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11 Things You Need to Know About Gandhi's London Years

Whether or not we are history buffs, we know many legends about Mahatma Gandhi - his devotion to truth, his high ideals, and his austerity. But what about Mohandas, the young man who traveled to London to study Law at the Inns of Court? As part of our exclusive Hall of Fame series featuring freedom fighters who studied abroad, BrainGain magazine brings you 11 fascinating facts about Mahatma Gandhi's London years.
BY Skendha Singh |   14-08-2015
“(A)ll who can afford should go to England.”
Mahatma Gandhi, Guide to London

  1. 4th September 1888, one month short of twenty years, Mohandas sailed for London from Bombay on the SS Clyde. It would take him three weeks to reach England.
  2. In 1888, with approximately six million inhabitants, London was the biggest city in the world. It was also perhaps the most cosmopolitan.
  3. Before leaving for London, Mohandas’s devout mother, Putlibai, had made him take a vow before a Jain monk of the name of Becharji Swami. He promised to not touch meat, alcohol, and foreign women.
  4. He was excommunicated by the Modh Baniya cast elders because he was about to cross the kala pani (black waters).
  5. On board the SS Clyde, Mohandas carried homemade Gujarati sweets and ganthias. They were his first meal away from home, till he found an Indian sailor who would cook him some dal and chapatis.
  6. Although he was never an athletic boy, Mohandas found the climate of England, “cold and invigorating.” He would take long walks, as long as 8 miles in a day.
  7. He was enrolled at the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, for twenty four months. The other three are – Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, and Middle Temple.
  8. Mohandas, a committed vegetarian, was very welcome in the kitchens on the dining nights. His abstinence from alcohol ensured there was more for the other students!

    It was in London that the Indian student learnt true frugality. He would account for each shilling, and even dime, that he spent. To keep up with the fashion while avoiding splurging, he took to wearing inexpensive flannel shirts with detachable white collars and sleeves, under his coats.
  10. Putlibai passed away when Mohandas was in Englandbut this was kept from him until he returned to India.
  11. He continued an average student, and was called to the Bar in 1891, but entertained doubts about his suitability to the legal profession. It would be some years yet before he made a success of himself.


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