But my ideal of a great man is something different from any of those mentioned above. A great man, in my opinion, must be, above all littleness, — the petty jealousies and prejudices that afflict the ordinary man. He must be dedicated to a noble ideal, entirely selfless, free from all narrowness, truthful in speech, fearless in action, but polite in manners and yet a lion in spirit. He must appeal to the noblest elements of our nature. Such a great man has faith in the fundamental values of life. He must be a dreamer of dreams and a doer of deeds; among the great, equal to the greatest, among the humble one of the humblest.
Such a man is, no doubt, rare. But here in India we had one who fulfilled all these. He is Mahatma Gandhi and him I regard as my ideal great man. Born on October 2, 1869 be had the usual education of the son of well-to-do Indian parents. He spent a few years at school where from he matriculated; and then, against much opposition, he went to England, where he qualified as a barrister. But from the moment that he learnt to think for himself, he followed the path of truth. He had vowed to his mother to abstain from animal food and wine. While in England, no temptation or inducement could make him false to his vow. A pledge once given was, for Gandhiji, a sacred trust.
He subsequently went to South Africa and there he discovered his true vocation. He found the Indian community suffering under the most humiliating indignities. He took up the cause of his countrymen and organized the famous 'passive resistance' movement on Tolstoy’s principles. For ten years, he struggled, suffering imprisonments and other punishments. In the end he succeeded in getting many of the anti-Indian laws amended.
In 1915 he returned to India. In course of the next few years, be became a political leader whose integrity ever one came to admire and whose convincing arguments few could resist. In an age of violence he fearlessly preached and practiced the gospel of nonviolence. To the unarmed people of India, he brought the weapons of Non-co-operation and Civil Disobedience. He felt in himself the woeful poverty of his people and literally put on a beggar's robe show his identification with their cause. For wearing a loin-cloth Winston Churchill jeeringly called him the 'half-naked' Fakir.
But nothing would deter Gandhiji. Beggar though he made himself, (eating meal daily that cost him six pieces), no prince could match his dignified self-assurance. He spoke without rhetoric, but his elequence touched the inmost chords of our heart.
He went to the Round Table