Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also widely known as Mahatma Gandhi) was an important leader in India during its independence movement, influencing people both spiritually and politically. He was born in 1869 in Porbandar in the Indian state of Gujarat and died in 1948. When he was 13, he was married to Kasturbai.
After Mohandas Gandhi's father passed away in 1885, he went to England to become a barrister. He passed the bar examination in 1891 and returned to India, where he discovered that his mother had passed away while he was overseas. In 1893, he took a job that sent him to South Africa, where Gandhi first realized the degree to which racism was present in the world.
He found himself the subject of discrimination as an Indian in South Africa, the best known example of which was an incident in which he used a first-class train ticket. A white passenger in the first-class area complained about Gandhi's presence, so a railway employee tried to get him to move to the third-class area. Gandhi refused to do so and was ejected from the train. He then began to organize Indians in South Africa to protest discrimination, as well as working to raise awareness of British oppression of Indians in India.
Gandhi returned to India with his family in 1901 and took a tour of the country to examine the conditions of the poor. They then returned to South Africa, during which time Gandhi founded communes in which people came to keep their lives as simply as possible. He also developed his theory of satyagraha, which means to nonviolently resist oppression and discrimination through civil disobedience. Gandhi and his growing number of followers used satyagraha to formulate their resistance against discrimination, which meant they resisted nonviolently even in the face of bodily harm or death. They finally gained concession to their demands in 1914, after which Gandhi and his family returned to India.
Once there, he spread the philosophy of satyagraha and acted as an intermediary in many disputes between the British and the Indians. During this time, he became known world-wide as a leader. Clashes between the British and the Indians severely worsened, however, and in the early 1920s, Gandhi reconstructed the Indian National Congress, which then became a force for independence.
At the beginning of World War II, England was unable to fully protect India from the advancing Japanese armies. Mohandas Gandhi asked England to "quit India" and let the country take care of itself. He and other Congressional leaders were arrested, and Gandhi undertook another of his frequent long-term fasts. While he was imprisoned, both his wife and his close friend and secretary died.
After so much struggling, India finally gained its freedom from the British empire in 1947. Unfortunately, in 1948 Gandhi was shot three times on his way to a meeting and died of his wounds. By the time of his death, he was loved by millions and widely known as Mahatma (great soul) and bapu (father).