Mohandas Karamchang Gandhi was born in 1869 to Hindu parents in the state of Gujarat in Western India. He entered an arranged marriage with Kasturbai Makanji when both were 13 years old. His family later sent him to London to study law, and in 1891 he was admitted to the Inner Temple, and called to the bar.
Ghandi spent some, 20 years in South Africa - 11 of which were spent in Kwazulu/Natal. This was his apprenticeship in becoming a Mahatma or Great Soul. It was at Pietermaritzburg station, where he was ejected from a first class train compartment, that Gandhi was alerted to the plight of Indians in Natal. A striking statue in the Church Street Mall depicts him forever striding forward in commemoration of this incident. "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
" Mohandas K. Gandhi on nonviolence. It was in Pietermaritzburg that Gandhi began his philosophy of passive resistance, simplicity and service. He set up an ashram in 1904 at Phoenix outside Durban and joined the stretcher-bearer Corps in Northern Natal during the South African War. Before he returned to India with his wife and children in 1915, he had radically changed the lives of Indians living in Southern Africa. Back in India, it was not long before he was taking the lead in the long struggle for independence from Britain.
He never wavered in his unshakable belief in nonviolent protest and religious tolerance. When Muslim and Hindu compatriots committed acts of violence, whether against the British who ruled India, or against each other, he fasted until the fighting ceased. Independence, when it came in 1947, was not a military victory, but a triumph of human will. To Gandhi's despair, however, the country was partitioned into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.
The last two months of his life were spent trying to end the appalling violence which ensued, leading him to fast to the brink of death, an act which finally quelled the riots. In January 1948, at the age of 79, he was killed by an assassin as he walked through a crowed garden in New Delhi to take evening prayers. He had a profound influence against injustice not only in South Africa and India, but the whole world.