.. , Gandhi proclaimed an organized campaign of resistance. Indians in public office resigned, government agencies such as courts of law were boycotted, and Indian children were withdrawn from government schools. Through India, squatting Indians who refused to rise even when beaten by police blocked streets. Gandhi was arrested, but the British were soon forced to release him. Economic independence for India, involving the complete boycott of British goods, was made a corollary of Gandhi’s movement.
The economic aspects of the movement were significant, for the exploitation of Indian villagers by British industrialists had resulted in extreme poverty in the country and the virtual destruction of Indian home industries. As a remedy for such poverty, Gandhi advocated revival of cottage industries; he began to use a spinning wheel as a token of the return to the simple village life he preached, and of the renewal of native Indian industries. Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. In 1944 the Indian struggle for independence was in its final stages, the British government having agreed to independence on condition that the two contending nationalist groups, the Muslim League and the Congress party, should resolve their differences. Gandhi stood steadfastly against the partition of India but ultimately had to agree, in the hope that internal peace would be achieved after the Muslim demand for separation had been satisfied. India was then split into Muslim Pakistan, and Hindu India. IX.
The Salt March One famous protest and march was the Salt March of 1930. The British government had made it illegal for Indians to make their own salt, and to many this symbolized Indians depending on the British, just as they depend on salt, for life. Gandhi planned to march with 78 of his followers to a town on the coast where salt lay at the beaches. The march attracted many interested onlookers. Gandhi and his followers endured 240 miles and 24 days of marching, 78 marchers had become thousands.
For weeks after, thousands were arrested, beaten and killed, but no one fought back. Finally Gandhi was arrested too, he had a smile on his face the whole time. X. Bhagavad-Gita Growing up Hindu, Gandhi had always had the Bhagavad-Gita close at hand. However it wasn’t until he was living in England that he started to grasp its real meaning. It was then that the book began speaking to him and guiding him in all he would do in the rest of his life.
It is what guided him to simplify his life and give up worldly possessions; in the Bhagavad-Gita, this is a way to achieve Moksha (set your soul free). One of these possessions Gandhi gave up was sex, for he realized that sex is much more than just physical, it is acting out energy and love. He did not want so much of his energy “locked” in his sexual drive, so he simply made a choice that he would not let his sexual drive control him anymore. XI. Gandhi on Caste The Indian term for caste is jati, which generally designates a group varying in size from a handful to many thousands.
There are thousands of such jatis, and each has its distinctive rules, customs, and modes of government. The term varna (literally meaning “color”) refers to the ancient and somewhat ideal fourfold division of Hindu society: (1) the Brahmans, the priestly and learned class; (2) the Kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers; (3) the Vaisyas, farmers and merchants; and (4) the Sudras, peasants and laborers. These divisions may have corresponded to what were formerly large, broad, undifferentiated social classes. Below the category of Sudras were the untouchables, or Panchamas (literally “fifth division”), who performed the most menial tasks. One of Gandhi’s main causes was for the liberation of the lower castes. He was always collecting money and asking women to give up their jewels to be sold for money for the poor.
They were another reason he had detached himself from possessions and started working the fields. He felt he needed to unite with them. He was embarrassed by the thought of another human serving him; instead, he would serve whomever he was capable of serving at any time. In 1932, Gandhi began new civil-disobedience campaigns against the British. Arrested twice, Gandhi fasted for long periods of time. These extended fasts were effective measures against the British, because revolution might well have broken out in India if he had died.
In September 1932, while in jail, Gandhi undertook a “fast unto death” to improve the status of the Hindu Untouchables. The British, by permitting the Untouchables to be considered as a separate part of the Indian electorate were committing a great injustice, in the eyes of Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was a member of the Vaisya (merchant) caste. Gandhi was the great leader of the movement in India dedicated to eradicating the unjust social and economic aspects of the caste system. XII. The Final Days The last few months of Gandhi’s life were to be spent mainly in the capital city of Delhi.
There he divided his time between the Bhangi colony, where the sweepers and the lowest of the low stayed, and Birla House, the residence of one of the wealthiest men in India and one of the benefactors of Gandhi’s ashrams. Hindu and Sikh refugees had come into the capital of India from what had become Pakistan. There was much resentment between the Hindus and the Muslims. This easily translated into violence against Muslims. It was partly in an attempt to put an end to the killings in Delhi, and more generally to the bloodshed of the native people. Gandhi was to commence the last fast unto death of his life in an attempt to bring peace to India again.
The fast was terminated when representatives of all the communities signed a statement that they were prepared to live in “perfect amity”, and that the lives, property, and faith of the Muslims would be safeguarded. A few days later, a bomb exploded in Birla House where Gandhi was holding his evening prayers, but it caused no injuries. However, his assassin, a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin by the name of Nathuram Godse, was not so easily deterred. Gandhi, quite characteristically, refused additional security, and no one could defy his wish to be allowed to move around unhindered. As he was about to mount the steps of the podium, Gandhi folded his hands and greeted his audience with a prayer. Just at that moment, a young man came up to him and roughly pushed aside Gandhis one protector.
Nathuram Godse bent down in the gesture of respect, took a revolver out of his pocket, and shot Gandhi three times in his chest. The crowd then converged on Gandhis body. The assassin was found and beaten to death by the crowd. XIII. Conclusion Gandhi’s death was regarded as an international catastrophe. His place in humanity was measured not in terms of the 20th century but in terms of history.
A period of mourning was set aside in the United Nations General Assembly, and all countries expressed condolences to India. Religious violence soon waned in India and Pakistan, and the teachings of Gandhi came to inspire nonviolent movements elsewhere, notably in the U.S. under the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr King took the lessons taught by Gandhi to the oppressed of India, and applied them to the oppression of the blacks in America. Gandhi was a great leader, a loyal countryman, and the foremost proponent for non-violent protest.
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