Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the town of Porbander in the state of what is now Gujarat on 2 October 1869. He had his schooling in nearby Rajkot, where his father served as the adviser or prime minister to the local ruler. Though India was then under British rule, over 500 kingdoms, principalities, and states were allowed autonomy in domestic and internal affairs: these were the so-called 'native states'. Rajkot was one such state. His father died before Gandhi could finish his schooling, and at thirteen he was married to Kasturba [or Kasturbai], who was of the same age as Mohandas himself . In 1888 Gandhi set sail for England, where he had decided to pursue a degree in law. Though his elders objected, Gandhi could not be prevented from leaving; and it is said that his mother, a devout woman, made him promise that he would keep away from wine, women, and meat during his stay abroad. Gandhi left behind his son Harilal, then a few months old. After one year of a none too successful law practice, Gandhi decided to accept an offer from an Indian businessman in South Africa,
Gandhi was to stay in South Africa for over twenty years. The Indians who had been living in South Africa were without political rights and were generally known by the derogatory name of 'coolies'. Gandhi himself came to an awareness of the frightening force and fury of European racism, and how far Indians were from being considered full human beings, when he when thrown out of a first-class railway compartment car, though he held a first-class ticket, atPietermaritzburg. From this political awakening Gandhi was to emerge as the leader of the Indian community, and it is in South Africa that he first coined the term satyagraha to signify his theory and practice of non-violent resistance.
Gandhi returned to India in early 1915, and was never to leave the country again except for a short trip that took him to Europe in 1931. Though he was not completely unknown in India, Gandhi...
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