8 things about Gandhi you probably didn’t know
8 things about Gandhi you probably didn’t know – On October 2, 1930, Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist and member of the RSS. The assassin was immediately apprehended and sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out in Ambala jail on November 15, 1949. His co-conspirator Narayan Apte was sentenced to life imprisonment in the same trial, and served his term at the same prison as Godse.
1) Grew up in an aristocratic household
Young Mohandas was born in Porbandar, a princely state on India’s west coast. He was raised in relative comfort but his family was not particularly wealthy and he did not have much of an inheritance coming to him. As a result, Mohandas did not attend a formal school until he moved to London in 1888. In London, however, he attended Kings College and had his first taste of real luxury—he liked it. When he returned to India several years later, he continued to enjoy wearing expensive clothing and shoes as a sign of status and respect from others (his personal wardrobe cost over 10 times what other Indian students spent).
2) Traveled by third class when he was traveling outside India
By his own standards, Gandhi was quite wealthy, but he never traveled first class. He always traveled third class in India and outside of India—it wasn’t until 1946 that his train ride from Delhi to Calcutta cost him more than a rupee. His reasoning: I do not wish to be lessened in my own eyes and also I do not want to prove a stumbling block to those who are poor like me, he wrote in 1931. I have continued traveling third-class in trains so long as I have been able and am doing so even now at the age of seventy-five.
3) Satyagraha (Satya=truth, Agraha=insistence) was his biggest contribution to the freedom struggle
It means to cling to truth, and it was his belief that if people clung to their convictions, they could not be defeated. Satyagraha is now recognized as a nonviolent weapon for justice and human rights. He also coined another great term: Be the change you want to see in others. This basically means that if we want others to be better, we should start by improving ourselves and by setting an example. He was an advocate of women’s education. Being from a Hindu family, he married Kasturbai at 13 years of age, but because she did not want her husband or any other man in her life except him (this was before feminism was common), he accepted her decision of celibacy.
4) His diet included vegetables, fruits, rice and occasional meat
Mahatma Gandhi was a vegetarian. He believed that it was his duty to not harm any living creature. Most of us already knew that, but did you know why he stuck to such a strict diet? His health suffered as a young man because of an ulcer on his palate and regular vomiting spells. Doctors advised him to eat meat (as well as whisky), but he refused. Instead, he relied on curd and boiled rice for most of his calories and energy needs. However, from time to time, he would break his rule when faced with celebrations or social functions where no vegetarian fare was served. He preferred simple dress:If you think Gandhi don’t need worldly possessions, then here is something for your knowledge!
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5) He opposed untouchability but supported caste systems
The young, western-educated Mohandas K. Gandhi was a staunch supporter of caste systems in India because he believed it gave stability to society. He felt that all individuals had a caste identity and staying within those boundaries prevented conflict. However, he also opposed untouchability, or social segregation of lower castes. In 1921 he adopted two boys from families that practiced untouchability and reared them alongside his own sons at his ashram (religious retreat).
6) He loved animals and his diet reflected that
He followed a diet that was almost entirely vegetarian—in fact, he called himself a lacto-vegetarian, meaning he ate dairy and eggs. That doesn’t mean he abstained from meat completely. In his autobiography, he said: [I]f it is in any way possible, one should not eat meat. At least so far as I am concerned…I do not want to eat flesh food and for that reason I do not want to be born again into this world. If God has created us in order to eat meat, why did He also give us teeth and throats? (pg 162).
7) He had no formal education before university
As many as three times during his life, young Mohandas attended school for short periods of time. The first time was when he was seven years old, attending a few months of school in Bhavnagar. But he struggled there, so his father sent him home to Rajkot for more study—only for Mohandas to run away and return to work at his uncle’s shop. Just one year later, Gandhi would try again to start formal schooling in Rajkot. He lasted only three months before dropping out again and moving back in with his family in Porbandar.
8) He was married off at 13 years old
Before going on to greatness, young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was married off at a very young age. By today’s standards, it’s shocking that someone would be married off so young – but back then it was pretty standard. It wasn’t until 1885, when he was 22 years old, that Gandhi officially moved out of his parent’s home and began to live with his wife in Porbandar. Prior to that he spent most of his time outside of India working in South Africa as a lawyer for an Indian company seeking rights for its people there. As part of his job he often traveled back and forth between India and South Africa which means he likely saw less of Kasturbai than if they had been living together.