(Gandhi image)

Mohandas Gandhi

Today's Honorary Subscriber* is the great Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), the Indian nationalist leader famous for his struggle for Indian independence from the United Kingdom, which had taken control of the country during the 1700s. (He was no relation to Indira Gandhi, a more recent Indian leader.) Gandhi was a religious pacifist, and to obtain their goals he and his followers used nonviolent noncooperation (satyagraha, or defense of and by truth).

He was called Mahatma, which means "great-souled." Born in India, he studied law as a young man and practiced briefly in that country before traveling for business reasons to South Africa, which was controlled at that time by the British. There, he was appalled by the oppressive treatment of Indian immigrants. Back in India, he began to organize his nonviolent campaigns of civil disobedience; these included hunger strikes and boycotts. He was arrested several times by the authorities, and sent to prison.

Later, as leader of India's chief political party, the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led a fight to abolish the country's rigid caste system, which at that time had four principal social classes and a fifth group of "untouchables" who ranked even lower than the lowest class of peasants and laborers.

During World War II, he was arrested for demanding British withdrawal, but was released in 1944 and played a major role in the postwar negotiations that led to an independent India in 1947.

He was tolerant of all beliefs, including Christian, Hindu and Muslim. During a prayer vigil in New Delhi he was shot to death by a Hindu extremist in 1948.

Here is Gandhi's famous list of "Seven Blunders Of The World That Lead To Violence":

* This appeared on December 15, 1998 on Edupage, an online newsletter published by EDUCAUSE. It appears here with permission of its authors.

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