What Did Mahatma Gandhi Believe In?

Ken Brown/E+/Getty Images

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, believed in Hinduism, non-violence, vegetarianism, self-rule, education, the search for truth and the usefulness of fasting and celibacy. Ghandi’s Hinduism had Jain influences. He used the principles of non-violence to lead an Indian resistance against the British.

He believed in using civil disobedience, not violent or military action, to achieve political goals. India eventually won its independence from British rule. Gandhi advocated vegetarianism; he was fruitarian for five years but stopped due to health concerns. Gandhi said that self-rule means every person rules himself, and therefore there should be no government that enforced laws at all. Because of this, he described himself as a philosophical anarchist. He said that his goal for India was not to have any underlying government.

He also believed in Nai Talim, which means “basic education for all.” Gandhi stressed the “moral development of the person” over career-oriented learning. He dedicated his life to the search for truth by learning from his own mistakes and conducting experiments on himself. In his 40s, Gandhi began practicing celibacy, despite already being married and having children. In his mid-70s, he often slept naked in his bed with many young women to test himself. He was criticized often for this behavior. Gandhi used fasting to protest political actions and to rally support for his causes.