Key Terms and Events
Ashram - · An Indian word for a religiously-oriented, communal
Bhagavad-Gita - · One of the sacred texts of Hinduism, this long poem
helped shape Gandhi's personal philosophy.
Boer - · Descendants of the Dutch settlers of South Africa,
they struggled with the British for dominance of the region.
Bombay - · The great port of western India
Brahmacharya - · The renunciation of sex by a male Hindu. Gandhi committed himself
to Brahmacharya, after some struggle, in 1906.
British Empire - · The vast collection of British-ruled territories that
included, at Gandhi's birth, all of India.
Caste - · A caste is a social level or class. In Hindu India,
the caste system is especially intricate and influential; under
this system, a person is born into a specific caste and may never
leave it. The castes span a wide range, the highest being the
Brahmin caste, the lowest being the untouchables.
Delhi - · The capital of India under the Raj
East India Company - · The British trading company that dominated India in
the 18th century.
Hartal - · In Indian tradition, this is a day of fasting, prayer,
and abstention from work.
Hindu - · The complex, polytheistic majority religion of India
Indian National Congress - · An organization of well-educated Indians, founded in
1885, that fell under Gandhi's leadership and pushed for Indian independence
Jain - · A reform movement in Hinduism that emphasized the sacredness of
all life, and greatly influenced Gandhi.
Mahatma - · A word meaning "great soul" that was applied to Gandhi
Muslim - · A member of the monotheistic religion Islam. Muslims
have long been the largest religious minority in India.
Natal - · A province of British-ruled South Africa
Natal Indian Congress - · Founded by Gandhi, this organization lobbied for Indian
rights in South Africa.
Phoenix Settlement - · Gandhi's communal farm in South Africa
Raj - · The British term for their dominions in India
Satyagraha - · Literally, "soul-force." It was the term given to
Gandhi's strategy of nonviolent resistance to oppression
Satyagraha ashram - · The name given to Gandhi's ashram in
Transvaal - · A Boer republic in South Africa, ruled by the British
after the Boer War
Unto This Last - · Written by a British author named John Ruskin, this
book convinced Gandhi of the virtues of physical labor.
Untouchables - · The shunned lowest caste, they were embraced by Gandhi.
Viceroy of India - · The British-appointed ruler of India
Amritsar Massacre - · The 1919 slaughter of Indian protesters by British
troops that sparked outrage around the world
Boer War - · The struggle (1899-1901) between Britain and the Boer republics,
ending in British control of South Africa.
Government of India Act - · Passed by the British Parliament in 1935, it paved
the way for Indian independence.
Rowlatt Act - · Passed after World War I, it cracked down on civil
liberties in India, and led Gandhi toward rebellion.
The Salt March - · Gandhi's march to the sea, in spring 1930, to protest
the British government's salt monopoly.