He started propagating the concept of Satyagraha in his beloved motherland. Gandhi kept on traveling throughout the country to know it well. And at the end of the year, he settled down on the bank of river Sabarmati, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Here he founded the Satyagraha Ashram in May 1915.
In 1917, in Champaran district of Bihar some poor peasants were compelled by British indigo planters to grow indigo on 15 percent of their land and part with the whole crop for rent. When Gandhi came to know about it, he rushed to the place. Thousands of peasants left their villages to have his glimpse and tell their woes. The police superintendent ordered Gandhi to leave the district. Gandhi refused. The next day, he was summoned to the court. Thousands of peasants followed him there demanding his release. The magistrate had to release him without bail. This event was marked as the beginning of Satyagraha Movement in India.
Gandhi taught the principles of Satyagraha to the peasants and said that the first condition of freedom was freedom from fear. He taught people to fight for their rights. The volunteers of Gandhi’s Movement instructed the illiterate and ignorant peasants in elementary hygiene and ran schools for their children.
The British were now getting alarmed by Gandhi’s growing popularity. In 1919, they passed the Rowlatt Act to deal with a heavy hand if any revolutionary act was committed against the British. There were protests against this Act. But the British forces mercilessly massacred the Indian protestors. Contrary to this, Gandhi continued with his non-violent ways. His campaign became strong as more and more Indians joined hands with him. Many Indians renounced their titles and honors, lawyers gave up their practice, students left colleges and schools and thousands of the city-bred went into the
villages to spread the message of non-cooperation with the prevailing tyrant rulers.
Gandhi led a simple and saintly life, praying, fasting and meditating. He abstained from earthly pleasures and lived on fruits, vegetables and goat’s milk. People from around the world began to respect his undying faith in non-violence and he came to be known as Mahatma - THE GREAT SOUL. This great soul believed that the British exploitation had led to poverty in Indian villages.
“The manufacture of traditional Indian goods should be encouraged! " he suggested.