It all began when Gandhiji was thrown out of the train, while he was travelling to Pretoria, although he had a first-class ticket. This so happened on the complaint of a white man who was having to share seat with this black Indian. And thanks to that white man that this black Indian could later become our ‘Father of The Nation’.
With the overwhelming feelings of fear and neglect, he felt like leaving South Africa at once. But destiny had a treasure in store for him. A task so great and befitting for him. His courage took over his fears and he thus decided to stay back in South Africa, working for 21 years.
As protest for this ‘Apartheid’, he formed the Natal Indian Congress in 1894. This organization strived to put an end to the oppression of the native Africans and Indians by using non-violent protests.
Gandhiji came back to India in 1896, for a brief time to gather 800 free Indians to work with him back in South Africa. Their arrival was greeted with violence by an irate mob and Gandhiji was badly injured in this violence.
He, along with 1,100 Indians had organized the Indian Ambulance Corps for the British in 1899 Boer war. Yet, the torture and discrimination on the Indians did not end.
Inspired by English artist John Ruskin’s book, ‘Unto This Last’, Gandhiji set up a farm names ‘phoenix’ farm in Durban where he trained his cadres on the ideals of ‘Satyagraha’. Yes, the great ‘satyagraha’ movement was born here, however, in his second camp in Tolstoy farm, Satyagraha was shaped into a weapon of protest.
The first satyagraha campaign was organized in 1906. This was in protest against the Asiatic ordinance which was directed against the Indian immigrants in Transvaal. Again in June, 1907, he organized Satyagraha against compulsory registration of Asiatic (The Black Act).
He had to stand trial in 1908, for instigating the Satyagraha movement. He spent two months in prison and this was for the first time he was in jail. He then made a compromise with the General Smuts but after he came out, he was attacked for making the compromise and thus he had to relaunch the Satyagraha.
He was sentenced to three months imprisonment in Volkshurst and Pretoria jails in 1909, after which he went to England to enlist support for the Indian community.
In 1913, he helped in the campaign against nullification of marriages celebrated not according to the Christian rights.
He had also launched the third Satyagraha by leading 2000 Indian miners across the Transvaal border. He was unconditionally released by December in hope of compromise.
He had to live a life of so much self-restraint and discipline. He changed his feeding to minimal, was his own doctor, embraced The Gita and led the life of ‘Brahmacharya’ (celibacy).
Suffering himself to eradicate suffering from the life of thousands of oppressed, he set an example of true sacrifice.
Thus, he was rightly given the heavy-weight, befitting title for his lofty deeds, ‘MAHATMA’, by our most loved and respect, world renowned Rabindranath Tagore.
By Sayan Adhikary( 5th semester, RKMVU)