Written by Sakshi Agarwal (Weloquent)
Born on 2nd October 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi embarked on a journey that inspired millions to revolt against injustice and follow the path of compassion and non-violence. His birthday is celebrated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, the birthday of the Father of the Nation, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-violence. His life is filled with lessons on how to stand up with conviction and fight for what is right.
His quote, “the best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others,” sums up his approach to living and his dedication towards his country and countrymen earned him accolades from all over the world. This Gandhi Jayanti, here are some unknown facts about Mahatma Gandhi to remember him by:-
1. He Was Awarded the TIME Person of the Year
In 1930, he was announced as the TIME Person of the Year, becoming the first and only Indian to hold this honour. He was described as ‘saint Gandhi’, and the magazine named him among the 25 political icons of all time. He was on their cover on 5th January 1931 in Volume XVII, Number 1.
2. He Had an Irish accent
Gandhiji’s first English teacher was an Irishman. This is the reason why he had an unmistakable Irish accent when speaking English. This teacher also introduced him to the Sermon on the Mount to improve his English. This text, along with the Bhagvad Gita, became the two most influential scriptures to guide his philosophy and pursue the path of non-violence.
3. He Worked in Africa
Gandhiji’s fight against discrimination, and his activism, took root in South Africa when he was kicked out of the first-class compartment on a train despite having a ticket. He led many protests and non-violent movements there. The Tolstoy Farm, his first Ashram in South Africa, became a centre for the campaign of Satyagrah (the force of truth) against discrimination.
4. He Never Won the Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Committee nominated Mahatma Gandhi for the Nobel Peace Prize five times, but he never won the prize. He was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and a few days before his assassination in 1948. The Nobel Committee did not confer the Nobel Peace Prize to anyone for the year 1948, as a sign of respect for Mahatma Gandhi. They later also expressed their regret for not having awarded him the prize earlier.
5. He Was a Shy Student
Mahatma Gandhi was a shy school student, often running away from class so that he did not have to interact and speak to other boys. According to his autobiographical works, he was often struck dumb around groups of people and tried to overcome the shyness that he thought was a liability. It was through the process of spiritual awakening that he learnt to accept this part of himself and said that his shyness had benefited him by teaching him the ‘economy of words.’
6. He Was a Gujarati Author
My Experiments with Truth: Gandhiji’s autobiography was originally written in Gujarati. Shri Mahadev Desai, his personal assistant, then translated the book in English. It was published in 1925. It was also declared as one of the “100 most important spiritual books of the 20th century,” by HarperCollins Publications in the year 1999.
7. He Made it On the British Postage Stamp
To honour and mark the centenary year of Gandhiji’s birthday, Great Britain issued a stamp with Gandhiji’s face in the year 1969. 21 years after his death, Gandhiji became the first statesperson from overseas to be commemorated on a British stamp.
8. He was Absent From the Independence Day Celebrations
Mahatma Gandhi was not present at New Delhi as India celebrated its independence. He was in Bengal on 15th August 1947, fasting and protesting the communal riots that had broken out in the wake of the partition.