Evaluate the specific qualities of  Mahatma Gandhi that he exhibited that led to such extraordinary peacemaking success.Think of peacemaking as a social psychologist

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marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The definition of "Mahatma" means "Great Soul."  It is the title that the people of India bestowed on their beloved leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.  Always a gentle soul, Gandhi exhibited great love, peacemaking skills, and leadership capabilities throughout his life. 

What was the secret to his success? 

Whenever one is devoted to his religion--whatever religion that may be--and lives it to his fullest, it has a tendency to give him tremendous mental, physical, and spiritual strength.  A person's belief in a Supreme Being and strict adherance to a set of principles, morals, standards, and teachings gives him great peace of mind, mental tranquillity, and confidence.  Nothing upsets him or destroys his equilibrium; He has complete control over himself.  And by loving his God supremely, that same love fills him and he's able to exhibit that love for others.  Such was the case with Gandhi.

Gandhi's religion was Jain, a strict Hindu sect.  To keep their bodies pure, they were taught to not eat meat or use drugs or alcohol.  A pure body helped them keep a pure mind.  Although born to a middle class family, Gandhi abhorred the caste system and considered all people equal in God's eyes.  So, he lived the simple life of a peasant, making his own clothing and eating only enough to keep himself alive. 

Gandhi believed in being peacable and being a peacemaker.  He believed passive resistance and quiet, civil disobedience could do more to right the wrongs he saw in society than any other method could.  From 1893, in South Africa, up until his death in 1948, he waged a campaign to abolish British rule over Indian nationals.  He was imprisoned several times and went on numerous hunger strikes to bring about reforms.

The people were moved by his compassion and great love for them!  When they saw him go to prison and almost starve to death for them, they flocked to him in great numbers and adopted his practices.  The British were forced to finally grant India its independence in August 1947. 

But the trouble didn't stop there!  Violence broke out between the Hindus and Moslems and thousands were killed in the setting up of the independent nations of India and Pakistan.  Gandhi went on another hunger strike to bring about peace, this one nearly killing him!  Again, his love, sacrifice, compassion, and willingness to die to attain the peace he so desired won over most of the population.  However, a radical Hindu shot and killed him, thus ending the life of one of the greatest men who ever lived!

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of Gandhi's greatest qualities was his keen sense of insight and intelligence.  We have a tendency to look past this and see the compassionate soul, the greatly beneficent and magnanimous figure.  This is no doubt accurate to do. Yet, Gandhi's best quality was his understanding of the situation. He knew very well that England had "the lawyers, guns, and money."  He understood that the Indians could not defeat England on British terms.  With the invocation of non- violence and the bringing in of civil disobedience, he was able to monopolize the moral high ground and create a situation that was disarming to the British.  Throwing it back in the face of British "civilization," Gandhi's demand that Indians not raise a hand in opposition helped to create a moral sensibility that allowed peace to develop.  Where Gandhi's philosophy ran into difficulty was not with the British, but after Partition where the centuries' old mistrust of Hindus and Muslims was blind and deaf to nonviolence.  In this light, Gandhi's peacemaking abilities were significantly challenged.