GMohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), also known as
Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Porbandar in the present day state of Gujarat in India on October 2, 1869.
He was raised in a very conservative family that had affiliations with the ruling family of Kathiawad.
He was educated in law at University College, London. In 1891, after having been admitted to the
British bar, Gandhi returned to India and attempted to establish a law practice in Bombay, without much
success. Two years later an Indian firm with interests in South Africa retained him as legal adviser in
its office in Durban. Arriving in Durban, Gandhi found himself treated as a member of an inferior race.
He was appalled at the widespread denial of civil liberties and political rights to Indian immigrants
to South Africa. He threw himself into the struggle for elementary rights for Indians.
Gandhi became the international symbol of a free India. He lived a
spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. His union with his wife became, as he
himself stated, that of a brother and sister. Refusing earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth and
shawl of the lowliest Indian and subsisted on vegetables, fruit juices, and goat's milk. Indians revered
him as a saint and began to call him Mahatma (great-souled), a title reserved for the greatest sages.
Gandhi's advocacy of nonviolence, known as ahimsa (non-violence), was the expression of a way of life
implicit in the Hindu religion. By the Indian practice of nonviolence, Gandhi held, Great Britain too
would eventually consider violence useless and would leave India.