Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He pioneered satyagraha. This defined as resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa, or total nonviolence. This concept helped India to gain independence, and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma Gandhi.
In India he is also called Bapu. He is officially honoured in India as the Father of the Nation; his birthday, 2 October, is commemorated there as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godse.
Gandhi first employed civil disobedience while an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, during the resident India community's struggle there for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he organised protests by peasants, farmers, and urban labourers concerning excessive land-tax and discrimination. After assuming leadership of the India National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women's rights, build religious and ethic amity, end untouchability, and increase economic self-reliance. Above all, he aimed to achieve Swaraj or the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led his followers in the Non-cooperation movement that protested the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (240 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930. Later, in 1942, he launched Quit India civil disobedience movement demanding immediate independence for India. Gandhi spent a number of years in both South Africa and India.
As a practitioner of ahimsa, Gandhi swore to speak the truth and advocated the others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional India dhoti and shawl, woven from yarn that he had spun by hand himself. He ate simple vegetarian food, experimented for a time with a fruitarian diet, and undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and social protest.