Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869 - 1948

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Born: 2 October 1869, Porbandar, Kathiawar Agency, British India
Died: 30 January 1948, New Delhi, Union of India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born at Porbandar, Kathiawad, India on this day in 1869, his father was the prime minister of the principality of Porbandar and his mother taught him the Jain traditions of the area. At thirteen he was married to a fourteen-year-old bride Kasturbai under an arranged marriage. He was a mediocre student at middle school at Porbandar and high school at Rajkot, passing the entrance exams for Samaldas College with difficulty. He was unhappy that he was pushed to study law but in 1888 he moved to England to study law at University College London. He found it difficult to be a vegetarian there, his landlady's offerings were bland. He found one vegetarian restaurant and joined the Vegetarian Society where he met a number of members of the Theosophical Society. With this group he seriously studied the Hindu and Christian religious texts. He was called to the bar in 1891 and immediately left for India only to find that his mother had died while he was at London. He was unable to establish a practice at Mumbai and after a run-in with an important British officer he took an assignment in the Colony of Natal, South Africa in 1893.

Faced with severe discrimination in travel and accommodation he conceived satyagraha, literally "devotion to the truth", a practice of non-violent refusal to accept official acts that discriminated against Indians. Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and devoted himself to lifting the oppressive rule of the British. He was called "Mahatma", meaning "Great Soul". Although devoted to non-violence himself he did call on Indians to join the British Army in World War I. He campaigned for changes that would improve the lot of natives, such as limiting the power of landlords, getting higher prices for crops, and agitating for and helping build schools and clinics. He specifically called for dominion status starting in 1928 and in 1930 launched the Salt March, in which he walked 288 kilometers (241 miles) to Dandi to make salt for himself, salt which would include no tax to the British. An unknown number joined him, but over 60,000 of them were jailed. He opposed the partition of India into two states and worked bring peace when it occurred, creating India and Pakistan as sovereign states in 1947. On 12 January 1948 he began a fast at Delhi, pledging to not take nourishment as long as the violence between Muslim and Hindu communities continued. He was walking to a dais to speak at a prayer meeting when a Hindu nationalist shot him.

Biography from Wikipedia and the BBC

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