Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
A Child Groom
means great soul. This name was not given Gandhi at birth by
his parents, but many years later by the Indian people when they discovered they
had a Mahatma in their midst.
Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, a small state in western India.
He was named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The word Gandhi means grocer,
and generations earlier that had been the family occupation. But Gandhi's
grandfather, father, and uncle had served as prime ministers to the princes of
Porbandar and other tiny Indian states, and though lower caste, the Gandhis were
middle-class, cultured, and deeply religious Hindus.
Gandhi remembered his father as truthful, brave, incorruptible, and short-tempered,
but he remembered his mother as a saint. She often fasted for long periods, and
once, during the four months of the rainy season, ate only on the rare days that the
At the age of six Gandhi went to school in Porbandar and had difficulty learning to
multiply. The following year his family moved to Rajkot where he remained a
mediocre student, so sensitive that he ran home from school for fear the other boys
might make fun of him.
When Gandhi was thirteen, he was married to Kasturbai, a girl of the same age.
Child marriages, arranged by the parents, were then common in India, and since
Hindu weddings were elegant, expensive affairs, the Gandhi family decided to
marry off Gandhi, his older brother, and a cousin all at one time to spare the cost of
three separate celebrations.