Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869–30 January 1948), also known
as Mahatma Gandhi, was a major
political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement.
He was the pioneer of Satyagraha—a
philosophy that is largely concerned with truth and 'resistance to evil through
active, non-violent resistance'—which led India to independence and inspired
movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is commonly
known in India and across the world as the Mahatma and as Bapu.
In India, he is officially accorded the honour of Father of the Nation. 2 October, his birthday, is commemorated
each year as Gandhi Jayanti, a national
holiday. On 15 June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously
adopted a resolution declaring 2 October to be the "International Day of
employed peaceful civil disobedience in the Indian community's struggle for
civil rights in South Africa. Upon his return to India from Africa, he
organized poor farmers and labourers to protest against oppressive taxation and
widespread discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress,
Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for the alleviation of poverty, for the
liberation of women, for brotherhood amongst different religious and ethnic
groups, for an end to untouchability and caste discrimination, and for the
economic self-sufficiency of the nation, but above all for Swaraj—the independence of India from
foreign domination. Gandhi famously led his nation in the disobedience of the
British salt tax imposed in India with the 400 kilometre (250 miles) Dandi Salt
March in 1930, and in an open call for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years on numerous
occasions in both South Africa and India.
practiced and advocated non-violence and truth in all situations. He lived
simply, organizing an ashram that was self-sufficient in its needs. Making his
own clothes—the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with the hand spun
yarn he spun on a charkha—he lived on a simple vegetarian and, later, fruitarian
diet. He underwent long (at times over a month) fasts, for both
self-purification and protest.