Mohandas Gandhi
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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948)

Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma ,મોહનદાસ કરમચંદ ગાંધી" Gandhi
Born in Porbandar, Gujarat, British India, Britsh Empiremap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1882 in Porbandar, Gujarat, Indiamap
Descendants descendants
Died in New Delhi, Indiamap
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Profile last modified | Created 21 May 2013 | Last significant change: 10 Jul 2020
03:44: Andrea Taylor edited the Biography for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948). [Thank Andrea for this]
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Mahatma (which means "Great Soul") Gandhi was renowned for his dedication to peace and nonviolent protests, lovingly referred to as "Bapu", which means "father". He is considered the unofficial "Father of the Nation" of India. [1][2]

Early Years

Gandhi was born 2 October 1869 at Porbandar to an upper class family. His father, Karamchand Gandhi, served as a chief minister in Porbandar and other states in western India. Gandhi said of his father, "My father never had any ambition to accumulate riches, and left us very little property." His mother, Putlibai, was a deeply religious woman, often fasting. She had a wealth of commonsense, was well informed in matters of state and other women thought highly of her intelligence.[3]

Gandhi, in his autobiography, mentioned several incidents from his early life that influenced the man he would become. He didn't remember ever telling a lie during his young years. He was shy and his books and lessons were his companions, not because he liked learning but because he didn't want to be taken to task by his teachers, for whom he had great respect.[3]

At some point he read a book (a play) about Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka, who had a great devotion to his parents. There was a part about Shravana, fitting a sling to his shoulders and carrying his blind parents on a pilgrimage. It made a powerful impression on young Mohandas. " 'Here is an example for you to copy,' I said to myself."[3]

Another incident from a play "Harishchandra" captured his heart. " 'Why should not all be truthful like Harishchandra?' was the question I asked myself day and night. To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals Harishchandra went through was the one ideal it inspired in me."[3]

Young Man


Gandhi received a comprehensive education which included learning English and Sanskrit.[3]

In May 1883, aged 13, he married Kasturba Makhanji, also age 13, through the arrangement of their respective parents, as is customary in India. It was a triple wedding with his older brother and older cousin marrying at the same time.[3] They had four sons, Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas. These four sons all married and had children, and it is estimated that he has at least approximately 120 living relatives.[citation needed]

Gandhi in his autobiography points out that his teenage years were not without blemish. He smoked, ate meat, and lusted after his young wife. [3]

At 18, Gandhi was offered the opportunity of furthering his studies at University College London. He accepted and started there in September 1888. Following admission to the English Bar, and his return to India, he found work difficult to come by.[citation needed]

South Africa

In 1893, the year that Paramahansa Yoganda was born, Gandhi accepted a year’s contract to work for an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa.[citation needed] Gandhi ended up spending 21 years in there, and railing against the injustice of racial segregation.[citation needed] In 1894, he founded a political movement, the Natal Indian Congress to fight discrimination.[citation needed]

In 1900, during the Boer War, Gandhi volunteered to form a group of stretcher-bearers as the Natal Indian Ambulance Corps. He wanted to disprove the British idea that Hindus were not fit for "manly" activities involving danger and exertion. Gandhi raised eleven hundred Indian volunteers. They were trained and medically certified to serve on the front lines.[4]

Return to India

Gandhi returned in 1915 to India and founded an ashram in Ahmedabad open to all castes. Wearing a simple loincloth and shawl, Gandhi lived an austere life devoted to prayer, fasting and meditation. He became known as “Mahatma,” which means “great soul.” Through these practices, aimed at “seeing God face to face”, Gandhi developed his own mystical path to transcend the ego, go beyond everyday consciousness, and be awakened. Gandhian mysticism is the pursuit of the benevolence of humankind to all living beings as the means toward achievement of mystic fulfillment. He equated non-violence, which became a corner stone of his political campaign, as the means to achieve his mystical vision of Truth, Peace, and Love. [5]

Gandhi became a leading figure in the Indian home-rule movement.[citation needed] He assumed the leadership of the Indian National Congress and advocated a policy of non-violence and non-cooperation to achieve home rule. [citation needed]

The outcome was far from what Gandhi had campaigned for. The British Plan resulted in the formation of two new independent states, India and Pakistan, divided along religious lines. Gandhi’s vision of a united India was never achieved.[citation needed]

Death and Legacy

At 5:17 on 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was approached from behind by Nathuram Godse, who pushed past one of the young women supporting Gandhi. Godse fired three shots at point blank range from a Beretta 9mm semi-automatic pistol directly into Gandhi’s chest. It was the sixth, and final, fatal attempt on Gandhi’s life.[citation needed]

Godse is reported to have shouted to the police and surrendered immediately. Gandhi was carried back inside Birla house, and took his final breath within a couple hours after the shooting.[citation needed]

Godse was only one of six arrested and tried for the assassination, but the suspected mastermind, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was released on a technicality. The remaining five were tried, resulting in conviction and execution of the two main conspirators, including Godse.[citation needed]

According to Hindu practice, a body should be cremated and released into a river. A funeral procession five miles in length, accompanied Gandhi's body along a five hour journey from Raj Ghat to Birla House, where he was assassinated. His body was cremated and divided into urns to be sent to various locations for memorial services, where most were to be released according to practice. Some of his ashes remain on display, while several other urns were secreted away during transit. Over time, at least two urns were discovered and reclaimed – one, in 1997, and a second in 2008. There is not an exact source as to how many were rerouted.[citation needed]

There is often reference to Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation of India. However, it has never been, and under the constitution of India, such an official title cannot be recognized or granted by the government. Granting him the title is an act not permitted due to article 18(1) of the Indian Constitution prohibiting titles except in the case of titles for education and military purposes. Unless there is a change of law, Gandhi's status as Father of the Nation will remain unofficial.[citation needed]

In 2012, a young girl began inquiries into the title of "Father of the Nation" and the request processed through several offices before providing her with the answer. In addition, research seems to link the title beginnings to a radio program that aired in Singapore, 6 July 1944. Use of the title was again noted during a conference in 1947, when Sarojini Naidu spoke at a conference and made mention of Gandhi as "the Father of the Nation" in her address.[citation needed]


  1. [ BBC. "Gandhi: Reckless teenager to father of India" Accessed Feb 2016
  2. Father to a nation, stranger to his son - A report by Sarfraz Manzoor on the movie Gandhi, My Father (2007)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Gandhi, Mohandas K. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth. 1927. There are several versions online: At
  4. Wikipedia Mahatma Gandi
  5. [1]

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Comments: 3

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I was going to clean up the English (eg, "a girl also aged" should be "also aged 13"), but this is project protected.

Also, are arranged marriages still customary in India. Some might find that offensive give the age of 13.

No source is listed for his Law degree. And it is implied that his admission to the English bar made finding employment difficult.

posted by Jim Martinez
He knew that some would see a refusal to fight as a lunacy, a madness. He thought of it as courage. He is quoted "In a gentle way, you can shake the world." and "Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love."

Meltzer, Brad, Heroes for my son, pgs 92-93, Harper Collins Publishing

posted by Lisa (Kelsey) Murphy
Zach, Join the India Project and Collaborative Profile of the Week in improving this profile. Read the question in the G2G forum.
posted by Anne B