Free Research Paper On Mahatma Gandhi

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Gandhi, Services, Africa, South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi, Life, Violence, People

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/04


In Service to the Indians in South Africa
Philosophical Growth of Gandhi
Gandhi’s Coined Term Satyagraha
Final Years in South Africa
Brief Summary of Key Points
Mahatma Gandhi
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”, this quote from a visionary Indian leader speaks of his selfless advocacy to be of service to others. I chose to write about Mahatma Gandhi because despite being fortunate to be born to a family of a privilege class, he took the time to focus not on his self-interest but on the interests of other people. His life-long stance and desire to give him-self in the service of others is recognized in most of his philosophies. As to be inferred from the works of Gandhi, the search for the meaning of one’s life is found in being involved in helping alleviate the plight of humanity.
Mahatma Gandhi was a mediocre student, having no interest in books, but was observed to be naturally honest, sensitive and keen about his character. He was married at 13 in a pre-arranged marriage, as it was a common tradition to do so during his time. He is later sent to England to study Law and on June 10, 1891 he qualified as a barrister. During his stay in England, he started to study other religions, and was highly impressed by the teachings of the Gita and the New Testaments. The doctrine of renunciation and non-violence is impressed on him greatly and would later show in many of his teachings and encounters throughout his life.
In Service to the Indians in South Africa
Mahatma Gandhi has this to say on the service to the poor, “Service of the poor has been my heart’s desire and it has always thrown me amongst the poor and enabled me to identify myself with them” (Prabhu & Rao). Indeed, one can say that Mahatma Gandhi had the innate nature of being concerned for the of welfare of others, he did not considered himself as one who is above the poor but thought of himself as one with them. His fight for the underprivileged started when he travelled to South Africa to work as a lawyer. The small Indian population in South Africa consisted of three categories: those who are under a five year contract are called indentured; those who decided to stay for another five years are the ex-indentured and the traders were called the passengers. The Indian labourers who were taken by European landlords due to labour shortage have to work like slaves, but most of them chose to stay after their work agreement was over. The ex-indentured and the traders were initially given the privilege to vote as well as share the franchise with Natal’s white settlers. However, a legislative amendment was later passed stating that “no person belonging to the Asiatic races not accustomed to the exercise of franchise rights under parliamentary institutions” will be given the right to vote (Du Toit). The amendment on the franchise bill is attributed to the Europeans’ disliked of the competition from the Indians. The Europeans’ did not only imposed tight restrictions and taxes on the Indians, but treated them with contempt and discrimination (Gandhi)
Upon Gandhi’s arrival in South Africa, he immediately sensed the plight of his fellowmen under the discriminating community of dominant Whites. Gandhi himself went through the painful blunt of discrimination in the course of his travel in the region. The unpleasant treatment he experienced in South Africa made him decide to stay and fight the racial discrimination. It is in South African that the young Gandhi, fresh from law school received his “political baptism” as coined by Bridgal Pachai (Du Toit). Initially he suggested that his fellow Indians form an association as the small Indian community then are divided and therefore were not able to fight. Most of the Indians in South Africa were focused only on their status as traders and most of them do not possess the needed education and political sophistication to stand up for their human rights.
Gandhi volunteered his services for the cause of the organization, and his major fight for the poor started. The Indian leader maintained that if he has to work for the cause of his fellow Indians, he will not accept any form of wages despite his financial needs. He would later enrol as an advocate of the Supreme Court in order to meet his expenses. He led signature campaigns as well as meetings that are directed towards the awakening about the social injustice that faced Indians and other people of colour in South Africa. He capitalized on his writing and thorough planning skills, and used to compile all petitions, organize meetings with political leaders as well as sent letters to newspapers. He was also successful in appealing to the British Secretary of State for the colonies and was the advocate of the Natal Indian Congress that endeavours to maintain and protect the rights of Indians in South Africa Mohandas. Despite his busy schedules, he also offered his free services at charitable medical institutions (Mohandas).
Philosophical Growth of Gandhi
According to the contention of Brian Du Toit, Gandhi was greatly influenced by the tradition of his era. He is an intelligent and an imaginative man and his philosophies came to be a combination of cultural views, his own life experiences, and the views of others whom he came in contact with. He was a man who is open to other philosophies and has the eagerness to integrate it in his own. For instance, despite being a non-Christian he reads and was fascinated by the teachings of the New Testament, in fact, he was chiefly stimulated by the Sermon on the Mount (Du Toit). He was also one who valued the discussions and encounters with other, continuously interacting with people from diverse religions and beliefs.
Gandhi’s position on the Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902 revealed much of the compassionate heart of Gandhi. While he felt sympathy to the plight of the Boers, his loyalty to the British Crown made him lead a mobile medical unit that assisted the British soldiers. As he saw and help collect the wounded soldiers, he yearned for an improved relationship and political condition between the whites and the Indians (Du Toit).
Gandhi’s Coined Term Satyagraha
His encounter with the teachings of the New Testament stimulated in him the righteousness and value of Passive Resistance (Du Toit). Passive resistance can be inferred from the works of Mahatma Gandhi to mean active but non-violent demonstration or struggle against an authority. The teachings of the Bible on “turning the other check” was reinforced by the lesson learned from the Gita and Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You. But while his philosophy on non-violence was influenced by his enormous readings, he searched for a term to express his philosophy, thus the term Satyagraha was his coined term to mean insistent on truth.

Living According to the Ideal of Ruskins’s Unto the Last

“I could not get any sleep that night I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book” (Du Toit). This was written by Gandhi after reading the book by Ruskin, and after deciding that human relationships is far important than wealth as claimed by economists. The summary of Ruskin’s books according to Gandhi: a) the good of the individual is contained in the good of the group, b) the labourer’s work has equal value to that of the lawyer since both have the right to earn a living, c) a life of labour, that is, tilling the soil or working as a handicraftsman, is the life worth living (Du Toit).
Throughout Gandhi has always remained close to people, acknowledging them as his equal and brothers. He would later serve as a medic in the Indian Ambulance Corps. His philosophy that resulted from reading the book of Ruskin made him abandon the yearning of the flesh, as he choose to give more of himself in service to others. He decided that “I should have more and more occasions for service of the kind I was rendering”, as he decided on this, he committed himself to the complete observance of the brahmacharya, a Hindu vow of celibacy, non-violence and the Satyagraha which is the force of truth and love (Du Toit)
Final Years in South Africa
The final years of Gandhi in South Africa was a picture of his advocacy to create a better status and treatment to his fellow Indians. He travelled to London with high hopes to achieve a citizen status or better conditions for the Indians. Though he did not attain his immediate goal, the fruit of his stance was seen in the more diplomatic ways of the Indians. Gandhi led several protest and in the end, a bargaining agreement was reached as the minimum issues that the Indian leader had wanted to be addressed was acceded to. Gandhi worked further for the reformation of the caste system and restoration of Indian culture and industry until he was assassinated in year 1948 (Du Toit).
Brief Summary of Key Points
Mahatma Gandhi has live a convenient life as one who was born to a privileged family. After being accepted as a barrister, he decided to pursue a law stint in South Africa where he was met with the apparent discrimination to Indians. He then decided to stay in the region, determined that he will fight for the cause of equality. Gandhi was dedicated to help other people, and he did so to his fellow Indians by being offering his services for free. In addition to that, he did some other form of volunteer work such as assisting the wounded military during wartimes.
Despite his fierce want for a better condition for the Indians in South Africa, Gandhi fought peacefully by abiding by the rule of non-violence, a philosophy he has developed from reading various philosophies and writings. After reading the book Unto the Last, he concluded that relationship with others is more important than material possessions. The Indian leader continued on his advocacy of helping the less privilege, while struggling for the betterment of the conditions of the Indians until his assassination in 1948.


As I went through the several readings on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, I marvelled at the goodness, brilliance and applicability of his philosophies. I have, for several times read the teachings of unselfishly helping other people, and I, for one am also a firm believer of the worthiness of being of service to others. However, Mahatma Gandhi is way too different. He was able to sacrifice himself, almost forgetting himself for the other people’s cause.
I have learned, from the example of Gandhi, that in order to be of full service to others, one needs to sacrifice, and to give it freely. His fight for the betterment of Indian status in South Africa would not have been achieved had it not for his unselfish service. He worked hard for his advocacy on non-violence to let other people understand that one can get the message across without resorting to violent act. His philosophy has gained popularity and was emulated by other leaders around the globe.
It is touching that one man as Mahatma Gandhi has the generosity to look for ways to help other people. His words “I should have more and more occasions for the kind of service I was rendering” makes one think on ways to improve one’s relationship and ways of rendering service to other people. For instance, political leaders of today should always think of ways on how they can improve their performance in serving others. This modern day is actually better that the days of Gandhi, as we don’t have to face too much discrimination that was prevalent back then. I think that while we cannot perfectly emulate the examples of Gandhi, we should also search for the meaning of our life by being involved in our community; take the time to know other people’s concerns and help in the best way possible. By helping another man in need, we can walk feeling better that we alleviated someone else’s suffering.
Du Toit, B., The Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies. Retrieved from
Gandhi Autobiography. Mahatma Gandhi’s Writings, Philosophy, Video and Photographs. Retrieved from
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. SAHO online. Retrieved from
Phrabu, R., Rao, U., The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi. Retrieved from http://www.gandhimed

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