Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in India in 1869, and attended school in England, earning a law degree from University College in London. Gandhi then accepted a position with a law firm in South Africa



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Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in India in 1869, and attended school in England, earning a law degree from University College in London. Gandhi then accepted a position with a law firm in South Africa.

Mohandas Gandhi studied many religions – Muslim, Hindu, Judaism, and Christianity. From his readings, he formed a philosophy of religious tolerance and nonviolent resistance, known as ahimsa.

Mohandas Gandhi returned to India where he led the movement for independence from Great Britain. He traveled throughout India, preaching his ideas of nonviolence and passive resistance. People called him “Mahatma,” meaning “great soul.” He realized that one reason for India’s poverty was unfair British trade policies. Indians were forced to buy British goods and had stopped making their own goods. Mahatma thought that if people returned to a simpler lifestyle, their situation would improve. Urging people to boycott British goods, he began making all his own clothing and gave away most of his material possessions. He lived with the poorest people of India so that he could understand their suffering. Gandhi was troubled by the caste system and the unfair treatment of the Untouchables. He called them the Harijans, which means “children of God.” Through prayer and fasting he persuaded the government to outlaw the Untouchable designation.

As a leading member of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi worked hard for the end of British rule in India. His practice of nonviolence and passive resistance proved effective in 1947, when Britain agreed to India’s independence. But Mahatma Gandhi could not settle the disagreements between the Hindus and Muslims. He sadly watched part of India break away and form Pakistan. After Pakistan was established as a separate country, riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims who were still living in India. Mahatma Gandhi was disturbed by the separation of Pakistan, but instead of joining the violence, he fasted until the riots stopped and peace was restored.

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, the preacher of nonviolence, was assassinated by a fanatic Hindu. People all over the world mourned his death. His teachings and principles were adopted in places as far away as the United States, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continued Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence.



  1. Where was Gandhi born?

  2. What is ahisma?

  3. What movement did Gandhi lead?

  4. How did he succeed in persuading the government to outlaw the Untouchable designation?



  1. What do you think tolerance means?

  2. Why might tolerance be a good thing?

  3. How did Gandhi die?

  4. Who continued his teachings here in the U.S.?



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