Gandhi was called Mahatma as a sign of respect for his great character and deeds. The word Mahatma, erroneously considered to be Gandhi's birth name by some in the western society, originates from the Sanskrit words "maha", which means "great," and "atma," which means "soul." Rabindranath Tagore is known as the man who gave him the title.
Gandhi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Porbandar, Gujarat, North West India. He is known as the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Using nonviolent means, Gandhi led his country to independence and spurred movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He famously led Indians in opposing the British-imposed salt tax with the 250-mile Dandi Salt March in 1930, and he later called for the British to "quit" India in 1942. In multiple instances, he was imprisoned for prolonged periods in South Africa and India alike. Gandhi emphasized practicing nonviolence and honesty in all situations, recommending the same for others.
Gandhi is commonly, and unofficially, regarded as the "Father of the Nation" in India. His birthday, Oct. 2, is celebrated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Nonviolence. He is affectionately known as Bapu, which means "father" or "papa", in India. He died on Jan. 30, 1948 at the age of 78.