In the early days, India was made up of a large number of small Kingdoms. Porbandar was one such Kingdom. Gandhi's father Kaba was a Minister there. Kaba was an honest, upright man, a strict disciplinarian, and very hot tempered. His wife Putlibai was a extremely religious person. To these parents a son was born on October 2nd, 1869. He was their youngest son. He was called Gandhi.

The strict discipline of his father, the religious bent of mind of his mother, all influenced Gandhi greatly. He was deeply attached to his parents and brothers. The values of truthfulness, honesty, integrity were instilled in him from the very beginning.

As a child he was not very brave. He was mortally afraid of the dark, of ghosts and spirits, and also of snakes and scorpions. At night he would cry in fear. The maid who looked after him scolded him very often. "You should be ashamed of yourself" she would say. "What will you do when you grow up?" She then told him that every time he was frightened he should say the name of God Rama. Gandhi took her advice, and gradually he overcome his fear.

Soon it was time for him to go to school. Being extremely shy, he did not mix with the other children. Most of the time he kept to himself. In the beginning he did not like some of the subjects that were taught to him, but with encouragement from his teachers he studied them, and began to enjoy them. From then onwards he took his studies very seriously.

Gandhi was very shy. As soon as the school bell rang, he collected his books and hurried home. Other boys chatted and stopped on the way; some to play, others to eat, but Gandhi always went straight home. He was afraid that the boys might stop him and make fun of him. One day, the Inspector of Schools, Mr. Giles, came to Gandhi's school. He read out five English words to the class and asked the boys to write them down. Gandhi wrote four words correctly, but he could not spell the fifth word. Seeing Gandhi's difficulty, the teacher made a sign behind the Inspector's back that he should copy the word from his neighbor’s slate. But Gandhi ignored his signs. The other boys wrote all the five words correctly; Gandhi wrote only four. After the Inspector left, the teacher scolded him. "I told you to copy from your neighbor," he said angrily. "Couldn't you even do that correctly?" Every one laughed. As he went home that evening, Gandhi was not unhappy. He knew he had done the right thing. What made him sad was that his teacher should have asked him to cheat.

As was the custom in those days in India, when he was about 13-14 years old, he got married. His wife's name was Kasturba (and she was as old as him).

It was at this time that Gandhi fell into bad company and picked up many bad habits. It was because of these bad habits, that unknown to his parents, he was once forced to sell his gold bracelet. However, he soon realized his mistake, and amply repented his sinful behavior. He decided to come clean about everything to his father. He wrote a letter to his father, mentioning all the sinful deeds he had done. He gave the letter to his father, and stood by his bedside, his face hanging down in shame.

At the time Kaba was seriously ill. He felt miserable when he read the letter. Tears rolled down his checks, but he did not say a single word to his son. It was too much for Gandhi to bear. Right then he decided to always lead a truthful and honest life, and throughout his life he stuck to his resolution.


During his father's illness Gandhi nursed him with great devotion and care, but unfortunately his father never recovered from his illness. He died soon thereafter.

In 1887, two years after his father's death, Gandhi passed his High School examination. At that time he was 18 years old. Everyone in the family decided that he should go to England and become a lawyer. Respecting their wishes, Gandhi set sail for England in 1888.

Life was entirely different in England. The style of dressing, eating habits, everything was all new to him. He was totally confused and bewildered for some time. However, he soon got adjusted to the new environment. He had promised his mother that he would not eat non-vegetarian food, or drink alcohol, and he remained true to his word. Gandhi concentrated on his studies and successfully passed his Bar examination. He returned to India in 1891, after the completion of his studies.

Eagerly he looked forward to meeting his mother, and giving her the good news, but he was to be sorely disappointed. For while he was away in England, his mother had passed away. The news of her death had been withheld from him because his brother thought he would be mentally disturbed, and his studies would be affected. 


Gandhi set up his practice as a lawyer. But he did not get much work. Disappointed, he felt he would never make a successful lawyer. But Gandhi's elder brother managed to get him a case. He was asked to represent a rich businessman in South Africa. After much deliberation, Gandhi agreed to accept the case. He left his homeland and set sail for Africa in 1895.

Although there were many Indians staying in Africa at that time, all the power was in the hands of the British people. They considered themselves superior, and treated the Indians and the African natives in a most insulting manner.

In connection with his work, Gandhi traveled a good deal. However, he was treated very badly by the British people. Wherever he went, he had to face insults and rudeness. At times, he was even physically assaulted.

One day, when he was traveling in the first class compartment of a train, a British man boarded the compartment. On seeing Gandhi, the British man got furious. He called the Railway officer, and both ordered him to get out of the train. Since Gandhi had purchased a first class ticket, he refused to do so. However, they paid no heed to him. Gandhi also did not budge. Finally the police were summoned. They pushed him out of the compartment and threw his luggage out of the window. Gandhi had to spend the whole night on the platform.

He had decided to return to India on the completion of his work in Africa, but the plight of the Indians there disturbed him greatly. He resolved to stay, and fight the unjust and inhuman laws that were imposed on them. For everywhere there was discrimination. There was one set of rules for the Indians and natives, and a different set for the British people.


Gandhi realized that to fight against injustice it was vital for the people to have unity amongst themselves. He tried very hard to bring about this unity. He organized many meetings, and made the people aware of the situation. In reply, the people appointed him as their leader, and agreed to be guided by him.

Since all the power was in the hands of the English people, Gandhi realized that to fight them it was necessary to use an entirely different method. It was then that he thought of the novel idea of `Satyagraha'. Satyagraha is method of non-violent protest against injustice. His movement aimed at fighting the many unjust laws that were imposed on them. Eventually Gandhi’s protests succeeded and the English gave the Indians more privileges. They also agreed to abolish the unjust laws that were imposed on them.

Gandhi felt very happy that his stay in Africa had served some useful purpose. Thinking that his work was now over, he decided to return to his motherland, India.

-From Gandhi, by Jyoti Solapukar