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Gandhi and his spinning wheel: The story behind a famous photo
On Gandhi's 145th birthday, LIFE is sharing the story of one of the most famous photos of the pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience, including other pictures that never made it into the magazine. The photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White in 1946 did not appear in the article for which it was originally shot for, but instead as a small image atop an article focusing on Gandhi’s fascination with “nature cures” for the sick. After Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, the photo was given prominent placement in a multi-page tribute of him, serving as a visual eulogy to the man and his ideals. In notes that Bourke-White sent from India to LIFE’s New York offices in 1946, she wrote that “spinning is raised to the heights almost of a religion with Gandhi and his followers." Click for more on the story behind this photo from LIFE.com.
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Gandhi

Caption from LIFE: "At 76, the Mahatma is in good physical condition. He weighs 110 pounds, but he is not so frail as he looks."
(Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE)

Gandhi

1946: Mohandas Gandhi with his secretary, Pyarelal Nayyar.
(Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE)

Gandhi

1946: Mohandas Gandhi stands near his nephew Kanu (right) and his wife Abha, as his secretaries (left to right) Sushila Pai, Raj Kumari and Pyarelal Nayyar sit at his feet during a twilight prayer meeting.
(Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE)

Gandhi

Caption from LIFE: "Surrounded by his adoring disciples, Gandhi goes walking each morning. Here he is supported by his granddaughter Sita (left) and daughter-in-law Abha (right)."
(Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE)

Gandhi

1946: Mohandas Gandhi (center, top) seated on bed-like platform at start of evening prayers.
(Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE)

Gandhi and his spinning wheel: The story behind a famous photo

On Gandhi's 145th birthday, LIFE is sharing the story of one of the most famous photos of the pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience, including other pictures that never made it into the magazine. The photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White in 1946 did not appear in the article for which it was originally shot for, but instead as a small image atop an article focusing on Gandhi’s fascination with “nature cures” for the sick. After Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, the photo was given prominent placement in a multi-page tribute of him, serving as a visual eulogy to the man and his ideals. In notes that Bourke-White sent from India to LIFE’s New York offices in 1946, she wrote that “spinning is raised to the heights almost of a religion with Gandhi and his followers." Click for more on the story behind this photo from LIFE.com.

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