Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948), commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi (Sanskrit: महात्मा mahātmā "Great Soul"). In India he is generally regarded as Bapu (Gujarati: બાપુ bāpu "father"), Jathi Pitha and Raashtra Pita; he was an advocate and pioneer of nonviolent social protest and direct action in the form he called Satyagraha. He led the struggle for India's independence from British colonial rule.
- 1 1890s
- 2 1900s
- 3 1910s
- 4 1920s
- 5 1930s
- 6 1940s
- 7 Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
- 8 The Message of Jesus Christ
- 9 Disputed
- 10 Misattributed
- 11 Quotes about Gandhi
- 12 References
- 13 External links
- Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.
- Address given in Bombay (26 September 1896), Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 1, p. 410 (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes.
- One thing we have endeavoured to observe most scrupulously, namely, never to depart from the strictest facts and, in dealing with the difficult questions that have arisen during the year, we hope that we have used the utmost moderation possible under the circumstances. Our duty is very simple and plain. We want to serve the community, and in our own humble way to serve the Empire. We believe in the righteousness of the cause, which it is our privilege to espouse. We have an abiding faith in the mercy of the Almighty God, and we have firm faith in the British Constitution. That being so, we should fail in our duty if we wrote anything with a view to hurt. Facts we would always place before our readers, whether they are palatable or not, and it is by placing them constantly before the public in their nakedness that the misunderstanding between the two communities in South Africa can be removed.
- Indian Opinion (1 October 1903)
- Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension. Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.
- Letter to Dr. Porter, Medical Officer of Health for Johannesburg (15 February 1905); later published in The Indian Opinion.
- In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the native. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?
- Comments on a court case in The Indian Opinion (25 March 1905)
- You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians or coloured people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams.
- Comments on a court case in The Indian Opinion (2 June 1906)
- A general belief seems to prevail in the colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than the savages or natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.
- During his time in South Africa from The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol I, p. 150
- Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.
- "My Experience in Gaol", Indian Opinion (7 March 1908). Also: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, op cit., Vol. 8, p. 199.
- Leo Tolstoy's life has been devoted to replacing the method of violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of nonresistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in selfsuffering. He admits of no exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind.
- Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu, Indian opinion, 25 December, (1909)
- We are our own slaves, not of the British. This should be engraved on our minds. The whites cannot remain if we do not want them. If the idea is to drive them out with firearms, let every Indian consider what precious little profit Europe has found in these.
- Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu, Indian opinion, 25 December, (1909)
Hind Swaraj (1908)
- In reality there are as many religions as there are individuals.
- The English have taught us that we were not one nation before and that it will reaquire centuries before we become one nation. This is without foundation. We were one nation before they came to India. One thought inspired us. Our mode of life was the same. It was because we were one nation that they were able to establish one kingdom.
- One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.
- Sect. 1
- I believe that the civilization India evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestors, Rome went, Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become Westernized; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation. The people of Europe learn their lessons from the writings of the men of Greece or Rome, which exist no longer in their former glory. In trying to learn from them, the Europeans imagine that they will avoid the mistakes of Greece and Rome. Such is their pitiable condition. In the midst of all this India remains immovable and that is her glory. It is a charge against India that her people are so uncivilized, ignorant and stolid, that it is not possible to induce them to adopt any changes. It is a charge really against our merit. What we have tested and found true on the anvil of experience, we dare not change. Many thrust their advice upon India, and she remains steady. This is her beauty: it is the sheet-anchor of our hope.
Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. To observe morality is to attain mastery over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves. The Gujarati equivalent for civilization means “good conduct”.
- Sect. 13
- Variant translations: I believe that the civilisation into which India has evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestry. Rome went; Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become westernised; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation.
Greece, Egypt, Rome — all have been erased from this world, yet we continue to exist. There is something in us, that our character never ceases from the face of this world, defying global hostility for centuries.
- Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.
- Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13 ( 3 May 1919)
- [I]t is not true that we shall necessarily progress if our political conditions undergo a change, irrespectively of the manner in which it is brought about. If the means employed are impure, the change will not be in the direction of progress but very likely in the opposite.
- As quoted in Gandhi’s Experiments With Truth: Essential Writings by and about Mahatma Gandhi, Richard L. Johnson (edit), Lexington Books (2006) p. 118. Original source: Forward to volume of Gokhale’s speeches, Gopal Krishna Gokahalenan Vyakhyanao, 1, 1916
- The indirect influence of Christianity has been to quicken Hinduism to life. The cultured Hindu society has admitted its grievous sin against the untouchables. But the effect of Christianity upon India in general must be judged by the life lived in our midst by the average Christian and its effect upon us. I am sorry to have to re record my opinion that it has been disastrous. It pains me to have to say that the Christian missionaries as a body, with honourable exceptions, have actively supported a system which has impoverished, enervated and demoralised a people considered to be among the gentlest and most civilized on earth...
- Mahatma Gandhi. Collected Works, Volume 24, New Delhi, 1967, p. 476. Young India of July 13, 1924.
- It is not possible to make a person or society non-violent by compulsion.
- Young India (Sept. 13, 1928). All Men Are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections, compiled and edited by Krishna Kripalani, The Continuum, (2011) p. 34
- I came in contact with every known Indian anarchist in London. Their bravery impressed me, but I felt that their zeal was misguided. I felt that violence was no remedy for India's ills, and that her civilisation required the use of a different and higher weapon for self-protection.
- "A Word of Explanation" on his work Hind Swaraj (1908) in Young India (January 1921)
- Under democracy individual liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded.
- Young India, (March 2, 1922)
- In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
- Young India, (August 4, 1920)
- No action which is not voluntary can be called moral.
- Ethical Religion, S. Ganesan, Madras (1922) p. 8
- Any action that is dictated by fear or by coercion of any kind ceases to be moral.
- Ethical Religion, S. Ganesan, Madras (1922) p. 8
- If India adopted the doctrine of love as an active part of her religion and introduced it in her politics. Swaraj would descend upon India from heaven. But I am painfully aware that that event is far off as yet.
- "A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)
- There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free we are slaves.
- Young India (December 15, 1921)
- I have even seen the writings suggesting that I am playing a deep game, that I am using the present turmoil to foist my fads on India, and am making religious experiments at India's expense. I can only answer that Satyagraha is made of sterner stuff. There is nothing reserved and nothing secret in it.
- "A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)
- I claim that in losing the spinning wheel we lost our left lung. We are, therefore, suffering from galloping consumption. The restoration of the wheel arrests the progress of the fell disease.
- [R]eal Swaraj will come, not by the acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be attained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.
- Young India (Jan. 29, 1925) p. 41
- A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
- In Ethical Religion, (Madras: S. Ganesan, 1922), p. 62
- The only tyrant I accept in this world is the "still small voice" within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.
- If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should feel free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite violence.
- Statement during his trial for "exciting disaffection toward His Majesty's Government as established by law in India" (18 March 1922) [specific citation needed]
- Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
- Opening words of his defense speech at his trial Young India (23 March 1922)
- Always believe in your dreams, because if you don't, you'll still have hope.
- Young India (23 March 1924)
- I wanted to know the best of the life of one (Muhammad) who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.
- Young India (23 September 1924) Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.29, "My Jail experiences", p. 133
- Some of my corresponents seem to think that I can work wonders. Let me say as a devotee of truth that I have no such gift. All the power I may have comes from God. But He does not work directly. He works through His numberless agencies. In this case it is the Congress.
- From Young India (8 October 1924). Quoted in Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi (1945), edited by Jag Parvesh Chander, Indian Printing Works, page 242.
- Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.
- A list closing an article in Young India (22 October 1925); Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. 33 (PDF) p. 135
- Variant: The seven blunders that human society commits and cause all the violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles.
- A written list given to his departing grandson Arun Gandhi (October 1947), as quoted in Marriot (Spring 1998). Some alternative or erroneous translations exist that use intros "There are seven sins in the world:", "Seven Blunders of the world:", "The things that will destroy us are", and items "politics without principle", "education without character", or "business without morality".
- The list was originally written by a Socialist clergyman in England in March 1925 and was passed along to Gandhi, who published it later that year, as detailed in this article.
- The cry for peace will be a cry in the wilderness, so long as the spirit of nonviolence does not dominate millions of men and women.
An armed conflict between nations horrifies us. But the economic war is no better than an armed conflict. This is like a surgical operation. An economic war is prolonged torture. And its ravages are no less terrible than those depicted in the literature on war properly so called. We think nothing of the other because we are used to its deadly effects. …
The movement against war is sound. I pray for its success. But I cannot help the gnawing fear that the movement will fail if it does not touch the root of all evil — man's greed.
- "Non-Violence — The Greatest Force" in The World Tomorrow (5 October 1926)
- For me the only training in Swaraj we need is the ability to defend ourselves against the whole world and to live our natural life in perfect freedom, even though it may be full of defects. Good government is no substitute for self-government.
- Young India (2-9-1920) p. 1
- Self-government means continuous effort to be independent of government control, whether it is foreign government or whether it is national. Swaraj government will be a sorry affair if people look up for the regulation of every detail of life.
- Young India (6-8-1925) p. 276
- I have been known as a crank, faddist, madman. Evidently the reputation is well deserved. For wherever I go, I draw to myself cranks, faddists, and madmen.
- Young India (13 June 1929); also in All Men Are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections (2005) edited by Krishna Kripalani, p. 163
- The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- "Interview to the Press" in Karachi about the execution of Bhagat Singh (23 March 1931); published in Young India (2 April 1931), reprinted in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Online Vol. 51. Gandhi begins by making a statement on his failure "to bring about the commutation of the death sentence of Bhagat Singh and his friends." He is asked two questions. First: "Do you not think it impolitic to forgive a government which has been guilty of a thousand murders?" Gandhi replies: "I do not know a single instance where forgiveness has been found so wanting as to be impolitic." In a follow-up question, Gandhi is asked: "But no country has ever shown such forgiveness as India is showing to Britain?" Gandhi replies: "That does not affect my reply. What is true of individuals is true of nations. One cannot forgive too much. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
- An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.
- Young India 1924-1926 (1927), p. 1285
- I’m a lover of my own liberty, and so I would do nothing to restrict yours. I simply want to please my own conscience, which is God.
- Young India (21 January 1927)
- For one man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.
- Young India (27 January 1927)
- I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.
- Young India (19 January 1928)
- My ambition is much higher than independence. Through the deliverance of India, I seek to deliver the so-called weaker races of the Earth from the crushing heels of Western exploitation in which England is the greatest partner.
- Young India (12 January 1928). Quoted in The Essential Writings of Gandhi, edited by Judith Brown. Oxford University Press, 2008, (p. 153).
The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
- In this age of the rule of brute force, it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that anyone else could possibly reject the law of final supremacy of brute force. And so I receive anonymous letters advising me that I must not interfere with the progress of non-co-operation even though popular violence may break out. Others come to me and assuming that secretly I must be plotting violence, inquire when the happy moment for declaring open violence to arrive. They assure me that English never yield to anything but violence secret or open. Yet others I am informed, believe that I am the most rascally person living in India because I never give out my real intention and that they have not a shadow of a doubt that I believe in violence just as much as most people do.
Such being the hold that the doctrine of the sword has on the majority of mankind, and as success of non-co-operation depends principally on absence of violence during its pendency and as my views in this matter affect the conduct of large number of people. I am anxious to state them as clearly as possible.
I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I would advise violence.
- I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.
But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish, it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. … I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India's and my strength for better purpose.
Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
- We in India may in moment realize that one hundred thousand Englishmen need not frighten three hundred million human beings. A definite forgiveness would therefore mean a definite recognition of our strength. … I must not refrain from a saying that India can gain more by waiving the right of punishment. We have better work to do, a better mission to deliver to the world.
I am not a visionary. I claim to be a practical idealist. The religion of nonviolence is not meant merely for the Rishis and saints. It is meant for the common people as well. Nonviolence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law — to the strength of the spirit.
- Nonviolence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not means meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the putting of one's whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of being , it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honor, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for the empire's fall or its regeneration.
And so I am not pleading for India to practice nonviolence because it is weak. I want her to practice nonviolence being conscious of her strength and power. No training in arms is required for realization of her strength. We seem to need it because we seem to think that we are but a lump of flesh. I want India to recognize that she has a soul that cannot perish and that can rise triumphant above every physical weakness and defy the physical combination of a whole world.
- I invite even the school of violence to give this peaceful non-co-operation a trial. It will not fail through its inherent weakness. It may fail because of poverty of response. Then will be one time for real danger. The high-souled men, who are unable to suffer national humiliation any longer, will want to vent their wrath. They will take to violence.
- I am wedded to India because I owe my all to her. I believe absolutely that she has a mission for the world. She is not to copy Europe blindly, India's acceptance of the doctrine of the sword will be the hour of my trial. I hope I shall not be found wanting. My religion has no geographical limits. If I have a living faith in it, it will transcend my love for India herself. My life is dedicated to service of India through the religion of nonviolence which I believed to be the root of Hinduism.
Meanwhile I urge those who distrust me, not to disturb the even working of the struggle that has just commenced, by inciting to violence in the belief that I want violence I detest secrecy as a sin. Let them give nonviolence non co-operation a trial and they will find that I had no mental reservation whatsoever.
An Autobiography (1927)
- An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1927) These should eventually have citation by translation, edition, and section or page numbers
- It is not my purpose to attempt a real autobiography. I simply want to tell the story of my experiments with truth...as my life consists of nothing but those experiments.
- In judging myself I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be. Measuring myself by that standard I must exclaim with Surdas: ' Where is there a wretch So wicked and loathsome as I? I have forsaken my Maker, So faithless have I been.' For it is an unbroken torture to me that I am still so far from him, who, as I fully know, governs every breath of my life, and whose offspring I am. I know that it is the evil passions within that keep me so far from Him, and yet I cannot get away from them.
- I am a Hindu by birth. And yet I do not know much of Hinduism, and I know less of other religions. In fact I do not know where I am, and what is and what should be my belief. I intend to make a careful study of my own religion and, as far as I can, of other religions as well.
- Part II: First Day in Pretoria
- Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.
- From a leaflet urging Indians to serve with the British Army in World War I, Part V, Chapter 27, Recruiting Campaign
- Jealousy does not wait for reasons.
- Part I, Chapter 4, Playing the Husband
- Nothing is impossible for pure love.
- Part I, Chapter 4, Playing the Husband
- I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education.
- Part I, Chapter 5, At the High School
- That is why a thinker like Thoreau said that ‘that government is the best which governs the least.’ This means that when people come into possession of political power, the interference with the freedom of people is reduced to a minimum. In other words, a nation that runs its affairs smoothly and effectively without much State interference is truly democratic. Where such a condition is absent, the form of government is democratic in name.
- Harijan, (Nov. 1. 1936). M.K. Gandhi, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol-62, New Delhi: Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India (1975) p. 92
- Every Hindu boy and girl should possess sound Sanskrit learning.
- Part I, Chapter 5, At the High School
- It is now my opinion that in all Indian curricula of higher education there should be a place for Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and English, besides of course the vernacular.
- Part I, Chapter 5, At the High School
- Today I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.
- Part I, Chapter 5, At the High School
- A man of truth must also be a man of care.
- Part I, Chapter 5, At the High School
- About this time, I heard of a well known Hindu having been converted to Christianity. It was the talk of the town that, when he was baptized, he had to eat beef and drink liquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in European costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religion that compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change one's own clothes did not deserve the name. I also heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors, their customs and their country. All these things created in me a dislike for Christianity.
- Part I, Chapter 10, Glimpses of Religion
- One golden rule is to accept the interpretation honestly put on the pledge by the party administering it.
- Part I, Chapter 17, Experiments in Dietetics
- A convert's enthusiasm for his new religion is greater than that of a person who is born in it.
- Part I, Chapter 17, Experiments in Dietetics
- Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.
- Part I, Chapter 21, 'Nirbal Ke Bala Rama'
- Selfishness is blind.
- Part II, Chapter 4, The First Shock
- My joy was boundless. I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men’s hearts. I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby - not even money, certainly not my soul.
- Part II, Chapter 14, Preparation for the Case
- But all my life though, the very insistence on truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise. I saw in later life that this spirit was an essential part of Satyagraha. It has often meant endangering my life and incurring the displeasure of friends. But truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom.
- Part II, Chapter 18, Colour Bar
- I had learnt at the onset not to carry on public work with borrowed money.
- Part II, Chapter 19, Natal Indian Congress
- "Hate the sin and not the sinner" is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world... Man and his deed are two distinct things. It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking one-self. For we are all tarred with the same brush and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being, but with him, the whole world.
- In reference to the Christian precept that God "hates sin but loves the sinner". Part IV, Chapter 9, A Tussle with Power. pp. 230-231. Also quoted in The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas (2012), p. 83
- My uniform experience has convinced me that there is no other God than Truth.
- Farewell, p. 453
- To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.
Identification with everything that lives is impossible without self-purification; without self-purification the observance of the law of Ahimsa must remain an empty dream; God can never be realized by one who is not pure of heart. Self-purification therefore must mean purification in all the walks of life. And purification being highly infectious, purification of oneself necessarily leads to the purification of one's surroundings.
But the path of self-purification is hard and steep. To attain to perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech and action; to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion. I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it. That is why the world's praise fails to move me, indeed it very often stings me. To conquer the subtle passions seems to me to be harder far than the physical conquest of the world by the force of arms. Ever since my return to India I have had experiences of the dormant passions lying hidden within me. The knowledge of them has made me feel humiliated though not defeated. The experiences and experiments have sustained me and given me great joy. But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him. Ahimsa is the farthest limit of humility.
- Farewell, p. 454
- To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?
- Young India (4 October 1930)
- By its very nature, non-violence cannot ‘seize’ power, nor can that be its goal. But non-violence can do more; it can effectively control and guide power without capturing the machinery of government. That is its beauty.
- Young India (Feb. 7, 1931) p. 162
- I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest number. It means in its nakedness that in order to achieve the supposed good of 51 per cent the interests of 49 per cent may be, or rather, should be sacrificed. It is a heartless doctrine and has done harm to humanity.
- The Dairy of Mahadev Desai, (June 4, 1932) p. 149
- I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of the progress. We know of so many cases where men have adopted trusteeship, but none where the State has really lived for the poor.
- Modern Review (October, 1935) p. 412. Interview with Nirmal Kumar Bose (9/10 November 1934)
- On all occasions of trial He has saved me. I know that the phrase 'God saved me' has a deeper meaning for me today, and still I feel that I have not yet grasped its entire meaning. Only richer experience can help me to a fuller understanding.
But in all my trials — of a spiritual nature, as a lawyer, in conducting institutions, and in politics — I can say that God saved me. When every hope is gone, 'when helpers fail and comforts flee', I experience that help arrives somehow, from I know not where.
- Young India (24 April 1931), p. 274
- It is my firm conviction that if the State suppressed capitalism by violence, it will be caught in the coils of violence itself, and fail to develop non-violence at any time. The state represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The Individual has a soul, but as the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence.
- Modern Review (October, 1935) p. 412. Interview with Nirmal Kumar Bose (9/10 November 1934)
- Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.
- Young India (12 March 1931), p. 31
- It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.
- Young India (24 September 1931); also in Teachings Of Mahatma Gandhi (1945), edited by Jag Parvesh Chander, p. 458 archive.org
- England has got successful competitors in America, Japan, France, Germany. It has competitors in the handful of mills in India, and as there has been an awakening in India, even so there will be an awakening in South Africa with its vastly richer resources — natural , mineral and human. The mighty English look quite pigmies before the mighty races of Africa. They are noble savages after all, you will say. They are certainly noble, but no savages and in the course of a few years the Western nations may cease to find in Africa a dumping ground for their wares.
- Statement at Oxford (24 October 1931), published in Young India Vol. 13 (1931), p. 355
- If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions. But we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.
- Young India (19 November 1931, p. 361)
- I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
- Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings by Dennis Dalton, ed., Hackett Publishing Company (1966) p. 43
- I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of peace.
- For me the voice of God, of Conscience, of Truth or the Inner Voice or ‘the still small Voice’ mean one and the same thing. I saw no form. I have never tried, for I have always believed God to be without form. One who realizes God is freed from sin for ever.... But what I did hear was like a Voice from afar and yet quite near. It was as unmistakable as some human voice definitely speaking to me, and irresistible. I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice. The hearing of the Voice was preceded by a terrific struggle within me. Suddenly the Voice came upon me. I listened, made certain that it was the Voice, and the struggle ceased. I was calm. The determination was made accordingly, the date and the hour of the fast were fixed.... Could I give any further evidence that it was truly the Voice that I heard and that it was not an echo of my own heated imagination? I have no further evidence to convince the sceptic. He is free to say that it was all self-delusion or hallucination. It may well have been so. I can offer no proof to the contrary. But I can say this — that not the unanimous verdict of the whole world against me could shake me from the belief that what I heard was the true voice of God.
- Harijan (1933, July 8); also in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Vol. 61), and in The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi (Prabhu and Rao, eds., 1967, pp. 33-34)
- Man's excellence lies in his readiness to let others live and lay down his own life. As he progresses, his food also changes for the better. He has the capacity to grow still further. There have been many more discoveries after Darwin's. The book which you have been reading seems to be an old one. Whether it is old or new, the "Principle of the greatest good of the greatest number," or "survival of the fittest" is false.
- In his Letter to Premabehn Kantak, in Collected Works, , Delhi. Ministry of Information (1969-94)., 50:309-10
- I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him.
- An Autobiography (1936); also in All Men Are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections (2005) edited by Krishna Kripalani, p. 63
- I am a lover of my own liberty and so I would do nothing to resist yours.
- As quoted Quote in Justice and Democracy (1997), edit., Ron Bontekoe and Marietta Stepaniants, University of Hawai’i Press, p. 233.
- It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace … Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man?
- Harijan (30 January 1937)
- If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.
- The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?
- Gandhi's Collected Works, Vol 74 (1938)
- Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs.
- Gandhi's Collected Works, Vol 74 (1938)
- Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. 
- Gandhi, An Autobiography, p. 446 (Beacon Press paperback edition)
- Political power, in my opinion, cannot be our ultimate aim. It is one of the means used by men for their all-round advancement. The power to control national life through national representatives is called political power. Representatives will become unnecessary if the national life becomes so perfect as to be self-controlled. It will then be a state of enlightened anarchy in which each person will become his own ruler. He will conduct himself in such a way that his behaviour will not hamper the well-being of his neighbours. In an ideal State there will be no political institution and therefore no political power. That is why Thoreau has said in his classic statement that "that government is the best which governs the least". [From Hindi] Sarvodaya, January, 1939
- The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi "Enlightened Anarchy - A Political Ideal" Volume 74 p. 380.
- I have always held that social justice, even to the least the lowliest, is impossible of attainment by force.
- Harijan (April 20, 1940) p. 97.
- It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
- Harijan (17 February 1940)
- My conception of freedom is no narrow conception. It is co-extensive with the freedom of man in all his majesty.
- Harijan (June 1942)
- The only thing lawful is non-violence. Violence can never be lawful in the sense meant here, i.e., not according to man-made laws, but according to the laws made by Nature for man.
- Harijan (27-10-1946) p. 369
- The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. ... Freedom and slavery are mental states. Therefore, the first thing to say to yourself: 'I shall no longer accept the role of a slave. I shall not obey orders as such but shall disobey them when they are in conflict with my conscience'."
- As quoted in The Politics Of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp, Porter Sargent Publishers (1973), p. 59
- Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.
- Harijan (July 28, 1949) p. 219
- [Government] control gives rise to fraud, suppression of truth, intensification of the black market and artificial scarcity. Above all, it unmans the people and deprives them of initiative, it undoes the teaching of self-help…It makes them spoon-fed.
- Delhi Diary (Nov. 3, 1947 entry), Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, (March 1948) pp. 68-70
- There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.
- Quotes of Gandhi, UBS Publishers, New Delhi (1995) p. 34. Originally in The Wisdom of Gandhi in His Own Words (1943 edition)
- I do not want to see the allies defeated. But I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed. Englishmen are showing the strength that Empire builders must have. I expect them to rise much higher than they seem to be doing.
- Letter to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, regarding the military situation between England and Germany (May 1940), quoted in Collected Works (1958), p. 70.
- No society can possibly be built upon a denial of individual freedom.It is contrary to the very nature of man. Just as a man will not grow horns or a tail, so will he not exist as man if he has no mind of his own. In reality even those who do not believe in the liberty of the individual believe in their own.
- Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict by Joan V. Bondurant (1965) University of California Press, Berkeley: CA, p. 174. Harijan, (Feb. 1942)
- ...a society organized and run on the basis of complete nonviolence would be the purest anarchy… That State is perfect and non-violent where the people are governed the least."
- Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict by Joan V. Bondurant (1965) University of California Press, Berkeley: CA, p. 174.
- I suggest that, if India is to evolve along nonviolent lines, it will have to decentralize many things. Centralization cannot be sustained and defended without adequate force . . .Centralization as a system is inconsistent with non-violent structure of society.
- Young India (Jan. 18, 1942) p. 5
- Whatever Hitler may ultimately prove to be, we know what Hitlerism has come to mean, It means naked, ruthless force reduced to an exact science and worked with scientific precision. In its effect it becomes almost irresistible.
Hitlerism will never be defeated by counter-Hitlerism. It can only breed superior Hitlerism raised to nth degree. What is going on before our eyes is the demonstration of the futility of violence as also of Hitlerism.
What will Hitler do with his victory? Can he digest so much power? Personally he will go as empty-handed as his not very remote predecessor Alexander. For the Germans he will have left not the pleasure of owning a mighty empire but the burden of sustaining its crushing weight. For they will not be able to hold all the conquered nations in perpetual subjection. And I doubt if the Germans of future generations will entertain unadulterated pride in the deeds for which Hitlerism will be deemed responsible. They will honour Herr Hitler as genius, as a brave man, a matchless organizer and much more. But I should hope that the Germans of the future will have learnt the art of discrimination even about their heroes. Anyway I think it will be allowed that all the blood that has been spilled by Hitler has added not a millionth part of an inch to the world’s moral stature.
- Harijan (22 June 1940), after Nazi victories resulting in the occupation of France.
- A seeker after Truth cannot afford to indulge in generalisation.
Darwin for the greater part of his book Origin of the Species [sic] has simply massed fact upon fact without any theorising, and only towards the end has formulated his conclusion which, because of the sheer weight of testimony behind it, becomes almost irresistible. Yes I have criticised even Darwin's generalisation as being unwarranted.
Science tells us that a proposition may hold good in nine hundred ninety-nine cases and yet fail in the thousandth case and thus be rendered untenable as a universal statement.
- "Generalisation", from Harijan (6 July 1940). Quoted in Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi (1945), edited by Jag Parvesh Chander, Indian Printing Works, pages 243-244.
- The ideally non-violent state will be an ordered anarchy. That State is the best governed which is governed the least.
- From Discussion with BG Kher and others, August 15, 1940. Gandhi's Wisdom Box (1942), edited by Dewan Ram Parkash, p. 67 also in Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. 79 (PDF), p. 122
- What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?
- Non-Violence in Peace and War, 1942, Vol. 1, Ch. 142
- Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India’s independence. In a violent struggle, a successful general has been often known to effect a military coup and to set up a dictatorship. But under the Congress scheme of things, essentially non-violent as it is, there can be no room for dictatorship. A non-violent soldier of freedom will covet nothing for himself, he fights only for the freedom of his country.
- I read Carlyle’s French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.
- We cannot evoke the true spirit of sacrifice and valour, so long as we are not free. I know the British Government will not be able to withhold freedom from us, when we have made enough self-sacrifice. We must, therefore, purge ourselves of hatred.
- Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarreling?
- Speaking of the conflict between Muslims and Hindus, in Hind Swaraj, Or Indian Home Rule (1946), p. 36
- I draw no distinction between error and sin. If a man commits a bona fide mistake and confesses it with a contrite heart before his Maker, the merciful Maker sterilizes it of all harm.
- Harijan (20 October 1946); as quoted in The Encyclopaedia of Gandhian Thoughts (1985)
- If you want to give a message again to the West, it must be a message of 'Love', it must be a message of 'Truth'. There must be a conquest — [audience claps] — please, please, please. That will interfere with my speech, and that will interfere with your understanding also. I want to capture your hearts and don't want to receive your claps. Let your hearts clap in unison with what I'm saying, and I think, I shall have finished my work. Therefore, I want you to go away with the thought that Asia has to conquer the West. Then, the question that a friend asked yesterday, "Did I believe in one world?" Of course, I believe in one world. And how can I possibly do otherwise, when I become an inheritor of the message of love that these great un-conquerable teachers left for us? You can redeliver that message now, in this age of democracy, in the age of awakening of the poorest of the poor, you can redeliver this message with the greatest emphasis.
- Speech in New Delhi to the Inter-Asian Relations Conference (2 April 1947) - Parts of this speech became used in an Telecom Italia advertisement (Video at YouTube - B&W, English text version, better sound)
- Had we adopted non-violence as the weapon of the strong, because we realised that it was more effective than any other weapon, in fact the mightiest force in the world, we would have made use of its full potency and not have discarded it as soon as the fight against the British was over or we were in a position to wield conventional weapons. But as I have already said, we adopted it out of our helplessness. If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British.
- Speech (16 June 1947) as the official date for Indian independence approached (15 August 1947) , as quoted in Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase (1958) by Pyarelal Nayyar, p. 326
- The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not for every man's greed.
- Truth never damages a cause that is just.
- In the dictionary of Satyagraha, there is no enemy.
- Non-Violence in Peace and War (1948); also in Gandhi on Non-violence: Selected Texts from Mohandas K. Gandhi's Non-Violence in Peace and War (1965) edited by Thomas Merton
- It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our breasts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent.
To Every Briton (1940)
- This war has descended upon mankind as a curse and a warning. It is a curse inasmuch as it is brutalizing man on a scale hitherto unknown. All distinctions between combatants and noncombatants have been abolished. No one and nothing is to be spared. Lying has been reduced to an art. Britain was to defend small nationalities. One by one they have vanished, at least for the time being. It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall, man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners. I read the writing when the hostilities broke out. But I had not the courage to say the word. God has given me the courage to say it before it is too late.
- I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence. You want to kill Nazism. You will never kill it by its indifferent adoption. Your soldiers are doing the same work of destruction as the Germans. The only difference is that perhaps yours are not as thorough as the Germans. If that be so, yours will soon acquire the same thoroughness as theirs, if not much greater. On no other condition can you win the war. In other words, you will have to be more ruthless than the Nazis. No cause, however just, can warrant the indiscriminate slaughter that is going on minute by minute. I suggest that a cause that demands the inhumanities that are being perpetrated today cannot be called just.
- I do not want Britain to be defeated, nor do I want her to be victorious in a trial of brute strength, whether expressed through the muscle or the brain.' Your muscular bravery is an established fact. Need you demonstrate that your brain is also as unrivaled in destructive power as your muscle? I hope you do not wish to enter into such an undignified competition with the Nazis. I venture to present you with a nobler and a braver way, worthy of the bravest soldier. I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non-violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. 'If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
This process or method, which I have called non-violent non-co-operation, is not without considerable success in its use in India. Your representatives in India may deny my claim. If they do, I shall feel sorry for them.
- This is no appeal made by a man who does not know his business. I have been practising with scientific precision non-violence and its possibilities for an unbroken period of over fifty years. I have applied it in every walk of life, domestic, institutional, economic and political. I know of no single case in which it has failed. Where it has seemed sometimes to have failed, I have ascribed it to my imperfections. I claim no perfection for my self. But I do claim to be a passionate seeker after Truth, which is but another name for God. In the course of the search the discovery of non-violence came to me. Its spread is my life-mission. I have no interest in living except for the prosecution of that mission.
- Whatever the ultimate fate of my country, my love for you remains, and will remain, undiminished. My non-violence demands universal love, and you are not a small part of it. It is that love which has prompted my appeal to you.
- May God give power to every word of mine. In his name I began to write this, and in His name I close it. May your statesman have the wisdom and courage to respond to my appeal. I am telling His Excellency the Viceroy that my services are at the disposal of His Majesty’s Government, should they consider them of any practical use in advancing the object of my appeal.
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
- Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.
- The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1950) by Louis Fischer. The quote is in the context of Gandhi's argument to his biographer that collective suicide would have been a heroic response that would have "aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence".
- Nor, do I believe in inequalities between human beings. We are all absolutely equal. But equality is of the souls and not the bodies. Hence, it is a mental state. We need to think of, and to assert, equality because we see great inequality in the physical world. We have to realize equality in the midst of this apparent external inequality. Assumption of superiority by any person over any other is a sin against God and man. Thus caste, in so far as it connotes distinctions in status, is an evil.
- Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, by Joan V. Bondurant (1965) University of California Press, Berkeley: CA, pp. 168-169
- Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
- Basic Education (1951) p. 89
- You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
- Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World (1954), by Louis Fischer, p. 177
- An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.
- Non-Violence in Peace & War (1962) Vol. 2, edited by Mahadev Haribhai Desai, p. 144
- All faiths are a gift of God, but partake of human imperfection, as they pass through the medium of humanity. God-given religion is beyond all speech. Imperfect men put it into such language as they can command, and their words are interpreted by other men equally imperfect. Whose interpretation must be held to be the right one ? Every one is right from his own standpoint, but it is not impossible that every one is wrong. Hence the necessity for tolerance, which does not mean indifference towards one’s own faith, but a more intelligent and purer love for it. Tolerance gives us spiritual insight, which is as far from fanaticism as the north pole is from the south. True knowledge of religion breaks down the barriers between faith and faith and gives rise to tolerance. Cultivation of tolerance for other faiths will impart to us a truer understanding of our own.
- Young India, (Bulletin), 2-10-1930, p. 2 In: My God (1962), Chapter 13. Pathways of God, Printed and Published by: Jitendra T. Desai, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemadabad-380014 India
- For me the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree. Therefore they are equally true, though being received and interpreted through human instruments equally imperfect.
- Harijan, 30-1-1937, p. 407; In: My God (1962), Chapter 13. Pathways of God, Printed and Published by: Jitendra T. Desai, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemadabad-380014 India
- The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwara of Hindus. Even as there are numerous names of God in Hinduism, there are as many names of God in Islam. The names do not indicate individuality but attributes, and little man had tried in his humble way to describe mighty God by giving Him attributes, though He is above all attributes, Indescribable, Inconceivable, Immeasurable. Living faith in this God means acceptance of the brotherhood of mankind. It also means equal respect for all religions.
- Harijan, 14-5-1938, pp. 110-11; In: My God (1962), Chapter 13. Pathways of God, Printed and Published by: Jitendra T. Desai, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemadabad-380014 India
- My life is my message.
- Response to a journalist's question about what his message to the world was. Mahatma: Life of Gandhi 1869-1948 (1968) Reel 13
- You assist an unjust administration most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil administration never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.
A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.
- Non-Violent Resistance - Often misquoted as "You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance."
- All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul.
- Remember that there is always a limit to self-indulgence but none to self-restraint, and let us daily progress in that direction.
- My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Musalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as rule is a coward.
- I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity … The trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings.
The Message of Jesus Christ
- I have regarded Jesus of Nazareth as one amongst the mighty teachers that the world has had. . . . I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study the teachings of Jesus.
- The Message of Jesus Christ. Cited in The Watchtower magazine, 2001, 12/15.
Quotes about Gandhi
- Alphabetized by author
- Prior to reading Gandhi, I had about concluded that the ethics of Jesus were only effective in individual relationships. The "turn the other cheek" philosophy and the "love your enemies" philosophy were only valid, I felt, when individuals were in conflict with other individuals; when racial groups and nations were in conflict, a more realistic approach seemed necessary.
But after reading Gandhi, I saw how utterly mistaken I was. Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Stride Toward Freedom
- It is sometimes said that Britain liberated India. In fact the reverse is the truth. Gandhi and Nehru liberated us. By winning their freedom, they freed us from the ignorance and prejudice that lay behind the myth of Britain's imperial destiny.
- Tony Benn, 1964. Quoted in Gandhi by David Arnold. Pearson Education, 2001.
- It is impossible for me to ignore that you are in a different category from any person I have ever tried, or am likely to try. It is nevertheless my duty to sentence you – to six years imprisonment. [A stunned intake of breath from the whole courtroom, then in absolute silence the clerk scribbles the sentence in his notebook. A pause. The Judge lowers his eyes.] If however His Majesty's Government could – at some later date – see fit to reduce that term, no one would be better pleased than I.
- Judge Broomfield, sentencing Gandhi, as depicted in the film Gandhi (1982)
- Gandhi proved it is possible to fight for one's people and win without for a moment losing the world's respect.
- Albert Camus, Preface to Algerian Reports, in Resistance, Rebellion and Death, Alfred A. Knopf, 1960.
- It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor.
- Winston Churchill addressing the Council of the West Essex Unionist Association (23 February 1931); as quoted in "Mr Churchill on India" in The Times (24 February 1931)
- To Gandhi, the end is the greatest good of all and this can be realized only in the classless and stateless democracy of autonomous village communities base on non-violence.
- Ajay Shanker, Rai Gandhian Satyagraha: An Analytical and Critical Approach, Concept Publishing, New Delhi, India, (2000) p. 26
- Mr. Gandhi has gone very high in my esteem since he stood up for the untouchables … I do not care whether you are more or less loyal to Great Britain … Tell Mr. Gandhi to use the powers that are offered and make the thing a success.
- This Jonah of revolution, this general of unbroken disasters was the mascot of the bourgeoisie in each wave of the developing Indian struggle.Gandhi's strategy...was not a strategy intended to lead to the victory of independence, but to find the means in the midst of a formidable revolutionary wave to maintain leadership of the mass movement and yet place the maximum bounds and restraints upon it.
- R. Palme Dutt, India Today, Gollancz, 1940. The "mascot of the bourgeoisie". line is quoted in Gandhi by David Arnold, Pearson Education, 2001.
- A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back — but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.
- Marian Wright Edelman, as quoted in The Art of Winning Commitment: 10 Ways Leaders Can Engage Minds, Hearts, And Spirits (2004) by Dick Richards, p. 11
- Gandhi and Lord Irwin, former Viceroy to India, were friends. On their return from the Round Table Conference at London, Lord Irwin paid a visit to the Mahatma in his ashram. During the conversation Lord Irwin put this question to his host: "Mahatma, as man to man, tell me what you consider to be the solution to the problems of your country and mine." Taking up a little book from the nearby lampstand, Gandhi opened it to the fifth chapter of Matthew and replied, "When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world."
- Frank E. Eden, reporting what was related to him "by a friend who has traveled through India in the interest of mission work", in Treasury of the Christian Faith (Association Press, 1949), p. 43
- Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause, but by non-participation of anything you believe is evil.
- Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.
- Albert Einstein, statement on the occasion of Gandhi's 70th birthday (1939); Einstein archive 32-601, published in Out of My Later Years (1950).
- Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.
- Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.
- Everyone concerned in the better future of mankind must be deeply moved by the tragic death of Mahatma Gandhi. He died as the victim of his own principles, the principle of nonviolence. He died because in time of disorder and general irritation in his country, he refused armed protection for himself. It was his unshakable belief that the use of force is an evil in itself, that therefore it must be avoided by those who are striving for supreme justice to his belief. With his belief in his heart and mind, he has led a great nation on to its liberation. He has demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and trickeries but through the cogent example of morally superior conduct of life.
The admiration for Mahatma Gandhi in all countries of the world rests on recognition, mostly sub-conscious, recognition of the fact that in our time of utter moral decadence, he was the only statesman to stand for a higher level of human relationship in political sphere. This level we must, with all our forces, attempt to reach. We must learn the difficult lesson that an endurable future of humanity will be possible only if, also in international relations, decisions are based on law and justice and not on self-righteous power, as they have been upto now.
- Albert Einstein, as quoted in Mahatma Gandhi and the U.S.A. (1949) by Pasupuleti Gopala Krishnayya, p. 399
- Mahatma Gandhi is the greatest living exponent of successful pacifism. He has demonstrated that pacifism in action can be a force in world politics. It proved itself, that is to say, a stronger instrument than the instrument of government by force and oppression. In South Africa, his success was complete; in India it was very considerable; and had his following been larger and more uniformly non-violent, his pacific instrument would have triumphed.
- Laurence Housman, 1939, reprinted in S. Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi, essays and reflections on his life and work. George Allen & Unwin, 1949.
- Gandhi, like Jefferson, thought of politics in moral and religious terms. That is why his proposed solutions bear so close a resemblance to those proposed by the great American. That he went further than Jefferson — for example, in recommending economic as well as political decentralization and in advocating the use of satyagraha in place of the ward's "elementary exercises of militia"-is due to the fact that his ethic was more radical and his religion more profoundly realistic than Jefferson's. Jefferson's plan was not adopted; nor was Gandhi's. So much the worse for us and our descendants.
- Aldous Huxley, "A Note on Gandhi", in S. Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi, essays and reflections on his life and work. George Allen & Unwin, 1949.
- I could find no explanation worthy of the Mahatma for his decision to accept leadership of the khilafat movement. The decision, it seemed to me, revealed the great man's proverbial Achilles' heel.
- But, he was a bhakt not of Ram in his totality, that is of Ram the warrior also, but of Ram as Purushottam Purusha, that is, of Ram who set the ideal for ethical life.
- Gandhi was the last political leader in the world who was a person, not a mask or a radio voice or an institution. The last on a human scale. The last for whom I felt neither fear nor contempt nor indifference but interest and affection...he was dear to me because he had no respect for railroads, assembly-belt production, and other knick-knacks of liberalistic progress, and insisted on examining their human (as against their metaphysical) value.
- Dwight Macdonald, Politics Magazine, Winter 1948.
- In the Civil Disobedience Campaign of 1930, Gandhi demonstrated the living power of non-violence, a magnificent example to a world that increasingly understands no power but the sword, and which is seemingly incapable of learning that violence never defeats violence but merely begets it.
- Ethel Mannin, in S. Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi, essays and reflections on his life and work. George Allen & Unwin, 1949.
- During the 1920’s and 1930’s young radicals like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Bose and Jayaprakesh Narayan were straining at the leash: they fretted at the patient and peaceful methods of the Mahatma. The Indian communists dubbed him a charismatic but calculating leader who knew how to rouse the masses but deliberately contained and diverted their revolutionary ardour so as not to hurt the interests of British imperialists and Indian capitalists.
- B. R. Nanda, Gandhi and his Critics, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1985, (p. viii).
- The best rule, according to Gandhi, was self rule. Everything great comes from within. The spiritual progress of a society depends on individuals. Therefore, the individual should be given maximum freedom for evolving without interference.
- Urmila Sharma and S.K. Sharma, Indian Political Thought, Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi: India (1996) p. 297
- "I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as President of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared with America and the world.
- Barack Obama in an address to a Joint Session of the Parliament of India
- Although no doubt he was shrewd enough in detecting dishonesty, he seems wherever possible to have believed that other people were acting in good faith and had a better nature through which they could be approached.
- It would not be extravagant to consider Gandhi as one of the most revolutionary of individualists and one of the most individualistic of revolutionaries in world history.
- Raghavan N. Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford University Press (1978) p. 114
- Many analysts have pointed out that Gandhi was in the anarchist tradition and that his anarchism was strongly individualistic. In contrast to the supposedly Oriental view that the individual counts for nothing, Gandhi argued that ‘the individual is the one supreme consideration.’
- George H. Smith, as quoted in “Does Gandhi Deserve a Place in the Libertarian Tradition?” by Jeff Riggenbach, Mises Daily (Feb. 2, 2011)
- Gandhi repeatedly called himself an anarchist . . . He refused positions of political power … he called for the abolition of the Indian Congress after independence … he criticized Nehru's government … he desired the abolition of the Indian military and the maintenance of, at most, a minimal police force. … his entire social program revolved around establishing decentralized "village republics" which would use social sanctions to maintain order and which would be free of State control. … Gandhi was a vigorous opponent of imperialism … war (including World War II), censorship, and virtually every other kind of State intrusion.
- George H. Smith, as quoted in “Does Gandhi Deserve a Place in the Libertarian Tradition?” by Jeff Riggenbach, Mises Daily (Feb. 2, 2011)
- It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary.
- George Orwell, in "Reflections on Gandhi", in Partisan Review (January 1949)
- One feels of him that there was much he did not understand, but not that there was anything that he was frightened of saying or thinking. I have never been able to feel much liking for Gandhi, but I do not feel sure that as a political thinker he was wrong in the main, nor do I believe that his life was a failure. … One may feel, as I do, a sort of aesthetic distaste for Gandhi, one may reject the claims of sainthood made on his behalf (he never made any such claim himself, by the way), one may also reject sainthood as an ideal and therefore feel that Gandhi's basic aims were anti-human and reactionary: but regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!
- George Orwell, in "Reflections on Gandhi", in Partisan Review (January 1949)
- In the 1980s Gandhi began to influence European public life. He was acknowledged by non-violent revolutionaries in Eastern Europe-Lech Wałęsa in Poland and Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia. In the 1990s the Dalai Lama began to invoke Gandhi in his non-violent effort to gain automony for Tibet. In the 1990s Nelson Mandela was in position publicly to acknowledge that "the Gandhian influence dominated freedom struggles on the African continent until the 1960s". At the close of the 20th century, Time chose Gandhi along with Albert Einstein and Franklin Roosevelt as the three most influential persons of the century.
- Lloyd I. Rudolph, "Postmodern Gandhi", in Postmodern Gandhi and Other Essays (2006), edited by Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, (p.34).
- Gandhi could not regard good government as better than self-government because he believed there was a connection between individual and national self-rule.
- Raghavan N. Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford University Press (1978) p. 356
- It was Gandhi who made the most significant personal contribution in the history of the nonviolent technique, with his political experiments in the use of noncooperation, disobedience and defiance to control rulers, alter government policies, and undermine political systems. With these experiments the character of the technique was broadened and its practice refined. Among the modifications Gandhi introduced were greater attention to strategy and tactics, a more judicious use of the armory of nonviolent methods, and a conscious association between mass political action and the norm of nonviolence.
- Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Part One: Power and Struggle. Porter Sargent, 1973, (p. 82).
- Gandhi linked many ideas to satyagraha which aren't essential to it. His religious ideas (non-possession, non-acquisition, chastity, fasting, vegetarianism, teetotalism) and his economic ideas (self-sufficiency, "bread labour", and agarianianism) don't necessarily have anything to do with post-Gandhian nonviolence.
- Nicolas Walter, Nonviolent Resistance: Men Against War, Nonviolence 63, 1963.
- Gandhi's hatred of State oppression was as passionate and deeply-felt as any contemporary libertarian.
- Gandhi was a completely unofficial man. He recognized the gulf that lay between the enjoyment of freedom and the exercise of authority. When the Indian National Congress, which he had led intermittently as a movement dedicated to achieving liberation by legal and extra‑legal means, itself grasped for power and became a political party, he withdrew. With an extraordinary persistence he made and kept himself one of the few free men of our time.
- George Woodcock, in Mohandas Gandhi (1971), p. 3
- Much in his career remains unexplained if we forget his insistence that religion and politics were bound inextricably in the common search for Truth. "To me," he said, "Truth is God and there is no way to find Truth except the way of nonviolence." Truth conceived as God is of course the Absolute. Truth perceived by man must always be relative, changing according to human contacts developing as men understand better each other, their circumstances and themselves. Gandhi never set out to develop a fixed and final doctrine, but emphasized that his practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence, was always experimental, that his political struggle like his personal life was part of a continuing quest for Truth as manifested existentially, a quest that could never end because human understanding was incapable of comprehending the Absolute.
The identification of Truth as the goal of political action, as well as of religious devotion, and the refusal to distinguish between religion and politics, form the background to the great divergences between Gandhi's revolutionary ideas and techniques and those of other contemporary revolutionists … Unorthodox though he might be, Gandhi fitted into the traditional pattern of the sanyassi who practices non‑attachment in the search for Truth; he was the karma yogin, the man who perfects and purifies himself through action. Yogic disciplines of all kinds are held in India to confer power over destiny, and Gandhi believed that positive action — love and nonviolence — could intangibly influence men and therefore events. With Truth as the goal and at the same time as the principle of action (for in Gandhian terms ends are emergent from means and hence virtually indistinguishable from them), there was no place in Gandhi's idea of revolution for conspiratorial methods or guerrilla activities.
- George Woodcock, in Mohandas Gandhi (1971), p. 8
- Gandhi on many occasions declared himself an anarchist — of his own kind — and he created, partly from his readings of Tolstoy and Kropotkin and partly on the basis of Indian communitarian traditions, the plan of a decentralized society based on autonomous village communes.
- Gandhi has sound economic and cultural reasons for encouraging the revival of cottage industries, but he does not counsel a fanatical repudiation of all modern progress. Machinery, trains, automobiles, the telegraph have played important parts in his own colossal life! Fifty years of public service, in prison and out, wrestling daily with practical details and harsh realities in the political world, have only increased his balance, open-mindedness, sanity, and humorous appreciation of the quaint human spectacle.
- Sri Yukteswar used to poke gentle fun at the commonly inadequate conceptions of renunciation.
"A beggar cannot renounce wealth," Master would say. "If a man laments: 'My business has failed; my wife has left me; I will renounce all and enter a monastery,' to what worldly sacrifice is he referring? He did not renounce wealth and love; they renounced him!"
Saints like Gandhi, on the other hand, have made not only tangible material sacrifices, but also the more difficult renunciation of selfish motive and private goal, merging their inmost being in the stream of humanity as a whole.
- (Cf. Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier (2006), p. 74)
- "Man of Rare Accomplishments Wins High Office", Pittsburgh Gazette-Times, 1914-11-15, p V:3
- "Be Kind To Animals Week", The Ottawa Journal, 1948-05-03
- reported in Hansard for 14 December 1973
- Description of the film Vegetarian World in Vegetarian Times, issue of July 1983, p. 26
- link to Google Books
- Google Books link
- [https://books.google.com/books?id=kftDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA43&dq=%22lose+yourself+in+the+service+of+others&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMI4_Ls6NG_yAIVQsdjCh1iSAL7#v=onepage&q=%22lose%20yourself%20in%20the%20service%20of%20others&f=false Googe Books link
- Brian Morton, "Falser Words Were Never Spoken", New York Times, 2011-08-29
- Misquotes that Bapu is forced to wear
- 'A Ministry Called "The Love Project", St Louis Post Dispatch, 1976-11-15, p. 36
- Hollis Engley, "A Long List of Varied Accomplishments", The New Mexican, Santa Fe, NM, 1987-01-11, p. D-1
- Google Book link
- See also "Arun Gandhi Shares the Mahatma's Message" by Michel W. Potts, in India - West [San Leandro, California] Vol. XXVII, No. 13 (1 February 2002) p. A34, and "Be the change you wish to see: An interview with Arun Gandhi" by Carmella B'Hahn, Reclaiming Children and Youth [Bloomington] Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2001) p. 6.
- Teachings Of Mahatma Gandhi (1945), edited by Jag Parvesh Chander
- Gandhi's Philosophy at mkgandhi.org
- Mahatma Gandhi Research and Media Service
- Works by Mahatma Gandhi at Project Gutenberg
- Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya Gandhi Museum & Library
- M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
- The Gandhi Foundation
- Mahatma Gandhi Quotes at Gandhi Heritage Portal