Gandhi – early life

by Ben Alford

Gandhi – early life

Gandhi was married at the age of 13, an experience he recalled as meaning “nothing more than the prospect of good clothes to wear, drum beating, marriage processions, rich dinners and a strange girl to play with”. Six years later he went to study law in London, where he became a barrister. Before he left India he took a solemn oath never to touch wine, women or meat.
By 1891 Gandhi returned to India, but was not very successful in his chosen career, so he accepted a job with a trading company in South Africa. Very quickly he became the victim of the humiliating treatment meted out to Indians. He was thrown off a train simply because of his colour. But he saw this incident as “a symptom of the disease of colour prejudice. I should try, if possible to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process”. For 21 years, Gandhi devoted his energies to fighting the cause of Indians in South Africa. In his “fight” he used the weapon of Satyagraha – Satya meaning “truth” and “Agraha” meaning “force”.
In 1915, Gandhi returned to India, and founded an ashram (a commune), where he and his followers lived an essentially religious life of simplicity, making their own clothes, and even spinning their own cloth.
But by 1918, Gandhi had become the leading figure of the nationalist movement and from 1920 he devoted his life to non-violent non co-operation with the British government in India. He had two aims in his work; to get the British out of India and to improve the condition of the Indian masses.


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