Many households burnt their foreign clothes and started humming the spinning wheel like a sacrificial chant.
Gandhi launched the Swaraj (self-ruling) Movement. In 1921, the Indian National Congress acknowledged Gandhi’s ceaseless struggle and gave him complete executive authority. But he was arrested in 1922 and jailed for his propaganda against the British Rule. While in prison, Gandhi devoted more time in prayers, studies and on the spinning wheel.
Suddenly, in January 1924 he fell seriously ill with acute appendicitis. He was admitted to a hospital in Poona where a British surgeon performed the operation. Later, he was released on the health grounds.
But coming out of the prison, Gandhi felt deeply sad. The whole social scenario had changed. When Gandhi had been arrested, there was a wave of Hindu-Muslim unity. But now the two communities had drifted apart. There were communal riots in several places.
Gandhi went on a fast, saying, “I shall atone for the sins of my people. God has been dethroned. Let’s reinstate Him in our hearts."
He continued his fast for twenty-one days. And it had considerable affect on the hearts of people. Many of them vowed to give up their violent ways.
For tire next five years, Gandhi retired from active politics and worked for the national needs, like Hindu-Muslim unity, removal of untouchability, equality of women, popularization of hand-spinning and the reconstruction of village economy.
“I am interested in freeing India from the English yoke. And social and economic freedom must go together, " he would say.
In 1930, Gandhi launched a new campaign of CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE and urged the Indian people to avoid paying taxes on salt. On March 12 that year, Gandhi duly informed the Viceroy and began his historic 24-day march from his ashram at Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea at Dandi to make his own salt. This was the famous Dandi March. The members of his ashram, both men and women, followed him. This unarmed man of God marched 241 miles and the villagers from miles around joined him on his way. It showed that the nation was set aflame. Early in the morning of April 6, after prayers, he went to the beach and picked up a little lump of salt left by the waves.
After Gandhi’s initiative, there was a nationwide defiance of the law.
On the midnight of May 4, Gandhi was arrested. Within a few weeks about a hundred thousand men and women were in jail, throwing mighty machinery of the British Government out of gear.