Throughout history most national heroes have been warriors, but Gandhi ended British rule over his native India without striking a single blow. A frail man, he devoted his life to peace and brotherhood in order to achieve social and political progress. Yet less than six months after his nonviolent resistance to British rule won independence for India, he was assassinated by a religious fanatic. Born on Oct. 2, 1869, in Porbandar, near Bombay, Gandhi was one of the gentlest of men, a devout and almost mystical Hindu, but he had an iron core of determination. Nothing could change his convictions. This combination of traits made him the leader of India's nationalist movement. Some observers called him a master politician. Others believed him a saint. To millions of Hindus he was their beloved Mahatma, meaning 'great soul. Gandhiji was a great social reformer. He worked hard to improve the life of women and the downtrodden. He advocated social justice and equality. He criticised casteism, untouchability, pardah system, child marriage, etc. He promoted women education. He called the untouchables harijan. His approach to various problems was non-violent. He was a great man of action. He taught the Indians the value of working with their own hands. He taught us the dignity of labour. He worked for Hindu-Muslim unity. When there were communal riots in different parts of the country, he risked his life to restore peace there. He was an apostle of peace. He was a friend of all and enemy of none. He was a God-fearing person. When he was 19 he defied custom by going abroad to study. He studied law at University College in London. Fellow students snubbed him because he was an Indian. In his lonely hours he studied philosophy. In his reading he discovered the principle of nonviolence as enunciated in Henry David Thoreau's 'Civil Disobedience,' and he was persuaded by John Ruskin's plea to give up industrialism for farm life and traditional...
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