It’s 2nd October, meaning it’s a National Holiday in India to celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was born on 2nd Oct 1869 in Gujarat and trained as a lawyer in London. He moved to South Africa as an expatriate Indian lawyer and then moved back to India. He helped India gain Independence from the British rule by systematic acts of non-violent civil disobedience. Much has been said, written and filmed about MK Gandhi but here are 5 Facts about Gandhi you probably didn’t know.
1. Irish Accent.
When Gandhi went to London to study Law, his first teacher was an Irishman. As a result, Gandhi caught the accent and spoke English with a slight Irish accent. Unfortunately, the Irish didn’t catch Gandhi’s zest for non-violent revolution.
2. Bad Handwriting.
It wouldn’t matter much if he studied to become a doctor, but his writing was poor for a lawyer. He also wasn’t very bright in studies when he was studying in India. In fact, one of his reports went like this:
“Good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting.”
3. ‘Slept’ with his grand niece.
This one is a doozie! In 1906, Gandhi decided to be celibate for the rest of his life and abstain from sex. To test himself, he invited his grand niece Manubehn to sleep naked next to him, while himself being naked. Just to see how much control he could have over his sexual urges. There were many other young girls who did the same. One scholar explained it as an experiment to bring about gender equalization, where the females are empowered and respected by men. This was never hidden by Gandhi himself and he in fact asked an editor of his newspaper to write about it!
4. Recruited Combatants for Army
Gandhi was no stranger to Wars. In South Africa, he helped the government enlist young Indian men in army for the Zulu war. But for the non combatant Ambulance Corps. However, in the World War 1, on the request from the Viceroy Frederic Thesiger, Gandhi sought to recruit Indian men as combatants for the army. He mentioned in his leaflet
“To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them…If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army.”
5. Ashes in Uganda
Gandhi was shot by Hindu nationalist, Nathuram Godse on 30th January 1948. As per Hindu traditions, his body was cremated and his ashes were immersed in the river Ganges. However few urns of his ashes made it outside India. An urn is at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles while ashes from another urn were scattered at the at the source of the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda. There is also a shrine which was established at the place.
He may have had his flaws but what he did for India and for the enslaved in general was far more important than anything else, including these 5 facts. There is no doubt that Bapu / Mahatma Gandhi / MK Gandhi was/is/will remain a great influence to human society, it is still very important to remember that he was a man, a mortal. If we remember this, we can believe that another Gandhi can emerge from anyone of us.
Happy Gandhi Jayanti
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