Before he was given the title of Mahatma, or "great soul," for helping lead India to independence from British rule, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born to a poor family in Porbandar, India, on October 2, 1869. Though he only received an elementary education, Gandhi was a shy child and found companionship in books, especially the Indian classics. These stories had a profound effect on him, with their overarching values of truth and love.
Gandhi was an average student. His time at school was interrupted when, at only 13, he married the 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia in an arranged marriage. He went on to graduate from high school, but dropped out of college. A family friend then recommended that Gandhi be sent to London to study law. Despite some objections from his family and concerns that England would corrupt him, Gandhi packed his bags and set off for London. He arrived in 1888 and began studying law and jurisprudence at University College, London.
At 22, Gandhi became a barrister and returned to India, but his law practice in Bombay failed. He accepted a job offer as a lawyer in South Africa, which at the time was also part of the British Empire. Gandhi knew that he would be in South Africa for at least a year, but he ended up staying for 21 years. It was in South Africa that he developed his political and ethical views, in large part due to the discrimination he was subjected to because of his skin color and heritage. Gandhi fought for the rights of both Indians and Africans in South Africa, and was later proclaimed a national hero.
In 1915, Gandhi returned to India as a known Indian nationalist and social activist. He became the leader of the Indian National Congress; 10 years later, India declared its independence from British rule. It was a long struggle. Gandhi demanded immediate independence in 1942, to which the British responded by imprisoning him and thousands of congressional leaders. Ultimately, Gandhi led India to its independence, and is now considered the father of his country. Today, he is globally respected for his policy of nonviolent protest, or satyagraha, in his political and social activities. As Gandhi once wrote, “Nonviolence is not a weapon of the weak. It is a weapon of the strongest and the bravest.”
Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist in 1948. His legacy, however, has never faded, and he left the world with many words of wisdom about the value of compassion, courage, and tolerance. They are words we can live by, whatever our path in life.
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable.
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fail. Think of it — always.
An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.
If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
A “No” uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a “Yes” merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
It is beneath human dignity to lose one’s individuality and become a mere cog in the machine.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.
Mutual courtesy and respect is the foundation of culture.
To give service to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
The law of love knows no bounds of space or time.
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