Short chronology of the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi

 Source: The Gandhi Reader,  ed. by Homer A. Jack, Samata Books, Madras, 1984


1869    Oct.  2 Born at Porbandar, Kathiawad, son  of Karamchand (Kaba) and 

                         Putlibai Gandhi.

1876               Attended primary school in  Rajkot, where his family moved.

                        Betrothed to Kasturba (called  Kasturba in her old age), daughter of

                        Gokuldas Makanji, a merchant.

1881                Entered high school in Rajkot.

1883               Married to Kasturba.

1885                Father died at age of 63.

1887               Passed matriculation examination  at Ahmedabad and entered

                       Samaldas College, Bhavnagar, Kathiawad, but found studies  difficult

                       and remained only one term.

1888               First of four sons born.

1891    Sept.   Sailed from Bombay for England to  study law.

                        Summer. Returned to India after  being called to bar. Began practice

                         of law in Bombay and Rajkot.

1893    April   Sailed for South Africa to become  lawyer for an Indian firm.

                        Found himself subjected to all  kinds of color discrimination.

1894               Prepared to return to India after  completing law case, but was

                       persuaded by Indian colony to remain in South Africa and do  public

                       work and earn a living as a lawyer.

                        Drafted first petition sent by  the Indians to a South African


            May    Organised Natal Indian Congress.

1896               Returned to India for six months  to bring back his wife and two

                        children to Natal.

            Dec.    Sailed for South Africa with  family. Was mobbed when he

                        disembarked at Durban for what Europeans thought he wrote about 

                        South Africa when he was in India.

1899               Organised Indian Ambulance Corps  for British in Boer War.

1901                Embarked with family for India,  promising to return to South Africa

                        if Indian community there needed his services again.

1901 – 1902   Travelled extensively in India,  attended Indian National

                       Congress meeting in Calcutta, and opened law office in Bombay.

1902               Returned to South Africa after  urgent request from Indian     


1903               Summer. Opened law office in  Johannesburg.

1904               Established the weekly journal, Indian  Opinion.

                        Organised Phoenix Settlement near  Durban, after reading Ruskin's 

                        Unto This Last.

1906  March Organised Indian Ambulance Corps  for Zulu "Rebellion".

                        Took vow of continence for life.

            Sept.   First satyagraha campaign  began with meeting in Johannesburg in

                         protest against proposed Asiatic ordinance directed  against Indian

                         immigrants in Transvaal.

            Oct.     Sailed for England to present  Indians' case to Colonial Secretary and

                        started back to South Africa in December.

1907    June  Organised satyagraha against compulsory registration of Asians

                         ("The Black Act").

1908    Jan.    Stood trial for instigating satyagraha and was sentenced to two

                        months' imprisonment in Johannesburg jail (his first 


            Jan.    Was summoned to consult General  Smuts at Pretoria; compromise

                        reached; was released from jail.

            Feb.    Attacked and wounded by Indian  extremist, Mir Alam, for reaching

                        settlement with Smuts.

            Aug.   After Smuts broke agreement,  second satyagraha campaign began

                        with bonfire of registration certificates.

            Oct.    Arrested for not having  certificate, and sentenced to two months'

                        imprisonment in Volksrust jail.

1909    Feb.    Sentenced to three months'  imprisonment in Volksrust and Pretoria


            June  Sailed for England again to  present Indians' case.

            Nov.   Returned to South Africa, writing Hind Swaraj en route.

1910    May    Established Tolstoy Farm near  Johannesburg.

1913                Began penitential fast (one meal  a day for more than four months)

                        because of moral lapse of two members of Phoenix  Settlement.

            Sept.   Helped campaign against  nullification of marriages not celebrated

                        according to Christian rites, with Kasturba and  other women being

                        sentenced for crossing the Transvaal border without permits.

            Nov.   Third satyagraha campaign begun  by leading "great march" of 2,000

                        Indian miners from Newcastle across Transvaal  border in Natal.

            Nov.   Arrested three times in four days  (at Palmford, Standerton, and

                       Teakworth) and sentenced at Dundee to nine months'  imprisonment;

                        tried at Volksrust in second trial and sentenced to three months' 

                        imprisonment with his European co-workers, Polak and Kallenbach.

                        Imprisoned in Volksrust  jail for a few days and then taken to

                        Bloemfontein in Orange Free State.

            Dec.    Released unconditionally in  expectation of a compromise

                        settlement, C.F. Andrews and W.W. Pearson having been sent by 

                        Indians in India to negotiate.

1914    Jan.    Underwent fourteen days' fast for  moral lapse of members of

                        Phoenix Settlement.

            Jan.    Satyagraha campaign  suspended, with pending agreement between

                        Smuts, C.F. Andrews, and Gandhi, and with  ultimate passage of

                        Indian Relief Act.

            July    Left South Africa forever,  sailing from Capetown for London with

                        Kasturba and Kallenbach, arriving just at beginning  of World War I.

                        Organised Indian Ambulance Corps  in England, but was obliged to

                        sail for India because of pleurisy.

1915                Secured removal of customs  harassment of passengers atViramgam;

                        first incipient satyagraha campaign in India.

            May    Established Satyagraha Ashram at Kochrab, near Ahmedabad, and

                        soon admitted an untouchable family; in 1917 moved ashram  to new

                        site on Sabarmati River.

1916    Feb.    Gave speech at opening of Hindu  University at Benares.

1917                Helped secure removal of  recruiting of South African indenture

                        workers in India.

                        Led successful satyagraha campaign for rights of peasants on indigo

                        plantations in Champaran. Defied aorder to leave area in April, was

                        arrest at Motihari and tried, but case was withdrawn. Mahadev Desai 

                        joined him at Champaran.

1918    Feb.    Led strike of millworkers at  Ahmedabad. Millowner agreed to

                        arbitration after his three-day fast (his first fast in  India).

          March  Led satyagraha campaign  for peasants in Kheda.

                        Attended Viceroy's War Conference  at Delhi and agreed that Indians

                        should be recruited for World War I.

                        Began recruiting campaign, but  was taken ill and came near death;

                        agreed to drink goat's milk and learned spinning during 


1919                Spring. Rowlatt Bills  (perpetuating withdrawal of civil liberties for

                        seditious crimes) passed, and first  all-India satyagraha campaign


            April   Organised nation-wide hartal - suspension of activity for a day -

                         against Rowlatt Bills.

            April   Arrested at Kosi near Delhi on  way to Punjab and escorted back to

                         Bombay, but never tried.

                         Fasted at Sabarmati for three  days in penitence for violence and

                         suspended satyagraha campaign, which he called a  "Himalayan

                         miscalculation" because people were not disciplined enough.

                         Assumed editorship of English  weekly, Young India, and Gujarati

                         weekly, Navajivan.

            Oct.    After five months' refusal,  authorities allowed him to visit scene of   

                        April disorders in Punjab. Worked closely with  Motilal Nehru.

                        Conducted extensive inquiry into violence in many Punjab villages.

1920    April.  Elected president of All-India  Home Rule League.

            June   Successfully urged resolution for  a satyagraha campaign of non-

                        cooperation at Moslem Conference at Allahabad and at  Congress

                        sessions at Calcutta (Sept.) and Nagpur (Dec.)

            Aug    Second all-India satyagraha campaign began when he gave up

                        Kaisar-i-Hind medal.

1921                Presided at opening of first shop  selling homespun (khadi) in


            Aug.   Presided at bonfire of foreign  cloth in Bombay.

            Sept.   Gave up wearing shirt and cap and  resolved to wear only a loin-cloth

                        in devotion to homespun cotton and simplicity.

            Nov.    Fasted at Bombay for five days  because of communal rioting

                        following visit of Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII and Duke  of 


            Dec.    Mass civil disobedience, with  thousands in jail. Gandhi invested

                        with "sole executive authority" on behalf of  Congress.

1922    Feb.    Suspended mass disobedience  because of violence at Chauri Chaura

                        and undertook five-day fast of penance at Bardoli.

          March  Arrested at Sabarmati in charge  of sedition in Young India. Pleaded

                        guilty in famous statement at the "great  trial" in Ahmedabad before

                        Judge Broomfield. Sentenced to six years' imprisonment in  Yeravda


1923                Wrote Satyagraha in South  Africa and part of his autobiography in


1924    Jan.    Was operated on for appendicitis  and unconditionally released from

                         prison in February.

            Sept.   Began 21-day "great  fast" at Mohammed Ali's home near Delhi as

                         penance for communal rioting (between  Hindus and Moslems),

                         especially at Kohat.

            Dec.    Presided over Congress session at  Belgaum as president.

1925    Nov.   Fasted at Sabarmati for seven  days because of misbehaviour of

                        members of ashram.

            Dec.    Announced one-year political  silence and immobility at Congress

                        session at Cawnpore.

1927               No-tax satyagraha campaign  launched at Bardoli, led by Sadar Patel.

1928    Dec.    Moved compromise resolution at  Congress session at Calcutta,

                        calling for complete independence within one year, or else  the

                        beginning of another all-Indian satyagraha campaign.

1929  March Arrested for burning foreign  cloth in Calcutta and fined one rupee.

            Dec.    Congress session at Lahore  declared complete independence and a

                        boycott of the legislature and fixed January 26 as  National 

                        Independence Day. Third all-Indian satyagraha campaign began.

1930 March 12  Set out from Sabamarti with 79  volunteers on historic salt march

                            200 miles to sea at Dandi.

          April 6     Broke salt law by picking salt up  at seashore as whole world


            May    Arrested by armed policemen at  Karadi and imprisoned in Yeravda

                         jail without trial.

                         One hundred thousand persons  arrested. There was no Congress in

                         December because all leaders were in jail.

1931    Jan.    Released unconditionally with 30  other Congress leaders.

          March  Gandhi-Irwin (Viceroy) Pact  signed, which ended civil disobedience.

            Aug.   Sailed from Bombay accompanied by  Desai, Naidu, Mira, etc., for the

                        second Round Table Conference, arriving in London via  Marseilles,

                        where he was met by C.F. Andrews.

       Autumn Resided at Kingsley Hall  in London slums, broadcast to America,

                        visited universities, met celebrities, and attended  Round Table

                        Conference sessions.

            Dec.    Left England for Switzerland,  where he met Romain Rolland, and

                        Italy, where he met Mussolini.

            Dec.    Arrived in India. Was authorised  by Congress to renew satyagraha

                         campaign (fourth nation-wide effort).

1932    Jan.    Arrested in Bombay with Sardar  Patel and detained without trial at

                         Yeravda prison.

        Sept. 20  Began "perpetual fast unto  death" while in prison in protest of

                         British action giving separate electorates to  untouchables.

        Sept. 26  Concluded "epic fast"  with historic cell scene in presence of Tagore

                         after British accepted "Yeravda  Pact".

            Dec.    Joined fast initiated by another  prisoner, Appasaheb Patwardhan,

                         against untouchability; but fast ended in two days.

1933                Began weekly publication of Harijan in place of Young India.

          May 8  Began self-purification fast of  21 days against untouchability and was

                        released from prison by government on first day.  Fast concluded

                        after 21 days at Poona.

            July    Disbanded Sabarmati ashram,  which became centre for removal of


            Aug    Arrested and imprisoned at  Yeravda for four days with 34 members

                        of his ashram. When he refused to leave  Yeravda village for Poona,

                        he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment at Yeravda.

         Aug. 16  Began fast against refusal of  government to grant him permission to

                        work against untouchability while in prison; on  fifth day of fast he

                        was removed to Sassoon Hospital; his health was precarious; he was 

                        unconditionally released on eighth day.

            Nov.   Began ten-month tour of every  province in India to help end


            Nov.   Kasturba arrested and imprisoned  for sixth time in two years.

1934               Summer. Three separate attempts  made on his life.

            July    Fasted at Wardha ashram for seven days in penance against

                        intolerance of opponents of the movement against  untouchability.

            Oct.    Launched All-India Village  Industries Association.

1935                Health declined; moved to Bombay  to recover.

1936               Visited Seagon, a village near  Wardha in the Central Provinces, and

                        decided to settle there.. (This was renamed Sevagram  in 1940 and

                        eventually became an ashram for his disciples.)

1937    Jan.    Visited Travancore for removal of  untouchability.

1938               Autumn. Tour of Northwest  Frontier Province with the Khan Abdul

                        Ghaffar Khan.

1939  March  Began fast unto death as part of  satyagraha campaign in Rajkot; fast

                        ended four days later when Viceroy appointed as  arbitrator.

1940    Oct.    Launched limited, individual  civil-disobedience campaign against

                        Britain's refusal to allow Indians to express their  opinions regarding

                        World War II - 23,000 persons imprisoned within a year.

1942               Harijan resumed  publication after being suspended for 15 months.

         March   Met Sir Stafford Cripps in New  Delhi but called his proposals "a post-

                        dated cheque"; they were ultimately  rejected by Congress.

            Aug.   Congress passed "Quit  India" resolution - the final nation-wide

                        satyagraha campaign - with Gandhi as  leader.

            Aug. 9 Arrested with other Congress  leaders and Kasturba and imprisoned

                         in Aga Khan Palace near Poona, with populace revolting  in many

                         parts of India. He began correspondence with Viceroy.

            Aug.    Mahadev Desai, Gandhi's secretary  and intimate, died in Palace.

1943  Feb. 10  Began 21-day fast at Aga Khan  Palace to end deadlock of

                         negotiations between Viceroy and Indian leaders.

1944  Feb. 22  Kasturba died in detention at Aga  Khan Palace at age of seventy-


            May 6 After decline in health, was  released unconditionally from detention

                         (this was his last imprisonment; he had spent 2338  days in jail

                         during his life time).

            Sept    Important talks with Jinnah of  Moslem League in Bombay on Hindu-

                        Moslem unity.

1946  March  Conferred with British Cabinet  Mission in New Delhi.

            Nov.   Began four-month tour of 49  villages in East Bengal to quell

                        communal rioting over Moslem representation in  provisional


1947  March  Began tour of Bihar to  lessen Hindu-Moslem tensions.

           March  Began conferences in New Delhi  with Viceroy (Lord Mountbatten) in


            May    Opposed Congress decision to  accept division of country into India

                         and Pakistan.

        Aug. 15    Fasted and prayed to combat riots  in Calcutta as India was

                         partitioned and granted independence.

            Sept.   Fasted for three days to stop  communal violence in Calcutta.

            Sept.   Visited Delhi and environs to  stop rioting and to visit camps of

                         refugees (Hindus and Sikhs from the Punjab).

1948 Jan. 13   Fasted for five days in Delhi for  communal unity.

         Jan. 20   Bomb exploded in midst of his  prayer meeting at Birla House, Delhi.

         Jan. 30   Assassinated in 78th year at  Birla House by Nathuram Vinayak Godse.