In a speech, Martin Luther King Jr. once referred to Mahatma Gandhi as “a man in the hearts of all of humanity.” Through acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi has earned a spot in our hearts as an icon for peace. As we reflect on Gandhi and his life on his birthday (Gandhi Jayanti, celebrated on October 2), we wanted to share 5 facts you may not have known about him:
- Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times between 1937 and 1948. After his death the Nobel Committee publicly declared its regret for never awarding him the Prize. When the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was, “in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.”
- The railway station at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa is named in his honor (Mahatma Gandhi Station) because it was there in 1891 he was unceremoniously thrown out of a first class train compartment just for being a person of color. This was his first experience of racism and became a turning point in his life.
- He had a set of false teeth he carried in the folds of his robes that he took with him when he went on his daily walks, which were usually 11 miles long.
- He spoke English with an Irish accent because one of his first teachers was an Irishman.
- Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, shot at close range by Nathuram Godse. Prior to his death, there had been five unsuccessful attempts to kill Gandhi, the first occurring in 1934.
On October 17, we invite you to celebrate the life and birth of Gandhi through Gandhi Jayanti. The celebration will incorporate an essay and poster contest by students, as well as feature Vijay Seshadri, a renowned Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Click here to learn more. We hope to see you there!