On this date back in 1948, the great Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi, India by a Hindu fanatic. The 78 year old pacifist was of course known for his leadership during the Indian independence movement—primarily with regards to his employing of nonviolent civil disobedience.
Gandhi's leadership efforts inspired civil rights movements around the world over the course of the 20th century, as others saw the kind of confidence he was able to inspire in his home land.
India was going through troubled times by the early 1940's. Although Britain granted the country independence in 1947, they partitioned the region into two dominions. One was a Hindu-majority India and the other was a Muslim-majority Pakistan. This stirred up quite a bit of religious violence between the two groups, which prompted Gandhi to speak up. He repeatedly visited his home nation during this time and would demonstrate his views by fasting.
Much of Ghandi's life was marred by personal tragedy. He was married at 13 years of age to a bride who was 14, Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia. It was tradition for children to wed, but for Ghandi it would result in a nightmare. Two years later, Ghandi's father passed away on the night when Ghandi had decided to leave his home in order to sleep with his pregnant wife. Shortly thereafter, his newborn child would pass away due to complications. The two events would haunt Ghandi for many, many years, but he would feel especially bad about not being by his father's side on the night of his passing. He later admitted that he unfortunately gave into lust during a moment when he should have done the right thing by being with his father.
By the age of 24, Ghandi was showing a penchant for civil rights activism. He arrived in South Africa and worked as a legal representative for the Muslim Indian Traders of Pretoria. The next 21 years there would shape his worldview like no other time in his life. He would face rampant discrimination like many other South African minorities, and was once removed from a train for refusing to give up his first class seat.
Unfettered, Ghandi would return to India where he would argue for his nation's sovereignty during two World Wars, suffer through the death of his wife, and deal with a slew of congressional leaders who placed an increase in power ahead of sound principle.
He was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist while with his grandnieces in the garden of the former Birla House.