Gandhi is one of the most fascinating personalities of the 20th century.
The way in which he stood up against discrimination in South Africa and
in India using non-violence combined with the theory he developed on his
methods make him one of the most important examples in the history of
humanity. He has been the inspiration for many people including Martin
Luther King. Amazingly, Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize. The Nobel Committee was unable to reach a decision and have
surely regretted this ever since. The following text
deals with Gandhi's work in India. You will find a brief overview of the
other things available in this section in the following table:
and work: A comprehensive text addresses the life and work of
Gandhi in South Africa and India.
you will find a number of quotes from Gandhi on non-violence, civil
disobedience and morality.
The history of South Africa and India form the background for Gandhi's
This section provides a collection of quotes and texts about Gandhi,
including some from Martin Luther King.
link: We have chosen a few websites featuring plenty of
information on Gandhi. This list includes short descriptions of these
sites that should
make your research easier.
I hate privilege and
monopolies. I reject everything that cannot be shared with the rest of
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work in India
India before the 15th of August
statistical figures for British-India before the 15th August 1947
shed some stark light on the situation that faced Gandhi after his return to
India: A population totaling 410 million, of whom 281 million were Hindus, 115
million Muslims, 7 million Christians, 6 million Sikhs, were faced by 150,000
Englishmen. Yet the Hindus were divided into 3,000 castes and sub-castes with 70
million people rated Untouchables and descendants of the original inhabitants.
310 million of the population lived under British administration and inhabited
roughly two thirds of the territory. The remaining third held roughly 100
million people and was divided into 565 principalities speaking 15 different
languages and 845 dialects. 85% illiteracy and indescribable poverty (...)
hindered India in its struggle for independence.
[You will find further information on the
history of India on the page entitled India.]
Gradually Gandhi found
strong support among India's population
Gandhi's return to India he started presenting his ideas to the public. The
concept of civil resistance against unrestricted British power was demonstrated
by the Salt
March in the year 1930, which
ended the state's monopoly on salt and brought a degree of economic relief to
India. To Gandhi however, it was essential that his fellow countrymen learned to
overcome the British military supremacy by the means of stronger moral power.
Initially non-violent trials of strength failed again and again because of the
undisciplined crowds, but gradually Gandhi found strong support among the
population of India and strengthened their national self-confidence.
He praised the simple life
and raised the spinning wheel as a symbol of this way of life
path led him back to the power of religion. He bitterly fought against
industrialisation and tried to shield himself and his fellow countrymen
from western ideas and ways of life. He praised the simple life and set
a personal example himself by his vegetarian life style, nature healing
and hygiene. He chose the spinning wheel to be a symbol of this way of
life, and beseeched the Indians to create a cottage industry by spinning
and weaving their own cloth thereby taking on the struggle against the
textile industry of England. For a while he commenced his public
lectures by sitting at the spinning wheel in front of his audience in
order to promote his idea.
Gandhi conciliation of the higher-caste Hindus with the Untouchables was an
obvious matter of concern, but it was one that he did not succeed in achieving.
Maybe one reason was that he entreated the Untouchables to adopt a positive
attitude to a life in contempt and insecurity. By 'fasting unto death', a method
of making his demands expressive and compelling, he managed to gradually bring
Hindus and Untouchables closer together, but he did not succeed in achieving the
same between Hindus and Muslims. The members of his own religious community
denied him their loyalty and so the bloody disputes between the rival groups
increased. Finally, when the independence of India was proclaimed and then
enacted on the 15th August 1947, it instantly resulted in partition
into Pakistan and India.
He looked on with great
concern as the individual groups fell into disunity
attitude towards non-violence remains his legacy. However one must not fail to recognize
that his one-sided life and 'return to the simple life' both missed the
requirements of the times and hindered the political process of a modern state.
death was dramatic. On the 30th January 1948 the man whom the Indian
poet Tragore had named Mahatma (Great Soul), was killed by shots from a pistol.
His whole life he had preached a policy of non-violence. With growing concern he
saw how prior to and following the declaration of independence the different
groups fell into disunity and fought each other for power. He tried to mediate
and called for friendship among the religions. Ten days before his death a bomb
had exploded on his property while he was holding a public prayer meeting. Only
a few days before the assassination, as if he had a premonition, Gandhi had
said: "Should I die by the bullet of a madman, I have to do so with a
smile. There must be no anger in me. God must be in my heart and on my lips and
you must promise me one thing: Should such a thing happen, do not shed a tear. I
have done my deeds for humanity not requested by any human and I cannot stop on
request of anybody. I am like God wanted me and I do as he advises me to do. Let
him do with me as he pleases. If he wants to he may kill me. I believe that I do
as he orders."
news of his death left the whole world in mourning. The United Nations lowered
their flags to half-mast. From the Vatican to the Kremlin sympathy was
expressed. Gandhi remains a great example to the world.
[Taken from: Gerhard Zimmermann, Sie
widerstanden, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1995, 49ff.]
rich have excess supplies of the things they don't need, while millions
live on the edge of hunger. If everyone would only own what they
actually need, no one would have to live in poverty and everyone would
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