A simple man with a stick in his hand achieved so many great things in one lifetime, from being a leader of Indian National Congress movement to becoming a mascot of non-violence worldwide inspiring millions of people including famous leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., creating a place in the world history for himself.
His strikingly ability of holding the baton of non-violence and consistently promoting it with his actions reserved a place in the hearts of people, making him seem larger than life.
Have you ever wondered what gave him so much strength and what made him unique and famous?
One of his key virtues was his simplistic lifestyle. He established a sense of renounce-hood around himself, which helped him connect to masses as most of the Indians at the time were struggling from poverty because of broken economy and British dominance. This simplistic lifestyle manifested in his various day-to-day actions and rituals, which includes spinning wheel for creating, cotton threads, earning him his livelihood also.
He understood the power of local economy and found innovative ways to strengthen the financial plight of Indian masses by promoting the production of Khadi clothes (made from Indian cotton) for increasing self-employment and for achieving that he started the Khadi movement, which was aimed at boycotting the selling of foreign clothes and encouraging the sale of domestically woven clothes. He tirelessly worked at bringing the masses together, whether be it ‘Dandi march’ or Civil Disobedience movement (all were his brainchild).
Adding to his lifestyle, his physical appearance also was the talk of the town. Walking with a stick wearing spectacles, a pair of leather slippers and only a single loincloth (dhoti) wrapped around the body, earned him the title of half-naked fakir, which made him standout from the rest, enhancing his public image, and people adored him for that.
Born in a wealthy family, Gandhi was one of the few Indians who got a chance to study law in England. Talking about his prior life, he was nothing like what he became in his later years, Ignorant to the fact, Gandhi thought studying law would award him equal status to Britishers, only to get disappointed after being thrown out of the train in Durban for being a second class citizen.
As famously said, this incident shook Gandhi to the core, introducing him to the plight of millions of Indians facing the cruel British dominance in South Africa.
His efforts to combine Indians and leading the South African independence movement brought him to the forefront of International Media making him the poster boy of freedom struggle against the British Empire.
Politics came naturally to Gandhi. Being a student of law and having been spent time in England, he was at par with britishers in understanding their manipulative political gimmicks and divide and rule policies. With already acquired fame from South African movement making him a acceptable and proven leadership, Gandhi soon rose to power in India, and support from industrialists like Birla, Tata etc. made it easy for him to hold massive public meeting bringing together millions of Indians.
In a country, which had only seen violence as a way of protest, introducing the era of non-violence with protest methods like ‘Satya Graha’, ‘Hunger Strike’, ‘Civil Disobedience’, along with providing the leadership, Gandhi gave people alternatives to the existing violent protest methods.
He smartly played with Britishers as they couldn’t retaliate to non-violent public and had to incarcerate the protestors, which won’t hold even as it puts the burden on the government only (which was the sole idea) and also the fact remains that there were not enough cells to fit millions of protestors in jails.
The public saw the effectiveness of Gandhi’s leadership and started to respect his methods and soon started joining his protests and marches wholeheartedly with pride and faith which eventually brought British Empire to its knees in 1947, when India gained independence.
Gandhi’s brand with time has grown tremendously, transcending the boundaries of 183 countries. The fact that he was probably one of the few figures that were able to unite millions of people and led protest on non-violent principles effectively captures the essence of his personality and brings out the uniqueness of his character.
His minimalistic lifestyle and idealistic approach towards seeking truth and finding ways to put human suffering to an end puts him in par with the likes of Buddha as told by Raghavan Iyer in his book ‘Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment’, surpassing the realm of mortals and earning him the title of ‘Father of all brands’.