Many people feel they can change the world and better it for future generations. They try all sorts of ways to change life, and many don't accomplish their goals. One person who did accomplish his goals was Gandhi. Gandhi took many actions to affect those who were doing wrong. But did Gandhi accomplish his goals when he wanted to? Did Gandhi accomplish his goals at all? I feel Gandhi did accomplish his goals, but not in his lifetime.
Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1869, the world's greatest man was born. Gandhi went to school in England to become a lawyer. He was trained in formal law, and was classically trained. His education in law made him a diligent thinker. He then established a law practice in Bombay with little success. Two years later he joined an Indian firm. This firm retained him as a legal advisor in Durban. Arriving in Durban, Gandhi found himself treated as though part of an inferior race. He was appalled at the widespread denial of civil liberties and political rights to Indian immigrants in South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for elementary rights for Indians. He used his training when forming his beliefs. "The things that will destroy us are: Politics without principle; Pleasure without conscience; Wealth without work; Knowledge without character; Business without morality; Science without humanity, And worship without sacrifice."1
Gandhi spent the next twenty years of his life in South Africa, being imprisoned many a time. Why was he imprisoned do you ask? Well, this is where you can find out. Gandhi became a freedom fighter for Indians, minus the fighting of course. Well, sort of, Gandhi had been attacked and beaten many times by the white South Africans. He then formed his idea of passive resistance to, and noncooperation with, the South African authorities. "Make waves, not war"2 He gained inspiration to be a passive resister from the writer Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi's greatest influence. Tolstoy left a profound influence and imprint on Gandhi as did the teachings of Jesus Christ and the nineteenth century writer Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience" was one Gandhi took to heart. But civil disobedience and passive resistance were believed by Gandhi to be inadequate for his purpose. For that reason Gandhi coined the term Satyagraha, a Sanskrit word meaning truth and firmness. This word defined what Gandhi was working towards. In 1910 Gandhi founded Tolstoy Farms, in Johannesburg, which was a cooperative colony for Indians to go to.
The first of Gandhi's nonviolent protests was the sit-in. He was arrested dozens of time for doing a sit-in. When the Indian people were being oppressed or unfairly taxed, Gandhi would go to an important area. Important as in, in front of a government building of those doing the taxing or oppressing. He would peacefully sit until arrested. The meetings or gatherings could not continue while Gandhi was there and others would join him, usually Indians, so to prevent the evil ways from continuing. After twenty years of sit-ins Gandhi decided he needed something bigger. The sit-ins always ended with the gathering continuing afterward and Gandhi in jail. That is only so effective, surely not effective enough. Gandhi instigated hunger strikes to stop Indian oppression. Gandhi would go for extremely long periods of time without eating. The South African government did know of these hunger strikes and were forced to give in. If they did not they would be responsible for the death of this man. It's perfectly understandable why they gave in, of course. But the government wouldn't just give Gandhi anything for not eating, so Gandhi's progression towards his goals was still quite slow. When he did eat Gandhi was a vegetarian and still ate very little. Because of his diet Gandhi became awfully frail and skinny; his breath had an incurable odor. He also walked around barefoot which made his feet hard and callused. For these two reasons he became known as Super callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis. His face became synonymous with the struggle of the Indian people and an international symbol of a free Indian state. He led the Indian people in the struggle for Indian independence.
Gandhi's beliefs spread like wildfire throughout the newly formed independent India. Gandhi gained millions upon millions of followers. All followed Gandhi's nonviolent noncooperative ways. English courts, as well as many other government establishments, were boycotted; Indian children were withdrawn from government schools. His followers would not even rise when being beaten, filling the streets in their squatting meditation position. At this point Gandhi made the change. He changed his name to Mahatma, a Sanskrit word meaning great soul, a title reserved only for the greatest sages.
In 1932 Gandhi started his civil disobedience campaign against the British. He was arrested twice for this campaign when he took on his biggest fast known as the fast unto death. He knew that a civil war would break out if he were to die in a British jailhouse. This fast luckily did not last until death.
Gandhi caused many government laws and ways to cease with his actions. Among those are: abolishing taxes over many items placed on the Indians, establishing a Muslim state, stopping much oppression of Indians, creating new ways of thought, life, and being. He accomplished all this and much more all before he retired from politics to travel and speak to groups about nonviolence. Gandhi influenced almost everyone who has heard the name including Martin Luther King Jr. for example.
Gandhi's death at the hands of an assassin on January 30, 1948 was considered a national catastrophe. The world had a period of mourning, and he didn't go down only in twentieth century history, but also in world history. Religious violence soon waned in India and Pakistan, and Gandhi's thoughts soon began to inspire people worldwide about nonviolence.
The important question is, did the Mahatma, Gandhi, accomplish his goals? If he did, did he accomplish his goals in his lifetime? I feel Gandhi did accomplish all his goals, even more than his goals. Muslims got their own state, Indian oppression decreased and the world improved just from his presence. I feel that he did accomplish a lot of his goals, but not all were accomplished during his lifetime. Many were accomplished simply by his death. Others by his teachings being spread after his death. Though I feel Gandhi did accomplish his goals, I have a doubt that he would be pleased with modern society or today's world. There is still much violence and wrongdoing around that he would not be pleased with. I believe that our society is greedy, and that if people could they would live by martial law. Because they can't, people go by their own rules as much as possible. Normal practices in today's society go against exactly what Gandhi taught. Swaraj, Sanskrit for self-ruling, was one of the many things Gandhi spoke out against, and swaraj is still practiced in everyday life. Ahimsa, noninjury, and satyagraha, truth and firmness, were Gandhi's most important teachings. Unfortunately we live in a world where to be such a way is "uncool" and almost unacceptable if wanting to be accepted by others when growing up. "My life is my message,"3 is one of Gandhi's more famous quotes. Much could be learned from this quote. In just two generations most of Gandhi's teachings have been forgotten. This quote explains all of his beliefs in just five simple words. Gandhi was one of the world's most inspiring individuals. He accomplished more than any other man in history did. Amazing.
1 Mahatma Gandhi
2 Mahatma Gandhi
3 Mahatma Gandhi