Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is commonly considered the father of the modern nation of India. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated there as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Nonviolence. Gandhi advocated nonviolence and encouraged others do the same.
Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence from the British Empire and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahatma, which means high-souled in Sanskrit, is now commonly used when describing Gandhi. He is also called Bapu, the Gujarati for father, in India.
Gandhi was born and raised in coastal Gujarat, western India. As a young man he travelled to England and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, helping drive the Indian community in South Africa in their struggle for civil rights.
After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Gandhi campaigned to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability. In 1930, Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British control of salt in India with the 250 mile Dandi Salt March. When leading his campaigns, Gandhi was imprisoned many times in South Africa and India.
In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but British India was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan. Many people were displaced and religious violence broke out. Gandhi left the official independence celebrations in Delhi and visited the affected areas to try to calm the situation and he started several fasts to stop the violence. Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist on 30 January 1948.