Mahatma, The Great Soul, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar. He helped to free India from British rule by a unique method of non violence resistance and is honoured by Indians as the Father of the Nation. He possessed limitless physical and moral strength. He was assasinated by an Indian who resented Gandhi’s program of tolerance for all creeds and religions.
Gandhiji was a person who believed in the dignity of man and left us all a legacy of ahimsa, love and tolerance. His life was guided by a search for truth. In the ‘My Experiments of the Truth’, Gandhiji stressed that truth was god and his aim in life was to achieve truthfulness in thought, word and deed. Ahimsa, to him was the highest virtue. By non violence, Gandhi meant not merely the absence of violence but also loving concern for all life. He believed that truth could be known only through tolerance and concern for others and that find a truthful way to solutions required constant testing. He taught that to be non-violent required great courage. He adopted Satyagraha based on principles of courage, non-violence and truth. This method was used to fight for India’s independence and to bring about social change.
Gandhiji was greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s essay ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ and John Ruskin’s book ‘Unto This Last’. But the greatest influence on him was the ‘Bhagwad Gita’ which became an unfailing source of inspiration. Gandhi believed that all life was a part of one ultimate spiritual reality. The supreme goal was self-realization; the realization that one’s true self was identical with ultimate reality. He believed that all religions contain some elements of truth and this accounted for his own religious tolerance. For him, the best guide to self-realization was the Gita. Gandhiji practiced action without desire, which led to non-possession and equability as per Gita with great zeal throughout his life.
Gandhiji led hundreds of followers towards the fight for Independence and the Britishers granted freedom in 1947. He did not take part in the Independence Day celebrations as the partition of India into two nations grieved him. The violent rioting between Hindus and Muslims during partition saddened him. He had craved for a united country and had urged for peace. He performed his last fast on Jan 13, 1948 at the age of 78 with a purpose to end the bloodshed among Hindu, Muslim and other groups. After a commitment from the leaders, be broke the fast on 18th Jan only to be assassinated twelve days later while on his way to a prayer meeting by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic who opposed Gandhi’s principles of tolerance for all creeds and religions. Gandhiji is loved and admired by millions throughout the world because of his ideals.