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Ever wondered why Mahatma Gandhi is called 'Bapu'? Here's the answer

Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence

Mahatma Gandhi

File Image: Mahatma Gandhi

Sentinel Digital Desk

Guwahati: Who is called 'Bapu'? The answer that immediately comes to mind is: Mahatma Gandhi. Bapu (father) is an word that is usually associated with the great Indian freedom fighter Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He is also known as the 'Mahatma' and 'Father of the Nation'.

There are several interesting accounts as to how M K Gandhi got his various sobriquets. Bapu is what traditional people in India (including Gujarat, Gandhiji's home state) call the beloved figure.

Although students across India are taught that Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore gave Gandhiji the title of 'Mahatma', the Gujarat government says that the title was actually given by an anonymous journalist from Saurashtra.

According to the Oxford dictionary, Bapu is defined as: "A father (often as a form of address)".'Bapu' was a polite form of address given to him considering his age, position and wisdom by his near and dear ones and later became one of the sobriquets used for him along with Mahatma and Father of the Nation.

Indeed, Gandhi in his signature robe and a walking stick became synonymous with the word "father" during the years of the freedom struggle, with the entire nation.

Who termed Mahatma Gandhi as 'Rashtrapita' for the first time?

Much before the Constitution of Free India conferred the title of the Father of the Nation upon the Mahatma, it was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who first addressed him as such in his condolence message to the Mahatma on the demise of his wife Kasturba.

How Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi came to be known as ''Mahatma'?

After Gandhi's return from South Africa, the founder of Ayurvedic pharmacy Rasasala Jivram Shastri, who was also royal physician of the erstwhile princely State Gondal, first time termed Gandhi as 'Mahatma' with reference to the historic movement against apartheid in South Africa from 1908 to 1914.

The title was conferred to Gandhi at a grand reception herd at Rasasala on January 27, 1915. Later, nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and many others, also termed the great freedom fighter as 'Mahatma' resulting in the word becoming synomymous with Gandhi's name.

Although students across India are taught that Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore gave Gandhiji the title of 'Mahatma', the Gujarat government says that the title was actually given by an anonymous journalist from Saurashtra.

However, there are conflicting reports on how he got the title, 'Mahatma' is a word that shall remain etched in the collective Indian consciousness as belonging to the great Indian freedom fighter, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

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