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Peacemakers Series – Mohandas Gandhi

Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Gandhi black and white portrait

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbander, Gujarat, India. He was born into a respectable family: his father worked in the government and his mother was very religious. He received a good education, but he did not enjoy being a student. At the age of 13, he married Kasturba Makhanji. After his primary school education, Gandhi attended Samaldas College at the University of Bombay. In 1888, at the age of 18, he moved to England to study law at University College London. He passed the bar exam in 1891 and searched for a job. Finally in 1893, he moved to South Africa to work as a lawyer.

While in South Africa, Gandhi experienced racial discrimination and the beginning of apartheid. He began organizing the people of South Africa to non-violently protest the discrimination. In 1893, he founded the Natal Indian Congress. With this group and others, he organized protests, strikes, and other non-violent ways of fighting back against discrimination.

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

After spending over 20 years in South Africa, Gandhi and his wife moved back to India.He began resisting the British government in India in similar non-violent ways. By 1921, Gandhi was leading the Indian National Congress. He shifted the focus of this congress to fight for Indian independence from the British. Around this time, he also started to dress in a simple loincloth of Indian made fabric. He wanted to show solidarity with the people as well as tangibly support goods made in India. Gandhi organized a boycott of British goods as well. In March 1922, he was arrested and stayed in prison for two years.

Gandhi was released from prison in 1924 and did not make another big public resistance until 1928 when he campaigned the British to grant India “dominion status.” In 1930, after the British announced a tax on salt, Gandhi led a march to the sea to collect their own salt. By this time, he was so well known and influential that the British government was forced to work with him.

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

As World War II got underway, Gandhi resisted against the idea of Indians fighting the war for the British. He was arrested August 9, 1942 and remained in prison until 1944. While in prison, his wife Kasturba died. After his release, the British discussed allowing independence for India and creating two states: India and Pakistan. Although Gandhi was against this plan, he eventually supported the British decision. On August 15, 1947, India celebrated independence. After achieving this monumental goal, Gandhi continued to work for peace between Hindus and Muslims in the newly formed countries.
On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated. Throughout his life, Gandhi had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times, but never won. Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolent resistance inspired many leaders throughout the world, including Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. By preserving and fighting for Indian independence, Gandhi proved that resisting oppression non-violent could produce results.

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.

Gandhi spinning on a spinning wheel
Gandhi spinning on a spinning wheel

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