Lavanya Selvaraj's Blog

Mahatma Gandhi: Known & Unknown

Posted on: October 2, 2011

 (1) Mahatma Gandhi inspired millions of people world over to take the path of non-violence and civil disobedience. 5 world leaders who got Noble Peace prize viz. Martin Luther King Jr. (USA), Dalai Lama (Tibet), Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar), Nelson Mandela (S. Africa) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina) have acknowledged the fact that they were influenced by the philosophy of Gandhi. Yet, Mahatma Gandhi; the man who inspired these Nobel Peace Prize winners, never got a Noble Prize !

It is a loss for the Noble – the prize; not for Gandhi – the man who is above all prizes.

(2) Gandhi spoke English with an Irish accent, as one of his first teachers was an Irishman.

(3) During the freedom struggle, he wore nothing but a loin cloth, but for years he lived in London and used to wear a silk hat and spats and carried a cane.

(4) He was educated at London University and became an attorney. But the first time he attempted to make a speech in court, his knees trembled, and he was so frightened that he had to sit down in confusion and defeat.

(5) As a lawyer in London, he got nowhere at all. He was practically a failure there. Years before, when he first came to England, his Irish teacher made him copy the Sermon on the Mount, over and over again, purely as an exercise in English. Hour after hour, Gandhi wrote “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. . . . Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God,” and these words made a profound impression on him.

(6) Later, he was sent to South Africa to collect some huge debts; and he tried to apply there the philosophy of the Sermon on the Mount. And it worked. Clients flocked to Gandhi because he settled their claims peacefully out of court and saved them time and expense.

(7) His income during those days in South Africa touched fifteen thousand dollars a year! Something still a dream for most Indians!

(8) However, despite this worldly success he was not happy. On seeing the untold misery of millions of his fellow countrymen; on seeing thousand of them dying of starvation; the worldly success seemed cheap and unimportant to him. He gave up all his money and ‘took the vow of poverty, and since that time, he consecrated his life to helping the poor and the downtrodden.

(9) On seeing the hopeless condition of one tenth of India which was living in a hungry and half-starved state, Mahatma Gandhi pleaded with them to cease bringing children into a world filled with so much misery and want.

(10) Mahatma Gandhi experimented with diets to see how cheaply he could live and remain healthy. He started living principally on fruit and goats’ milk and olive oil.

(11) Mahatma Gandhi got inspiration of Civil Disobedience by reading a book of an American! He had been greatly influenced by the teachings of an American by the name of David Thoreau. Thoreau was graduated from Harvard University ninety years ago, and then spent twenty-eight dollars building a cabin for himself on the lonely shores of Walden Pond, in Massachusetts. He lived there like a hermit, and refused to pay taxes; so he was thrown into jail. He then wrote a book on Civil Disobedience, saying that no one ought to pay taxes. People didn’t pay the slightest attention to his book then; but, seventy-five years later, Gandhi read that book, away out in India, and decided to use Thoreau’s tactics. He felt that England had not kept her promise to give India self-government; so, in order to punish England, Gandhi urged the people of India to go to jail rather than pay taxes, and he also urged his followers to boycott English goods. When the British placed a tax on salt, Gandhi led his follower to the sea and they made their own salt.

(12) 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 charkhas “mechanical simplicity and high moral purpose,” would often spin on “the symbol of economic independence that Gandhi had sent.

(13) He had a set of false teeth, which he carried in a fold of his loin cloth. He put them in his mouth only when he wanted to eat. After his meal, he took them out, washed them and put them back in his loin cloth again.

(14) The great Scientist Albert Einstein once said about Gandhi:

“Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this (Gandhi) walked the earth in flesh and blood.”

He also once said,

” I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.”

The more I read about Gandhi, the more I become humble to the greatness of this man who was seeking nothing for himself but was willing to die in order that others may live.

(15) Gandhi was also a prolific writer. For decades he edited several newspapers including Harijan in Gujarati, Hindi and English, Indian Opinion while in South Africa and, Young India, in English, and Navajivan, a Gujarati monthly. He also wrote a few books including his autobiography, An Autobiography or My Experiments with Truth.

Sources: Little known facts about well known people by Dale Carnegie

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100502105200AAszJJs

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4 Responses to "Mahatma Gandhi: Known & Unknown"

This was absolutely awesome. I really enjoyed reading every bit of this. Thank you.

Thanks for your comment………………

Wow…!!! great article Lavan….

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