Gandhi - Pacifist and Political Activist - an Overview
Created | Updated Dec 10, 2008
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.
- Mahatma Gandhi
On 2 October 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born. This would make him a Libran, the astrological sign represented by a set of scales. Gandhi lived his life seeking a balance in his surroundings, and found that balance inside himself. This trivial fact is irrelevant, however, because Gandhi wasn't that interested in astrology.
He married a woman named Kasturbai when he was 14, which would have been a mean feat to accomplish in the West today. Fortunately for both Kasturbai and Gandhi, they lived in India. Five years later he went to England to study law and in 1891 he returned to India, with his head filled with knowledge from another country that he eventually put to very good use.
In the spring of 1893, Gandhi travelled to South Africa and became a legal consultant. Within a couple months of being there, Gandhi experienced what we now commonly refer to as racial discrimination. This displeased him no end, so he spent the rest of his life fighting the unfair treatment of peoples both in South Africa and in India.
In 1896 he went back to India to get his family and also to rally support for Indians in South Africa. He returned to South Africa in November of that year. Then he began getting on the nerves of the British government by petitioning them to end laws that involved discrimination. By late October of 1901 he went back to India, but a year later he returned to South Africa. He really just couldn't decide where he most wanted to be.
He continued causing no end of headaches for the British Parliament, and was generally a major thorn in their side. By 1906 he denounced materialism and stopped having sex, no doubt so he could devote even more time to being a major pain in the British backside.
It was how he did this which annoyed them the most. He was able to convince large numbers of fellow Indians to commit acts of Satyagraha or peaceful protest which basically meant they just stood there and did nothing but get in the way of mean people who were just waiting to have an excuse to blow people away anyway. And the bad guys did blow some of these people away eventually, but when they did, it make them look really bad in the international public relations department.
Gandhi was the original rebel with a cause (the best kind), an ex-convict, and according to the Brits he married illegally. So they arrested his wife, which some would argue really wasn't that big a deal considering he'd taken a vow of celibacy. In 1915, his wife made a public speech in Gandhi's place, because he had been imprisoned just so he couldn't make it. As a result, they imprisoned her and she died 30 years later in prison.
There are some people in this world who live and die and the fact they lived doesn't have any real impact even in their local community. There are some other people who make nominal changes in their neighbourhood, or their town, or their country.
Gandhi did a lot of crazy things, and said a lot of neat stuff that people repeatedly quote in order to sound as cool as he was, and because of his efforts, India eventually achieved independence from England. His influence is still being felt long after his death, and probably will for generations to come. He helped to increase the sensitivity and awareness of a global culture.