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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was an influential Indian leader who was born in the modern-day Gujarat town of Porbandar in 1869. Mahatma Gandhi later left India for England in 1888 to obtain a law degree and become a lawyer. During his time in England, he also used his reading and writing skills to translate the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. Classic Hindu literature awoke his sense of pride to a large degree, resulting in the Hindu scriptures, which later played an important role in his life.
Gandhi moved to South Africa to practice law shortly after his return to India. Mahatma Gandhi was not only a lawyer, writer, and a political figure but also a dedicated social activist who led India’s national movement against British Rule. He became one of the most influential person people in the globe during the 19th century and is widely recognized as “Father of the Nation” in the Indian nation (Subramanyan, 31). This paper provides insight into some of the reasons why Mahatma Gandhi is an influential person in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Role in India’s Independence
Perhaps one of the significant reason why Gandhi was and remains to be an influential person in the world is due to his active role in India’s independence. Having spent almost 20 years in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi returned to Indian with the sole purpose of leading his country into independence (Subramanyan, 31). When he became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement, he began to awaken the Indian people’s aspirations for a free nation, and as a result, he managed to organize all his followers into a formidable political force which campaigned for home rule. During this period as India struggled for its independence, Gandhi strongly advocated for non-violent political activism, through this strategy he successfully instigated many non-violent protests all over India. Mahatma Gandhi not only struggled for Indian’s political independence but also for the country’s economic independence which he did by helping strengthen the country's artisan traditions. By encouraging artisanal production, he aided in establishing a localized self-sufficient economic system; hence, economic stability (Subramanyan, 31).
Gandhi as a source of Inspiration and his Influence on Global leaders
Mahatma Gandhi is a very influential person, and his ideologies inspired many people who in turn brought change or development to various parts of the world. Gandhi’s primary work was between 1915, and his non-violent actions greatly influenced Martin Luther King Jr. and made him create nonviolent movements as a means to bring change to the society. Martin Luther King Jr. organized nonviolent marches like the March on Washington which only started with 100 people but developed to around 2,900 people to cause a dramatic effect on the Congress (Hefner, 265). Also, Gandhi influenced Martin Luther as described in his book “Strength to Love” which states “The whole Gandhian concept of satyagraha was profoundly significant for me.” The Gandhi philosophy made King’s skepticism diminish through the aspect of nonviolence for freedom (Jahanbegloo, 3).
Gandhi fought for human rights and civil liberties while in South Africa as a lawyer, and his efforts were successful as the whites and black came to a peaceful agreement. The agreement involved the transfer of power which made Nelson Mandela the first black President of South Africa. Gandhi’s peaceful technique inspired Nelson Mandela, and he adopted the peaceful means as used by Gandhi whereby he urged the South African people not to treat the white people harshly now that he was in power. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is Gandhi’s philosophy which is still relevant in South Africa to date (Rajen, 1).
Gandhi influenced James Lawson who is a Methodist minister through the technique of keeping calm to avoid violence. Lawson used this method by Gandhi to educate students in workshops who were against segregation in U.S by keeping calm to avoid violence (Tutu, 4). This sparked outrage and attention from other citizens who joined in boycotts and demonstrations to attain victory.
Gandhi’s "Way of living" and its Influence
Mahatma Gandhi is very influential, and his way of Living if followed will have a positive effect on a person’s mental health. According to Gandhi “Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will” (Tandon, & Singh, 1). Initially, Gandhi as a young man was lonely and encountered difficulty while trying to adopt being an English gentleman, later he transformed his thinking and felt that being true to one’s self is the best option and this led to happiness and simplicity. This shows that people should not try to please others by changing their lifestyle, they should be themselves and do what they please and this gives one mental peace and calmness since there will be no struggles.
During the struggles in his life, Gandhi found himself in precarious situations where he had to deal with provocations from alien government among others. Gandhi always was calm, had patience and had anger management techniques. His words “I am painfully conscious of my imperfections and therein lies all the strength I possess” (Tandon, & Singh, 2). These words are used in cognitive behavior therapy which assists individuals with psychological problems related to unrealistic expectations. This has helped many people across the globe realize that transforming others requires one to transform themselves first.
Conclusively, Gandhi’s simple way of life also influenced his way of dressing, while he initially wore a coat-pant and a hat he later started wearing a simple dhoti or a loincloth and shawl. Due to his way of dressing significantly influenced the fashion world which adopted cues from his attire resulting in the development of the Gandhian fashion. In the contemporary world, Gandhi caps are some of the latest fads which are not only synonymous with politicians but also the youths and the commoners. Gandhi’s round wired frames have also to a great extent influenced many well-known fashion labels such as Armani which has a wide range of round-rimmed glasses.
Badola, S. “Gandhian fashion; Mahatma Gandhi Has Been an Influence on Global Fashion. On Gandhi Jayanti Today, We Find out What Makes His Trademark Khadi, Dhotis, Topis and Round Glasses Special”. Daily News & Analysis, (2011): http://www.dnaindia.com/
Hefner, Philip. "Spiritual Transformation and Nonviolent Action: Interpreting Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr." Currents in Theology and Mission 31 (2004): 264-273.
Jahanbegloo, Ramin. "Gandhi and the struggle for non-violence." UNESCO Courier, 1992, p. 18
Rajen, Anand. “Lessons We Can Learn From the Life of Gandhi”. 2010. ProQuest LLC
Subramanyan. “The Gandhi Connection”. US Today, (2008). Pp. 31-35.
Tandon, Abhinav, and V. K. Singh. "Impact of Mahatma Gandhi's concepts on mental health: Reflections." Indian journal of psychiatry 55.Suppl 2 (2013): S231.
Tutu, Desmond. "A Force More Powerful a Century of Nonviolent Conflict." Social Education, Vol. 64, no. 5, 2000. Retrieved from: http://www.ncss.org/
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