Champions of Human Rights
MAHATMA GANDHI (1869–1948)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is widely recognized as one of the twentieth century’s greatest political and spiritual leaders. Honored in India as the father of the nation, he pioneered and practiced the principle of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass nonviolent civil disobedience.
While leading nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic harmony and eliminate the injustices of the caste system, Gandhi supremely applied the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, playing a key role in freeing India from foreign domination. He was often imprisoned for his actions, sometimes for years, but he accomplished his aim in 1947, when India gained its independence from Britain.
Due to his stature, he is now referred to as Mahatma, meaning “great soul.” World civil rights leaders—from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Nelson Mandela—have credited Gandhi as a source of inspiration in their struggles to achieve equal rights for their people.