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Mohandas Gandhi at his spinning wheel, 1946
Not published in LIFE. In 1946, Mohandas Gandhi sits next to a spinning wheel, a device used to make yarn or thread; the now-famous image came to symbolize the notion of Indian self-sufficiency — and thus independence from British rule.Margaret Bourke-White—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Mohandas Gandhi at his spinning wheel, 1946
Mohandas Gandhi ends his last fast, 1948
Gandhi ends his final fast in 1948
Mohandas Gandhi works at his spinning wheel
In 1946, an array of sandals and shoes lie outside the doorway of the flat occupied by Gandhi's personal secretary.
Sita Gandhi, a granddaughter of Gandhi, is seen at the Gandhi Colony compound in 1946.
Picture of 13-year-old Tara Gandhi, Gandhi's granddaughter
Hindu workers make a khus khus (a large screen) for Mohandas Gandhi's bungalow.
Hindu men and women crowd around gray-bearded Anis Ahmed, a Muslim maulana (scholar),
Gandhi, center, is shown walking with family members and an official (in suit) from the Friend's Ambulance Unit -- an international organization focused on famine relief -- in 1946.
An Indian street vendor sells Gandhi figures in 1946.
The wife of Indian activist and political leader Jai Prakash Narain departs with her child from Gandhi's nature clinic in 1946.
In 1946, Gandhi (seated on a bed at top) leads evening prayers surrounded by his devoted disciples and followers.
Mohandas Gandhi's body lies in state, 1948
Mourners crowd the street below a terrace displaying the body of Gandhi after his assassination in New Delhi in 1946.
Mohandas Gandhi's funeral, 1948
Mourners climb a telephone pole to observe Mohandas Gandhi's funeral procession in January 1948.
Mourners gather around wood stacked for Mohandas Gandhi's funeral pyre in 1948.
Gandhi’s son set his funeral pyre aflame on the banks of New Delhi’s holy Jumna River, 1948
Not published in LIFE. In 1946, Mohandas Gandhi sits next to a spinning wheel, a device used to make yarn or thread; the
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Margaret Bourke-White—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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Gandhi: Quiet Scenes From a Revolutionary Life

Oct 15, 2014

In a celebrated career spanning decades, LIFE photographer Margaret Bourke-White fearlessly documented countless facets of the human experience, from the aspirational (the building of Montana's monumental Fort Peck Dam) to the barbaric (Nazi concentration camps). Her trailblazing assignments, for LIFE and as a freelancer, ranged from stories about the Soviet Union in the late 1920s to a riveting feature on segregation in the American South in the 1950s. She was the first woman photographer to fly on bombing runs into Germany during World War II. And on and on and on.

Bourke-White was also, it turns out, a friend to—as well as a close chronicler of the extraordinary life of—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It's hardly surprising, really, that Bourke-White would be drawn to a figure like Gandhi. After all, for her entire career, she focused her lens on the human side of any issue—no matter how savage or unsettling the subject matter—and Gandhi's emphasis on liberty and dignity in the face of brutal resistance and oppression spoke directly to her own passion for both justice and adventure.

Here, including many pictures never published in LIFE, are some of Bourke-White's most revealing, intimate glimpses of the spiritual leader and revolutionary thinker known to generations of Hindus as the "Great Soul."

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