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Remembering Satyagraha and Gandhi’s Salt March

In early March of 1930, in order to help free India from British control, Mahatma Gandhi proposed a non-violent protest march denouncing the British Salt Tax, continuing Gandhi’s national calls for civil disobedience.

Gandhi's Salt March
Gandhi on the Salt March

Before embarking on the 240-mile journey from Sabarmati to Dandi, Gandhi sent a letter to the the British Viceroy Lord Irwin, forewarning him of their plans of civil disobedience:

“If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of this month I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the Independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land, the beginning will be made with this evil.”

As forewarned, on March 12, 1930, Gandhi and 78 male ‘satyagrahis’ (activists of Satyagraha, truth and resolution) began their 23-day-long journey. Women weren’t allowed to march because Gandhi felt women wouldn’t provoke law enforcers like their male counterparts, making the officers react violently to non-violence. Along the march, the satyagrahis listened to Gandhi’s favorite bhajan sung by Pandit Paluskar, a Hindustani vocalist; the roads were watered and softened, and fresh vegetation was thrown along the path. Gandhi spoke to each village they passed, and more and more men joined the march.

On April 6, 1930 Gandhi and his satyagrahis reached the coast. After prayers were offered, Gandhi spoke to the large crowd. He picked up a tiny lump of salt, breaking the law. Within moments, the satyagrahis followed Gandhi’s passive defiance, picking up salt everywhere along the coast. A month later, Gandhi was arrested and thrown into prison, already full with fellow protestors.

Gandhi’s Salt March started a series of protests, closing many British shops and British mills. A march to Dharshana resulted in horrible violence. The non-violent satyagrahis did not defend themselves against the clubs of policemen, and many were killed instantly. The world embraced the satyagrahis and their non-violence, and eventually enabled India to gain their freedom from Britain.


>> For greater details of Gandhi’s Salt March see Wikipedia

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