How Long Did Gandhi Fast (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 to 21 days

During India’s independence campaign, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi and called “The Father of the Nation” unofficially, fasted for 18 days. His longest fasts were 21 days in length.

A 21-day fast to purify himself and overcome his dissatisfaction with the practice of untouchability. He was released from jail after a few days and proceeded to fast for the remaining 21 days.

How Long Did Gandhi Fast

How Long Did Gandhi Fast?

Reasons for fastingDuration
Political reform,19393 days
Unity fast, 192421 days

According to Gandhi, “fasting” means that if people develop the practice of ignoring information that they believe is used for unworthy purposes, such fasts will be free of pressure and undue influence.

Gandhi notably went on a hunger strike several times between 1913 and 1948. These fasts were of various lengths, ranging from three to four days to up to three weeks. He fasted in a variety of locations, including South Africa, India’s many towns, jail, and his own house.

He fasted for a variety of causes, including resistance to violent independence movement protests, support for the “untouchables,” and rejection of the British constitutional plan for caste divisions, Hindu-Muslim unity, and sectarian rioting. His fasts were met with varied outcomes.

Why Did Gandhi Fast For So Long?

During India’s liberation struggle, the Father of the Nation fasted 18 times. Gandhi employed fasting as a weapon as part of his Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) philosophy. Many people were harmed or died as a result of the incident. Gandhi and Congress were unable to keep the crowd under control. Gandhi began fasting to exert significant moral pressure on the mill owners, which had the desired effect of restoring order.

The Mahatma had developed a fasting habit. He would drink warm water with lemon juice and honey before going on one. No matter how queasy or low he felt, he would drink water throughout the day, occasionally with salt or lemon juice. To compensate for the energy loss, he would sleep longer than normal.

He was able to evoke specific acts from other political players at times, such as the British plan for caste separation being withdrawn; at other times, he had to end his fast without achieving anything quick and meaningful.

Fasting was a non-instrumental act of standing for the Truth, the truth of the cause of self-rule, in each case, and whatever the specific goals of Gandhi’s fasts were. As a result, he was able to build a direct relationship with thousands of people through his hunger strikes, who became his ardent fans, admirers, and fellow satyagrahis. He had an uncanny ability to connect with their “hearts.”

After a six-day hunger strike and a ‘fast unto death,’ he convinced the British to overturn the Community Award regulations in September, while still in prison. Gandhi, who went on 18 fasts ranging from one to 21 days, utilized them, along with a variety of other acts of civil disobedience, to effect change.

Mahatma Gandhi spent 21 days without eating in the 1940s, living only on infrequent sips of water in one of the world’s great acts of civil disobedience. At the time, Gandhi was in his mid-70s and as frail as a reed. But he made it through this hunger strike, by no means his first, with no apparent injury.

He urged Indians to boycott British goods and notably marched 240 miles to the sea to illegally produce salt in 1930. Before World War I, Gandhi began his political involvement in South Africa while practicing as a lawyer there. He thought that “Indianness” transcended religion and caste. He urged his supporters to violate discriminatory legislation and to bear the consequences without retaliating violently.


Gandhi was a Hindu by birth, yet he interpreted Hinduism in his way. While retaining his Hindu origins, he encouraged engagement with other religions, particularly Christian beliefs.

Although there is no fixed time limit for water fasting, medical advice normally recommended that you go without meals for at least 24 hours and up to three days. People have fasted for spiritual or religious purposes throughout history.



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