In Jan 1948, the flag of the United Nations is lowered to half-staff in honor of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Indian leader known as Mahatma, which is Sanskrit for "a great soul." Many historians have called him the most powerful man of the twentieth century. Gandhi, who was born in Porbunder, India on 2 Oct 1869, studies law in England, where he becomes familiar with texts that will greatly influence his life, the Bahavad Gita --the book of books--and Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount.” Gandhi particularly comes to admire one tenant of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Gandhi and his wife Kasturba move to South Africa, where he becomes a successful lawyer, often fighting against discrimination. After becoming famous for his espousal of non-violence, Gandhi returns to India in 1915. Now preferring to wear the simple, loincloth garment that will become his trademark, Gandhi preaches to large crowds, who are drawn to his non-violent message. He soon begins the Satyagraha Ashram for followers who embrace his philosophy. Troubles between Indians and the British, who have ruled India since the mid-eighteenth century, result in the death of over 300 non-violent protesters. Gandhi is jailed by the British, but sends words of peace to his followers. In 1925, Gandhi establishes the All-India Spinners’ Association and encourages a “home spinning” movement, intended to free Indians from reliance upon foreign-produced cloth. Gandhi feels that only by contemplation and participation in simple tasks such as spinning cloth, can man achieve true peace. Throughout the 1920s, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru gather with other Indian leaders, attempting to plot out eventual self-rule through the granting of Dominion Status by Great Britain. In 1930, in protest of the British government’s tax on salt, Gandhi, accompanied by seventy-nine of his followers, begins a walk to the sea. Along the way, tens of thousands join the march. On 5 Apr 1930, when Gandhi and his followers reach Dandi, on the coast, he is the first man to take water from the sea to make salt, but others quickly follow suit. Over French and American protests, Gandhi is imprisoned by the British for violating laws against making salt. Soon Nehru and other Indian leaders are also arrested. More than 100,000 are eventually imprisoned, all following Gandhi’s philosophy, “reject the act but do not harm the man.” In Jan 1931, all are released after the British acquiesce and allow Indians to distill salt. Gandhi is the only Indian leader invited to England for a round table conference to discuss Dominion Status for India. He travels to England, refusing all offers of luxurious accommodations, and continues his spinning. Although he is mobbed by crowds of admirers, results of the conference are not promising, and Gandhi returns home after visiting other countries in Europe. Now affectionately called “Baba,” father, by his followers, Gandhi is again arrested after embracing the "untouchables," who are not Hindi. He goes on a six-day fast, which is only broken when Indians, who fear he is near death, embrace the untouchables. Throughout the 1930s, people from around the world flock to see Gandhi. When Britain enters the war in 1939, Gandhi supports the British, fearing Nazi and Japanese aggression. In 1943, Gandhi is again arrested after the British refuse to discuss independence until after the war, and the slogan “Quit India” becomes popular throughout the country. By 1944, Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife of sixty-two years, has died and he has become very frail. After the war, Gandhi is willing to accept British terms of independence, but clashes between Hindi and Muslims violently escalate. Hoping to stop the killing, Gandhi goes to the Muslims. Eventually, the riots stop and Muslims are granted a separate state, Pakistan, but many Hindi are against the separate state. In early 1948, a newly independent India establishes a constitution along American and Swiss models, with a new flag featuring a spinning wheel. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, helps with the transition, enabling the British to leave as friends, rather than enemies. Hoping to unite his divided people, Gandhi goes on a final fast. On Friday, 30 Jan 1948, Gandhi is shot to death while walking to a meeting of the country’s leaders. His death leads to a deep mourning in India. His body is burned for fourteen hours and his ashes are placed in urns that are sent throughout India and the world. In India, an urn placed at the meeting of the rivers is poured into the water as planes drop rose petals overhead.