Mohandas Gandhi: The Life and Legacy of India's Nonviolent Leader

Indian leader, Mohandas Gandhi died at the age of 78 on January 30, 1948 at 5:12 p. m. Mohandas Gandhi was known throughout the world for his nonviolent protests against both British rule and interreligious fighting. Gandhi was born in the town of Porbander, and received his schooling in Rajkot where his father was an advisor to the local ruler. Mohandas Gandhi married a girl named Kasturba. Both were thirteen years old at the time. At the age of 19, Gandhi decided to travel to England to receive his degree in law.

Gandhi left his son Harilal who was a few months old with his wife.

While in England, Mohandas came across new cultures, people, and ideas. Gandhi quickly received his law degree and was called to the bar in 1891, but returned to India later that year. After opening an unsuccessful law office, Mohandas Gandhi accepted an offer of an Indian businessman to be the man’s legal advisor, and moved to South Africa. During Gandhi’s twenty year stay in Africa, he began to see European racism and nationalism.

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Mohandas soon became the leader of the African-Indian community, and developed satayagraha to signify his non-violent practices. Gandhi returned to India in early 1915.

For the next two years, Mohandas traveled India to become familiar with Indian conditions. He became involved in multiple local stuggles, earning himself a growing reputation as an Indian leader for peaceful actions. Mohandas Gandhi was soon given the name Mahatma, or ‘great soul’ from Rabindranath Tagore, India’s most well-known writer of the time.

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Following the Amritsar massacre, in which over 400 Indian peaceful protestors were killed by British soldiers, Gandhi wrote his report of the Punjab Congress Committee, which encouraged Indians to withdraw themselves from anything associated with Britain.

Gandhi’s decided to disband his movement following the death of a score of Indian policemen by Muslims. Gandhi was arrested and charged with sedition by the British, but was soon released from prison. Gandhi spent the next few years maintaining and overseeing Muslim-Hindu relations, and in 1924 fasted for 21 days in response to Hindu-Muslim riots. Gandhi soon became involved in helping the untouchables, or the lowest and poorest Indian class. Gandhi founded newspapers to spread his ideas and to educate the public.

In early 1930, the Indian National Congress declared that India would not be satisfied until India received complete independence from Britain. On March 2nd, 1930, Gandhi sent a letter to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, forcefully saying that if Indian demands were not met, he would be forced to violate the ‘salt laws. ’ The Lord ignored his letter. Gandhi began a 240 mile trek to the sea with 78 of his followers. As the trek continued, more and more people joined Mohandas Gandhi, and by the time Gandhi arrived at the sea thousands of people stood behind him. Gandhi picked up a clump of sea salt along with thousands of others.

Gandhi was soon arrested for his actions along with tens of thousands of others. Gandhi was pardoned to travel to England for negotiations which accomplished nothing, and was arrested upon his return to India. After his release three months later, Mohandas Gandhi spent years involved in constructive reformation. When World War II broke out, Gandhi encouraged India to remain neutral. In his speech to the Indian people he told the nation, “Do or die. ” During his final years, Gandhi walked from town to town where Hindus were being murdered in retaliation for the killings of Muslims of Bihar.

The massacres and fighting ended because of Gandhi’s actions, and came to be referred to as the ‘Miracle of Calcutta. ’ Gandhi lived to see India become a free country, which is all he had been a primary goal of his life’s work. Muslim-Hindu violence became an increasing problem in India, and Gandhi commenced his last fast unto death, which he stopped when Muslims and Hindus agreed to live in peace. A few days later, a bomb went off at his house during Gandhi’s prayers but no one was hurt, however Gandhi refused additional security.

At ten minutes past five o’ clock, Mohandas Gandhi made his way to evening prayers. At 5:12 Nathuram Godse approached Gandhi and shot him three times in the chest at point-blank-range. His arms still crossed in a peaceful sign of greeting, Gandhi blessed his assassin, shouting, “he ram! He ram! ” and then collapsed to the floor, dead. Gandhi pushed himself to become a better person every day by fasting, marching, and speaking of peace, once writing, “When we do not like certain laws, we do not break the heads of the lawgivers but we suffer and do not submit to the laws. Mahatma Gandhi was a peaceful man who believed in ahisma, or nonviolence and reverence in life. To fight against injustice, Mahatma Gandhi believed in the power of nonviolent resistance. Gandhi believed that civil disobedience, a peaceful way of refusing to obey unreasonable laws could achieve success much more effectively than violence. Shortly before his passing, “Gandhi had said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and Mahatma Gandhi truly embraced that statement until the moment he died.

Updated: Mar 22, 2023
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Mohandas Gandhi: The Life and Legacy of India's Nonviolent Leader. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Mohandas Gandhi: The Life and Legacy of India's Nonviolent Leader essay
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