Page:A Brief Study of Mahatma Gandhi.djvu/4

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choose two Indians, Gandhi and Tagore. The lives of both of these great sons of India are full of human pathos, sublimity of human conscience, unfaltering devotion to work which is the true lot of man, and above all, a restless urge toward the realization of human unity.

In this article I intend to present a brief study of Mahatma Gandhi, promising the reader to give later on a similar sketch of Poet Tagore.

Gandhi was born in 1869 in the province of Gujrath, in the northwestern part of India. He came of a rich and influential family, his father, Karamchand, being a prime minister of one of the native States. He is a Jain by religion. Jainism is a branch of Hinduism and it was born in an attempt to reconcile the revolutionary tenents of Buddha with the orthodox teachings of Hinduism. The doctrine of non-injury to any form of life is a cardinal principle with the Jains. Gandhi received his school and college education in India, and at the age of nineteen he was sent to England to study law. He was called to bar in London and in 1891 returned to India where he began practicing law at Bombay. This part of his life history is not particularly unusual. Although signs of great future promise were frequently displayed in his boyhood and youth, it was not until 1893 that one could consider him as a singular personality. Gandhi's career divides itself into two distinct periods, one from 1893 to 1914 which is identified with South Africa, and the second from 1914 to 1923 which is identified with India.

In the early nineties of the last century, there were located some 150,000 Indians in South Africa, chiefly in the province of Natal. Their presence led as usual to arouse the color obsession of the Anglo-Saxons. Wherever the Anglo-Saxons go, whether it be to the land of the African Negroes, the Mongolide Japanese and Chinese, or to the land of the Latins, they unfailingly introduce their color complex and help to produce conditions which prove degrading to some and humiliating to others. Resistance on the part of the Indians brought upon them indescribable outrages. In 1893 Gandhi came to Pretoria on legal business and found himself at once at the center of disturbance. On realizing the helplessness of the Indians and their need for a leader, he decided to espouse the cause of his oppressed fellow-countrymen.

It was during this period of his stay in South Africa that Gandhi came to know Count Tolstoy and studied his philosophy of passive resistance. Gandhi was successful in organizing the Indian Colony into a unit and followed a policy of non-cooperation with the so-called whites whenever he was compelled to and a policy of cooperation and helpfulness whenever he could. Thus during the Boer War in 1899, during the plague of 1904 and again during the native revolt of 1908 Gandhi organized his colony for public relief and did all he could to serve his opponents.

Gandhi was frequently arrested and punished, but in 1914 he won his fight and had the obnoxious legislation repealed, opening the Natal to Indians on equitable terms with the Europeans.

Gandhi returned to India with the enormous prestige of his success in his mission to South Africa. Indian

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