6 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Gandhi

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, was assassinated in New Delhi. Here are 6 surprising facts you didn't know about Gandhi... 

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Mahatma Wasn’t His Name Many people incorrectly believe that Mahatma was Gandhi’s given name. However it is merely an honorific, said to have been bestowed upon him by the Bengali poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore. From the Sanskrit words maha (meaning “great”) and atma (meaning “soul”) it seems to have been a well-chosen title for the man. However, in his autobiography Gandhi notes that he never valued the title, and was often pained by it.

Gandhi Never Won The Nobel Peace Prize The man perhaps more associated with peace than any other human being was never awarded 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. In fact, out of respect to the man, the award was not given to anyone in 1948.  In 2006, the Nobel committee publicly expressed regret that Gandhi had never been given the prize.

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Gandhi Married at Age 13 In May of 1883, at the age of 13, Gandhi was married to 14-year-old Kasturba Makhanji in an arranged marriage, according to the custom of the region. Gandhi had been engaged to Kasturba since he was seven years old. The two were married for 62 years and had five sons, four of whom survived into adulthood.

Gandhi Took The Vow of Brahmacharya At the age of 37, Gandhi took the vow of abstinence from sexual relations. He believed that by taking the Vow of Brahmacharya he would be able to completely stay focused on his mission as a public advocate. The vow also made him restrict his diet. He switched to food which was usually uncooked and bland. His diet mostly comprised of fruits, vegetables, and goat’s milk. He sometimes traveled with his goat to ensure that the milk was fresh and that he wasn’t given cow or buffalo milk. 

Gandhi Spoke English With an Irish Accent People who heard Gandhi speak in English could not fail to notice his Irish accent. His first English teacher was of Irish origin and this is where he got his accent. In fact, the same Irish teacher once gave him an exercise to improve his English, which involved copying the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount and Bhagavad Gita were two religious scriptures that Gandhi read daily during his morning and evening meditation sessions and there is no doubt that the philosophies advocated in these religious books had a major influence on his peaceful ways of fighting for justice.

He Was Assassinated by a Hindu Fanatic Gandhi was assassinated in the presence of around 1,000 followers by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu, who shot the spiritual leader three times. 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. Gandi was 78 years old at the time of the attack and was also frail from his many hunger strikes over the years. The fanatic who murdered Gandhi was executed by hanging the following year, along with a co-conspirator.