(1869 - 1948)
The political activism of Mohandas K. Gandhi, inspired in part by Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and in part by a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy, earned him the title “Mahatma,” or great soul. In the 1900s Gandhi invented his technique of nonviolent resistance known as satyagraha (“devotion to truth”); in the 1920s he reformed the Indian National Congress into an effective political body. In the 1930s he led a march to the sea to obtain salt in protest of a British monopoly, and in 1947 India won its independence. A year later, at the age of seventy-eight, Gandhi was shot and killed by a Hindu fanatic.