Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of India

Mahatma Gandhi Biography 1
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Rarely has a human being influenced the world in such a gentle and peaceful way as the great Mahatma Gandhi has.

He was true to his words when he said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

He meant it when he said that, and he proved it too.

No one now can deny Gandhi’s importance. He has singlehandedly revolutionized the way people protest against injustice and oppression.

And through that, he made the world a more peaceful place to live in.

Early Childhood and Education

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869, in Porbandar, a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula, in British India.

At age 9, Gandhi entered the local school in Rajkot. And two years later, he entered Alfred High School, in Rajkot.

By his own admission in his autobiography, he was an average student, who was very shy and introverted and had no interest in games.

In 1883, aged only 13, Gandhi was married to Kasturba, aged 14, in an arranged marriage according to the norms and customs of the region.

In 1888, after graduating from High School, Gandhi enrolled at Samaldas College, in Bhavnagar State, but later dropped out and returned back to his family.

Law Education

In 1888, after being advised by a family friend, and with his brother Laxmidas’ support, Gandhi, aged 18, sailed from Bombay to London in order to study law at London’s University College.

He was invited to enroll at Inner Temple with the intention of becoming a barrister. And in 1891, he was called to the Bar.

Gandhi returned to India to establish a law practice in Bombay but failed miserably. His innate shyness, and his fear of public speaking, prevented him from cross-examining his witnesses, thereby hampering his career as a lawyer.

Opportunity in South Africa

In 1893, a merchant in Kathiawar named Dada Abdulla, who owned a successful shipping business in South Africa, asked Gandhi if he could act as a lawyer for a distant cousin of his in the colony of Natal, South Africa.

The reason Abdulla had requested Gandhi for his services was that they preferred someone with Kathiawar heritage. And Gandhi fit the bill!

Gandhi accepted the offer, thinking that it would be a one-year commitment.

And so, in 1893, aged 23, Gandhi set sail for South Africa, without realizing that he would eventually end up spending the next 21 years of his life there.

Life in South Africa

Almost immediately upon arriving in South Africa, Gandhi faced discrimination because of his skin color.

He was taken aback by the blatant racism existing in South Africa, which was also a part of the British Empire then.

Back then, Gandhi believed the British Empire to be essentially fair and just toward all its subjects and colonies. And so, he thought that being an Indian, he was already a subject of the Empire, and therefore deserved to be treated equally.

But things were different in South Africa.

Gandhi was not allowed to sit with white European passengers in the stagecoach and was ordered to sit on the floor near the driver. When he refused, he was manhandled.

In another instance, he was pushed off a footpath by an officer, for in those days only whites were allowed to make use of public footpaths.

These bitter experiences with racism shook and humiliated Gandhi.

He was surprised to see the way Indians were treated in South Africa, and it deeply bothered him.

Gandhi struggled to understand how some people could feel pride, pleasure, and superiority in such inhumane acts. He couldn’t understand how some human beings were capable of treating their fellow human beings with such discrimination and brutality.

And that’s when Gandhi began to question his people’s standing in the British Empire.

But he took no real action until one day, when he was thrown off a train coach at Pietermaritzburg, after refusing to vacate his first-class seat.

Gandhi insisted to the officer that he had a first-class ticket with him, and hence he had a right to stay in his seat. But Gandhi’s explanation didn’t save him from humiliation.

The officer threw him out of the coach nonetheless.

Gandhi sat all night at the train station, shivering and pondering what he should do next. He wondered if he should just give up and return to India, or stay back and fight for his rights.

On that day, Gandhi took a decision that would change his life forever. He chose to stay back and fight for his and his people’s rights.

End of the Abdulla Case, and Extension of Gandhi’s Stay

In 1894, the case for which Gandhi had come to South Africa had come to an end. His official duty as a lawyer was over, and the Indian community even organized a farewell for Gandhi as he prepared to leave for India.

But certain new developments changed his plans.

A new discriminatory proposal by the Natal Government which denied Indians the right to vote (a right proposed to be an exclusive European right), compelled Gandhi to extend his stay in order to fight for the Indian community.

Gandhi asked the British Colonial Secretary to reconsider his position on the proposed bill. But his plea had no effect, and the bill was passed nonetheless.

The Birth of an Activist

Even though Gandhi had failed to convince the British Colonial Secretary, his campaign succeeded in creating and spreading awareness of the grievances of Indians in South Africa.

The same year, Gandhi helped found the Natal Indian Congress.

Through his organization and under his leadership, he united the Indian community in South Africa and molded them into a unified political force that would stand up and demand their rights.

Volunteering During the Boer War

In 1900, during the Boer War, Gandhi volunteered to form a group of stretcher-bearers called the Natal Indian Ambulance Corps.

They carried wounded soldiers from the front lines to the field hospitals.

Over a thousand Indians joined the volunteer group to assist British combat troops against the Boers.

For their services, Gandhi and 37 other Indians received the Queen’s South Africa Medal.

Establishing the Phoenix Settlement

In 1904, Gandhi founded the Phoenix Settlement on the north-western edge of Durban, after being influenced by the teachings set forth in John Ruskin’s book, Unto This Last.

Here the settlers followed communal living and spirituality based on Ruskin’s teachings, and Gandhi experimented with his philosophy of Satyagraha and Ahimsa (non-violence).

It was here that Gandhi first used his principles and methods to champion the cause of mine and sugarcane workers, liberate women, and oppose the consumption of alcohol.

Adoption of Satyagraha

In 1906, the Transvaal Government proposed a new Act that compelled the registration of the Indian and Chinese populations of the Colony.

In order to oppose the bill, Gandhi organized a mass protest meeting in Johannesburg.

It was the first time Gandhi put forth and adopted his philosophy of Satyagraha (truth force). It was a form of peaceful, non-violent protest, influenced by the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy.

Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You, made a great impact on Gandhi, thereby convincing him that non-violent resistance was the right and most effective method to protest against injustice.

Gandhi urged his fellow Indians to defy the new law and willingly suffer the consequences for doing so, without retaliating.

This method of protest would go on to become the most popular, effective, and accepted method to fight oppression across the world.

Gandhi the leader had now emerged.

Volunteering During the British-Zulu War

Again in 1906, during the British-Zulu war, Gandhi and a group of native Africans and Indians formed an ambulance unit to serve as stretcher-bearers in order to treat wounded Zulu and British victims.

Establishing the Tolstoy Farm

In 1910, Gandhi established another community along with his friend Herman Kallenbach.

The community settled down on a farm that they named Tolstoy Farm.

Tolstoy farm served as the headquarters of the Satyagraha movement against the discrimination faced by Indians in the Transvaal.

Here Gandhi and his followers practiced and experimented with ideas like peaceful coexistence, nature cures, community living, etc.

Gandhi’s Return to India

Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915.

By then, he was already considered a nationalist hero in India, known for fighting for the rights of Indians in South Africa. And he already had a reputation as a political theorist and great organizer.

Gandhi then joined the Indian National Congress (INC), which was the organization leading the fight against the British.

Upon joining the Congress, Gandhi was introduced to the political and social issues prevalent in India.

Later on, in 1920, Gandhi would assume leadership of the Congress and go on to become the de-facto leader of the Indian independence movement. It was a position he would maintain until his death in 1948.

Champaran Campaign

Mahatma Gandhi’s first successful campaign in India was the Champaran agitation in Bihar, in 1917.

Gandhi fought on behalf of the local peasants who were forced to grow the indigo crop and then sell their crops to the planters at a fixed price.

The British landlords were backed by the local administration, and the peasants were helpless.

Gandhi successfully employed his strategy of peaceful, non-violent protest and shook the local administration, thereby obtaining concessions from the authorities.

Kheda Campaign

1918, the city of Kheda was affected by floods and famine. The local peasants demanded relief from revenue taxes, but the British authorities refused to grant any relief or concessions.

Mahatma Gandhi moved to Nadiad in order to organize volunteers and supporters for the Kheda agitation. The most notable among the volunteers was a lawyer named Vallabhbhai Patel, who would later go on to become the first Home Minister of independent India.

Gandhi asked the peasants to refuse the payment of taxes, even at the risk of their land being confiscated.

The peasants followed Gandhi’s orders and refused to pay their taxes. They also boycotted the revenue officials of the district.

At first, the local administration did not budge at all.

But five months later, the administration finally gave way to important provisions and allowed concessions on the payment of taxes until the famine came to an end.

This result was considered another victory for Gandhi, and a validation of his non-violent methods of protesting.

End of World War I, and Passing of the Rowlatt Act

Mahatma Gandhi, as promised, had supported the British Empire by recruiting Indian soldiers to fight the war on the British side.

The reason Gandhi had taken such efforts was that the British had promised to reciprocate by granting self-government to India after the end of the war.

But once the war came to an end, the British Government offered only minor reforms instead of self-government.

This move was thought of as an act of betrayal by Gandhi, and it left him disappointed.

Gandhi threatened to launch a civil disobedience campaign. The British Government responded to the threat by passing the Rowlatt Act.

Now, the Rowlatt Act allowed the British Government to treat anyone who participated in the civil disobedience campaign as a criminal, who was liable to be arrested, detained, and jailed indefinitely, without any trial or judicial review.

Gandhi planned and prepared for the campaign.

But, in order for the campaign to be effective and successful, Gandhi knew that he required the support and cooperation of Indian Muslims too.

He understood that the campaign had to be a secular campaign, representing the people of India as a whole, regardless of their religion or caste. The campaign had to be nationalistic and not religious in nature.

Khilafat Movement

Mahatma Gandhi believed that Hindu-Muslim unity and cooperation were necessary in order to fight against British imperialism.

Therefore, Gandhi sought the support of Indian Muslims by supporting and participating in the Khilafat Movement.

The Khilafat Movement was a political protest campaign launched by the Muslims of India, to restore the Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate.

The Caliph was considered to be the leader of the entire Muslim world and was said to be the political and religious successor to Prophet Muhammad. And so, Indian Muslims too considered the Caliph as their leader.

The Khilafat Movement was launched and led by revered Indian Muslim leaders such as Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Shaukat Ali, and Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar.

The movement was a protest against the sanctions imposed on the Caliph and on the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Sevres, after the end of the first world war.

Gandhi’s support of the movement garnered him strong Muslim support, because of which communal riots and violence between Hindus and Muslims temporarily came to a halt.

Gandhi then leveraged this newly-found inter-communal harmony to launch effective demonstrations against the controversial Rowlatt Act.

This raised Gandhi’s stature as a powerful and influential political leader in India. And the British Government now began to take him seriously.

The British had finally found their match in Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Advocacy of Non-violent and Peaceful Methods

During the Civil Disobedience Campaign, Mahatma Gandhi pleaded with the masses to keep the protests non-violent and peaceful, and not to injure or kill British people even if the British resorted to violence.

Gandhi asked the masses to boycott and burn any British goods that they owned or used.

The Indian people obeyed Gandhi’s request, and masses across India gathered in great numbers to protest against the British. Public bonfires of British goods were held, and the masses began to use and promote local Indian goods.

British clothes were burned all across India, and people began to wear white home-spun khadi clothes.

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

On 13th April 1919, Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer issued a notice prohibiting all forms of public meetings, as he was convinced that a major insurrection was being planned.

But the notice was not widely circulated.

Many villagers gathered together in Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi and to also peacefully protest against the arrest of two national leaders of prominence, Saifuddin Kitchlew, and Satyapal.

Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer entered the garden along with his troops and ordered them to fire into the crowd of unarmed civilians, which included women and children.

The result of Dyer’s order was disastrous.

Around 380 people were killed, and more than 1,000 were wounded and injured.

The massacre has since been referred to as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre or the Amritsar Massacre.

This tragedy changed the attitudes of the top Indian leaders towards the British, thereby stimulating the freedom movement.

Non-Cooperation Movement

After the passing of the Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, the Indian National Congress withdrew its support for British reforms.

The top leaders of the Congress, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, came to believe that under British rule Indians would never be considered or treated as equals.

Therefore, the Congress shifted its aim towards self-governance and complete independence from British rule.

And in furtherance of this cause, Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement on 4th September 1920.

By now, Mahatma Gandhi was the undisputed leader of the Congress and of the freedom movement.

Gandhi urged Indians to withdraw their labor and services from any activity that sustained the British Government and its economy in India, including the law courts, British industries, and Government employment. He also asked them to forsake British honors and titles.

Gandhi advocated self-reliance by asking people to boycott British goods, spin khadi, purchase Indian goods, and picket liquor shops.

In this way, Gandhi tried to cripple the British Government politically, administratively, and economically. And all the while, he insisted on the movement being peaceful and non-violent.

Gandhi’s ability to inspire and mobilize millions of common people in order to defy British laws caught the British Government unawares.

The British quickly realized that this ability of Gandhi was his greatest asset and their greatest threat.

Never had such an organized movement been carried out on such a large scale and with such success.

This was the first time that the British Government was truly shaken.

The End of the Non-Cooperation Movement

The Non-Cooperation Movement gathered great momentum through 1920 and 1921 until it suddenly came to an end on 12th February 1922, when Mahatma Gandhi called off the movement after the violent Chauri Chaura incident.

The incident took place in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province (modern-day Uttar Pradesh), on 4th February 1922. A large group of protesters participating in the movement clashed with the local police after the police opened fire.

In retaliation, the protesters attacked and set fire to a police station, resulting in the death of over 20 policemen inside.

Gandhi was saddened by the incident, and he called off the movement on a national level, much to the opposition of the other Congress leaders.

Once again Gandhi proved his loyalty to the principle of non-violence. He showed the world that he was prepared to call off a successful campaign for freedom if it happened to lose its non-violent and peaceful character.

On 10th March 1922, Gandhi, along with several other leaders, was arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment.

The Unfurling of the Indian Flag

On 31st December 1929, the flag of India was hoisted by the then Congress President, Jawaharlal Nehru, in Lahore (modern-day Pakistan).

The Congress asked the people of India to observe 26th January as Independence Day.

And on 26th January 1930, Mahatma Gandhi led Congress in celebrating India’s Independence Day in Lahore.

This day was observed and commemorated by the masses and almost all other Indian organizations across the entire Indian subcontinent.

The Salt March (also known as The Salt Satyagraha or The Dandi March)

The Indian National Congress, under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, had decided to launch a Civil Disobedience Movement against the British Government. And the responsibility of organizing the first act of civil disobedience was given to Gandhi.

Gandhi planned to begin the movement with a protest march against the British Salt Tax.

The Salt Act of 1882 gave the British Government a monopoly over the collection and manufacture of salt. This gave them the right to impose a salt tax.

Violating the Act in any way was deemed a criminal offense.

The salt tax amounted to almost 8.2% of the British Government’s tax revenue (which was a substantial amount), and it affected and hurt the poorest Indians the most.

And this was one of the main reasons why Mahatma Gandhi chose to target the salt tax for the first satyagraha of the campaign. He knew that it was something that would resonate with all classes of citizens, as salt was an essential and necessary part of daily life.

Gandhi believed that the common man would be much more easily inspired to rise up and protest for an essential item of daily use, than for any abstract constitution or demand for political rights.

And he was proven right.

The Beginning and the End of the Salt March

The 240-mile march was to be undertaken from Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram to the village of Dandi, located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, in Gujarat.

The march began on 12th March 1930.

Gandhi started the march with 78 of his trusted volunteers. Along the way, thousands of Indians joined them on the march to Dandi, until the procession became almost 2 miles long.

Gandhi continued to give speeches and interviews along the way and also wrote articles.

The nature of the movement and the duration of the march allowed foreign journalists and media to arrive at the scene of action and report it as they witnessed it.

In this way, Mahatma Gandhi became a household name in Europe and America, thereby gaining world sympathy toward the cause.

On 6th April 1930, the march came to an end at 6:30 am when Gandhi broke the salt law with a symbolic gesture. He raised a lump of salty mud on the beach of Dandi and declared, “With this, I’m shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”

Gandhi then asked his followers to start making salt along the seashore, wherever it was convenient.

The Aftermath of the Salt March

On 5th May 1930, Mahatma Gandhi was arrested.

Due to his arrest, the peaceful and non-violent raid planned by Gandhi on the Darshana Salt Works took place without him on 21st May 1930.

What followed was a scene of inhumane brutality on the part of the British Government.

Scores of policemen attacked the advancing marchers and hit them on their heads and bodies with long bamboo sticks.

But not a single one of the marchers retaliated. Not a single one raised their arms to fend off the blows. They just accepted the beatings and were struck down.

This act of atrocity went on for hours. At the end of it, more than 300 protesters had been beaten, out of which many were seriously injured and two were killed.

The Success of the Salt March

Inspired by the Salt March, millions of people all across India openly broke the salt laws by making or buying illegal salt.

The Salt March had turned into a mass civil disobedience movement throughout the whole of India. And the British Government responded by imprisoning over 60,000 people.

But that did not stop the campaign from being highly successful.

The Civil Disobedience Movement was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s most successful and effective nationwide campaigns. It was a campaign that shook the foundations of British rule in India.

Negotiations with the British

The British Government, represented by Lord Irwin, decided to negotiate with the Indian National Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi was chosen to represent the Congress in the negotiation.

On 5th March 1931, the negotiation came to an end. The Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed, in which the British Government asked for the suspension of the Civil Disobedience Movement, and in return promised to free all political prisoners.

Gandhi also participated in the Second Round Table Conference in London, as the sole representative of the Congress. The Conference was held to discuss constitutional reforms in India.

But the Conference came to a disappointing end without having achieved anything significant, and the question of Indian Independence was never discussed.

Quit India Movement

When the Second World War came around, Mahatma Gandhi strongly opposed Indian participation in the British war effort.

Gandhi found it ironic that Britain was fighting the war for democratic freedom, while at the same time denying India that very freedom. He thought it to be unjust and hypocritical on Britain’s part.

As the war raged on in Europe, Gandhi, and the Indian National Congress intensified their demand for complete independence from British rule and called for the British to quit India.

This was their most definite revolt aimed at forcing the British to leave India.

On 9th August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement.

Gandhi urged Indians to stop cooperating with the British Government completely and unconditionally.

The British Government’s Response

The British Government responded by arresting Mahatma Gandhi and other Congress leaders. Several other Indians were also imprisoned as political prisoners.

Gandhi’s Release, the End of the War, and the End of the Quit India Movement

Due to his failing health, Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail on 6th May 1944, two years after his arrest.

During his imprisonment, his wife, Kasturba, passed away.

When the war finally came to an end, the British were, at last, prepared to relinquish power and transfer it into Indian hands.

Upon seeing that the British Government gave clear indications of quitting India for good, Gandhi called off the movement.

The British Government went on to release over 100,000 political prisoners, including all the leaders of the Congress.

The Partition of India

From the very beginning, Mahatma Gandhi strongly opposed the partition of India along religious lines.

But the Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, insisted on partition and on the formation of a new Muslim State called Pakistan.

By then the Muslim League had considerable support from the Muslims of India, and so the idea of forming a separate country for Muslims gained traction amongst the Muslim population.

Gandhi suggested that the Congress and the Muslim League cooperate with each other in order to attain independence under a provisional government, and then, later on, resolve the question of partition by a plebiscite in the districts which had a Muslim majority.

But Jinnah rejected Gandhi’s proposal and continued to insist on a separate nation for Muslims.

After much negotiation, Jinnah’s proposal was accepted by the British, and Pakistan was carved out of India.

The Aftermath of Partition

Suddenly people of different religions, who had been living on their ancestral land for centuries, found themselves to be on the wrong side of the newly drawn line.

Millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated from Pakistan to India, and millions of Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan.

The partition turned out to become the largest land migration in human history.

More than half a million people were killed in communal violence and religious riots. Thousands of women were abducted, raped, and murdered. And several children were abandoned or killed along the way.

The partition resulted in a severe refugee crisis on both sides of the line.

The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of ill will, mistrust, suspicion, and hostility between India and Pakistan that survives to this day.


On 15th August 1947, India finally gained independence from British rule. For the first time in almost 200 years, India would be ruled by Indians.

Although it was a historic and monumental day in the history of India, Mahatma Gandhi did not celebrate it. He was deeply saddened by the communal riots taking place across India and by the deaths of millions of people undertaking the migration.

This was not the future that Gandhi had envisioned for India. His dream for India had come to a tragic end, as the price that Indians were paying for the partition was too much for him to bear.

Gandhi spent India’s Independence Day in Calcutta, appealing for peace and harmony amongst his countrymen.

He undertook fasts in order to stop the communal violence taking place, and on many occasions, he was successful in either stopping it completely or at least reducing it.

Many lives were saved because of Gandhi’s fasts.

The success of these fasts in bringing a halt to communal violence turned out to be one of Gandhi’s greatest achievements.


On 30th January 1948, barely five months after India gained its independence, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist called Nathuram Godse.

Gandhi was on his way to address a prayer meeting in the garden of Birla House, where he was residing at the time. The incident took place at around five-fifteen in the evening.

Godse had stepped out of the crowd flanking Gandhi’s path and fired three bullets into Gandhi’s chest and abdomen at point-blank range.

Gandhi was immediately carried back into the Birla House. Thirty minutes later, he died.

The Father of the Nation was no more.

Gandhi’s death was mourned not just in India but across the world.

His funeral procession was said to be over five miles long, with more than a million people participating in it, and another million people watching the procession pass by.

The Importance of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi’s influence looms large in India and all across the world.

In India, Gandhi is considered to be the Father of the Nation. The man who led an oppressed nation and its oppressed people to freedom. The man who peacefully and non-violently freed India from the yoke of colonialism, thereby instilling confidence and pride into the heart and soul of its people.

Gandhi is the man who, for the first time in the history of India, united the Indian people into a unified political force. He brought together and inspired people from different backgrounds, belonging to different religions and classes. He united the rich and the poor toward the cause of freedom.

Gandhi showed India and its people the right way. He was the messiah India had been waiting for.

All these things make Mahatma Gandhi a saintly and Godly figure in India, who is revered equally by all.

Interestingly enough, Gandhi’s untimely death just five months after gaining independence seems to indicate that he really was the messiah whose entire life was a preparation toward leading India to freedom. As if he was destined to achieve that feat. As if he was the chosen one.

But that’s not it.

Mahatma Gandhi’s importance cannot be relegated to India only. For that would be a grave injustice to what he has achieved and what he stood for.

Gandhi’s principle of non-violent resistance and peaceful civil disobedience has influenced the world we live in.

What Gandhi achieved was unprecedented in history. No successful movement or revolution for freedom had ever taken place peacefully and non-violently before.

Before Gandhi, armed violent revolutions were the norm. It was the only way people knew how to protest.

But Gandhi radically changed that norm. He popularized a much more effective method, which also happened to be non-violent and peaceful in nature, thereby making it the new norm.

He made peaceful protest the accepted method of protest. He made it a civil and political right that every citizen of a democratic nation happens to possess now.

And by doing so, Mahatma Gandhi made the world a much more peaceful and happier place to live in. A place with a little less bloodshed.

Due to his great achievements, Gandhi has served as an icon and example to leaders all across the world. Other great leaders such as Nelson MandelaMartin Luther KingCesar Chavez, and the Dalai Lama have been inspired by him.


Sure, Mahatma Gandhi had his flaws. He had his fair share of controversial ideas and moments. And at times, he probably did and said things that cannot be justified.

But the problem is, we forget that Gandhi was only human. And so he had vices and flaws as we all do. He was imperfect as we all are. He was no God. He was not a Saint. And he never once claimed to be either one of them.

It was the people who made him a God and a Saint. It was the people who gave him the title of Mahatma (meaning Great Soul), not he himself.

Mahatma Gandhi was only a human being who went on to achieve greatness, something which we can all do.