The Unknown Gandhi – How much do you really know?

“My Life is my message”

Very few people have the courage to live a life that they preach to others. Though few in numbers, the world has seen a few great souls whose life indeed became a message to humanity.  Among those few, is our beloved Bapu, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. 

So much is written and told about the patriotic Gandhi, about that Gandhi who led the national movement, about the Gandhi who gave India, its much awaited Independence. But, did you know that Gandhi was also a good writer, publisher, translator, founder of many organizations, a social reformer?

Yes! Gandhi was all this and much more. Here are few unknown facts on Gandhi.

The Unknown Gandhi

Known for his simplicity, Gandhi was no simple man. Born on 2nd October 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat, Gandhi faced many ups and downs in India, went to England for higher studies where he had to fight against his own traditional believes, face the new western culture, landed up in South Africa  to work as a legal representative, where he faced racial discrimination, was thrown off the train as he refused to give away his first class seat, beaten by driver for refusing a seat to European passenger, disobeyed the magistrate of Durban court’s order to remove the turban.

Gandhi led the civilian movement in South Africa, founded Natal Indian Congress, which later became part of African National Congress, gave the world, Satyagraha – a peaceful method to protest the discrimination and injustice, founded Natal Indian Ambulance Corps, participated in battle of Spion kop and won the war medal, returned to India and led the Indian Independence Movement.

Gandhi – As journalist, writer and publisher

Gandhi started writing in his early teens. His first work was a small booklet called London Guide in English. He wrote articles on benefits of being vegetarian which were recorded in A Guide To Health, wrote open letters to Government when he practiced law in South Africa called, An Appeal To Every Briton and The Indian Franchise.

Gandhi was the founder of Navjivan, a weekly published in Gujarati and Hindi, an English version of the same was published under the name A New Life from 1919 to 1932. The moto behind these newspapers was to spread the idea of Hind Swaraj, Indian freedom by peaceful means, by educating people and cultivating in them the legal and righteous values.

Gandhi also published a weekly in English called Harijan, from 1933 to 1948. Harijan, which means people of god, stood for social and economic reforms in India and world.

He was a translator too. He translated few ashram bhajans and some famous poems to English.

His work, “Story Of Satyagrahi” is a paraphrase of the Plato’s “Defense and Death of Socrates “.  Gandhi also wrote a paraphrase on John Ruskin’s Unto The Last, which was a work on economics and its social impact.

He did write his auto biography in Gujarati which was published in weekly Navjivan, and he called it “My Experiments with Truth”. In his autobiography, Gandhi calls upon his readers to treat those experiments as illustrative and invites them to come upon with their own experiments in this light.

Gandhi’s work was consolidated and his complete works were published by Indian Government under the name, The Collected Works Of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Political Disguise

Gandhi was invited to India by Gokhale, to support and lead Indian National Movement. Gandhi returned to India on January 9th 1915. As soon as he returned, he was honored with “Kaiser I Hind” Award. Leaders of Indian national movement, had immense expectations on his return. But, Gandhi’s way was different.

Gokhale advised Gandhi to go on a year’s political disguise. The disguise confined Gandhi only to social reforms. The disguise period can be called as the ‘Year of Probation’.  This is because, Gandhi spent most of his life in South Africa and was not familiar with Indian politics. So, Gokhale insisted that, Gandhi spend a year studying Indian politics, its condition and make up his mind for the National Movement.

October 2nd –International Day of Non-violence

It was accepted in United Nation’s General Assembly held on 15th June 2007, that 2nd October be observed as an International Day of Non Violence, in honor of Gandhi. Nations around the world, now celebrate Bapu’s birthday as a Non Violence day.  The International Nonviolence day is celebrated by organizing cultural events with message of nonviolence and special programs on media. In India, the day is celebrated as Bapu’s birthday through prayers, bhajans, lighting lamps and commemorative ceremonies.

Gandhi and Controversies 

Gandhi had followers all around the world, but he did have critics. Gandhi’s nonviolence was criticized by many people. Some of those included, Leon Trotsky, Subhas Chandra Bose, George Orwell, Malcolm X and others. Nathuram Goodse, was one of the opponents of Gandhi’s nonviolence movement.

Gandhi’s remark on Jews, that Jews should have committed a mass suicide instead of being killed by Nazi’s, was protested and criticized worldwide, and it continues to be the subject of debate even now.

While transferring the powers of self-rule to India, Clement Atlee agreed that, not Gandhi for India’s Independence.

With all these and more controversies, Gandhi still remains as one of the eminent leaders of humanity. There will be celebrations throughout the country on 2nd October. But, are you paying your tribute whole heartedly? By the way, how much do you know about Gandhi?

There is so much more to know about Gandhi and so much to learn from his life. Even after so many years of his assassination, the world has not forgotten Gandhi and his principles. It’s unbelievable that, one person can touch so many lives, has influenced so many nations around the world. This reminds me of Einstein’s remark on Gandhi, which goes like this,

“Generations to come will scarce believe that, such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”

Albert Einstein





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