Mahatma Gandhi Part I: Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood

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Mahatma Gandhi Part I: Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India, a period when India was subservient to the British empire. Gandhi was born into a well off, middle class family, his father a civil servant who worked for the Indian government.

Beneath the portrait of Gandhi which is situated in the memorial attached to his family home are 2 words engraved into marble which are “ahimsa” which means “non-violence” in Sanskrit and “satya” which means “truth” in Sanskrit. Ahimsa relates to Hinduism’s vegetarian philosophy, specifically non-violence toward animals, but is also central to Janism. The Janist monks who frequented Gandhi’s neighborhood streets during his childhood wore face masks to ensure their breath would bring no harm to even the smallest of creatures interacted with. Janist philosophy of non-violence is predicated upon the belief that all living beings have an equal and inherent right to co-exist.

It was Gandhi’s mother Putlibai Gandhi (pronounced “put-lee-bai”) who first introduced her son to Janism and the concept of non-violence as the path toward spiritual and social equality. Although Gandhi was too humble to think of himself as divine, he did believe that the soul, which he believed to be the center of the human, as divine.

Gandhi revealed during his adult life that as a child, he observed a traveling show which produced the play Harishchandra, (pronounced “harr-ish-chan-drah”) a story of a truthful king named Harishchandra who refused to deviate from truth into lie with this monarch paying a heavy toll by leaving his palace and kingdom, after which he loses his wife and son. For this unwavering conviction, Harishchandra is afforded a place in heaven for himself, his family, his court, and his subjects. Within his autobiography, Gandhi writes that this play affected him immensely, understanding that the truth is the ultimate path to salvation, a concept which would stay with him for the remainder of his life.

Virtually the entire state of Gujarat, India is vegetarian and alcohol free, in honor of Gandhi, who was born here.”

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