Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, inthe resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers in protesting excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, endinguntouchability, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj—the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led Indians in protesting the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India.Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn he had hand spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.
Gandhi wasassassinated on 30 January 1948, by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who felt Gandhi was sympathetic to the Muslims. January 30, hence is observed as Martyrs' Day in India.
Early life and background
Mahatma Gandhi in his earliest known photo, aged 7, c. 1876
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869  in Porbandar, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency,British India. He was born in his ancestral home, now known as Kirti Mandir, Porbandar. His father, Karamchand Gandhi (1822–1885), who belonged to the Hindu Modh community, served as the diwan (a high official) of Porbander state, a small princely state in the Kathiawar Agency of British India. His grandfather was Uttamchand Gandhi, fondly called Utta Gandhi. His mother, Putlibai, whocame from the Hindu Pranami Vaishnava community, was Karamchand's fourth wife, the first three wives having apparently died in childbirth. Growing up with a devout mother and the Jain traditions of the region, the young Mohandas absorbed early the influences that would play an important role in his adult life; these included compassion for sentient beings, vegetarianism, fasting forself-purification, and mutual tolerance among individuals of different creeds.
The Indian classics, especially the stories of Shravana and Maharaja Harishchandra, had a great impact on Gandhi in his childhood. In his autobiography, he admits that it left an indelible impression on his mind. He writes: "It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number." Gandhi's early...