, Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), served as the diwan (chief minister) of Porbandar state.
Although he only had an elementary education and had previously been a clerk in the state administration, Karamchand proved a capable chief minister. During his tenure, Karamchand married four times. His first two wives died young, after each had given birth to a daughter, and his third marriage was childless. In 1857, Karamchand sought his third wife's permission to remarry; that year, he married Putlibai (1844–1891), who also came from Junagadh, and was from a Pranami Vaishnava family. Karamchand and Putlibai had three children over the ensuing decade, a son, Laxmidas (c. 1860 – March 1914), a daughter, Raliatbehn (1862–1960) and another son, Karsandas.
On 2 October 1869, Putlibai gave birth to her last child, Mohandas, in a dark, windowless ground-floor room of the Gandhi family residence in Porbandar city. As a child, Gandhi was described by his sister Raliat as "restless as mercury, either playing or roaming about. One of his favourite pastimes was twisting dogs' ears." The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and king Harishchandra, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that they left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: "It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number." Gandhi's early self-identification with truth and love as supreme values is traceable to these epic characters.
The family's religious background was eclectic. Gandhi's father Karamchand was Hindu and his mother Putlibai was from a Pranami Vaishnava Hindu family. Gandhi's father was of Modh Baniya caste in the varna of Vaishya.His mother came from the medieval Krishna bhakti-based Pranami tradition, whose religious texts include the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhagavata Purana, and a collection of 14 texts with teachings that the tradition believes to include the essence of the Vedas, the Quran and the Bible. Gandhi was deeply influenced by his mother, an extremely pious lady who "would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers...she would take the hardest vows and keep them without flinching. To keep two or three consecutive fasts was nothing to her."
In 1874, Gandhi's father Karamchand left Porbandar for the smaller state of Rajkot, where he became a counsellor to its ruler, the Thakur Sahib; though Rajkot was a less prestigious state than Porbandar, the British regional political agency was located there, which gave the state's diwan a measure of security. In 1876, Karamchand became diwan of Rajkot and was succeeded as diwan of Porbandar by his brother Tulsidas. His family then rejoined him in Rajkot.
At age 9, Gandhi entered the local school in Rajkot, near his home. There he studied the rudiments of arithmetic, history, the Gujarati language and geography. At age 11, he joined the High School in Rajkot. He was an average student, won some prizes, but was a shy and tongue tied student, with no interest in games; his only companions were books and school lessons.
While at high school, Gandhi's elder brother introduced him to a Muslim friend named Sheikh Mehtab. Mehtab was older in age, taller and encouraged the strictly vegetarian boy to eat meat to gain height. He also took Mohandas to a brothel one day, though Mohandas "was struck blind and dumb in this den of vice," rebuffed the prostitutes' advances and was promptly sent out of the brothel. The experience caused Mohandas mental anguish, and he abandoned the company of Mehtab.
In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia (her first name was usually shortened to "Kasturba", and affectionately to "Ba") in an arranged marriage, according to the custom of the region at that time.In the process, he lost a year at school, but was later allowed to make up by accelerating his studies. His wedding was a joint event, where his brother and cousin were also married. Recalling the day of their marriage, he once said, "As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was prevailing tradition, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband.Writing many years later, Mohandas described with regret the lustful feelings he felt for his young bride, "even at school I used to think of her, and the thought of nightfall and our subsequent meeting was ever haunting me." He later recalled feeling jealous and possessive of her, such as when she would visit a temple with her girlfriends, and being sexually lustful in his feelings for her.
In late 1885, Gandhi's father Karamchand died.Gandhi, then 16 years old, and his wife of age 17 had their first baby, who survived only a few days. The two deaths anguished Gandhi. The Gandhi couple had four more children, all sons: Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900.
In November 1887, the 18-year-old Gandhi graduated from high school in Ahmedabad.In January 1888, he enrolled at Samaldas College in Bhavnagar State, then the sole degree-granting institution of higher education in the region. But he dropped out and returned to his family in Porbandar.
Gandhi came from a poor family, and he had dropped out of the cheapest college he could afford.Mavji Dave Joshiji, a Brahmin priest and family friend, advised Gandhi and his family that he should consider law studies in London. In July 1888, his wife Kasturba gave birth to their first surviving son, Harilal. His mother was not comfortable about Gandhi leaving his wife and family, and going so far from home. Gandhi's uncle Tulsidas also tried to dissuade his nephew. Gandhi wanted to go. To persuade his wife and mother, Gandhi made a vow in front of his mother that he would abstain from meat, alcohol and women. Gandhi's brother Laxmidas, who was already a lawyer, cheered Gandhi's London studies plan and offered to support him. Putlibai gave Gandhi her permission and blessing.
On 10 August 1888, Gandhi aged 18, left Porbandar for Mumbai, then known as Bombay. Upon arrival, he stayed with the local Modh Bania community while waiting for the ship travel arrangements. The head of the community knew Gandhi's father. After learning Gandhi's plans, he and other elders warned Gandhi that England would tempt him to compromise his religion, and eat and drink in Western ways. Gandhi informed them of his promise to his mother and her blessings. The local chief disregarded it, and excommunicated him an outcast. But Gandhi ignored this, and on 4 September, he sailed from Bombay to London. His brother saw him off.
In London, Gandhi studied law and jurisprudence and enrolled at the Inner Temple with the intention of becoming a barrister. His childhood shyness and self withdrawal had continued through his teens, and he remained so when he arrived in London, but he joined a public speaking practice group and overcame this handicap to practise law.
His time in London was influenced by the vow he had made to his mother. He tried to adopt "English" customs, including taking dancing lessons. However, he could not appreciate the bland vegetarian food offered by his landlady and was frequently hungry until he found one of London's few vegetarian restaurants. Influenced by Henry Salt's writing, he joined the Vegetarian Society, was elected to its executive committee, and started a local Bayswater chapter. Some of the vegetarians he met were members of the Theosophical Society, which had been founded in 1875 to further universal brotherhood, and which was devoted to the study of Buddhist and Hindu literature. They encouraged Gandhi to join them in reading the Bhagavad Gita both in translation as well as in the original.
Gandhi, at age 22, was called to the bar in June 1891 and then left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him.His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed because he was psychologically unable to cross-examine witnesses. He returned to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants, but he was forced to stop when he ran afoul of a British officer. In 1893, a Muslim merchant in Kathiawar named Dada Abdullah contacted Gandhi. Abdullah owned a large successful shipping business in South Africa. His distant cousin in Johannesburg needed a lawyer, and they preferred someone with Kathiawari heritage. Gandhi inquired about his pay for the work. They offered a total salary of £105 plus travel expenses. He accepted it, knowing that it would be at least one year commitment in the Colony of Natal, South Africa, also a part of the British Empire.
In April 1893, Gandhi aged 23, set sail for South Africa to be the lawyer for Abdullah's cousin. He spent 21 years in South Africa, where he developed his political views, ethics and politics.
Immediately upon arriving in South Africa, Gandhi faced discrimination because of his skin colour and heritage, like all people of colour. He was not allowed to sit with European passengers in the stagecoach and told to sit on the floor near the driver, then beaten when he refused; elsewhere he was kicked into a gutter for daring to walk near a house, in another instance thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg after refusing to leave the first-class. He sat in the train station, shivering all night and pondering if he should return to India or protest for his rights.He chose to protest and was allowed to board the train the next day.In another incident, the magistrate of a Durban court ordered Gandhi to remove his turban, which he refused to do. Indians were not allowed to walk on public footpaths in South Africa. Gandhi was kicked by a police officer out of the footpath onto the street without warning.
When Gandhi arrived in South Africa, according to Herman, he thought of himself as "a Briton first, and an Indian second". However, the prejudice against him and his fellow Indians from British people that Gandhi experienced and observed deeply bothered him. He found it humiliating, struggling to understand how some people can feel honour or superiority or pleasure in such inhumane practices.Gandhi began to question his people's standing in the British Empire.
The Abdullah case that had brought him to South Africa concluded in May 1894, and the Indian community organised a farewell party for Gandhi as he prepared to return to India. However, a new Natal government discriminatory proposal led to Gandhi extending his original period of stay in South Africa. He planned to assist Indians in opposing a bill to deny them the right to vote, a right then proposed to be an exclusive European right. He asked Joseph Chamberlain, the British Colonial Secretary, to reconsider his position on this bill. Though unable to halt the bill's passage, his campaign was successful in drawing attention to the grievances of Indians in South Africa. He helped found the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, and through this organisation, he moulded the Indian community of South Africa into a unified political force. In January 1897, when Gandhi landed in Durban, a mob of white settlers attacked him and he escaped only through the efforts of the wife of the police superintendent. However, he refused to press charges against any member of the mob.
Gandhi took leadership of the Congress in 1920 and began escalating demands until on 26 January 1930 the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India. The British did not recognise the declaration but negotiations ensued, with the Congress taking a role in provincial government in the late 1930s. Gandhi and the Congress withdrew their support of the Raj when the Viceroy declared war on Germany in September 1939 without consultation. Tensions escalated until Gandhi demanded immediate independence in 1942 and the British responded by imprisoning him and tens of thousands of Congress leaders. Meanwhile, the Muslim League did co-operate with Britain and moved, against Gandhi's strong opposition, to demands for a totally separate Muslim state of Pakistan. In August 1947 the British partitioned the land with India and Pakistan each achieving independence on terms that Gandhi disapproved.
Champaran and Kheda
Gandhi in 1918, at the time of the Kheda and Champaran Satyagrahas
Gandhi's first major achievement came in 1917 with the Champaran agitation in Bihar. The Champaran agitation pitted the local peasantry against their largely British landlords who were backed by the local administration. The peasantry was forced to grow Indigo, a cash crop whose demand had been declining over two decades, and were forced to sell their crops to the planters at a fixed price. Unhappy with this, the peasantry appealed to Gandhi at his ashram in Ahmedabad. Pursuing a strategy of nonviolent protest, Gandhi took the administration by surprise and won concessions from the authorities.
In 1919, Gandhi then aged 49, after the World War I was over, sought political co-operation from Muslims in his fight against British imperialism by supporting the Ottoman Empire that had been defeated in the World War. Before this initiative of Gandhi, communal disputes and religious riots between Hindus and Muslims were common in British India, such as the riots of 1917–18. Gandhi had already supported the British crown with resources and by recruiting Indian soldiers to fight the war in Europe on the British side. This effort of Gandhi was in part motivated by the British promise to reciprocate the help with swaraj (self-government) to Indians after the end of World War I.The British government, instead of self government, had offered minor reforms instead, disappointing Gandhi. Gandhi announced his satyagraha (civil disobedience) intentions. The British colonial officials made their counter move by passing the Rowlatt Act, to block Gandhi's movement. The Act allowed the British government to treat civil disobedience participants as criminals and gave it the legal basis to arrest anyone for "preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without judicial review or any need for a trial".
Gandhi felt that Hindu-Muslim co-operation was necessary for political progress against the British. He leveraged the Khilafat movement, wherein Sunni Muslims in India, their leaders such as the sultans of princely states in India and Ali brothers championed the Turkish Caliph as a solidarity symbol of Sunni Islamic community (ummah). They saw the Caliph as their means to support Islam and the Islamic law after the defeat of Ottoman Empire in World War I.Gandhi's support to the Khilafat movement led to mixed results. It initially led to a strong Muslim support for Gandhi. However, the Hindu leaders including Rabindranath Tagore questioned Gandhi's leadership because they were largely against recognising or supporting the Sunni Islamic Caliph in Turkey.
The increasing Muslim support for Gandhi, after he championed the Caliph's cause, temporarily stopped the Hindu-Muslim communal violence. It offered evidence of inter-communal harmony in joint Rowlatt satyagraha demonstration rallies, raising Gandhi's stature as the political leader to the British. His support for the Khilafat movement also helped him sideline Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who had announced his opposition to the satyagraha non-cooperation movement approach of Gandhi. Jinnah began creating his independent support, and later went on to lead the demand for West and East Pakistan.
By the end of 1922 the Khilafat movement had collapsed.Turkey's Ataturk had ended the Caliphate, Khilafat movement ended, and Muslim support for Gandhi largely evaporated.Muslim leaders and delegates abandoned Gandhi and his Congress.Hindu-Muslim communal conflicts reignited. Deadly religious riots re-appeared in numerous cities, with 91 in United Provinces of Agra and Oudh alone.
With his book Hind Swaraj (1909) Gandhi, aged 40, declared that British rule was established in India with the co-operation of Indians and had survived only because of this co-operation. If Indians refused to co-operate, British rule would collapse and swaraj would come.
Salt Satyagraha (Salt March)
Original footage of Gandhi and his followers marching to Dandi in the Salt Satyagraha
After his early release from prison for political crimes in 1924, over the second half of the 1920s, Gandhi continued to pursue swaraj. He pushed through a resolution at the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-co-operation with complete independence for the country as its goal. After his support for the World War I with Indian combat troops, and the failure of Khilafat movement in preserving the rule of Caliph in Turkey, followed by a collapse in Muslim support for his leadership, some such as Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh questioned his values and non-violent approach.While many Hindu leaders championed a demand for immediate independence, Gandhi revised his own call to a one-year wait, instead of two.
The British did not respond favourably to Gandhi's proposal. British political leaders such as Lord Birkenhead and Winston Churchill announced opposition to "the appeasers of Gandhi", in their discussions with European diplomats who sympathised with Indian demands.On 31 December 1929, the flag of India was unfurled in Lahore. Gandhi led Congress celebrated 26 January 1930 as India's Independence Day in Lahore. This day was commemorated by almost every other Indian organisation. Gandhi then launched a new Satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930. This was highlighted by the famous Salt March to Dandi from 12 March to 6 April, where he marched 388 kilometres (241 mi) from Ahmedabad to Dandi, Gujarat to make salt himself. Thousands of Indians joined him on this march to the sea. This campaign was one of his most successful at upsetting British hold on India; Britain responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people.
Mahadev Desai (left) was Gandhi's personal assistant, both at Birla House, Bombay, 7 April 1939
According to Sarma, Gandhi recruited women to participate in the salt tax campaigns and the boycott of foreign products, which gave many women a new self-confidence and dignity in the mainstream of Indian public life. However, other scholars such as Marilyn French state that Gandhi barred women from joining his civil disobedience movement because he feared he would be accused of using women as political shield. When women insisted that they join the movement and public demonstrations, according to Thapar-Bjorkert, Gandhi asked the volunteers to get permissions of their guardians and only those women who can arrange child-care should join him.Regardless of Gandhi's apprehensions and views, Indian women joined the Salt March by the thousands to defy the British salt taxes and monopoly on salt mining. After Gandhi's arrest, the women marched and picketed shops on their own, accepting violence and verbal abuse from British authorities for the cause in a manner Gandhi inspired.
World War II and Quit India movement
Gandhi opposed providing any help to the British war effort and he campaigned against any Indian participation in the World War II. Gandhi's campaign did not enjoy the support of Indian masses and many Indian leaders such as Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad. His campaign was a failure. Over 2.5 million Indians ignored Gandhi, volunteered and joined the British military to fight on various fronts of the allied forces.
Gandhi opposition to the Indian participation in the World War II was motivated by his belief that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom while that freedom was denied to India itself. He also condemned Nazism and Fascism, a view which won endorsement of other Indian leaders. As the war progressed, Gandhi intensified his demand for independence, calling for the British to Quit India in a 1942 speech in Mumbai. This was Gandhi's and the Congress Party's most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from India. The British government responded quickly to the Quit India speech, and within hours after Gandhi's speech arrested Gandhi and all the members of the Congress Working Committee. His countrymen retaliated the arrests by damaging or burning down hundreds of government owned railway stations, police stations, and cutting down telegraph wires.
In 1942, Gandhi now nearing age 73, urged his people to completely stop co-operating with the imperial government. In this effort, he urged that they neither kill nor injure British people, but be willing to suffer and die if violence is initiated by the British officials. He clarified that the movement would not be stopped because of any individual acts of violence, saying that the "ordered anarchy" of "the present system of administration" was "worse than real anarchy." He urged Indians to Karo ya maro ("Do or die") in the cause of their rights and freedoms.
Gandhi's arrest lasted two years, as he was held in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. During this period, his long time secretary Mahadev Desai died of a heart attack, his wife Kasturba died after 18 months' imprisonment on 22 February 1944; and Gandhi suffered a severe malaria attack. While in Jail, he agreed to an interview with Stuart Gelder, a British journalist. Gelder then composed and released an interview summary, cabled it to the mainstream press, that announced sudden concessions Gandhi was willing to make, comments that shocked his countrymen, the Congress workers and even Gandhi. The latter two claimed that it distorted what Gandhi actually said on a range of topics and falsely repudiated the Quit India movement.
Gandhi was released before the end of the war on 6 May 1944 because of his failing health and necessary surgery; the Raj did not want him to die in prison and enrage the nation. He came out of detention to an altered political scene—the Muslim League for example, which a few years earlier had appeared marginal, "now occupied the centre of the political stage"and the topic of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's campaign for Pakistan was a major talking point. Gandhi and Jinnah had extensive correspondence in 1944, where Gandhi insisted on a united religiously plural India which included Muslims and non-Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. Jinnah rejected this proposal and insisted instead for partitioning the subcontinent on religious lines to create a separate Muslim India (later Pakistan). These discussions continued through 1947.
While the leaders of Congress languished in jail, the other parties supported the war and gained organizational strength. Underground publications flailed at the ruthless suppression of Congress, but it had little control over events. At the end of the war, the British gave clear indications that power would be transferred to Indian hands. At this point Gandhi called off the struggle, and around 100,000 political prisoners were released, including the Congress's leadership.
Partition and independence
Gandhi opposed partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines.The Indian National Congress and Gandhi called for the British to Quit India. However, the Muslim League demanded "Divide and Quit India".Gandhi suggested an agreement which required the Congress and the Muslim League to co-operate and attain independence under a provisional government, thereafter, the question of partition could be resolved by a plebiscite in the districts with a Muslim majority.
Jinnah rejected Gandhi's proposal and called for Direct Action Day, on 16 August 1946, to press Muslims to publicly gather in cities and support his proposal for partition of Indian subcontinent into a Muslim state and non-Muslim state. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Muslim League Chief Minister of Bengal – now Bangladesh and West Bengal, gave Calcutta's police special holiday to celebrate the Direct Action Day. The Direct Action Day triggered a mass murder of Calcutta Hindus and the torching of their property, and holidaying police were missing to contain or stop the conflict.The British government did not order its army to move in to contain the violence. The violence on Direct Action Day led to retaliatory violence against Muslims across India. Thousands of Hindus and Muslims were murdered, and tens of thousands were injured in the cycle of violence in the days that followed. Gandhi visited the most riot-prone areas to appeal a stop to the massacres.
Archibald Wavell, the Viceroy and Governor-General of British India for three years through February 1947, had worked with Gandhi and Jinnah to find a common ground, before and after accepting Indian independence in principle. Wavell condemned Gandhi's character and motives as well as his ideas. Wavell accused Gandhi of harbouring the single minded idea to "overthrow British rule and influence and to establish a Hindu raj", and called Gandhi a "malignant, malevolent, exceedingly shrewd" politician. Wavell feared a civil war on the Indian subcontinent, and doubted Gandhi would be able to stop it.
The British reluctantly agreed to grant independence to the people of the Indian subcontinent, but accepted Jinnah's proposal of partitioning the land into Pakistan and India. Gandhi was involved in the final negotiations. Stanley Wolpert states the "plan to carve up British India was never approved of or accepted by Gandhi".
The partition was controversial and violently disputed. More than half a million were killed in religious riots as 10–12 million non-Muslims (Hindus, Sikhs mostly) migrated from Pakistan into India, and Muslims migrated from India into Pakistan, across the newly created borders of India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan.
Gandhi spent the day of independence not celebrating the end of the British rule, but appealing for peace among his countrymen by fasting and spinning in Calcutta on 15 August 1947. The partition had gripped the Indian subcontinent with religious violence and the streets were filled with corpses. Some writers credit Gandhi's fasting and protests stopped the religious riots and communal violence. Others do not. Archibald Wavell, for example, upon learning of Gandhi's assassination, commented, "I always thought he [Gandhi] had more of malevolence than benevolence in him, but who am I to judge, and how can an Englishman estimate a Hindu?"
At 5:17 pm on 30 January 1948, Gandhi was with his grandnieces in the garden of the former Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), on his way to address a prayer meeting, when Nathuram Godse fired three bullets from a Beretta 9 mm pistol into his chest at point-blank range. According to some accounts, Gandhi died on the spot.In other accounts, such as one prepared by an eyewitness journalist, Gandhi was carried into the Birla House, into a bedroom. There he died about 30 minutes later as one of Gandhi's family members read verses from Hindu scriptures.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed his countrymen over the All-India Radio saying:
Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.
Gandhi's statements, letters and life have attracted much political and scholarly analysis of his principles, practices and beliefs, including what influenced him. Some writers present him as a paragon of ethical living and pacifism, others present him as a more complex, contradictory and evolving character influenced by his culture and circumstances.