5 Things You Didn't Know About Mahatma Gandhi

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated, ending a lifetime of nonviolent resistance and advocacy for peace and Indian independence. While Gandhi's current image in popular culture is one of complete tolerance, there's more to the story. Here are five things you didn't know about Gandhi...


Gandhi Never Won The Nobel Peace Prize # Gandhi was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1947, but never received the award. He also was nominated in 1948, the year he was assassinated, but the Nobel committee opted not to bestow him with the award posthumously. Instead, the committee announced there was “no suitable living candidate” that year and no winner was named.  In 2006, the Nobel committee publicly expressed regret that Gandhi had never been given the prize.

Gandhi Got His Start As An Activist In South Africa, Not India While Gandhi is known for his work with Indian independence and human rights in that country, his resistance path began in South Africa, where he and his family lived for several years. Gandhi had been on a train and refused to give up his seat to a white passenger, and thus was taken outside and severely beaten. He was so disgusted by the treatment of Indians in the country that he began leading civil-disobedience campaigns. He eventually returned to India, where he took up the cause of independence from Britain.


A Lot of Those Quotes Attributed to Him Were Not His Gandhi's face pops up in many internet memes, usually with an inspirational quote about success and perseverance. For example, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" is one of the classic "Gandhi" quotes that makes it onto mugs and posters -- yet he never said it. The New York Times noted that the closest possible quote like that, that could accurately be attributed to Gandhi, is "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do." Another quote, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win," may have been a paraphrase of a speech from a North American union leader, Nicholas Klein.

He Ended His Initial Indian Independence and Resistance Campaign Due to Violence As expected, his campaigns in India involved passive and nonviolent resistance. However, violence broke out anyway; in the early 1920s, he ended the movement and was then arrested and sentenced to prison. However, the need for appendicitis surgery led to an early release. Gandhi didn't get involved in politics again until 1930.

Gandhi Was Murdered By A Fellow Hindu Despite the accusations of racism, one thing is for sure: Gandhi was more tolerant of other religions to the point that it got him killed. While walking to a prayer meeting in New Delhi on the evening of January 30, 1948, Gandhi was shot three times at close range by Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse. The gunman blamed Gandhi for going along with the 1947 plan that partitioned British India along religious lines into two new independent states: Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-dominated Pakistan. Following the partition, riots broke out across India between Hindus and Muslims, and Godse was angered by Gandhi’s calls for an end to the bloodshed and believed the pacifist icon was pandering to Muslims. Godse was apprehended after Gandhi’s murder, and in November 1949 he and a co-conspirator were hanged for their crimes.