Mahatma Gandhi Family
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 into a Gujarati Hindu Modh Baniya family in Porbandar (also known as Sudamapuri), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula.
Gandhi’s father Karamchand was Hindu and his mother Putlibai was from a Pranami Vaishnava Hindu family.
In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas married 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji Kapadia in an arranged marriage, according to the custom of the region at that time.
In late 1885, Gandhi’s father Karamchand died. Gandhi, then 16 years old, and his wife of age 17 had their first baby, who survived only a few days. The two deaths anguished Gandhi.
The Mahatma Gandhi family consist of four more children, all sons: Harilal, born in 1888; Manilal, born in 1892; Ramdas, born in 1897; and Devdas, born in 1900.
Harilal participated in the Indian independence movement. Government imprisoned him as a satyagrahi six times between 1908 and 1911. His willingness to endure these sentences earned him the nickname of ‘Chhote (Little) Gandhi’.
He too wanted to go to England for higher studies, hoping to become a barrister as his father had once been.
His father however firmly opposed this, believing that a Western-style education would not be helpful in the struggle against British rule over India, leading to tensions between father and son.
Eventually rebelling against his father’s decision, in 1911 Harilal renounced all family ties.
In May 1936, at the age of 48, Harilal publicly converted to Islam and named himself Abdulla Gandhi. However, later in 1936, on his mother Kasturba Gandhi’s request he converted back to Hinduism through the Arya Samaj and adopted a new name, Hiralal.
He appeared at his father’s funeral in such derelict condition that few recognized him. Being alcoholic he was racked by liver disease, and possibly syphilis. Harilal died of tuberculosis four months after Gandhi’s death, on the night of 18 June 1948, aged 59.
After a brief visit to India, in 1917 Manilal returned to South Africa to assist in printing the Indian Opinion a Gujarati-English weekly publication, at Phoenix, Durban. By 1918, Manilal was doing most of the work for the press and took over in 1920 as editor.
Like his father, British colonial government sent Manilal to prison several times after protesting against unjust laws. He was one of the initial 79 marchers to accompany Gandhi on the 1930 Salt March, for which he was imprisoned.
He remained editor of Indian Opinion until 1956, the year of his death. Manilal died from a cerebral thrombosis following a stroke.
He had no taste for asceticism, yet participated in the grueling civil protests of the 1930s. Numerous jailings had serious effects on his health. Raised in South Africa, he never adjusted to the idealistic poverty imposed by his father.
At his father’s funeral, Ramdas Gandhi was the one who lit the fire to start the cremation, as Mahatma had wished for. Soon his younger brother Devdas Gandhi joined him at the funeral.
Later he died in the year of his father’s centenary.
He became active in his father’s movement, spending many terms in jail. He also became a prominent journalist, serving as editor of Hindustan Times.
Later Devdas fell in love with Lakshmi, the daughter of C. Rajagopalachari, Devdas’s father’s associate in the Indian independence struggle.
Due to Lakshmi’s age at that time, she was only 15 and Devdas was 28 years, both Devdas’s father and Rajaji asked the couple to wait for five years without seeing each other. After five years had passed, they got married with their fathers’ permissions in 1933
Gandhi’s children and grandchildren live in India and other countries.
Later Grandson Rajmohan Gandhi is a Professor in Illinois and an author of Gandhi’s biography, while another, Tarun Gandhi, has authored several authoritative books on his grandfather.
Another grandson, Kanu Ramdas Gandhi (the son of Gandhi’s third son Ramdas), was living in an old age home in Delhi despite having taught earlier in the United States.