Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian civil rights activist who helped India break off from British rule. Mahatma Gandhi was born into a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal India in 1869. He worked as a lawyer in Africa before returning to India, where he organized farmers, peasants, and urban laborers to protest against excessive land taxes. Later in his life, he walked 250 miles in objection of the tax on salt.
He lived a very modest life, eating only simple vegetable and fasting for long periods of time, both as means of self-purification and political protest. He was also put in jail many times for his protests.
Finally in 1947, Britain allowed India to be independent, but it was split into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Because of their different beliefs, violence broke out and Gandhi undertook many fasts to stop religious violence. The purpose of his last fast was thought to pressure India into paying back cash owed to Pakistan, but many Indians thought he was too accommodating. As a result, he was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse who shot him 3 times in his chest.
Gandhi believed in peaceful resolutions over violent resolutions and in self-rule. He also laid a base for nonviolent protest. Even though Gandhi died 71 years ago, his beliefs and ideas are still living today.