Gandhi Jayanti: Ten lesser known facts about the Father of the Nation

Updated: Oct 02, 2019, 07:09 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of the great leader, here are some interesting facts about Mahatma Gandhi

In this file photo taken in 1946 Indian philosopher and nationalist leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi (C), poses with women during his tour of the Bengal province. Pic/AFP
In this file photo taken in 1946 Indian philosopher and nationalist leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi (C), poses with women during his tour of the Bengal province. Pic/AFP

Mohandas Karamdas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhiji and fondly known as 'Bapu' among his followers is remembered today for standing up for the truth and non-violence. His influence was not limited within the borders of the country but also other countries as leaders took a leaf from this great man to fight the battles in their own lands. On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of the great leader on October 2, 2019, here are some facts about the father of the nation.

  • Gandhiji was born in a Hindu Modh Baniya family in the small princely state of Porbandar in present-day Gujarat on October 2, 1869. His father Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi has served as the diwan (chief minister) of the Porbandar state.
  • Gandhiji was the youngest among his siblings. His parents Karamchand and Putlibai had three children before him – eldest son Laxmidas (1860-1914), daughter Raliatben (1862-1960) and another son Karsandas (1866-1913).
  • As a child, Gandhiji was described as a ‘restless as mercury, either playing or roaming about’ by his elder sister Raliatben. His favourite pastime was known to be to twist ears of a dog.
  • Watching plays on the stories of Raja Harishchandra and Shravana had a huge influence on him as he described in his autobiography ‘The Stories of My Experiments With Truth’. Such influences helped him imbibe the supreme values of truth and love in him.
  • Gandhiji was quite a shy and average student and a book worm as he was not interested in sports and was engrossed in books and school lessons.
  • He married 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia in the age of 13. They married in a joint wedding ceremony along with his brothers. He became a father in the age of 16, but the baby could not survive. He also lost his father in the same year. Both deaths had impacted him deeply. But the couple went on to have four sons –Harilal, Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas
  • Although he was a shy teenager, he went to study law and jurisprudence in the University College, London, where he was invited to practice at the Inner Temple with an aim to become a barrister. To overcome his shyness which became a barrier in his career, he joined a public speaking practice group.
  • It was the series of discrimination he had faced in South Africa that shaped Gandhiji’s ideas of protests, persuasion skills and public relations. He encouraged Indians to fight for their rights and endure the punishments in return. After spending 21 years in the country, he took these values back to India in 1915 and encouraged the revolters to resort to non-violent protest in their ongoing freedom struggle against the British. On his return, he brought an international reputation of being a community organizer, a nationalist and theorist.
  • Other than in India, Gandhi is considered a national hero in South Africa as following his values the blacks got the right to vote in 1994. Other known leaders that were influenced by him were US civil rights activist Martin Luther King, anti-apartheid leader and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Afghan activist Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan among others.
  • He wrote his autobiography 'The Stories of My Experiments with Truth' while in Yerwada jail in Pune. It started out at a weekly column in Gujarati magazine Navjivan, that was being published from Ahmedabad. The book went on to be considered as one of the ‘100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th century’. 

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