December 5, 2006 1:41am CST
5 Dec 06
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) popularly known as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ or better still as ‘Father of the Nation’ was one of the most charismatic leaders who fought for the freedom of the country with ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (way of truth) as his only weapons. Gandhiji influenced both nationalist and internationalist movements and brought the cause of India's independence from British colonial rule to world attention. Gandhiji's principle of satyagraha (from Sanskrit satya: truth, and graha: grasp/hold), has also inspired other democratic activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon and the 14th Dalai Lama. The title of ‘Mahatma’ (Sanskrit term of reverence ‘mahatman’ meaning ‘one of great soul’) was accorded on Gandhiji in 1915 by his admirer Rabindranath Tagore (the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature). It was given in response to Gandhiji conferring the title of "Gurudev" (great teacher) upon Tagore.