The idea of Satyagraha
Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in January 1915. As you know he had come from South Africa when he had successfully fought the racist regime with a novel method of mass agitation, which he called Satyagraha. The idea of Satyagraha emphasized the power of truth and the need to search for truth. It suggested that if the cause was true, if the struggle was against injustice, then physical force was not necessary to fight the oppressor. Without seeking vengeance or being aggressive a Satyagrahi could win the battle through non-violence. Appealing to the conscience of the oppressor could do this. People – including the oppressors – had to be persuaded to see the truth instead of being forced to accept the truth through the use of violence. By this struggle, truth was bound to ultimately triumph. Mahatma Gandhi believed that this dharma of non-violence could unite the Indians.
After arriving in India, Mahatma Gandhi successfully organized Satyagraha movements in various places. In 1916, he went to Chamaparan in Bihar to inspire peasants to struggle against oppressive plantation system. Then in 1917, a struggle was organized to support peasants of Kheda district in Gujarat, affected by crop failure and a plague epidemic. In 1918, he went to Ahmadabad to organize a movement amongst the cotton mill workers.
The Rowlatt Act
Emboldened by these successes, in 1919 Gandhi decided to launch a nation wide satyagraha against the proposed Rowlatt Act. This act had been hurriedly passed through the Imperial Legislative Council despite the united opposition of the Indian members. It gave the government many powers to repress the political activities and allowed detention of political prisoners without trial for two years. Mahatma Gandhi wanted non-violent civil disobedience against such unjust laws that would start with a hartal on 6 April.
Rallies were organized in various cities; workers went on a strike...