A member of the Hindu Muslim Alliance who also played an important role in the country's independence, Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi was born in Gujarat on October 2, 1869, 150 years ago. Gandhiji employed the Satyagraha as his weapon. Satyagraha means to raise public voice against oppression in a peaceful way. This process led the campaign for India's independence and the spirit of human rights and freedom movements for the world. He is respectfully called Mahatma Gandhi and Bapu. He was awarded the title of “Father of the Nation” by the Indian Government. Gandhiji's birth day, known as “Gandhi Jayanti”, is a national holiday across the country and is celebrated worldwide as a Day of Non-Violence. Gandhiji's constant struggle with the Hindu-Muslim alliance forced the British to leave India and our country was finally liberated on August 15, 1947.
While advocating in South Africa, he used Civil Disobedience for the first time to fight for the rights of Indians. After his return to India in 1915, he protested against the indiscriminate discrimination of land with farmers and labourers.
After taking over the leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhiji launched a campaign to eradicate poverty from the country, exercise women's rights, religious and ethnic well-being, abolish untouchability and economic self-reliance. He vowed to liberate India from foreign control. Mahatma Gandhi led the Non-Cooperation Movement, after which in March 1930, a 400-kilometer long journey (Dandi Yatra) was launched to oppose the British for imposing tax on salt. Then in 1942, he started Quit India Movement “ Bharat Chodo Aandolan” civil disobedience movement with the demand for independence. Mahatma Gandhi spent many years in prison in both Africa and India. As a leader of non violence, Gandhiji vowed to speak the truth and appealed others to do the same. He lived a simple life in the Sabarmati Ashram ands adopted a traditional Indian dhoti and a another piece of cloth to cover his upper body, both woven with yarn spun by him on spinning wheel. He used to eat green vegetables and was a devotee of spiritual purity and social protest for which he observed fasts.
Among Gandhiji's main achievements are the Hindu-Muslim unity and the philosophy of non-violence (ahimsa) that if they were to be treated with integrity even today, the atmosphere of violence and intolerance created within the country could be removed.
Given the prevailing situation in the country, it is imperative that social workers, who are in accordance with the thoughts of Gandhiji, should come forward and follow the principles of Gandhiji and strive for Hindu-Muslim unity and put maximum potential on the education of the nation, that is need of the hour.
Gandhiji's principle was "Sarva Dharma Sadbhav" i-e- freedom of all religions to flourish or in easy words "Live and let live". This is that principle which can guarantee the development of our country even today. According to Indian laws, every person has complete freedom to practice his own religion. When we examine Gandhiji's speeches, it is clear that he has tried to create harmony between different classes on the basis of caste, religion, regionalism, color, race and language.
Mahatma Gandhi realized that India could not get freedom until the two major classes of people living in the area, namely, Hindus and Muslims, learned to live together. Even if freedom is granted, it would not be the freedom that we want. That is why Gandhiji was a staunch supporter of the Hindu-Muslim unity. He believed that if Hindus and Muslims did not learn to live peacefully, then the existence of this country, which we know as India, would be ceased.
Gandhiji studied books of different religions and ideas of notable intellectuals of the world. He is said to have studied the Quran and the Gospel with the Gita, daily in the morning. In his famous book "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" he himself confesses that he had many good relations with many Muslims during his stay in South Africa, which was very useful for him in understanding the Islamic teachings. When he was asked what kind of government he would like to establish as the “Ram Rajya”, he replied, "It will be in the style of the second Caliph Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA)". During his stay in England, he also tried to understand the teachings of the Pharisees by by mixing with the Parsi people while practicing Christianity and advocacy. He respected all religions even though he had a deep connection to his native Hindu religion.
While Mahatma Gandhi's concern was that the British should leave India and go back to their country, he also wanted to engage the people of the country with the adoration of education and take them towards development.
When Sir Syed Ahmad Khan founded an educational institution under the patronage of the British, those who fought for the independence of India from the British also founded Jamia Millia Islamia under the patronage of Sheikh al Hind Maulana Mahmood al-Hassan in which Mahatma Gandhi's services to cultivate can never be forgotten. I too got a doctorate from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, which is now a Central University and one of the few prestigious universities in India, so I have a moral obligation that I should remember Gandhiji's services on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. The University is the only university in India with the majority of the founders sacrificing in the country's independence.
Gandhiji was a strong opponent of communal riots. When there was a riot in Bihar's Nawakhali area, he himself went there and stayed for a long time trying his best to normalize the situation. Gandhiji also looked very sad over the communal riots that broke out after India's independence. Some misunderstood people have interpreted it as anti hindu which is certainly wrong. Rather, the fact is that, Gandhi's sensitive heart did not tolerate oppression against anyone and he was forced to raise his voice against it.
All of Gandhiji's ideals, whether it be Non-violence (ahimsa), Satya- graha or brotherhood, have become popular not only in India but all over the world and have been praised by international thinkers, writers and artists. On the other hand, it is also a fact that the efforts of Gandhi's Hindu-Muslim unity were hated by some who tried to spread corruption and these elements cost India to lose its great hero . Finally, the country also saw that Mahatma Gandhi, a member of the Hindu Muslim League and a prominent figure in the country's independence, was shot on Friday, January 30, 1948. Not even six months had passed since the country was liberated, and the lamp that lit up the whole country with its light and taught us that we should not think that we are only Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians, but we are Indians and true Indians had extinguished. We all have a responsibility to remember Mahatma Gandhi and to continue to play his role in the development of our country by adopting his valuable principles and to provide our services for Hindu Muslim unity.
One of the secrets of Gandhiji being a successful leader is that after the independence of the country, he took no part in the power but vowed to serve the nation without having any office of government. This distance from power also made him a great leader and he became an example of Allama Iqbal's poem:
“Religion does not teach us to have enmity among ourselves; we are Indians and India is our nation.