Revered in India as the "Father of the Nation," Mohandas K. Gandhi is also a worldwide icon of non-violent political resistance. Mohandas Gandhi was born in India and studied law in England, then spent 20 years defending the rights of immigrants in South Africa. He returned to India in 1914, eventually becoming the leader of the Indian National Congress. At the time, India was part of the British Empire, and Gandhi urged non-violence and civil disobedience as a means to independence. His public acts of defiance landed him in jail many times as the struggle continued through World War II. Gandhi participated in the postwar negotiations with Britain that led to India becoming a fully independent country on August 15, 1947. He was shot to death on January 30, 1949 by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu extremist who felt that Gandhi was an obstacle to Hindu political power. An advocate of simple living, Gandhi ate a vegetarian diet and made his own clothes; his personal spinning wheel became a symbol of his uncluttered lifestyle. After his death, Gandhi's teachings of change through non-violence influenced other social activists, including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi's autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth
, was published in 1927. His birthday, October 2nd, is a national holiday in India.