Mahatma Gandhi

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What is the hero's journey of Mahatma Gandhi? Who is his guardian/mentor/helper and what is the call to adventure?

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Mahatma Gandhi was an unlikely hero, as his heroism took the unusual form of nonviolence in opposition to oppression in South Africa, and later in leading India from being a subjugated colonial power to an independent country. His hero's journey was marked by many dangers, challenges, and victories.

His call to the adventure of opposition to injustice was involuntary. Most historians would trace it back to certain indignities he suffered while serving as a lawyer in South Africa. For instance, he was thrown off a train because he was riding in first class, even though he had a ticket to do so. A stagecoach driver severely beat him because he refused to yield a seat to a white passenger. A magistrate in a courtroom demanded that he remove his turban; instead, Gandhi left the courtroom. These blatant acts of discrimination caused him to develop his method of civil disobedience and passive resistance.

There were innumerable thresholds, or jumping off points, in Gandhi's political career. One example is when Gandhi, as a symbolic act against the tyranny of the British colonial government, decided to lead the Salt March and made salt by the sea in protest against the salt tax.

Gandhi's main mentor and the man who was instrumental in getting him involved in the movement for independence was Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a leader of the Congress Party. Gokhale taught Gandhi his liberal ideals and encouraged him to proceed with moderation and restraint.

Helpers and threshold guardians to Gandhi were the politicians and other major political and social figures with whom he interacted during his campaigns. These included C.F. Andrews, a priest of the Church of England, Vallabhbhai Patel, an Indian barrister and politician, and Jawaharlal Nehru, who became the first prime minister of India.

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For Gandhi, his calling is not so much one to "adventure" as a call to service. In the service of peace, he underwent great personal sacrifice and was an inspiration to many, and to this day remains the primary human model of nonviolent activism. Gandhi was called to be a leader in the fight for independence for India, and to help quell the violent uprising of the nation's citizens, encouraging them to find peaceful solutions and to resist violent behavior, even in response to violent attacks.

No doubt Gandhi felt his actions were presided over by his gods, and his religious faith guided him forward; in this way his religion served as a guarding force for him. As well, his many thousands of followers provided a sort of buffer zone to help guide him and protect him.

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