Gandhi was kicked off a train after refusing to move from his rightful first class seat while travelling to Pretoria. This small act of personal racism sparked a great deal of courage within Gandhi resulting in his determination to fight for discriminations for all Indians.
Spending a year in South Africa after accepting a job, Gandhi was faces with an overwhelming amount of discrimination directed at all coloured people and decided to stay in South Africa for longer -21 years longer. He began to question his place in society and everyone standings in the British Empire. Gandhi’s approaches and morals always reflected that every human is equal regardless of their background –and that included the British. He reasoned with words rather than fighting with guns. His actions were powerful yet so simple to try and force the British Empire out by involving the whole of India to make a stand against them.
In attempts to put a stop to the function of the British, Gandhi encouraged Indians to discontinue the use of British products such as the clothing they imported from England. This involved spinning cotton to create their own clothing. Gandhi spun his own clothes for the rest of his life and never wore British clothing again.
Gandhi felt his family was holding him back from reaching his full potential as a public activist and in 1902 he decided to take a vow of brahmacharya. This meant he would not undergo any sexual acts even with his wife. As this was a hard task from Gandhi to fulfil, he also restricted his diet to become a vegetarian. His meals consisted of mainly uncooked fruits and grains. He believed his dietary choices and control would improve his will power and strengthen his physical control too.
A year later, 1907, the Asiatic Registration Act (also known as the Black Act) was enforced. This act required all Indians to put their fingerprints into the system of the British Empire and were required to carry registration documents on them at all times. Gandhi’s first official protest was to encourage all Indians to hold off from registering for as long as possible without using violence. His message spread and many Indians protested. However many protestor were either killed or beaten and arrested –including Gandhi. This was the first of many times Gandhi has been placed in prison for various reasons.
After 3 years in South Africa, Gandhi went back to India to collect his family. Upon his return, he and his family were assaulted while exiting the ship due to misbelief by the white people that Gandhi had loaded the ship with hundreds more Indians to rebel and attack them. Bricks, stones, eggs and fists were thrown at Gandhi but he took it and refused to retaliate. His family was able to get safely to cover while he took the violence. The feud was stopped and not only did Gandhi undergo a lot of pain but he also obtained great respect from the abusers as he did not press any changes but instead sympathised with them and understood their reasoning .
Gandhi received a book from a friend called “Unto This Last” by John Ruskin. He connected with the author’s ideas and felt inspired and excited about aparigraha (non-possession or non-greediness) and samabhara (equality). The book had such an impact on Gandhi that it inspired him to establish a communal living society called Pheonix Settlement, which was an experimental way of living where everyone was equal and would work together harmoniously. Gandhi hoped to prove this idea could work on a much wider scale and hopefully that India could adopt this way of living. As Gandhi lived here with his family, even his children and wife were giving roles and chores that were seen to only be completed by the extreme lower class –but of course at that place, everyone was equal and shared everything.
In 1915, Gandhi decided it was time to head back to India. By the time he got home, all the newspapers had got wind of the heroic things he was putting into practise. He returned to India a hero. Gandhi’s confidence had risen as it was clear the British were unsure of how to approach the situation. They couldn’t continue to place the man in jail because he hadn’t actually done anything wrong. He wasn’t harming anyone or breaking any laws as such, he was simply suggesting that India was able to run things their way without the influence of the British Empire. It was extremely inconvenient for the British because they had no way of responding to Gandhi’s protests and while all the Indians continued to follow Gandhi, the British Empire continued to because more and more irrelevant and powerless.
In 1919, the Amritsar Massacre took place. The British shot down a large group of Indian protestors, approx. 375 died and over 1,200 injured. This shocking attack showed the desperation British providing great evidence that Gandhi’s leadership was taking a great effect on the country and encouraged more Indians to take on Gandhi’s practises.
Gandhi continued to antagonise the British Empire and they watched as their power over the country decreased in front of their eyes. For a year he travelled within India to re-connect with the real India as advised by his political guru, Gopal Krishna Gokhale. With proof that Satygraha (the idea of non-violent or civil resistance) was taking a huge effect in India’s future, Gandhi’s popularity continued to develop. Without the constant attacks of social injustice both personally and observed through his travels around South Africa, Gandhi wouldn’t have developed such motivation to take a stand. Once he gained popularity for his reasonable morals he was respected for his ideas and successfully became the Leader of India’s Independence Movement.