MANILAL GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography


MANILAL GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

MANILAL GANDHI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

Manilal was second of Gandhiji' s four sons. He was born in Porbandar after Gandhiji returned from his educational tour of England, on October 28, 1892, and came to South Africa as a young child when Gandhiji decided he was going to stay in South Africa for more than the year he was contracted for. By 1893, Gandhiji had developed a total lack of confidence in the educational system and decided he would teach his children at home.

The education that the children got was well-rounded. It went beyond book knowledge to learning how to do household chores, how to farm, how to operate machines, about human relationships and how to build and preserve them;' and learning the dignity of labor, no matter how lowly it may seem. The idea was to instill in his children a sense of humbleness and humility - something we lack in society today. It was a common practice, for instance, for the children to work on the farm and wash and replace the toilet buckets. When they grew up, Gandhi would take them to his office after they had finished their morning chores at home. They would walk five miles to the office and return walking in the evening, so that all got the exercise they needed; and on the way they would get their education.

Manilal shouldered a great deal of responsibilities at a young age, since Gandhiji started going to prison for defying the unjust laws of the country. As the second eldest he had to be the ‘man of the house' and take care of his younger two brothers- Ramdas and Devadas - both born in South Africa (one in 1897 and the other in 1900).

These responsibilities were thrust on his shoulders from the age of 12. There are many letters written to Manilal from jail, in which Gandhiji gives him instructions on what to read, what work to do, how to take care of the family and, especially, how to take care of his mother who was not in good health at the time. The letters are included in the Collected Works of Gandhi.

Manilal started going to prison at the age of 15 in defiance of the unjust and racist laws of South Africa and continued to do so until almost a year before his death in 1956.

Manilal also participated in several major campaigns for India's independence. He was involved in the Salt March and then was a volunteer trying to enter the a Salt Factory. He was beaten on the head with a baton and was later carried away by the police to the prison hospital. Since Manilal was unconscious, with a fractured skull, and could not give his name, no one knew who he was or where he was. The family had to search all the prisons and hospitals in the southern Gujarat area before someone located him.

Manilal returned to India when Gandhiji decided to leave South Africa in 1915. The activities of the Phoenix Settlement, including the printing of the weekly "Indian Opinion" was entrusted to Mr. Henry Polak and Mr. Albert West, two British friends who were devoted to Gandhiji. In 1918, Gandhiji received a letter from Mr. Polak saying that both he and Mr. West had decided to go back to England, and, therefore, if Gandhiji wanted the Phoenix activities to continue, he would have to send someone from India, since they could find no one in South Africa willing to take on the responsibility. Gandhiji asked for volunteers from the extended family, and as always, Manilal was the first to volunteer. He came back to South Africa alone in 1918. He was then 26 years old.

Manilal spent about 14 years of his life in prisons in South Africa and India.


Manilal fought for the sake of principles and freedom. Truly, he is another great example of the many who sacrificed themselves for humanity. He died on 4 April, 1956. 

Do you have any questions?

Watch Now