Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1947). (Wikimedia Commons) , often referred to as Mahatma, the Great Soul, was born into a Hindu merchant family in 1869. He was heavily influenced by the Hinduism and Jainism of his devoutly religious mother. She impressed on him beliefs in non-violence, vegetarianism, fasting for purification, and respect for all religions.
As Independence Day (August 15, 1947) approached, an explosion of Hindu and Muslim looting, rape, and murder erupted throughout the land. Millions of Hindus and Muslims fled their homes, crossing the borders into India or Pakistan. Gandhi announced that he would fast until “a reunion of hearts of all communities” had been achieved. An old man, he weakened rapidly, but he did not break his fast until Hindu and Muslim leaders came to him pledging peace. Days later, an assassin shot and killed Gandhi. The assassin was a Hindu who believed Gandhi had sold out to the Muslims.
Gandhi and others like Martin Luther King Jr. confronted injustice with non-violent methods. “It is the acid test of non-violence,” Gandhi once said, “that in a non-violent conflict there is no rancor left behind and, in the end, the enemies are converted into friends.”
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