October 2 marked the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi is well-known for being the father of Indian independence and for showing the world the power of nonviolent civil disobedience. However, I learned some lesser-known facts about Gandhi while researching my book about his 1930 Salt March.

Here, then, are Ten Fun Facts You Might Not Know about Mohandas Gandhi:

1. He was not born a courageous, outspoken leader. In fact, in his autobiography, he says that, as a boy, he was so shy that he would run home from school “because I could not bear to talk to anybody.” 1

2. He was a lawyer, but what a lawyer! He said, “I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder.” Thus, he spent his twenty years in practice “bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby—not even money, certainly not my soul.”2

3. He was a walking enthusiast. Walking, he said, “is justly called the prince of exercises.”3 He began enjoying long walks in high school, preferring lengthy rambles to organized sports. As a law student in London, he saved money by walking as many as eight to ten miles a day. It was primarily those long walks, he said, that “kept me practically free from illness throughout my stay in England and gave me a fairly strong body.”4 All those years of walking served him well during the Salt March of 1930 when, at the age of 60, he walked 241 miles from his ashram to the sea at Dandi.

4. The year that Gandhi arrived in London to study law was 1888, the same year that Jack the Ripper and his horrific murders dominated the British headlines.

5. Gandhi was funny! One example: When asked by a reporter what he thought of Western civilization, Gandhi replied, “I think it would be a very good idea.”

6. In 1931, Gandhi traveled to London for the Second Round Table Conference to discuss India’s future. He brought very little luggage, but he did pack a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

7. He corresponded regularly with Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy.

8. While in England in 1931, Gandhi made his first radio broadcast for the United States. The first thing the people of the United States heard the Mahatma say was, “Do I have to speak into this thing?”5

9. Gandhi was extremely punctual. One of his very few possessions was a dollar watch. Just before he was assassinated, on January 30, 1948, Gandhi was upset because he was ten minutes late getting to a regular prayer meeting.

10. The same caisson, or gun carriage, that bore Gandhi’s body during his funeral in 1948 was used in 1997 for Mother Teresa’s funeral.

(My book about Gandhi and the Salt March is due to be published in 2010.)


Sources:

1 Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), p. 6.
2 Ibid., p. 134.
3 Thomas Weber, On the Salt March: The Historiography of Gandhi’s March to Dandi (New Delhi, India: HarperCollins India, 1997), p. 288.
4 Gandhi, p. 53.
5 “Landing Gandhi,” TIME, September 21, 1931.
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Published on October 31, 2009 08:49 • 28,882 views • Tags: civil, disobedience, gandhi, march, mother, salt, teresa, tolstoy
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message 1: by Sam (new)

Sam Rufus 10 fun facts about Gandhi are rare insights in the life of an extremely great man. Thank you Betsy for taking time in 'mining' them and sharing it with the world. This 15th August '10 I have to address children and didn't have a clue as to what would be the right start? You've given me 10 rare gems to distribute.

Sam Rufus, New Delhi, INDIA


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Betsy Kuhn
With every nonfiction book I've written, I've had to leave out lots of interesting material, usually due to space constraints or because it wasn't sufficiently relevant. I hope to share those untold s ...more
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