The name Gandhi is certainly synonymous with India, and rightly so with so many auspicious Gandhi’s becoming prominent over many generations. Etymology-wise, the root of the surname is the Sanskrit word Gandha which means fragrance smell, odor, or scent. As such, the family name implies someone who deals in fragrance and is associated with people from Baniya castes who were traditionally perfume businessmen.
The world knows best the passive, non-violent resistor and leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, more commonly known as Mahatma, or ‘Great Soul.’ Mohandas Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869 in western British-ruled India. He married at the age of 13, as was usual, and became a father to four surviving sons. He studied law and passed the bar in England between 1888 and 1891, and developed an interest in the philosophy of nonviolence here. He returned to India as a lawyer, but spent the next 21 years, between 1893 and 1914, in South Africa after taking up the opportunity to assist on a lawsuit there for just a year. He soon became enmeshed in matters of discrimination against the Indian minority in the country. Following the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1901), Gandhi’s personal principles became even more resolved. He developed satyagraha, “soul- force,” a method of non-violent resistance, practiced sexual abstinence, and renounced modern technology.
After returning to India, Gandhi was imprisoned between 1922 and 1924 for his passive resistance to British rule and withdrew for a time from public involvement to travel India. He eventually traveled to England to participate as an invited participant in a conference, and then withdrew from public life once again. Violence erupted in India at the outbreak of World War II, and many leaders, including Gandhi, were imprisoned for their roles.
Gandhi was quietly inspirational and motivated Martin Luther King Jr in non-violence protest and peace, having heard a sermon on the respected passive resistor. Gandhi’s Salt March taught King the lessons of loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. Gandhi introduced Satyagraha, the policy of passive political resistance, as well as AHISMA (nonviolence). Mahatma also led nationals to break the salt laws which deprived impoverished Indians and peacefully protested discrimination against the untouchables or lower castes. Mahatma Gandhi was a five-time nominee of but failed ever to win, the Nobel Peace Prize.
India’s independence from Britain in August 1947 followed the development of separate states for Muslims within Independent India. What followed was large scale atrocities between Muslims and Hindus, murders and a refugee situation. Gandhi failed to calm the mayhem and was assassinated in Delhi on 30th January 1948, by a Hindu nationalist. Albert Einstein said of Gandhi after his death, “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.”
As wife to Feroze Gandhi and the only daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi née Nehru went on to become President of India in 1966. She was born on 19th November 1917 in Allahabad, India. Regarded as Mahatma’s political granddaughter, she proved herself as his political heir, was raised alongside him as her father’s right man, but was not a blood relative of the Great Soul, Mahatma Gandhi.
In January 1966, Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister. In a political move, she imposed two years of emergency rule, during which she implemented many unpopular policies. After serving as prime minister for three consecutive terms (1966–77), she resumed the position from 1980 until her death in 1984.
On 31st October 1984, she was assassinated in Delhi by her personal bodyguard and member of the Sikh separatist movement.
Indira Gandhi’s son succeeded her as Prime Minister in 1984, following her assassination. Not only was he the youngest Prime Minister of India, but he may also well have been among the youngest elected heads of Government throughout the world. Rajiv studied Mechanical Engineering in Britain, with no interest in politics. He married an Italian English language student in 1968, and Sonia Gandhi produced a daughter and a son. Rajiv was assassinated in a suicide bombing in Chennai on 21st May 1991. An Indian e-Tourist Visa gives you access to travel India without hassles.