Gandhi believed that his taking the vow of brahmacharya had allowed him the focus to come up with the concept of satyagraha in late 1906. In the very simplest sense, satyagraha is passive resistance. However, Gandhi believed the English phrase of passive resistance did not represent the true spirit of Indian resistance since passive resistance was often thought to be used by the weak and was a tactic that could potentially be conducted in anger.
Needing a new term for the Indian resistance, Gandhi chose the term satyagraha, which literally means truth force. Since Gandhi believed that exploitation was only possible if both the exploited and the exploiter accepted it, if one could see above the current situation and see the universal truth, then one had the power to make change. (Truth, in this manner, could mean natural right, a right granted by nature and the universe that should not be impeded on by man.)
In practice, satyagraha was a focused and forceful nonviolent resistance to a particular injustice. A satyagrahi (a person using satyagraha) would resist the injustice by refusing to follow an unjust law. In doing so, he would not be angry, would put up freely with physical assaults to his person and the confiscation of his property, and would not use foul language to smear his opponent. A practitioner of satyagraha also would never take advantage of an opponents problems. The goal was not for there to be a winner and loser of the battle, but rather, that all would eventually see and understand the truth and agree to rescind the unjust law.
The first time Gandhi officially used satyagraha was in South Africa beginning in 1907 when he organized opposition to the Asiatic Registration Law (known as the Black Act). In March 1907, the Black Act was passed, requiring all Indians - young and old, men and women - to get fingerprinted and to keep registration documents on them at all times. While using satyagraha, Indians refused to get fingerprinted and picketed the documentation offices. Mass protests were organized, miners went on strike, and masses of Indians illegally traveled from Natal to the Transvaal in opposition to the Black Act. Many of the protesters were beaten and arrested, including Gandhi. (This was the first of Gandhis many jail sentences.) It took seven years of protest, but in June 1914, the Black Act was repealed. Gandhi had proved that nonviolent protest could be immensely successful.