A comparison, contrast between Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. The human civilization has seen many changes throughout all the periods of time that have passed by and many brilliant minds have enlightened the path towards the process of our social development. The twentieth century marks one of the most important centuries in human history as it saw two devastating world wars, a major shift in the way many people lived, changes in politics, ideology, economics, society, culture, science, technology, and medicine.
Focusing on the socio-political development, this century hosted some of the most innovative experiments of non-violent action. Two of the most important leaders of civil rights movements that used non-violence as their weapon to success were Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. As we compare these great figures side to side, despite the differences in their goals, leadership and methods we find also many similarities. Even though Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India and Martin Luther King Jr. as born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, their lives and careens developed in quite a similar way.
Both Gandhi and King came from influential religious families amongst their communities. Gahndi’s father, served as a chief minister in Porbandar and other states in western India, this enabled Gandhi to have a relatively comfortable life and have access to a good education. His mother, was a very religious woman who fasted regularly, raising Gandhi worshiping the Hindu god Vishnu and following Jainism, an ancient Indian religion that espoused non-violence, fasting, meditation and vegetarianism.
Martin’s Father was an honorable religious man who came from a poor sharecropper’s family and made it as the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church giving influential speeches to the community and his mother was a choir leader. They Baptized young Martin at the age of 7. Both Gandhi and King rebelled to their parents in their youth years, but somehow found the strength and understood their wrong doings and headed towards the right paths. As a teenager Gandhi rebelled by smoking, eating meat and stealing change from household servants.
Martin questioned religion in general and felt uncomfortable with overly emotional displays of religious worship and would rebel against his father’s conservative attitude by drinking beer and playing pool during his college life. They both found the right path during their college life. At the age of 18, Gandhi sailed for London, to study law. Upon arrival he was struggling adopting to Western culture, and during his three-year stay in London, he became more committed to a meatless diet, joining the London Vegetarian Society, and started to read a variety of sacred texts to learn more about world religions.
King on the other hand took a Bible class in his junior year, which renewed his faith and made him begin to envision a career in the ministry. Differences in their early years can be noticed in their academic life. Gandhi was only an ordinary boy both in the Primary School and in the High School. No special qualities were seen in him. At school he never took part in any games. He would not even freely mix with his companions. The fear that somebody would make fun of him always filled his mind.
Martin on the other hand showed academic strength, in High School and allowing him to skip both the ninth and eleventh grades, and enter the Morehouse College in Atlanta at age 15, in 1944 and on June 5, 1955, he received his Ph. D. in theology at Boston University. A similarity can be found in the number of children they conceived during their marriages. In that era couples would give birth to many children. Both Gandhi and King were parents of four.
However, coming from different cultures their marriage traditions changed drastically. Gandhi, married his wife, Kasturba Makanji, a merchant’s daughter, in an arranged marriage at the age of 13. King on the other hand could not marry the woman he loved at first, the daughter of a German immigrant. However, he had the choice to marry another woman, Coretta Scott in a marriage by love. Leaving their early lives and describing their work and goals we can notice that King has followed many of Gandhi’s footsteps in his movement.
Gandhi used his lawyer background to defend the rights of Indians and man of color under the British Empire, who had immigrated and were being mistreated in South Africa. He also fought to unify India as a country joining together Indians off all religions against the British oppressors in India who had been exploiting the countries human and material recourses and had created underdevelopment and broken down the society forcing their culture and trying to wipe out the preexisting culture and traditions.
King on the other hand fought for the rights of back people in America, who were deprived from their constitutional rights, discriminated and left underdeveloped. The ending of the U. S civil war in 1865 bore the 13th and 15th amendments which would give rise to freedom of voting and equality trough race. However, many years after The African-Americans were still denied their basic rights such as voting, going to a proper school, they would be publicly humiliated and mistreated. The methods of non-violence that Gandhi used can be described by three major columns: Civil Disobedience, non-coorporation,