Five things to know about Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
On Friday, India is celebrating the 146th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. On this day in 1869, Gandhi, the father of the nation who is fondly referred to as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ and ‘Bapu’, was born in Gujarat’s Porbander.

Though, it has been close to 68 years since he was assassinated on January 30, 1948, months after India’s independence, Gandhi lives on in the hearts and minds of people to this day, not just in India but globally.

He is known to have led by example and lived and exemplary life that inspired generations. The leader of Indians in their struggle against the British rule for freedom, Gandhi is today remembered as more than an individual — a school of thought, a philosophy in his own right.

On his birth anniversary, we list five key things to know about Mahatma Gandhi:

1. Worked as a journalist

Though he was a lawyer by profession, Gandhi also worked as an editor for several English, Hindi and Gujarati newspapers in India, as well as South Africa. These papers included the  Harijan , Indian Opinion  (South Africa) and the Young India .

2. Autobiography as a spiritual book

Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The story of My Experiments with Truth , giving a detailed account of his life till 1920, was published in 1927. In 1999, HarperCollins publishers declared it one of the ‘100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century’.

3. No Nobel peace prize

Mahatma Gandhi, who continues to be one of the strongest symbols of peace and non-violence across the world, was nominated five times and shortlisted three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. But he never received the world’s greatest accolade for peace. He was indeed chosen for the Nobel Peace in 1948, but he could not receive it because he was assassinated before it was conferred on him. That year, the Nobel Committee decided not to award the Peace Prize to anyone. In 1999, Gandhi was declared the runner-up for Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Century’ title.

4. Inspired the 5 greatest of the world

Mahatma Gandhi inspired millions of people the world over to take the path of non-violence. Among them were at least five Nobel-winning world leaders who acknowledged that they were influenced by the philosophy of Gandhi. These leaders are: Martin Luther King Jr (USA), Dalai Lama (Tibet), Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar), Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina).

5. The Ford Connection

Mahatma Gandhi never visited the US, but he had many American fans and followers. One of his more unusual admirers was Henry Ford. Gandhi sent him an autographed charkha  (spinning wheel) through a journalist emissary. During the darkest days of the Second World War, Ford, who was struck by the charkha ’s “mechanical simplicity and high moral purpose,” would often spin on ‘the symbol of economic independence’ that Gandhi had sent him.

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