|Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi|
"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood" – Einstein on Gandhiji.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or 'Bapu' as he was fondly called is credited with India's independence from British Empire in a battle which saw non-violence as its weapon.
He was born in an era when India's freedom struggle was at its peak and he lead and guided the country to its freedom. There are many stories about his life, his relationship with fellow leaders and common man, and his inspiration and love for Bhagvad Gita and Indian culture.
One can learn a lot from Gandhiji's life as how a common man Mohandas became a Mahatma and was revered all around the world for his work and teachings.
Let us see one of the many stories from his life which can be truly inspirational for all of us. We always complain in life of not being able to change in spite of knowing that the change is good. We complain we can't wake up early in the morning, we complain we can't exercise, we complain of the challenges faced in school, and so forth. In a chapter from his Autobiography (Part IV, Chapter XVIII) entitled "The Magic Spell of a Book", Gandhiji tells us how he read John Ruskin's "Unto this Last" on the twenty-four hour journey from Johannesburg to Durban. In his words he says, "The train reached there in the evening. I could not get any sleep that night (after reading the book). I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book." And friends, indeed he did.
Reproduced below is a write-up on Gandhiji which summarizes his life and work:
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa or total nonviolence—which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is commonly known around the world as Mahatma Gandhi ('Great Soul', an honorific first applied to him by Rabindranath Tagore), and in India also as Bapu (Father). He was officially honoured in India as the Father of the Nation; his birthday, 2 October, is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence.
Gandhiji first employed non-violent civil disobedience while an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, during the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he organized protests by peasants, farmers, and urban labourers concerning excessive land-tax and discrimination. After assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhiji led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women's rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end untouchability, and increase economic self-reliance. Above all, he aimed to achieve Swaraj or the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhiji famously led his followers in the Non-cooperation movement that protested the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km Dandi Salt March in 1930. Later, in 1942, he launched the Quit India civil disobedience movement demanding immediate independence for India. Gandhiji spent a number of years in jail in both South Africa and India.
As a practitioner of ahimsa, he swore to speak the truth and advocated that others do the same. Gandhiji lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, eventually adopting a fruitarian diet, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification as well as social protest.
What would I like to learn from Mahatma Gandhi?