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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

born: Oct.2, 1869, in Probandar, India
died: Jan.30,1948, in Delhi, India
other names: Mahatma (meaning, "Great Soul")

Gandhi (which means "grocer" in English) was born into a family of Hindu merchants, one of the many members of the Vaisya caste and married his wife at age 13. At age 19 he went to England to study law at the University of London. Gandhi was not well received by the British students because he was Indian. For this reason Gandhi spent much of his time alone, reading the works of many famous philosophers such as Tolstoi, Thoreau, & Ruskin. The ideas of these men along with the teachings of Hinduism were the beginnings of Gandhi's later ideals involving, non-resistance, civil disobedience, and return to the simple life (respectively).

At age 23, Gandhi went to South Africa to join a law firm after not having had much success in Bombay, caused in part by his inability to compete with the much more charismatic, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (see below). Gandhi became the first "non-white" lawyer on the supreme court and was able to build a successful practice. It is at this point that the movie Gandhi takes off, with some variation on the true story. (I won't tell you anymore since it will ruin the show!)

Other M.K. Gandhi Sites:

Jawaharlal Nehru

born: 1889 in Allahabad
died: May 24, 1964, in New Delhi, India
other names: Pandit (meaning, "Wise Man")

Nehru was an admirer and close friend of Mohandas Gandhi and spent much time involved with Gandhi in supporting his cause. Like Gandhi, Nehru was also a lawyer in Allahabad having studied law in England. He was very outspoken about his ideas and was jailed several times between the years 1923 and 1945. It was during this time that he also wrote his autobiography,"Toward Freedom".

Nehru agreed with Gandhi on most issues except that of keeping the "simple life". He wanted to keep for India the best aspects of Indian and Western life. He hoped to make India a society where religious toleration would exist (however this proved to be a nearly impossible dream as you will see in the film)

When India finally wins its independance in 1947, Nehru became its first Prime Minister, an office which he would keep until his death.

Indira (Nehru) Gandhi

born: Nov.19, 1917 in Allahabad
died: Oct.31, 1984 in New Delhi

Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru. Most of her young life was spent helping her father in his campaign for Indian independance from Britain. She had an extensive education in India as well as abroad in Switzerland and England.

Indira was married at the age of 25 to Feroze Gandhi, a lawyer (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi!) and was the mother of two sons. She continued to be active in the independance movements for which she spent just over a year in jail. She continued to be active in politics and in 1959 she became the president of the Congress party. In 1966, Indira followed in her father's footsteps and was elected Prime Minister of India, an office she held until her assassination by two of her Sikh guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, who shot her 30 times. Her death resulted in an all out feud between the Sikhs and the Hindu, but that is another story. (Which we will discuss in class!)

Rajiv Gandhi

born: 1944
died: May 21, 1991 in Madras

The first born of the two sons of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv was an excellent airline pilot who was not interested in politics. After the death of his older brother, Sanjay, Rajiv was groomed to move into political life by his mother. He became Prime Minister of India on the evening of his mother's death.

Rajiv was very popular with his people. They viewed him as a great leader that embodied the ideals of earlier regimes coupled with a forsight that would take India into a bright future. He worked to bring hi-technology into India from other countries. He cut inheritance taxes as well as taxes on wealth. He replaced old cabinet members with new, younger ones that shared his vision. He used military power to put down religious rebellions in the country.

Soon however, scandals began to arise among many of Rajiv's government officials which did much to destroy his popularity. Continued poor choices and religious contention would eventually result in his downfall and death: Rajiv was assassinated during his campaign in 1991, as he was shaking hands in a crowd of people, by a young female member of the Tamil "Tiger" terrorists. The terrorist had a bomb in her possession which she detonated killing herself, Rajiv, and 12 others.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

A contemporary of M.K. Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a wonderful attorney and outspoken leader for Muslim rights in India. When India finally achieved independence from the British in 1947, it was Jinnah who formed the two new lands for the Islamic people of India: West & East Pakistan.

More on M.A. Jinnah:

Mother Teresa

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Quicktime Funeral Clips:

Video clips of Mother Teresa 1997 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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