Mahatma Gandhi: A Fighter For Freedom

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was one of the few men who fought for moral, political, religious, economic, and cultural ideas. He was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, British India (now Gujarat) and passed away on January 30, 1948. 78 years if his life was dedicated to helping others and reaching enlightenment.

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Gandhi practiced the ancient Hindu religion that emphasized fasting, meditation, vegetarianism, and non-violence. As Gandhi’s family tried to decide for him what his future would look like, he would have liked to become a doctor. The decision was made for Gandhi to pursue his education in England and will not touch meat, alcohol, and women. In the book Mahatma Gandhi and His Myths by Mark Shepard it states, Gandhi was not a scrawny little man. Yes, his legs were scrawny”and bowed”but he had a barrel chest, and a deep, booming voice to match it. Gandhi’s appearance could create the impression he was quiet and timid however this was not the case. He used voice and became a man of power. During the Salt March in 1930, he led this act of a nonviolent protest.

        Gandhi was a shy student who always followed the rules and regulations in college. However, was known to be mischievous as a kid. At the age of 18, Gandhi sailed to England to study law. After college, he returned home to India. Shortly his mother passed away and affected him significantly. At Gandhi’s first courtroom case, he fled the room with anxiety and embarrassment suffering the reimbursement with his client and struggled to find work in India as a lawyer. Gandhi then met a man who offered him a job in South Africa in which he gains political knowledge. Facing racial discrimination and humiliation in South Africa he became an activist. Then he decided to fight for Indians rights along with other minorities. Indians were not allowed to walk on the path of Europeans and vote. Gandhi knew this was unjust and unfair. Questioning the way minorities were treating Gandhi created an organization called Natal Indian Congress in 1894. He spent 21 years in South Africa, was challenged with racism, and fought for civil rights, then returned to India as a new and improved man.

He was influenced by the concept of Satyagraha which is the dedication to the truth and being as honest as you possibly can be. The Sanskrit word satya means truth and graha means nine celestial bodies. This can be practiced to improve self-esteem, self-realization, and moral worth.Satyagraha is nonviolent action, led by person’s sense of moral truths. Gandhi used Satyagraha to challenged the new registration laws. (Kuhn) In order for Satyagraha to be known, it was important for Gandhi and the people of India, to publicize this idea of honesty as much as possible. Society took this as an important task and soon enough every newspaper press was printing papers about Satyagraha. Gandhi stated, We shall prepared salt, eat it, sell it to the people, and while doing so, court imprisonment, if necessary. (Kuhn) Satyagraha carries strength that can only be approached with love.

Britain’s Salt Act of 1882 prevented Indians from selling and gathering salt. Salt is very important and is essential to survival. Throughout the Civil War, salt was a precious asset used not only for eating but for tanning leather, dyeing clothes and preserving troop rations. (History) Salt was and is very useful. The taxation of salt was an arising issue from the earliest of times. Nonetheless, when the British established their rule over India the salt tax significantly increased. Kolkata, India is where all the salt works took place and is also the land that the British East India Company took ownership of. Having no respect for Indians and their culture, the British gave them little to no power or say in the government. They took away the primary source for food from the Indians and cause millions of people to starve. There is no article like salt outside water by taxing which the state can reach even the starving millions, the sick, the maimed and the utterly helpless. The tax constitutes the most inhuman poll tax that that ingenuity of men can devise. (Kuhn)

Creating tax policies along with some laws, they caused the eliminations of the Indian textile industry which resulted in unemployment for hundreds of people. As they took advantage of this opportunity to make more profit, the owners increased rent and created transit charges on the transportation of salt. In 1835 India’s Government review the taxation on salt. The India Salt Act of 1882 had regulations that highly enforced a government’s ownership of collecting and manufacturing salt. It was strictly handled and manufactured. Salt was only under official government storage.

The Salt March was an act of protest that consisted of 78 people and expanded to thousands coming together to fight for their rights. It took place in April 1930 in India. Led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Salt March was a protest toward the British rule of India and a plan of action. On March 12, 1930 Gandhi and his followers began the Salt March to a location near the Arabian Sea, Dandi. Reporters and journalists followed them throughout their journey. This 240-mile march last 23 days. Their goals were to make salt from the sea water. Along the march, Gandhi’s followers planted vegetables for starving families. As they marched he gave speeches that inspired more supporters to arise and continue to walk with Gandhi.

On April 6, 1930 Gandhi arrive to Dandi along with thousands of supporters behind him. Everybody spent that night praying and the next morning, they went down to the shore to make salt. Police officers had crushed the salt deposits deep into the mud to prevent Gandhi and the others to get the salt. However, they reached into the mud pills and retrieved the salt, bringing the British Law to defeat. On May 5, authorities arrested over 80,000 Indians including Gandhi. Starving families were thrown into jail and beaten because they were fighting for their rights. Gandhi and his peaceful supporters were humiliated in front of the entire world by being crushed fiercely by batons. As the British lacked resilience, Gandhi served one year in prison. However, nobody will be able to destroy the power and independence India gained after this noble act of protest. Mohandas Gandhi was released from jail in January 1931. He attended a meeting in London as a representative of the Indian National Congress to come to an understanding of India’s future. As the British leaders recognized Gandhi for his extraordinary and brave act, the results were a setback. No laws were changed.        

Gandhi nearly died from a hunger strike in September 1947. In January. Before Gandhi’s final fast he stated,death for me would be a glorious deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness of the destruction of India, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam (History Today) and described his ideal dream was for all Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and including the others in India, to live in peace and harmony.

He decided to take on this strike after seeing the riots that broke out all over India due to the Muslims and Indians not getting along. Within 14 years people have attempted to kill Gandhi six times. Indians did not agree with paying Pakistan reparations that consisted of 55 crores. (550 million U.S. dollars) Gandhi supported the idea of Pakistan being a separate state and creation for Muslims. He did not believe that one religion was superior to the other. However, some Indians were filled with anger and disappointment toward Gandhi. On January 20, a bomb was thrown to create a distraction but was a message for Gandhi. He stated, If I am to die by the bullet of a madman, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips. (History Today) He was questioned for months after that bombing.

17 years after the Salt March, the British House of Commons passed the Indian Independence Act. From this act, hundreds of people were separated from their families and some even lost their lives. India gained independence on August 15, 1947. India was then divided into two main provinces, Pakistan and India. On January 26, 1950 India then created their own constitution. Till this day India is its own independent country.

On January 29th, 9 days after the bombing, Nathuram Godse was armed with an automatic pistol. The next day, Gandhi was exhausted from fasting and went to church to pray and propose his offerings. Around 5 o’clock Nathuram Godse approached him. In between a large group of people, Nathuram fired three shots at Gandhi puncturing his stomach and chest. As Gandhi fell to the ground, the pile of blood flooded the church grounds. Nathuram Godse attempted to shot himself right after the incident, yet failed. In the meantime, Gandhi was rushed to the hospital. An hour later he was pronounced dead. This legendary idol passed away January 30, 1948. Nathuram Godse was charged with murder in May and the following November was hanged. Gandhi’s sons begged to save Nathuram from being killed because it was the opposite of everything Gandhi has shown. Thousands of people came together to say a final goodbye to the man who influenced them the most. Gandhi’s body was wrapped in a white cloth that was six yards in length. Covered with India’s flag and adorned with fresh flowers, prayers were recited thanking this man for his noble work. The people mourned as the flames burned Gandhi, cremating his body in a traditional manner.

Gandhi will always be known as the man who took the role a leader, took risks for injustice and was known for being a holy man. It seemed as if the Western Mind was not able to match Mahatma Gandhi’s intelligence. Mahatma Gandhi was the one who guided India’s independence of a non-violent movement.

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