mahatma gandhi

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Spiritual development

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India.
Spiritual development

Gandhi began to do day-to-day chores for unpaid boarders of the lowest castes and encouraged his wife to do the same. He decided to buy a farm in Natal and return to a simpler way of life. He began to fast (not eat). In 1906 he became celibate (not engaging in sexual intercourse) after having fathered four sons, and he preached Brahmacharya (vow of celibacy) as a means of birth control and spiritual purity. He also began to live a life of voluntary poverty.
During this period Gandhi developed the concept of Satyagraha, or soul force. He wrote: Satyagraha is not predominantly civil disobedience, but a quiet and irresistible pursuit of truth. Truth was throughout his life Gandhis chief concern, as reflected in the subtitle of his Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Gandhi also developed a basic concern for the means used to achieve a goal.
In 1907 Gandhi urged all Indians in South Africa to defy a law requiring registration and fingerprinting of all Indians. For this activity he was imprisoned for two months but released when he agreed to voluntary registration. During Gandhis second stay in jail he read the American essayist Henry David Thoreaus (1817?1862) essay Civil Disobedience, which left a deep impression on him. He was also influenced by his correspondence with Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy Gandhi decided to create a place for civil resisters to live in a group environment. He called it the Tolstoy Farm. By this time he had abandoned Western dress for traditional Indian garb. Two of his final legal achievements in Africa were a law declaring Indian (rather than only Christian) marriages valid, and the end of a tax on former indentured (bound to work and unable to leave for a specific period of time) Indian labor. Gandhi regarded his work in South Africa as completed.
By the time Gandhi returned to India in January 1915, he had become known as Mahatmaji, a title given him by the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861?1941). This title means great soul. Gandhi knew how to reach the masses and insisted on their resistance and spiritual growth. He spoke of a new, free Indian individual, telling Indians that Indias cages were self-made.


Disobedience and return to old values
Back to India
The Noakhali massacre
Gandhi tries to play the English Gentleman
Cripps Mission
Anti untouchability Campaign
Cabinet Mission
Turning Against the British
Gandhi the Reformer
Drive for independence
The Salt March
Ahmedabad Satyagraha
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