[Modern History] Mahatma Gandhi and his thoughts & Philosophy

October 2, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born at Probandar

Proceeded to Natal in South Africa as a lawyers of a firm in Porbanar

Awarded Kaisar-i-Hind gold medal for raising an India amblance unit during the second Boer War and the First World War

January Returns to India from South Africa.
May Foundation of the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad.

Launched Satyagrahas in Champaran (North Bihar), Kaira(Gujarat).

Launches anti-Rowlatt(Seditious Activities Act Satyagraha.

April 6, a nation wide strike against the Act.

April 13, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

Gandhi returns Kaisar-i-Hind gold medal to protest against the massacre.

November Gandhi supports the Khilafat demand.
The All-India Khilafat Conference elected Gandhi as its President.

February 1, Gandhi announces intention of calling for mass civil disobedience at Bardoli(Gujarat).

February 5, outbreak of violence at Chauri Chaura in the United Provinces.
Working Committee at Bardoli call off plans for the Civil Disobedience.

December 26-27, Belgaum session of the Congress- for the first and the last time Gandhi elected President of the Congress.

February Successful Satyagraha campaign against land-tax increase in Bardoli subdivision of Gujarat.
Approved of the Nehru Report at.

December The Lahore session of the Congress passes the Poorna Swarajya Resolution.
Gandhi drafts the Poorna Swarajya pledge to be taken by people all-over India on January 26,1930.

March 12- April6 Gandhi leads 78 of his select disciples from the Sabarmati Ashram to the sea-Coast at Dandi in Gujarat to break the salt laws.

The British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald announces the infamous Communal Award granting separate electorate to the Depressed Classes(August 17); Gandhi launches fast unto death against the Communal Award in the prison(September 20);Gandhi gives up fast after the Poona Pact(September 25) and starts on All-India Anti-Untouchability Leauge (later on known as the Harijan Sewak Sangh).

Ganhi starts the weekly Harijan
Encourages the Temple Entry Bill in the Central Legislature.

Gandhi retires from active politics and severs his formal links with the Congress to devote all his energies to the cause fo Harijians
Sets up Sevagram (Wardha Ashram) and undertakes the longest nation-wide tour known as Harijian Yatra.

Gandhi resumes active politics in the wake of the Second World War and opposes the candidature of subhash Chandra Bose as the President of the Congress at the Tripuri session (March 10-12, 1939).

Gandhi launches the Individual Satyagraha.

Cripps Mission visits India and announces the Draft Proposals
The Congress rejects the Cripps Proposals, Gandhi calls the Proposals as “the post-dated cheque on a falling Bank”.

April 19, Gandhi suggests the immediate withdrawal of the British from India and wrote in the Harijan(May 24)

 “We are fixed ain determination that British rule in any shape or form must end”
July 14, the Congress Working Committee at Wardha passes the Quit India Resolution.

 August 8, the AICC, which met in Bombay, ratified the historic Quit India Resolution, followed by

Gandhi’s memorable utterance, “Iam not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete freedom
We shall do or die,
We shall either free India or die in attempt”

(August 9)-1944(May) Gandhi kept in detention at the Aga Khan Palace, near Pune;Gandhi lost his life-long companion Kasturba(February 22, 1944) this was Gandhi’s last prison term.

Deeply distressed by the orgyof communal violence, as a result Muslim League’s Direct Action call, Gandhi travelled to Noakhali (East Bengal- now Bangladesh) and later on to Calcutta to restore communal peace.

Gandhi observes complete silence on the dawn of India ’s Independence (August 15, 1947)
Gandhi returns back to Delhi(September).

Gandhi beigns the last fast of his life in Delhi on January 13, to restore communal peace.


Born on 2 October 1869 at Porbandar in Saurashtra (Gujarat)

He proceeded to England in 1888, and returned to India as a Barrister-at-law in 1891.
In 1893 he proceeded to Natal in South Africa as the lawyers of a firm of Porbander Muslims.

He remained loyal to British rule, organized voluntary service to the British Government during the Zule rebellion(in Natal)in 1906, and declared that “the British Empire existed for the welfare of the world”.

He founded a political association known as the Natal Indian Congress as also a newspaper called Indian Opinion.

In 1906 a law was passed in the Transvaal requiring Indians to register themselves and to carry passes.

Gandhi offered redidtance ot this humiliating violent resistance which came to be known later as Satyagraha.

The same political strategy Indians from sentenced to imprisonment for nine months.

The Government offered a compromise; the Indian Relief Act was passed in 1914.

In his book Hindi Swaraj,written in 1909

Early Activities in India(1915-17)

On receipt of instructions from G.K. Gokhale, Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in January 1915.

His only excursion into politics was his demand (October 1915) for the abolition of the system of indentured labour for manual work outside India.

No Satyagraha was started because the Government of India abolished the system before the date fixed by him(31 July 1917).

Foundation of the Sabramati Ashram at Ahmedabad in May 1915.

Gandhi Politics of Satyagraha(Champaran, 1917)

In Champaran he took up the cause of peasants against landlords, in Kaira that of farmers against revenue officials.

In Ahmedabad that of mill-workers against mill-owners

In Chaparan- a Permanent Settlement there were large Zamindari estates under rich and influential landlords

Gandhi Political of Satyagraha(Kaira, 1917-18)

Kaira, a district in Gujarat in the Bombay Presidency.

Here the damage caused to the crops during the 1917-18 season by heavy rains, as also distress caused by war-time conditions, led the peasants to start an agitation for relief from the land-revenue demand.

Among his principal associates were Vallabhbhai Patel

And Mahadev Desai(who later became Gandhi’s private secretary).

Patel, a Barrister-at-law, became a link between the peasantry and the educated classes.

Gandhi Political of Satyagraha(Ahmedabad, 1918)

In Ahmedabad, a big industrial city, Gandhi organized a movement which was directed against Indian mill-owners, not Government officials

In Ahmedabad he led the urban mill-workers who demanded a substantial rise in their wages.

It was also ‘the forerunner of Gandhi’s hunger strikes in all-India politics’

For the first time he recognized that Satyagraha had a place for fasting

Gandhi politics of Satyagraha (Rowlatt Satyagraha, 1919)

He conducted a personal recruiting campaign for military service, particularly in Bihar and Gujarat-‘a strange phenomenon in one who preached non-violence’.

Before the so-called Rowlatt Bills became an Act, Gandhi had organized a Satyagraha Sabha

On April 9, 1919, the Satyagraha was launched with a nation-wide strike.

Jallianwalla Bag Massacre (12 April 1919)

On 18 April 1919 Gandhi suspended the civil disobedience part of the Satyagraha programme

His journals,Young India (in English) and Navajivan(in Gujarati).

As a political campaign the Rowlatt Satyagraha was an open failure

Though intended to be non-violent, it erupted into violence

It failed to secure the repeal of the Rowlatt Act

He was arrested in March 1922 and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment

This was the last time he was tried in a court

The British, in the long run, found such trials counter-producitve

He was released less than 2 years later, in February 1924, for an emergency appendectomy

For the next 5 years (1924-29) Gandhi devoted himself to the constructive programmes of
spinning and encouraging Khadi, Hindu-Muslim unity, prohibition and village upliftment

The political lull was broken with the appointment of the Simon Commission

There was the All Parties Conference that adopted the Nehru Report on a draft constititon
for an Indian dominion

Later, the Congress served notice on the British that, unless Dominion Status was conceded by 31 December 1929, the country would opt for complete independence as its political goal.

In 1930 Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement which started with the famous Dandi March and the Salt Satyagraha.

While in Britain in 1931 for the Round Table Conference, the Mahatma chose to stay in the modest East End of London, spun his daily quota of cotton yarn, and observed
Monday as his usual day of silence

He paid brief visits to Eton, Oxford, attire, a reception at Buckingham Palace, broadcast to
the United States and addressed member of Parliament

Started a fast in September 1932, Five days later, the Poona Pact helped retrieve
somewhat the damage Gandhi’s prestige had suffered earlier

In May 1933, when he commenced another fast, the Mahatma was released from prison

He now launched the weekly, Harijian,which took the place of his earlier paper, Young
India (1919-32).

When Independence came on 15 August 1947, the Mahatma was in Calcutta trying to heal
the wounds of the communal fracas

On 13 January 1948 he launched the fast of his life to press home its urgency

Editor of a Hindu Mahasabha extremist weekly

From 1924 onwards, Gandhi had developed a highly personalized style of dress

A white loin-cloth, white shawl and sandals

This, with his long stick and his beaming, toothless smile made him an ideal subject for


Only in 1915 did he return permanently to his native land

Treaty of sevres

Though he rejected the title, Gandhi was acclaimed as a Mahtma, a ‘great soul’

There were periods when he withdrew from active leadership or even from formal membership of the Congress

Yet for nearly three decade he remained its most prominent single figure, its “permanent super-president”, as Jawahar Lal Nehru called him.

Gandhi’s Concept of Satyagraha

Love had no place in ‘Passive Resistance’, but Satyagraha was ‘ the law of love, the way of love for all’.

The idea of non-violence was drawn from Vaishnavism

Brought up in Gujarat, an area steeped in the Vaishnava tradition

Gandhi had been deeply influenced in childhood by literature expounding belief in the
power of suffering’.

In South Africa he studied Tolstoy’s books, including The Gospels in Brief, What to do?,and ‘realized more and more the infinite possibilities of universal love’

He carried on correspondence with Tolstoy till the latter’s death in 1910.

In his last letters to Gandhi, Tolstoy described ‘non-resistance’ as ‘in reality nothing else but the discipline of love underformed by false-interpertation’.

While in jail in South Africa Gandhi read Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience.

Gandhi’s Writings 

Gandhi’s works include the Hindi Swaraj, a tract in the form of a dialogue; Ethical Religion(Niti Dharma) a collection of talks on Satyagraha in South Africa.

My Experiments with Truth, an unfinished autobiography; From Yervada Mandar and Ashram Observanes in Action, both collections of letters to the members of Sabarmati Ashram

A pamphlet in English entitled Constructive programme

Besides, these books, there is his paraphrase of Ruskin’s UntoThis Last,his collection of articles of sexual morality entitled,Self-Restraint versus Self-Independence, his Guide to Health,his Economics of Khadi and Cent per Cent Swadeshi,both collections of articles on
village industties

There is also the important work entitled The Gita-According to Gandhi, an English rendition by Mahadev Desai of Gandhi’S Gujarati translation and commentary with supplementary material added by Desai.

The Indian Influence 

His mother, Putilibai

Gandhi was also influenced by the teachings of Jainism in his early life

Jainism had been a greater living force in Gujarat than in any other part of India.

Jainism preaches the well known extreme view fo non-violence which impressed Gandhi
very much

Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asis gave him a good idea of Buddhs’s teachings

Many religious books also influenced Gandhi’s


Ramayana of Tulsidas, the Mahabharata of Vyasa, Mamusmriti of Manu

Translations of theUpandishds patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

Also greatly influenced by the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda’s conception of
Daridranarayan(the poor as God)was adopted,elaborated and practiced by Gandhi himself.

He was also influenced by two men in particular

They were Dadabhai Naoroji and G.K. Gokhale

He accepted Gokhale as his ‘political Guru’

The other great Indian who stimulated the young mind of Gandhi were Sir Pherozeshah
Mehta and Lokmanya Tilak

The Western Influences 

The ancient philosopher Socrates exercised and incalculable influence on Gandhi as a Satyagrahi, a seeker after truth.

Gandhi read the Holy Bible with profound interest and the New Testament, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and their teachings went deep

In South Africa, Gandhi came in close contact with the works of Tolstoy, Ruskin, Thoreau and Emerson

Rev,Joseph J.Doke, the first biographer of Gandhi is of

Doke calls him “a disciple of Tolstoy”

Gandhi was attracted towards the concept of bread-labour, which was first enunciated by a
Russian writer named T.M. Bondaref and very much advertised by Tolstoy.

Tolstoy was keenly influenced by Ruskin’s Unto This Last which Gandhi translated later
on as his Sarvodaya ideals

Next to Tolstoy was Ruskin, the other modern writer, whose writings influenced Gandhi most

In his autobiography Gandhi has devoted one full chpter entitled

‘The Magic Spell of a Book’, in which he describes the influence of Ruskin’s book Unto
This Last.

Gandhi seems to have drawn his inspiration for his ideas of education from Ruskin.

Persian religion and Islam also played an important role in shaping Gandhi’s views with
regard to religion.

Passages of the Holy Koran and the Zend Avesta he very often quoted in his prayer

Gandhi and Tolstoy 

Between Gandhi and Tolstoy there are extraordinary similarities

Both of them were deeply impressed by Ruskin’s views on the political economy embodied in Unto This Last and Munera pulveris, the two important workes of Ruskin.

Gandhi’s conception of Sarva Dharma Samabhava(equality of all religions)

Tolstoy’s ideal of Non-possession was developed by Gandhi in his concept of Trusteeship

Picketing and Hijarat 

Gandhi attached much importance to picketing and hijarat as a technique of Satyagraha
Hijart literally means voluntary exile from public life and also from permanent place of living

Gandhi’s Approach to Industrial Relations 

The basic aim of the Gandhian philosophy in the realization of Sarvodaya, i.e.the good of all

Panchayati Raj 

He pleaded for the three-tier system of Panchayati Raj based on the decentralized theory of democracy

This system consisted horizontally of ‘Gram Sabha’(Village Assembly of Adults) for
legislation, ‘Vikas Panchayat’(Village Council of Elected Representatives) for general
development and ‘Narayana Panchayat’ for the administration of justice and vertically of
Vikas Panchayat comprising one or more of the contiguous villages, ‘panchayat Samiti’ or
‘Kshetra Samiti’ or ‘ Anchalik Panchayat’ at the block level and Zilla Parishad at the
district level.

Concept of Sarvodaya 

‘ The greatest good of all’

Gandhi’s Concept of Swaraj 

The term Swaraj was used by Bal Gangadhar Tilak as early as in 1896-97.
The term Swaraj appeared in Gandhi’s writings for the first time in November 3, 1906.
He wrote for the columns of the ‘Indian Opinion’ a series of articles on Swaraj that Subsrquently appeared in a book form with the title Hind Swaraj.

Ram Raj- a concept of Ideal State 

He said “By Ram Raj, I do not mean Hindu Raj, I mean by Ram Raj Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God”

Moral Philosophy of Gandhi 

C.E.M. Joad called Gandhi a ‘moral genius’.

Communal Unity 
Among members of the educational institutions the first and the most enthusiastic to
respond to Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation were some teachers and students of Aligarh
Muslim University, who left the mothe institution and founded the Jamia Millia Islamia
(National Muslim University)under the guidance of Maulana Mohammad Ali, Hakim
Ajmal Khan and other nationalist Muslim leaders.

In the wake of Muslim League declaring August 16, 1946, as ‘Direct Action Day’, terrible
communal riots broke out in Calcutta.

On November 5, Gandhi started on his pilgrimage of peace of Noakhali.


  1. I think the title of the book is Self Restraint Vs. Self Indulgence, not Self Independence

  2. this is very usefull for all competitive exam.