andhiMahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbandar, India, on October 2, 1869. Although his father was a chief minister for the maharaja of Porbandar, the family came from the traditional caste of grocers (the name Gandhi means grocer). His mother's religion was Jainism, a Hindu religion which ideas of nonviolence and vegetarianism are very important. Gandhi said that he was most influenced by his mother, whose life was an endless chain of fasts and vows.
When, in the company of boyhood friends, he secretly smoked, ate meat, told lies, or wore Western clothing, he had an intense feeling of guilt. These feelings forced him to make resolutions about his moral behavior that were to stay with him for the rest of his life. Gandhi married at the age of 13.
When he was 18, he went to London to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1891 and for a while he was attorney in Bombay. From 1893 to 1914 he worked for an Indian firm in South Africa. During these years Gandhi's humiliating experiences of open, official racial discrimination and aphartheid propelled him into agitation on behalf of the Indian community of South Africa.
He started protest campaigns and organized demonstrations, but never used violence. His philosophy was to never fight back against the atrocities, but still never retreat. This, he said, would decrease the hate against him and his fellow believers, and increase the respect felt towards him. Gandhi's one aim was that everybody – hindues, muslims, sikhs, jews, christians, black and white – could live together in peace and harmony.