Non-violent Resistance Characters

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The Satyagraha is a compilation of Gandhi's writings and interviews, along with a few pieces about him. Thus, he is the book's most important person. Satyagraha is a non-fiction book; these writings are genuine and have been widely circulated for some time.

Gandhi lived from 1869 to 1948, dying at the hands of a Hindu Nationalist assassin. He is the most important modern political and spiritual leader of India, most especially during the movement for Indian independence. Gandhi pioneered a unique social, spiritual and political philosophy: Satyagraha, literally "holding firmly to truth." Satyagraha involves non-violence civil disobedience along with stringent codes of behavior to purify the soul and body. Satyagraha aims only at love and truth, to convert one's opponent, and never at coercion, control, anger, hate, jealousy, and selfishness.

Gandhi followed the philosophy of ahimsa or total nonviolence and led India against British imposed taxes and British rule. His methods spread across the world and helped civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. fight for justice in their own countries.

Gandhi began using satyagraha in the early 1910s in South Africa when Indians were fighting for civil rights there. When he returned to India, he organized the poor through non-violence to protest excessive land-taxes and discrimination. This landed Gandhi in jail but usually resulted in success, despite a few tragedies. It also arguably produced Indian independence from Britain as well.

The Satyagrahis

The Satyagrahis are those who practice Satyagraha. Gandhi had numerous followers, many of whom gave their lives for the particular Satyagrahas they were involved in. For instance, in the Vykom Satyagraha, which occurred in Travancore, India, Satyagrahis fought centuries old stigmas against the "untouchables," the lowest social caste in Hindu society. The Vykom Satyagraha sought to allow untouchables freedom of movement through all public roads leading to the Sri Mahadevar Temple at Vykom.

A more famous Satyagraha was the Salt Satyagraha. This was a campaign Gandhi led against a British salt tax imposed on India. This began with the Salt March to Dandi in 1930. The Indian National Congress had already declared its independence from Britain but this was not to be recognized for over a decade. The Salt Satyagraha was the first Satyagraha to follow this declaration. Gandhi's breaking the salt laws spurred massive civil disobedience by millions of Indians. Gandhi was arrested during the Satyagraha but the Satyagrahis brought worldwide attention to the treatment of the poor by the British.

Over 80,000 people, many of whom were full-fledged Satyagrahis, were jailed during the incident, but due to their efforts, world opinion changed towards the Satyagrahis fighting for independence.

Not anyone could be a Satyagrahi, for he had to willingly submit himself to a stringent regimen of fasting, chastity and poverty, along with wearing traditional Indian garb and spinning it himself. Satyagrahis also had to be willing to go their deaths for peace and love of the enemy.

Violent Protestors

Often protesters would erupt into violence, disrupting Gandhi's causes and embarrassing his movement.

State Officials

State officials often behaved responsibility toward the Gandhi and the Satyagrahis, but in other cases they committed terrible crimes, even massacres.

The British

The British ruled India throughout most of Gandhi's lifetime. Later Satyagrahas aimed at Indian independence through changing British public opinion.

Viceroy Lord Irwin

Edward Frederick Lindley Wood was the first Earl of Halifax and ruled India from 1926 to 1931. Many of the important Satyagrahas occurred during his tenure as Indian Viceroy. He also engaged in some famous negotiations with Gandhi.

The Indian National Congress

Gandhi's political party which declared independence from Britain as early as 1930 seventeen years before independence). It also ruled India for many decades following independence.

Ashram Satyagrahis

The Ashrams are, more or less, Hindu monasteries. The Ashram Satyagrahis were the Satyagrahis that lived in these ashrams.

Christians

Gandhi often reached out to British Christians and Indian Christians, drawing similarities between his religion and theirs, and between Satyagraha and the teachings of Jesus.

Muslims

Muslim-Hindu tensions have often run high in India; Gandhi fought for interfaith peace between the two groups.

Hindus

Gandhi was Hindu and primarily concerned himself with the Hindu people despite always emphasizing that each religion had equal validity.

God

Gandhi often described his philosophy as "God" although it is not clear the extent to which his conception of God is related to any orthodox monotheistic tradition.

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