Mahatma Gandhi: Childhood to Adolescent
Find detail information about the life of Mahatma Gandhi (Father of the Nation) from childhood to adolescence. It is written in very easy language which can be easily understood by the students of any class.
Birth and Family
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2nd October 1869 in Porbandar Gujarat, which is also called Sudamapuri. He was born in a Gujarati Hindu Modh Baniya family, originally hailing from Modhera in Gujarat. During that time the Kathiawar Agency in the western part of the Indian sub-continent constituted some 200 small princely states and Porbandar was one of them.
His father Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi (1822-1885) had served as the Diwan of Porbandar, Rajkot, and Wankaner. Diwans were basically high ranking officials of a princely state, sometimes also referred to as the Chief Ministers. They worked in close association with the royal family and looked after almost all the state affairs.
Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi was also famous as Kaba Gandhi and was politically active in Porbandar, despite being educated only up to elementary level. He had initially worked as a clerk in the government but was quite successful as a Diwan.
During his lifetime Karamchand had married four times. His first two wives died at a young age after giving birth to a daughter each. His third wife also died like the previous ones, but without giving birth to any child.
In 1859, Karamchand married Putlibai (1844-1891). This was his fourth marriage and the first of Putlibai. This marriage produced four children, three boys, and one girl – Laxmidas (b. 1860), Ralitabehn (b.1862), Karsandas (b.1866) and the youngest Mohandas was born on 2nd October 1869.
Though Karamchand was a Diwan, he never made an effort to accumulate wealth. The Gandhi family never had any shortage of food and other supplies and were eating full square meals and celebrating every Hindu festival, but weren’t wealthy in true sense. All the money that Karamchand bought home at the end of the day was spent on meeting the daily needs of the family.
Childhood and Schooling
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the youngest of Karamchand’s six children and was also the favorite of the family. Gandhiji aka Mohandas was fondly called Moniya by his parents and relatives.
Ralitabehn, older sister of Gandhi described him as restless as mercury, always playful and filled with energy. He would come home only for the meals and then rush outside to play. His favorite past time according to his sister, was twisting the ears of dogs.
A young Gandhi would often complain to his mother when his brothers teased him or twisted his ears, but not by any chance he would treat them the same way. Perhaps, at an early age Gandhi had understood the fact that retaliating violently to an act of violence, bears no fruits.
When Moniya was only seven; his father left Porbandar to take charge as the Diwan of Rajkot. Moniya had been known to miss the ports of Porbandar and the anchored boats. However, he was admitted to primary school at Rajkot. Mohandas was shy in school and would usually avoid interacting with his own classmates.
This was the time when Mohandas grew affectionate towards books and developed reading as a hobby. After school, he would rush to home to play and read. Gandhi studied the usual subjects like Arithmetic, History, etc and was an average academic performer, with no interest in sports. He joined a High School at the age of 11, in Rajkot.
The religious background of Gandhi’s family was diverse, as his father was a Hindu Baniya and his mother Putlibai belonged to the Pranami Vaishnava Hindu community. The Pranami Hindu tradition worshipped Lord Krishna and followed texts like Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas.
Putlibai was stoutly committed to religion and religious practices and her devotion had a great influence on Gandhi. She followed her religious practices so devotedly that not a day in her life, she had eaten a meal without bath and after completing prayer. She would even fast for two or three consecutive days without any trouble.
His mother’s unwavering devotion to the religion and her stamina to endure physical restraints probably had a large influence on Gandhi, who reflected the same principles and values later in life. Gandhi too would fast like his mother, while peacefully protesting in the freedom struggle.
Marriage, and Death of his Father
In the year 1883, at the age of 13, Gandhi was married to 14 years old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia. She later gets to be known as Kasturba Gandhi. Gandhi’s marriage was arranged and also a joint one, in which his cousins and brothers also get married.
Gandhi had recalled that being just 13, marriage to him was only an occasion when he would get to wear new clothes and served delicacies. He and Kasturba often even played and studied together. Things went on pretty same for another two years with Kasturba spending most of her time at her parents’ home.
In 1885, Gandhi’s father Karamchand had a serious attack on fistula and his wife and children, mostly Mohandas mended him. The medicines given by the doctors showed no improvement and gradually Karamchand lost any hope for survival.
Recalling the night, Gandhi had said that it was dark and windy. Tulsidas, younger brother of Karamchand had come to their home. At the time of arrival of Tulsidas, Mohandas was rubbing his father’s neck. Tulsidas asked Mohandas to leave as he would be sitting beside his brother.
Feeling relaxed, Mohandas went to the room where his bride Kasturba, was already sleeping. Not long after he reached his room that the servant informed him that his father was serious. Gandhi knew that his father was serious but the death wasn’t expected as soon as it came. Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi aged 63, died on that dark and windy night.
Soon after Karamchand’s death, a child was born to the Gandhi couple, when Mohandas was only 16 years and his wife Kasturba was 17. The child survived barely for a few days. The two consecutive deaths, first his father’s then his newborn child, deeply troubled Gandhi. Later on, the couple gave birth to four children – Harilal (b.1888), Manilal (b.1892), Ramdas (b.1897) and Devdas (b.1900).
After his father’s death, Gandhi graduated in High School from Ahmedabad, in November 1887 at the age of 18. In January 1888, he was enrolled in Samaldas College in the state of Bhavnagar for higher education. That time it was the only institute granting a higher education degree.
Despite the faculty at college being experienced and eminent, Gandhi found it difficult to understand the lectures and voluntarily dropped out soon after the first term.
That was the cheapest college his family could afford and he dropped out of that too. A family friend, Mavji Dave Joshiji, advised the family to send Mohandas to pursue law in London. Meanwhile, in July 1888, their first son Harilal was born to Mohandas and Kasturba.
Putlibai couldn’t agree on letting Mohandas leave his young wife and child to study law in some faraway land; however, Gandhi was determined to go and supported by his brother, Laxmidas, somehow was able to get his mother’s consent. Gandhi also vowed to abstain from meat, liquor, and any other wrongdoing during his stay in London.
Gandhi left for Bombay and then for London on 4th September 1888. Gandhi studied law and jurisprudence at University College London which was under the University of London. Completing his studies, Gandhi aged 22 was called to the Bar in June 1891 and subsequently left London for India.