Mahatma Gandhi

Indian nationalist leader and nonviolence advocate (1869–1948)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 186930 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British rule, and to later inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā (Sanskrit: "great-souled", "venerable"), first applied to him in 1914 in South Africa, is now used throughout the world.

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.


Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
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.
The ideally non-violent state will be an ordered anarchy. That State is the best governed which is governed the least.
Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different road, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?
An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.


  • 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 by 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.
  • 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 Kafir.
    • 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 (1909)Edit

(Full text online, multiple formats)

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.
  • In reality there are as many religions as there are individuals.... 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 quarrelling?
  • The English have taught us that we were not one nation before and that it will require 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. Subsequently they divided us.
  • I do not wish to suggest that because we were one nation we had no differences, but it is submitted that our leading men travelled throughout India . . . They learned one another's languages . . . they saw that India was one undivided land so made by nature. They, therefore, argued that it must be one nation. Arguing thus, they established holy places in various parts of India, and fired the people with an idea of nationality in a manner unknown in other parts of the world. Any two Indians are one as no two Englishmen are.
  • 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.
  • It is wrong to consider that courts are established for the benefit of the people. Those who want to perpetuate their power do so through the courts. If people were to settle their own quarrels, a third party would not be able to exercise any authority over them. Truly, men were less unmanly when they settled their disputes either by fighting or by asking their relatives to decide for them. They became more unmanly and cowardly when they resorted to the courts of law. It was certainly a sign of savagery when they settled their disputes by fighting. Is it any less so, if I ask a third party to decide between you and me? Surely, the decision of a third party is not always right. The parties alone know who is right. We, in our simplicity and ignorance, imagine that a stranger, by taking our money, gives us justice. (p. 48)


  • 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


  • In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
    • Young India (4 August 1920)
  • 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 September 1920) p. 1
  • Complete civil disobedience is a state of peaceful revolution, a refusal to obey every single state-made law.
    • As quoted in Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1920-1929), D.G. Tendulkar, Vol. 2, (1920-1929), 2nd edition, Publications Division (1960), p 52
  • I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.
    • Young India (15 September 1920), reprinted in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 21 (electronic edition), p. 252.
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • The Muslims claim Palestine as an integral part of Jazirat-ul-Arab. They are bound to retain its custody, as an injunction of the Prophet. But that does not mean that the Jews and the Christians cannot freely go to Palestine, or even reside there and own property. What non-Muslims cannot do is to acquire sovereign jurisdiction. The Jews cannot receive sovereign rights in a place which has been held for centuries by Muslim powers by right of religious conquest. The Muslim soldiers did not shed their blood in the late War for the purpose of surrendering Palestine out of Muslim control. I would like my Jewish friends to impartially consider the position of the seventy million Muslims of India. As a free nation, can they tolerate what they must regard as a treacherous disposal of their sacred possession?
  • I would, in a sense, certainly assist the Amir of Afghanistan if he waged war against the British Government. That is to say, I would openly tell my countrymen that it would be a crime to help a government which had lost the confidence of the nation to remain in power.
    • May 4, 1921. Gandhi commenting on the appeal to the Amir of Afghanistan to invade British India proposed by some Muslim leaders. Quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • I cannot understand why the Ali Brothers are going to be arrested as the rumours go, and why I am to remain free. They have done nothing which I would not do. If they had sent a message to the Amir, I also would send one to inform the Amir that if he came, no Indian so long as I can help it, would help the Government to drive him back.
    • Quoted in The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (1969), K. L. Gauba, p. 390.
  • Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in human evolution. It takes the human being beyond his species. The cow to me means the entire sub-human world. Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. Why the cow was selected for apotheosis is obvious to me. The cow was in India the best companion. She was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible. The cow is a poem of pity. One reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the mother to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The ancient seer, whoever he was, began with the cow. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forcible because it is speechless. Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world, And Hinduism will live so along as there are Hindus to protect the cow.
    • Young India, 6-10-1921, p. 317
  • 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.
  • There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free we are slaves.
    • Young India (15 December 1921)
  • There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.
    • Young India (15 December 1921)
  • I hold the opinion firmly that Civil Disobedience is the purest type of constitutional agitation. Of course, it becomes degrading and despicable if its civil, i.e. non-violent character is a mere camouflage.
    • Young India (15 December 1921)
  • Gandhi spoke of the Moplas as the " brave God-fearing Moplas who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious ". Speaking of the Muslim silence over the Mopla atrocities Mr. Gandhi told the Hindus: "The Hindus must have the courage and the faith to feel that they can protect their religion in spite of such fanatical eruptions. A verbal disapproval by the Mussalmans of Mopla madness is no test of Mussalman friendship. The Mussalmans must naturally feel the shame and humiliation of the Mopla conduct about forcible conversions and looting, and they must work away so silently and effectively that such a thing might become impossible even on the part of the most fanatical among them. My belief is that the Hindus as a body have received the Mopla madness with equanimity and that the cultured Mussalmans are sincerely sorry of the Mopla's perversion of the teaching of the Prophet."
    • Mahatma Gandhi quoted from B. R. Ambedkar, Ambedkar, Bhimrao. Pakistan or the Partition of India. Chapter 7
  • Disobedience without civility, discipline, discrimination, non-violence, is certain destruction. Disobedience combined with love is the living water of life. Civil disobedience is a beautiful variant to signify growth, it is not discordance which spells death.
    • Young India (1 May 1922)
  • A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
    • In Ethical Religion, (Madras: S. Ganesan, 1922), p. 62
  • 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
  • No action which is not voluntary can be called moral.
    • Ethical Religion, S. Ganesan, Madras (1922) p. 8
  • Satan's successes are the greatest when he appears with the name of God on his lips.
    • "The Inwardness of Non-Co-operation". Quoted in Freedom's Battle: Being a Comprehensive Collection of Writings and Speeches (1922), p. 144.
  • 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.
    • In Young India (2 March 1922). Quoted in The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas edited by Louis Fischer (2002), p. 160.
  • Under democracy individual liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded.
    • Young India (2 March 1922)
  • 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)
  • Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.
  • Always believe in your dreams, because if you don't, you'll still have hope.
    • Young India (23 March 1924)
  • Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued. As soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps never known before.
    • Young India (24 April 1924)
  • 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...
    • Young India (13 July 1924), reprinted in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 24, New Delhi, 1967, p. 476.
  • 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.
  • “My error? Why, I may be charged with having committed a breach of faith with the Hindus. I asked them to lay their lives and their property at the disposal of the Mussalmans for the protection of their Holy Places. Even to-day I am asking them to practise Ahimsa, to settle quarrels by dying but not by killing. And what do I find to be the result? How many temples have been desecrated? How many sisters came to me with complaints? As I was saying to Hakimji [Ajmal Khan] yesterday, Hindu women are in mortal fear of Mussalman goondas. I had a letter from… How can I bear the way in which his little children were molested? How can I now ask Hindus to put up with everything patiently? I gave the assurance that the friendship with Mussalmans was bound to bear fruit. I asked them to befriend them, regardless of results. It is not in my power to make good that assurance. And yet I must ask the Hindus even to-day to die rather than kill. I can only do so by laying down my own life. I can teach them the way to die by my own example.”
    • September 1924. Mahadev Desai, Day to Day with Gandhi, Volume 4, p. 165.
  • 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.
    • Young India (8 October 1924). Quoted in Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi (1945), edited by Jag Parvesh Chander, Indian Printing Works, page 242.
  • I do not believe as the friend seems to do that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita [nonduality], I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter of all that lives. Therefore I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.
    • Young India (4 December 1924)
  • [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 (29 January 1925) p. 41
  • There is no principle worth the name if it is not wholly good. I swear by non-violence because I know that it alone conduces to the highest good of mankind, not merely in the next world, but in this also. I object to violence because, when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent.
    • Young India (21 May 1925)
  • Today my position is that though I admire much in Christianity, I am unable to identify myself with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being and I find a solace in the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount.
    • Vol.27 p.204-06.28 July, 1925 Speech at a Meeting of missionaries (Y.M C.A. Calcutta) Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works, Volume 27, New Delhi, 1968, p. 435, (also quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996))
  • 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 August 1925) p. 276
  • What the divine author of the Mahabharata said of his great creation is equally true of Hinduism. Whatever of substance is contained in any other religion is always to be found in Hinduism, and what is not contained in it is insubstantial or unnecessary.
    • Young India (27 September 1925)
  • 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; p.5). 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.
  • If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny, you would help in boycotting papers which foment hatred and spread misrepresentation. I am sure that India would lose nothing if 90 per cent of the papers were to cease today. ... Now you will, perhaps, understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother, and I repeat it, I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji's murder. Guilty, indeed, are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another. For us Hindus, the Gita enjoins on us the lesson of equality; we are to cherish the same feelings towards a learned Brahmin as towards a Chandala, a dog, a cow or an elephant.
  • Disobedience is a right that belongs to every human being, and it becomes a sacred duty when it springs from civility.
    • Young India (4 January 1926)
  • Hinduism is like the Ganga,, pure and unsullied at its source but taking in its course the impurities in the way. Even like the Ganga it is beneficent in its total effect. It takes a provincial form in every provinvce, but the inner substance is retained everywhere.
    • Young India (8 April 1926)
  • Our sages have taught us to learn one thing; `As in the Self, so in the Universe.' It is not possible to scan the universe as it is to scan the self. Know the self and you know the universe.
    • Young India (8 April 1926)
  • 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)
  • Now when we talk of brotherhood of men, we stop there and feel that all other life is there for man to exploit for his own purposes. But Hinduism excludes all exploitation.
    • Young India (26 December 1926)
  • It is my deliberate opinion that the essential part of the teachings of the Buddha now forms an integral part of Hinduism. It is impossible for Hindu India today to retrace her steps and go behind the great reformation that Gautama effected in Hinduism. ... What Hinduism did not assimilate of what passes as Buddhism today was not an essential part of the Buddha's life and his teachings. It is my fixed opinion that the teaching of Buddha found its full fruition in India, and it could not be otherwise, for Gautama was himself a Hindu of Hindus. He was saturated with the best that was in Hinduism, and he gave life to some of the teachings that were buried in the Vedas and which were overgrown with weeds. ... Buddha never rejected Hinduism, but he broadened its base. He gave it a new life and a new interpretation.
  • 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)
  • On examination, I have found [Hinduism] to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me in as much as it gives the votary the largest scope for self-expression. Not being an exclusive religion, it enables the followers of the faith not merely to respect all the other religions, but it also enables them to admire and assimilate whatever may be good in the other faiths. Non-violence is common to all religions, but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism. (I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism.) Hinduism believes in the oneness not of merely all human life but in the oneness of all that lives.
    • October 1927. The Collected Works, Volume 35, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 166-67. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare.
    • 1928, as reported in Development Without Destruction: Economics of the Spinning Wheel, p. 97
  • 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).
  • 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)
  • It is not possible to make a person or society non-violent by compulsion.
    • Young India (13 September 1928). All Men Are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections, compiled and edited by Krishna Kripalani, The Continuum, (2011) p. 34
  • 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
  • I am uncompromising in the matter of woman's rights. In my opinion she should labour under no legal disability not suffered by man, I should treat the daughters and sons on a footing of perfect equality.
    • Mohandas Gandhi, 17th October 1929. Quoted in Gandhi: The Essential Writings. Judith M. Brown, Oxford University Press, 1998 (pp. 228-9). Also quoted in Kumari Jayawardena, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries, Institute of Social Studies, 1982.

The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)Edit

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.
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.
"The Doctrine Of The Sword", in Young India (11 August 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.

A Guide to Health (1921)Edit

  • The process of vaccination consists in injecting into the skin the liquid that is obtained by applying the discharge from the body of a small-pox patient to the udder of a cow… Vaccination is a barbarous practice, and it is one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time, not to be found even among the so-called savage races of the world. Its supporters are not content with its adoption by those who have no objection to it, but seek to impose it with the aid of penal laws and rigorous punishments on all people alike.
    • "Contagious Diseases: Small-pox", translated by A. Rama Iyer, [1]

An Autobiography (1927)Edit

I simply want to tell the story of my experiments with my life consists of nothing but those experiments.
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 my life consists of nothing but those experiments.
    • Introduction
  • 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.
    • Introduction
  • 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
God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare.
  • 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
  • I saw that the writers on vegetarianism had examined the question very minutely, attacking it in its religious, scientific, practical and medical aspects. Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man's supremacy over the lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man.
    • Part I, Chapter 17, Experiments in Dietetics
  • 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
  • To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
    • Part III, Chapter 18, A Month with Gokhale II
  • "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 far harder 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
  • I was then re-reading Arnold's Light of Asia. Once we began to compare the life of Jesus with that of Buddha. 'Look at Gautama's compassion!' said I. 'It was not confined to mankind, it was extended to all living beings. Does not one's heart overflow with love to think of the lamb joyously perched on his shoulders? One fails to notice this love for all living beings in the life of Jesus.'


  • 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 (10 April 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
  • 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 would be a great things, a brave thing, for the Hindus to achieve act of self-denial.
  • My implicit faith in non-violence does mean yielding to minorities when they are really weak. The best way to weaken communalists is to yield to them. Resistance will only rouse their suspicion and strengthen their opposition. A satyagrahi resists when there is threat of force behind obstruction. I know that I do not carry the Congressmen in general with me in this to me appears as very sensible and practical point of view. But if we are to come to Swaraj through non-violent means, I know that this point of view will be accepted.
  • 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."
  • 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 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
  • Zionism in its spiritual sense is a lofty aspiration. By spiritual sense I mean they should want to realise the Jerusalem that is within. Zionism meaning reoccupation of Palestine has no attraction for me. I can understand the longing of a Jew to return to Palestine, and he can do so if he can without the help of bayonets, whether his own or those of Britain. In that event he would go to Palestine peacefully and in perfect friendliness with the Arabs. The real Zionism of which I have given you my meaning is the thing to strive for, long for and die for. Zion lies in one’s heart. It is the abode of God. The real Jerusalem is the spiritual Jerusalem. Thus he can realise this Zionism in any part of the world.
  • I say without fear of my figures being successfully challenged that India today is more illiterate than it was before a fifty or hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root and left the root like that and the beautiful tree perished.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Speech at Chatham House, London, on October 20, 1931. Quoted in Essential Writings of Dharampal by Dharampal, and quoted in S.R. Goel, Hindu Society under siege [2]
  • 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)
  • Vegetarians should have that moral basis—that a man was not born a carnivorous animal, but born to live on the fruits and herbs that the earth grows.
    • Speech at Meeting of London Vegetarian Society (20 November 1931), in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999 electronic edition), Volume 54, p. 189.
  • I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage—an inexorable demand—that we should cease to kill our fellow-creatures for satisfaction of our bodily wants.
    • Speech at Meeting in Lausanne (8 December 1931), in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999 electronic edition), Volume 54, p. 272.
  • 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
  • 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)
  • But religion is not like a house or a cloak which can be changed at will. It is more an integral part of one's self than of one's body. Religion is the tie that binds one to one's Creator, and while the body perishes as it has to, religion persists even after that.
    • Gandhi (1935) in response to a call by Dr. Ambedkar for mass conversions among the depressed classes. Quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [3]
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • “Only the other day, a missionary descended on a famine area with money in his pocket, distributed it among the famine-stricken, converted them to his fold, took charge of their temple and demolished it. This is outrageous. The temple could not belong to the converted Hindus, and it could not belong to the Christian missionary. But this friend goes and gets it demolished at the hands of the very men who, only a little while ago, believed that God was there.”
    • ‘Harijan’, English weekly (founded by M.K. Gandhi), Poona, May 11, 1935
  • “If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytizing. For Hindu households, the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family, coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink.”
    • ‘Harijan’, English weekly, Poona, founded by M.K. Gandhi, dated May 11, 1935
  • 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
  • A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of help. Therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and a snare. The satisfaction of one's physical needs, even the intellectual needs of one's narrow self, must meet at a certain point a dead stop, before it degenerates into physical and intellectual voluptuousness. A man must arrange his physical and cultural circumstances so that they do not hinder him in his service of humanity, on which all his energies should be concentrated.
    • Harijan, (29 August 1936), p. 226
  • 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
  • Hinduism insists on the brotherhood of not only all mankind but of all that lives.
    • Harijan, 28-3-1936
  • Today, I rebel against orthodox Christianity, as I am convinced it has distorted the message of Jesus. He was an Asiatic whose message was delivered through many media, and when it had the backing of a Roman emperor, it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.
    • Harijan, 30-5-1936
  • 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?Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi
    • Harijan (30 January 1937)
  • 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)
  • A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
    • Harijan (19 November 1938) p. 343
  • 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.
    • Harijan (26 November 1938)
  • My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.... If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the godfearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.
    • Harijan, (26 November 1938)
  • If by abundance you mean everyone having plenty to eat and drink and to clothe himself with, enough to keep his mind trained and educated, I should be satisfied. But I should not like to pack more stuffs in my belly than I can digest and more things than I can ever usefully use. But neither do I want poverty, penury, misery, dirt and dust in India.
    • Harijan, (2 December 1938), p. 2
  • 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. [4]
    • 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
  • It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?
    • Letter addressed to Hitler. 23 July 1939 (Collected Works, vol. 70, pp. 20–21). Available online at TIME [5].


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.
  • I do not share the socialist belief that centralization of the necessaries of life will conduce to the common welfare, when the centralized industries are planned and owned by the State. The socialistic concept of the West was born in an environment reeking with violence.
    • Harijan (27 January 1940) p. 428
  • I have always held that social justice, even to the least and lowliest, is impossible of attainment by force.
    • Harijan (20 April 1940) p. 97
  • But my object in writing this letter is not to ventilate my grievances. It is to place before you my reaction to the war situation. The latest development seems to be most serious. Want of truthful news is tantalizing. I suppose it is inevitable. But assuming that things are as black as they appear to be for the Allied cause, is it not time to sue for peace for the sake of humanity? I do not believe Herr Hitler to be as bad as he is portrayed. He might even have been a friendly power as he may still be. It is due to suffering humanity that this mad slaughter should stop.
    • Letter to [the viceroy of India] Lord Linlithgow, May 26, 1940 p. 253 (Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999), vol. 78, [6]
  • But let the world know also the greater bravery of the French statesmen in suing for peace. I have assumed that the French statesmen have taken the step in a perfectly honourable manner as behoves true soldiers. Let me hope that Herr Hitler will impose no humiliating terms but show that, though he can fight without mercy, he can at least conclude peace not without mercy. [...] As against this [Hitler vision] imagine the state of Europe today if the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the French and the English has all said to Hitler:'You need not make your scientific preparation for destruction. We will meet your violence with non-violence. You will therefore be able to destroy our non-violent army without tanks, battleships and airships'. It may be retorted that the only difference would be that Hitler would have got without fighting what he has gained after a bloody fight. Exactly. [...] I dare say that in that case Europe would have added several inches to its moral stature. And in the end I expect it is the moral worth that will count. All else is dross.
    • HOW TO COMBAT HITLERISM June 18, 1940 p. 344; 345 (Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999), vol. 78, [7]
  • We have to live and move and have our being in ahimsa, even as Hitler does in himsa. It is the faith and perseverance and single-mindedness with which he has perfected his weapons of destruction that commands my admiration. That he uses them as a monster is immaterial for our purpose. We have to bring to bear the same single-mindedness and perseverance in evolving our ahimsa. Hitler is awake all the 24 hours of the day in perfecting his sadhana. He wins because he pays the price. His inventions surprise his enemies. But it is his single-minded devotion to his purpose that should be the object of our admiration and emulation. Although he works all his waking hours, his intellect is unclouded and unerring. Are our intellects unclouded and unerring? A mere belief in ahimsa or the charkha will not do. It should be intelligent and creative. If intellect plays a large part in the field of violence, I hold that it plays a larger part in the field of non-violence.
    • June 1940 speech. (Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, 1999), vol. 78, p. 349. [8]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Harijan (21 July 1940)
  • That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed. ... We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents... But your own writings and pronouncements and those of your friends and admirers leave no room for doubt that many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity, especially in the estimation of men like me who believe in human friendliness. Such are your humiliation of Czechoslovakia, the rape of Poland and the swallowing of Denmark. I am aware that your view of life regards such spoliations as virtuous acts. But we have been taught from childhood to regard them as acts degrading humanity...Hence we cannot possibly wish success to your arms....But ours is a unique position. We resist British imperialism no less than Nazism... If there is a difference, it is in degree. One-fifth of the human race has been brought under the British heel by means that will not bear scrutiny... Our resistance to it does not mean harm to the British people. We seek to convert them, not to defeat them on the battle-field... No spoliator can compass his end without a certain degree of co-operation, willing or unwilling, of the victim.... The rulers may have our land and bodies but not our souls.... We know what the British heel means for us and the non-European races of the world. But we would never wish to end the British rule with German aid... We have found in non-violence a force which, if organized, can without doubt match itself against a combination of all the most violent forces in the world... If not the British, some other power will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon. You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud.
    • Letter addressed to Hitler. 24 December 1940. Available online at TIME [9].
  • But to me both the parties [Axis and Allies] seem to be tarred with the same brush.
    • Speech at Bardoli on 8 January 1942, which was printed in Harijanbandhu the same day and later in Collected Works (vol. 79, p. 205). Quoted in Gandhi and Godse: A Review and a Critique (2001) by Koenraad Elst, p. 49.
  • If the vast majority of Muslims regard themselves as a separate nation, having nothing in common with the Hindus and others, no power on earth can compel them to think otherwise. And if they want to partition India on that basis, they must have the partition, unless Hindus want to fight against such a division. So far as I can see, such a preparation is silently going on on behalf of both parties. That way lies suicide. Each party will probably want British or foreign aid. In that case good-bye to independence. ... I dare not contemplate the actuality. I should not like to be its living witness. I would love to see a joint fight for independence. In the very process of securing independence it is highly likely that we shall have forgotten our quarrels. But if we have not, it will then only be the time to quarrel if we must.
    • Harijan, (18 April 1942). Quoted in Indian Politics, 1936-1942 (1943) by Reginald Coupland, p. 298.
  • 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, 15 August 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
  • Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plain living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. History gives ample proof of this. Man's happiness really lies in contentment. He who is discontented, however much he possesses, becomes a slave to his desires. And there is really no slavery equal to that of the desires. All the sages have declared from the house-tops that man can be his own worst enemy as well as his best friend. To be free or to be a slave lies in his own hands. And what is true for the individual is true for society.
  • Harijan, (2 January 1942), p. 27
  • 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 (18 January 1942) p. 5
  • If individual liberty goes, then surely all is lost, for, if the individual ceases to count, what is left of society? Individual freedom alone can make a man voluntarily surrender himself completely to the service of society. If it is wrested from him, he becomes automaton and society is ruined.
    • Harijan (1 February 1942) p. 27
  • 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 (1 February 1942) p. 27
  • My conception of freedom is no narrow conception. It is co-extensive with the freedom of man in all his majesty.
    • Harijan (June 1942)
A non-violent soldier of freedom will covet nothing for himself, he fights only for the freedom of his country.
  • 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.
  • Holding the view I do, it is superfluous for me now to answer your argument that “this war has split the world into two camps.” Between Scylla and Charybdis, if I sail in either direction, I suffer shipwreck. Therefore I have to be in the midst of the storm. I suggested a way out. Naturally, it has been rejected, because the powers that be do not want to relax their grip on India.
    • 30 July 1944, in Collected Works, vol. 77, p. 434. Quoted in Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1951) by Dinanath Gopal Tendulkar, vol. 6, p. 331.
  • What is a war criminal? Was not war itself a crime against God and humanity and, therefore, were not all those who sanctioned, engineered, and conducted wars, war criminals? War criminals are not confined to the Axis Powers alone. Roosevelt and Churchill are no less war criminals than Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler was “Great Britain’s sin”. Hitler is only an answer to British imperialism, and this I say in spite of the fact that I hate Hitlerism and its anti-Semitism. England, America and Russia have all of them got their hands dyed more or less red — not merely Germany and Japan. The Japanese have only proved themselves to be apt pupils of the West. They have learnt at the feet of the West and beaten it at its own game.
  • Coercion cannot but result in chaos in the end.
    • As quoted in Mahatma, edit., D.G. Tendulkar, Vol. 7 (1945-1947), first edition, New Delhi, India, Publication Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (1953) p. 138[10]
  • The man who uses coercion is guilty of deliberate violence. Coercion is inhuman.
    • As quoted in Mahatma, edit., D.G. Tendulkar, Vol. 7 (1945-1947) first edition, New Delhi, India, Publication Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (1953) p. 82
  • The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. 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.
    • Harijan (24 February 1946). As quoted in The Politics Of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp, Porter Sargent Publishers (1973), p. 59
  • 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)
  • 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 October 1946) p. 369
  • I believe that independent India can only discharge her duty towards a groaning world by adopting a simple but ennobled life by developing her thousands of cottages and living at peace with the world. High thinking is inconsistent with complicated material life based on high speed imposed on us by Mammon worship. All the graces of life are possible only when we learn the art of living nobly.
    • Harijan, (9 January 1946), p. 285
  • The human body is meant solely for service, never for indulgence. The secret of happy life lies in renunciation. Renunciation is life. Indulgence spells death.
    • Harijan, (24 February 1946), p. 19
  • Hindus should never be angry against the Muslims even if the latter might make up their minds to undo even their existence.
  • We both may be killed by the Muslims, and must put our purity to the ultimate test, so that we know that we are offering the purest of sacrifices, and we should now both start sleeping naked.
    • Gandhi's comments privately told to Manuben in 1947. Quoted from Hiro, D. (2015). The longest August: The unflinching rivalry between India and Pakistan. New York, NY: Nation Books.
  • 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.
  • [During his prayer meeting on 1 May 1947, he prepared the Hindus and Sikhs for the anticipated massacres of their kind in the upcoming state of Pakistan with these words:] ‘I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. I would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wished in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. I must die without rancour. (…) You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain.’
    • (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. LXXXVII, p. 394–5)
  • I went to Noakhali and let no one imagine that, because it is now to be included in Pakistan, I would not go there again. A part of me lies there. I shall tell the Hindus there that they should not fear anyone even if they are surrounded by [Muslim] murderers.
    • Prarthana Pravachan - I, pp. 166-70; The Hindu, 17 June 1947.
  • I am told that there are still left over 18,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Rawalpindi and 30,000 in the Wah Camp. I will repeat my advice that they should all be prepared to die rather than leave their homes. The art of dying bravely and with honour does not need any special training, save a living faith in God. Then there will be no abductions and no forcible conversions. I know that you are anxious I should go to the Punjab at the earliest moment. I want to do so. But if I failed in Delhi, it is impossible for me to succeed in Pakistan. For I want to go to all the parts and provinces of Pakistan under the protection of no escort save God. I will go as a friend of the Muslims as of others. My life will be at their disposal. I hope that I may cheerfully die at the hands of anyone who chooses to take my life. Then I will have done as I have advised all to do.
  • There was a time when people listened to me because I showed them how to give fight to the British without arms when they had no arms and the British Government was fully equipped and organised for an armed fight. But today I am told that my non-violence can be of no avail against the communal madness and, therefore, people should arm themselves for self-defence. If this is true, it has to be admitted that our thirty years of nonviolent practice was an utter waste of time. We should have from the beginning trained ourselves in the use of arms. But I do not agree that our thirty years' probation in nonviolence has been utterly wasted. It was due to our non-violence, defective though it was, that we were able to bear up under the heaviest repression and the message of independence penetrated every nook and corner of India. But as our non-violence was the nonviolence of the weak, the leaven did not spread. 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.
  • Impure means result in an impure end... One cannot reach truth by untruthfulness. Truthful conduct alone can reach Truth.
    • Harijan (13 July 1947) p. 232
  • ‘I am grieved to learn that people are running away from the West Punjab and I am told that Lahore is being evacuated by the non-Muslims. I must say that this is what it should not be. If you think Lahore is dead or is dying, do not run away from it, but die with what you think is the dying Lahore. (…) When you suffer from fear you die before death comes to you. That is not glorious. I will not feel sorry if I hear that people in the Punjab have died not as cowards but as brave men. (…) I cannot be forced to salute any flag. If in that act I am murdered I would bear no ill will against anyone and would rather pray for better sense for the person or persons who murder me.’
    • 6 August 1947,. (Hindustan Times, 8-8-1947, CWoMG, vol. LXXXIX, p. 11)
  • [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 (3 November 1947 entry), Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, (March 1948) pp. 68-70
  • Muslims must realize and admit the wrongs perpetrated under the Islamic rule.
    • 25 December 1947, in reaction to a Urdu poem protesting against the planned rebuilding of the Somnath temple and calling for "a new Ghaznavi to avenge the renovation of the Somnath temple", quoted by Rajmohan Gandhi: Revenge and Reconciliation, p. 237.
  • 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.
    • Non-Violence in Peace and War p. 254 (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; this has also appeared in paraphrased form as "if there is violence in our hearts."
  • 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 (28 July 1949) p. 219
  • Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not for every man's greed.

To Every Briton (1940)Edit

Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued. As soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps never known before.
Open letter, "To Every Briton", New Delhi (2 July 1940); published in Harijan (6 July 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)Edit

For me the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.
  • Hitler killed five million [sic] 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.....It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany.... As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, June 1946, in an interview with his biographer Louis Fischer. Quoted in "Gandhi on the Holocaust", Jewish Virtual Library.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We were strangers to this sort of classification – ‘animists’, ‘aborigines’, etc., - but we have learnt it from English rulers.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works, Volume 35, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 462-63. Quoted from Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • 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
A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • Remember that there is always a limit to self-indulgence but none to self-restraint, and let us daily progress in that direction.
  • A nation of three hundred million people should be ashamed to have to resort to force to bring to book one hundred thousand Englishmen. To convert them, or, if you will, even to drive them out of the country, we need, not force of arms, but force of will. If we have not the latter, we shall never get the former. If we develop the force of will, we shall find that we do not need the force of arms. Acceptance of non-violence, therefore, for the purposes mentioned by me, is the most natural and the most necessary condition of our national existence. It will teach us to husband our corporate physical strength for a better purpose, instead of dissipating it, as now, in a useless fratricidal strife, in which each party is exhausted after the effort. And every armed rebellion must be an insane act unless it is backed by the nation. But almost any item of non-cooperation fully backed by the nation can achieve the aim without shedding a single drop of blood. I do not say 'eschew violence in your dealing with robbers or thieves or with nations that may invade India.' But in order that we are better able to do so, we must learn to restrain ourselves. It is a sign not of strength but of weakness to take up the pistol on the slightest pretext. Mutual fisticuffs are a training not in violence but in emasculation. My method of non-violence can never lead to loss of strength, but it alone will make it possible, if the nation wills it, to offer disciplined and concerted violence in time of danger.
  • If those who believe that we were becoming supine and insert because of the training in non-violence, will but reflect a little, they will discover that we have never been non-violent in the only sense in which the word must be understood. Whilst we have refrained from causing actual physical hurt, we have harboured violence in our breast. If we had honestly regulated our thought and speech in the strictest harmony with our outward act, we would never have experienced the fatigue we are doing. Had we been true to ourselves we would have by this time evolved matchless strength of purpose and will. I have dwelt at length upon the mistaken view of non-violence, because I am sure that if we can but revert to our faith, if we ever had any, in non-violence limited only to the two purposes above referred to, the present tension between the two communities will largely subside. For, in my opinion, an attitude of non-violence in our mutual relations is an indispensable condition prior to a discussion of the remedies for the removal of the tension. It must be common cause between the two communities that neither party shall take the law into its own hands, but that all points in dispute, wherever and whenever they arise, shall be decided by reference either to private arbitration, or to the law courts if they wish. This is the whole meaning of non-violence, so far as communal matters are concerned. To put it another way, just as we do not break one another's heads in respect of civil matters, so many we not do even in respect of religious matters. This is the only pact that is immediately necessary between the parties, and I am sure that everything else will follow.
  • Unless this elementary condition is recognised, we have no atmosphere for considering the ways and means of removing misunderstanding and arriving at an honourable, lasting settlement. But, assuming that the acceptance of the elementary condition will be common cause between the two communities, let us consider the constant disturbing factors. There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority of quar­rels the Hindus come out second best. But my own experience confirms the opinion that the Mussalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, on public roads, and in the quar­rels which I had the privilege of settling. Need the Hindu blame the Mussalman for his cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies. They say that in Saharanpur the Mussalmans looted houses, broke open safes and, in one case, a Hindu woman's modesty was outraged. Whose fault was this? Mussalmans can offer no defence for the execrable conduct, it is true. But I, as a Hindu, am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry at the Mussalman bullying. Why did not the owners of the houses looted die in the attempt to defend their possessions? Where were the relatives of the outraged sister at the time of the outrage? Have they no account to render of themselves? My non-violence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach non-violence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes.
  • Non-violence is the summit of bravery. And in my own experience, I have had no difficulty in demonstrating to men trained in the school of violence the superiority of non-violence. As a coward, which I was for years, I harboured violence. I began to prize non-violence only when I began to shed cowardice. Those Hindus who ran away from the post of duty when it was attended with danger did so not because they were non-violent, or because they were afraid to strike, but because they were unwilling to die or even suffer any injury. A rabbit that runs away from the bull terrier is no particularly non-violent. The poor thing trembles at the sight of the terrier and runs for very life. Those Hindus who ran away to save their lives would have been truly non-violent and would have covered themselves with glory and added lustre to their faith and won the friendship of their Mussalman assailants, if they had stood bare breast with smiles on their lips, and died at their post. They would have done less well though still well, if they had stood at their post and returned blow. If the Hindus wish to convert the Mussalman bully into a respecting friend, they have to learn to die in the face of the heaviest odds.
  • During my travels, I find a general belief that to turn a Christian is to turn European; to become self-willed, and give up self-restraint, use only foreign cloth, dress oneself in European style and start taking meat and brandy. But I think the fact is, if a person discards his country, his customs and his old connections and manners when he changes his religion, he becomes all the more unfit to gain a knowledge of God. For, a change of religion means really a conversion of the heart. When there is a real conversion, a man's heart grows. But in this country one finds that conversion brings about deep disdain for one's old religion and its followers, i.e., one's old friends and relatives. The next change that takes place is that of dress and manners and behaviour. All that does great harm to the country.
    • Mahatma Gandhi in Mahadev Desai, Day-to-Day with Gandhi,Volume 7, Varanasi, 1969, as quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism. Hinduism believes in the oneness not of merely all human life but in the oneness of all that lives.
    • Mahatma Gandhi. October 1927. The Collected Works, Volume 35, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 166-67. Quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • Unfortunately, Christianity in India has been inextricably mixed up for the last one hundred years with the British rule. It appears to us as synonymous with the materialistic civilization and imperialistic exploitation by the strong white races of the weaker races of the world. Its contribution to India has been therefore largely of a negative character. It has done some good in spite of its professors. It has shocked us into setting our own house in order.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works, Volume 40. New Delhi. 1970, pp. 58-59. as quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • Conversion in the sense of self-purification, self-realization, is the crying need of the hour. That, however, is not what is meant by proselytising. To those who would convert India, might it not be said, ‘physician heal thyself’?
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Volume 46, New Delhi, 1971, pp. 28-29. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • It is no use trying to fight these forces [of materialism] without giving up the idea of conversion, which I assure you is the deadliest poison which ever sapped the fountain of truth.
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Vol 46, p. 203. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytising. It is the cause of much avoidable conflict between classes and unnecessary heart-burning among the missionaries... In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drink. ... The other day a missionary descended on a famine area with money in his pocket, distributed it among the famine-stricken, converted them to his fold, took charge of their temple and demolished it. This is outrageous. The temple could not belong to the converted, and it could not belong to the Christian missionary. But this friend goes and gets it demolished at the hands of the very men who only a little while ago believed that God was there.
    • Mahatma Gandhi The Collected Works Volume 61, Ahmedabad, 1975, p, 46-57. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • In my opinion, they are not examples of real conversion. If a person through fear, compulsion, starvation or for material gain or consideration goes over to another faith, it is a misnomer to call it conversion. Most cases of mass conversion, of which we have heard so much during the past two years, have been to my mind false coin... I would, therefore, unhesitatingly re-admit to the Hindu fold all such repentants without much ado, certainly without any shuddhi... And as I believe in the equality of all the great religions of the earth, I regard no man as polluted because he has forsaken the branch on which he was sitting and gone over to another of the same tree. If he comes to the original branch, he deserves to be welcomed and not told that he had committed sin by reason of his having forsaken the family to which he belonged. In so far as he may be deemed to have erred, he has sufficiently purged himself of it when he repents of the error and retraces his step.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works Volume 66, New Delhi, 1976, pp. 163-64. As quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • A universal language for India should be Hindi, with the option of writing in Persian or Nagari characters. In order that Hindus and Mahomedans may have closer relations, it is necessary to know both the characters. And, if we can do this, we can drive the English language out of the field in a short time. All this is necessary for us, slaves. Through our slavery the nation has been enslaved, and it will be free with our freedom.
  • If all the Punjabis were to die to the last man without killing, Punjab will be immortal. ... Offer yourselves as non-violent, willing sacrifices.
    • Attributed to Gandhi in : Larry Collins and D. Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight. and The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi - Volume 94 - Page 230 Mahatma Gandhi · 2000 · ‎
    • Variant: If all the Punjabis were to die to the last man without killing , the Punjab would become immortal . ... What a difference it would have made if they had bravely offered themselves as a non - violent , willing sacrifice !
  • If Brahmanism does not revive, Hinduism must perish. [...] I will not like to live in an India which has ceased to be Hindu.
    • Attributed to Gandhi by S. R. Goel, Hindu Temples (Second Enlarged Edition), Volume II. [12]
  • I have a great respect for Christianity. I often read the Sermon on the Mount and have gained much from it. I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity, but the trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings.
    • In conversation, attributed by James E. McEldowney [13]
  • The police... should never go on strike. Theirs was an essential service and they should render that service, irrespective of their pay. There were several other effective and honourable means of getting grievances redressed.
    • In response to representatives of policemen who met him during a police strike in Gaya on March 24, 1947, [14]


  • Poverty is the worst kind of violence.
    • Quoted without reference to earlier source, time or location in A Just Peace through Transformation: Cultural, Economic, and Political Foundations for Change (1988) by the International Peace Association
  • Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
    • The earliest attribution of this to Gandhi yet located is in a T-shirt advertisement in Mother Jones, Vol. 8, No. 5 (June 1983), p. 46
  • If you don't ask, you don't get.
    • Widespread late 20th century aphorism that appears to have been first attributed to Gandhi in various self-help books of the early 2000s. Google Books
  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
    • Variant on aphorism "Study as if you were to live forever. Live as if you were to die tomorrow" pre-dating Gandhi, variously attributed to Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 636), in FPA Book of Quotations (1952) by Franklin Pierce Adams, to Edmund Rich (1175–1240) in American Journal of Education (1877), or to Alain de Lille in Samuel Smiles's Duty (1881).
    • The 1995 book "The good boatman: a portrait of Gandhi," states that Gandhi subscribed "to the view that a man should live thinking he might die tomorrow but learn as if he would live forever."
    • In his 2010 Boyer lecture Glyn Davis (Professor of Political Science and Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University) attributes the quote to Desiderius Erasmus. "He [Erasmus] reworked Pliny to urge 'live as if you are to die tomorrow, study as if you were to live forever'. Many students obey the first clause - the best heed both."
    • There is a similar quote by Johann Gottfried Herder: "Mensch, genieße dein Leben, als müssest morgen du weggehn; Schone dein Leben, als ob ewig du weiletest hier." ["Man, enjoy your life as if you were to depart tomorrow; spare your life as if you were to linger here forever."] (Zerstreute Blätter, 1785).
  • I have never advocated "passive" anything. We must never submit to unjust laws. Never. And our resistance must be active and provocative.
    • This may be derived from lines in the movie Gandhi (1982); such statements have not been located among published sources.
  • The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
    • Widely attributed to Gandhi, sometimes citing Ramachandra Krishna Prabhu, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism (1959). (Cf. Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier (2006), p. 74.) However, it is not found in that essay [15] nor in any of Gandhi's Complete works. [16]
    • The original quote seems to be by David Strauss, The Old Faith and the New (Der alte und der neue Glaube, 1872, trans. by M. Blind, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1873), vol. II, ch. 71, p. 59: The manner in which a nation in the aggregate treats animals, is one chief measure of its real civilization.
    • Similar quotes, not attributed to Gandhi, are found throughout the twentieth century: e.g. The great actress, Mrs Fiske, once said to me, "The civilization of any country can be told by the way it treats its animals" (Zoe Berkeley, "Zoe Berkeley's Corner", Salinas Index-Journal, 1933-07-01, p. 8).
    • Attributed to Gandhi since at least 1980: The seal hunt truly is Canada's shame and we would do well to think of the words of Gandhi when he said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" (Doris Potter, Letter to the editor, The Gazette (Montreal), 1980-03-18, p. 8).
  • I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.
    • As quoted by William Rees-Mogg in The Times [London] (4 April 2005) {not found}. Gandhi here makes reference to a statement of Jesus: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13); also partly quoted in Christianity in the Crosshairs: Real Life Solutions Discovered in the Line of Fire (2004, p. 74 by Bill Wilson.
    • A variation is found in Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal & Gandhi Research Foundation's website Christian missionary E. Stanley Jones, who spent much time with Gandhi in India, is said to have askedː “Mr Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is it that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?". To this, Gandhi is said to have repliedː “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It is just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ”. Jones would write a book called "Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation" (1948), where he included excerpts of his personal correspondance with Gandhi, but he did not include this conversation.
    • No further sources for Gandhi have been yet found; but a similar quote is attributed to Bara Dadaː "Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians -- you are not like him." Source - Jones, E. Stanley. The Christ of the Indian Road, New York: The Abingdon Press,1925. (Page 114)
  • [asked what he thought of modern civilization] That would be a good idea.
    • variant: "I think it would be a good idea" when asked what he thought of Western civilization.
    • On p. 75 of Ralph Keyes' book The Quote Verifier (2006), Keyes writes: 'During his first visit to England, when asked what he though of modern civilization, Gandhi is said to have told news reporters, "That would be a good idea." The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations cites E. F. Schumacher's Good Work as its source for this Gandhiism, as does Nigel Rees in the Cassell Companion to Quotations. In that 1979 book, Schumacher said he saw Gandhi make this remark in a filmed record of his quizzing by reporters as he disembarked in Southampton while visiting England in 1930. Gandhi did not visit England in 1930. He did attend a roundtable conference on India's future in London the following year. Standard biographies of Gandhi do not report his making any such quip as he disembarked. Most often it has been revised to be Gandhi's assessment of "Western" civilization: "I think it would be a good idea." A retort such as this seems a little flip for Gandhi, and must be regarded as questionable. A comprehensive collection of his observations includes no such remark among twelve entries for "Civilization."'
    • The quote was attributed to Gandhi in various sources prior to Schumacher's 1979 book mentioned by Keyes above, though none have been found that mention where and when he gave this answer. The earliest located on google books being Reader's Digest, Volume 91 from 1967, p. 52, where it is attributed to a CBS News Special called "The Italians", described here as "a 1966 look at the nation and its people based on the book by Luigi Barzini", produced by Bernard Birnbaum and one of the 1966/1967 Emmy award winners. A discussion of the quote on "The Quote Investigator" website here mentions that on "The Italians" the quote was attributed to Gandhi.
  • What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.
    • Earliest instance of this quote found on google books is the 1989 book Forest primeval: the natural history of an ancient forest by Chris Maser, but there it appears to be Maser's own thought (see p. 230 followed by a different supposed Gandhi quote).
  • To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.
    • Earliest instance of this quote found on Google Books is the heading to a chapter entitled "How to Make Free Money From Your Website" from 2001, where it is attributed to "M. K. Ghandi" [sic].
  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others
    • Attributed to Gandhi in Stone, The Full Spectrum Synthesis Bible, iUniverse, 2001. link to Google Books. However, very similar quotes are found in the nineteenth century:
      • "Have you sorrows or trials that seem very heavy to bear? Then let me tell you that one of the best ways in the world to lighten and sweeten them is to lose yourself in the service of others ..." from Trine, What All The World's A-Seeking (1896) Google Books link;
      • "To lose yourself in the service of others may be to truly find yourself" from Usher, Protestantism (1897) Googe Books link.


  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
  • And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that, is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.
  • In Freedom's Battle (1922), Gandhi wrote this:
  • Unfortunately for His Excellency the movement is likely to grow with ridicule as it is certain to flourish on repression. No vital movement can be killed except by the impatience, ignorance or laziness of its authors. A movement cannot be 'insane' that is conducted by men of action as I claim the members of the Non-co-operation Committee are. … Ridicule is like repression. Both give place to respect when they fail to produce the intended effect. … It will be admitted that non-co-operation has passed the stage [of] ridicule. Whether it will now be met by repression or respect remains to be seen. … But the testing time has now arrived. In a civilized country when ridicule fails to kill a movement it begins to command respect.
  • Hate the sin and love the sinner.
    • This is variant of a traditional Christian proverb; ie: "Hate the sin, but love the sinner" in Sermons, Lectures, and Occasional Discourses (1828) Edward Irving, and similar expressions date to those of Augustine of Hippo: "Love the sinner and hate the sin." Gandhi did express approval of such sentiments in his An Autobiography (1927): "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.
  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the "atomic age" — as in being able to remake ourselves.
  • Action expresses priorities.
    • Apparently a rephrasing of "Actions express priorities," from Peak Performers (1987) by Charles A. Garfield. The phrase is adjacent to a Gandhi quote in at least one list of quotations alphabetized by last name.
  • There is enough wealth in the world to satisfy everyone's needs, ...'. This quote is actually credited to an American pastor of Swiss origin Frank Buchman, founder of the Moral Rearmament movement. Misquotes that Bapu is forced to wear.
  • We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.
    • There is "no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation", according to an article in The New York Times. Brian Morton, "Falser Words Were Never Spoken", New York Times, 2011-08-29. It is not found as a direct Gandhi quotation in the 98-volume authorized Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Misquotes that Bapu is forced to wear
    • The earliest evidence for quotes of this type comes from the "Love Project", an initiative begun at 1970 at a high school in Brooklyn, New York by teacher Arleen Lorrance. According to the project's website, "Be the change you want to see happen, instead of trying to change anyone else" was one of the principles of the Project "received" by Lorrance in 1970 -- but contemporaneous evidence for this has not been found.
    • A 1972 newspaper article states: "Instead of advocating change in people and things, ... Love Project encourages people to actually be change itself". Fulkerson, Ron (1972-09-28). "'Love Project' Marks End of Quest". San Antonio Express: p. 76. 
    • In 1974, Lorrance wrote, in a report on the Project: "One way to start a preventative program is to be the change you want to see happen." ("The Love Project", in Kellough (ed.), Developing Priorities and a Style, MSS, 1974).
    • In 1976, a newspaper report listed "'Be the change you want to see happen, instead of trying to change anyone else" as one of the principles of the Love Project. 'A Ministry Called "The Love Project", St Louis Post Dispatch, 1976-11-15, p. 36
    • In 1987, a similar quote was attributed to Gandhi in a New Mexico newspaper: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world". Hollis Engley, "A Long List of Varied Accomplishments", The New Mexican, Santa Fe, NM, 1987-01-11, p. D-1
    • In 1991,"We must be the change we wish to see in the world" is attributed to Gandhi in Stella Cornelius, "Partners in Conflict Resolution", from Barnaby (ed.), Building a More Democratic United Nations (1991) Google Book link
    • Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has attributed the quote to his famous grandfather since at least 2000. 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.< It is not clear whether Arun claims to have directly witnessed his grandfather saying it, or whether he heard of it second-hand.
  • When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it—always... When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be... think of that.

Quotes about GandhiEdit

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. ~ George Woodcock
Alphabetized by author


  • I know Gandhi better than his disciples. They came to him as devotees and saw only the Mahatma. I was an opponent, and I saw the bare man in him. He showed me his fangs.
  • My own view is that great men are of great service to their country but they are also at certain times a great hinderance to the progress of their country. There is one incident in Roman History which comes to my mind on this occasion. When Caesar was done to death and the matter was reported to Cicero, Cicero said to the messengers, "Tell the Romans your hour of liberty has come." While one regrets the assassination of Mr Gandhi, one can't help finding in his heart the echo of the sentiments, expressed by Cicero on the assassination of Caesar. Mr Gandhi had become a positive danger to this country. He had choked all free-thought. He was holding together the Congress, which is a combination of all the bad and selfseeking elements in society who agreed on no social or moral principle governing the life of society except the one of praising and flattering Mr Gandhi. Such a body is unfit to govern a country. As the Bible says 'that sometimes good cometh out of evil', so also I think that good will come out of the death of Mr Gandhi. It will release people from bondage to a superman, it will make them think for themselves and it will compel them to stand on their own merits.
  • However pure Mr. Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Musalman, even though he be without character... Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Musalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi.
    • Mahomed Ali (1924). The statement created a great stir, according to B. R. Ambedkar. Quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • Tagore is essentially a modern; Mahatma Gandhi is the St. Francis of Assisi of our own days.
    • C. F. Andrews, quoted in Indian critiques of Gandhi, Coward, Harold G. SUNY series in religious studies
  • Toward the end of our discussion I asked Attlee what was the extent of Gandhi's influence upon the British decision to quit India. Hearing this question, Attlee's lips became twisted in a sarcastic smile as he slowly chewed out the word, m-i-n-i-m-a-l!
  • When Gandhi's movement was started, I said that this movement would lead either to a fiasco or to a great confusion. And I see no reason to change my opinion. Only I would like to add that it has led to both.
    • Sri Aurobindo, June 23, 1926, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [22]
  • As for Gandhi, why should you suppose that I am so tender for the faith of the Mahatma? I do not call it faith at all, but a rigid mental belief and what he calls soul-force is only a strong vital will which has taken a religious turn. That, of course, can be a tremendous force for action, but unfortunately Gandhi spoils it by his ambition to be a man of reason, while in fact he has no reason in him at all, never was reasonable at any moment in his life and, I suppose, never will be. What he has in its place is a remarkable type of unintentionally sophistic logic. Well, what this reason, this amazingly precisely unreliable logic brings about is that nobody is even sure and, I don't think, he is himself really sure what he will do next. He has not only two minds but three or four minds, and all depends on which will turn up topmost at a particular moment and how it will combine with the others. There would be no harm in that, on the contrary these might be an advantage if there were a central Light somewhere choosing for him and shaping the decision to the need of the action. He thinks there is and calls it God... but it has always seemed to me that it is his own mind that decides and most often decides wrongly. Anyhow I cannot imagine Lenin or Mustapha Kemal not knowing their own minds or acting in this way... even their strategic retreats were steps towards an end clearly conceived and executed. But whatever it be it is all mind action and vital force in Gandhi. So why should he be taken as an example of the defeat of the Divine or of a spiritual Power? I quite allow that there has been something behind Gandhi greater than himself and you can call it the Divine or a Cosmic Force which has used him, but then there is that behind everybody who is used as an instrument for world ends,... behind Kemal and Lenin also; so that is not germane to the matter.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Letter dated July 31, 1932, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [23]
  • Some prominent national workers in India seem to me to be incarnations of some European force here. They may not be incarnations, but they may be strongly influenced by European thought. For instance Gandhi is a European - truly, a Russian Christian in an Indian body. And there are some Indians in European bodies! Yes. When the Europeans say that he is more Christian than many Christians (some even say that he is “Christ of the modern times”) they are perfectly right. All his preaching is derived from Christianity, and though the garb is Indian the essential spirit is Christian. He may not be Christ, but at any rate he comes in continuation of the same impulsion. He is largely influenced by Tolstoy, the Bible, and has a strong Jain tinge in his teachings; at any rate more than by the Indian scriptures - the Upanishads or the Gita, which he interprets in the light of his own ideas.
    • Sri Aurobindo. 1926. India's Rebirth. Quoted in [24]
  • It seemed a miracle that I would meet, and have the blessing to know and work with, one of the two saints of the phenomenon which had won my heart when I was barely sixteen years old: the concept of radical nonviolence, introduced to the world as a revolutionary political tool by Mahatma Gandhi in India, and reintroduced now by Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States of America.
  • 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.
  • The boycott, as Gandhi taught, is the most nearly perfect instrument for nonviolent change, allowing masses of people to participate actively in a cause.
    • Cesar Chavez 1982 speech, anthologized in An Organizer’s Tale (2008)
  • Economic power has to precede political power. Gandhi understood this when, in 1930, he and his followers resolved to defy the British government's salt monopoly by making their own salt from the sea; this boycott was one of the crucial steps in the Indian fight for independence.
    • Cesar Chavez "Sharing the Wealth" 1970 essay for Playboy, anthologized in An Organizer’s Tale (2008)
  • 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)
  • 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.


  • An enigmatic character, sly and acetic, ambitious and devout, one of those gurus who exert an incredible magnetism on the crowds and often lead them to disaster (…) a sentimental religiosity coupled with a lack of scruples (…) During his lifetime, no one could stop his fateful influence. It will take a long time before the victims of his charisma, in India as well as in the West, dare to make an account of his actions. (…) [Gandhi’s religion consisted in] ‘extreme puritanism, the strictest vegetarianism, the total absence of metaphysical concerns and philosophical culture, and, conversely, the grossest religious sentimentalism [in which] icy puritanism masks dishonesty.
    • Alain Daniélou, As quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. chapter 5. Section OTHER VOICES ON GANDHI’S CHARACTER, quoting Alain Daniélou: Histoire de l’Inde, p. 364. Daniélou, Alain, Histoire de l’Inde, Fayard, Paris, 1983 (1971).
  • 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).
    • Variants:
    • 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 stands squarely with Maharshi Dayananda, Bankim Chandra, Swami Vivekananda, Lokamanya Tilak and Sri Aurobindo in developing the language of Indian nationalism. His mistake about Islam does not diminish the lustre of that language which he spoke with full faith and confidence. On the contrary, his mistake carries a message of its own. [...] It must be admitted that the failure which the Mahatma met vis-à-vis the Muslims was truly of startling proportions (...) his policy towards Muslims had been full of appeasement at the cost of Hindu society. But nothing had helped. Muslims had continued to grow more and more hostile (...) there must be something very hard in the heart of Islam that even a man of an oceanic goodwill like Mahatma Gandhi failed to move it.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Perversion of India's Political Parlance, ch. 7. Quoted in part in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. chapter 6.
  • As with all great men, different aspects stand out for different people. That which gave him his exceptional position in India was something different from that which won for him the admiration of friends in Western countries, which is another way of saying that the man himself was larger than any attempts made to paint his portrait. There was a directness about him which was singularly winning, but this could be accompanied by a subtlety of intellectual process which could sometimes be disconcerting. To appreciate what was passing in his mind it was necessary, if not to start from the same point, at least to understand very clearly what was the starting point for him; and this was nearly always very human and very simple.
  • I remember when I first went to India talking about him to C. F. Andrews who, I imagine, was closer to him than any other European. He said, as indeed was clear when it came to the Round Table Conference, that Mr. Gandhi cared little for constitutions and constitutional forms. What he was concerned with was the human problem of how the Indian poor lived. Constitutional reform was important and necessary for the development of India's personality and self-respect; but what really mattered were the things that affected the daily lives of the millions of his fellow countrymen—salt, opium, cottage industries, and the like. I have no doubt this was true, and though it was easy to smile at the devotion of Mr. Gandhi to the spinning wheel, while Congress was largely dependent for its funds upon the generosity of wealthy Indian mill owners, the wheel none-the-less stood for something fundamental in his philosophy of life.
  • He was the natural knight errant, fighting always the battle of the weak against suffering and what he judged injustice. The claims of Indians in South Africa, the treatment of Indian labourers in the indigo fields in India, the thousands rendered homeless by the floods of Orissa, and above everything the suffering arising from communal hatreds—all these were in turn a battlefield on which he fought with all his strength for what to him was the cause of humanity and right.
  • The episodes I have quoted will suffice to show on the personal side what reason I had to value his friendship, and I can think of no person whose undertaking to respect a confidence I should ever have been more ready to accept than his. Measured by human standards, the abrupt cutting short of his life was a tragic deprivation for the country that he loved.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Your methods have already caused splits and division in almost every institution that you have approached…not only amongst the Hindus and Muslims, but between Hindus and Hindus and Muslims and Muslims, and even between father and sons.
    • Jinnah , quoted in Indian critiques of Gandhi, Coward, Harold G. SUNY series in religious studies.193.
  • With Lenin he shared a quasi-religious approach to politics, though in sheer crankiness he had much more in common with Hitler (…) One of his favourite books was Constipation and Our Civilization, which he constantly reread. (…) His eccentricities appealed to a nation which venerates sacral oddity. But his teachings had no relevance to India’s problems. (…) His food policy would have led to mass starvation. In fact Gandhi’s own ashram (…) had to be heavily subsidized by three merchant princes.‘And Gandhi was expensive in human life as well as money. The events of 1920–21 indicated that though he could bring a mass-movement into existence, he could not control it. Yet he continued to play the sorcerer’s apprentice, while the casualty bill mounted into hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, and the risks of a gigantic sectarian and racial explosion accumulated. This blindness to the law of probability in a bitterly divided subcontinent made nonsense of Gandhi’s professions that he would not take life in any circumstances.
    • Paul Johnson, Modern Times, Orion, London, 1992. pp 470-2 Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. chapter 5. Section OTHER VOICES ON GANDHI’S CHARACTER
  • 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. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contracts theory of Hobbes, the "back to nature" optimism of Rousseau, the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi.
  • The Mahatma was the greatest living anachronism of the twentieth century... [India would probably be] better off today and healthier in mind without the Gandhian heritage.
    • Arthur Koestler, in Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic, Michael Scammell
  • Hinduism in its most perverted forms was preached and practised by Gandhi. He tried to obliterate the distinction between the life of a monk and the life of a householder by making ordinary people behave like monks. He wanted India to have a monkish economy, a monkish politics, a monkish foreign policy and a monkish defence policy. Consequently, under the leadership of Gandhi, India acquired a great heart but lost its head.
    • M.M. Kothari: Critique of Gandhi, Jodhpur 1996, p. iv;. Kothari, M.M., Critique of Gandhi, Critique Publ., Jodhpur, 1996. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. chapter 5. Section OTHER VOICES ON GANDHI’S CHARACTER


It is my conviction and shraddha (faith) that even on economic issues, Gandhi is relevant even today... So in every aspect of my social reform efforts, you will see the imprint of Gandhi... I bring every little aspect of Gandhi ji’s life into my work... This is part of putting our traditions and Gandhian values to creative use.~ Narendra Modi
  • 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.
  • I yield to none in my profound respect for Gandhi, the saint and the humanitarian. ... It has been my painful duty to show that ... the popular image of Gandhi cannot be reconciled with what he actually was.... It will also be seen that the current estimate of the degree or extent of his success bears no relation to actual facts... A historian must uphold the great ideal of truth which was so dear to Gandhi himself, and if we delineate the political life of Gandhi 'with strict adherence to truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it will, I believe, be patent to all that Gandhi was lacking in both political wisdom and political strategy — as we commonly understand these terms — and far from being infallible, committed serious blunders, one after another, in pursuit of some Utopian ideals and methods which had no basis in reality. ... That Gandhi played a very great role in rousing the political consciousness of the masses nobody can possibly deny. But it would be a travesty of truth to give him the sole credit for the freedom of India...
  • Gandhi combined in himself the dual role of a saint and an active politician...[his] followers did not make this distinction and gave unto the political leader what was really due to the illustrated by the implicit faith in, and unquestioning obedience to Gandhi...shown by even very highly eminent persons. They mostly belonged to two categories. The first comprised those who willingly surrendered their conscience and judgement to the safe keeping of the political Guru... the second...consisted of those who fell a victim to the magic charm of Gandhi even though they fumed and fretted at his...irrational dogmas repulsive to their own independent judgment... Gandhi was lacking in both political wisdom and political strategy...far from being infallible, committed serious blunders, one after another in pursuit of some Utopian ideals... which had no basis in reality...he placed the cult of non-violence above everything else—even above the independence of India... To Gandhi, not only was independence of India a minor issue as compared with the principle of non-violence, but it is relate, he was even prepared to postpone Swaraj activity if thereby he could advance the interest of the Khilafat... Gandhi was a dictator who could not tolerate opposition. In 1930, he deliberately excluded from the Working Committee...those who differed from his views... it would be a travesty of truth to give him the sole credit for the freedom of India.
    • R. C. Majumdar in History of the Freedom Movement in India, Preface to vol. 3, p. xviii. Quoted in Is Indian Culture Obsolete? (2000) by Michel Danino, p. 48. [25]
  • 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.
  • It is my conviction and shraddha (faith) that even on economic issues, Gandhi is relevant even today.... So in every aspect of my social reform efforts, you will see the imprint of Gandhi.... I bring every little aspect of Gandhi ji's life into my work. In social forestry, that is, in planting trees outside forest areas, Gujarat is number one in India... We have also incentivized every village to have a panchvati (a green belt drawing its name from the forest in which Ram, Lakshman, and Sita lived during their years of exile).... This is part of putting our traditions and Gandhian values to creative use.
    • Narendra Modi quoted from Kishwar, Madhu (2014). Modi, Muslims and media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. p.381-386
  • I am thinking of the anger Gandhi experienced that fateful night of May 31, 1893, when he was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg a week after his arrival in South Africa. This was no minor irritation; according to his own testimony, Gandhi was furious. That, along with the fact that Gandhi is more than usually articulate about his inner experiences, is what makes this event (among millions of similar insults human beings endure at one another's hands) such an important window into the dynamics of nonviolent conversion. The first clue as to how he finally succeeded, after a night of bitter reflection, to see the creative way out is that he didn't take the insult personally; he saw in it the whole tragedy of man's inhumanity to man, the whole outrage of racism. Not “they can’t do this to me,” but “how can we do this to one another?”
    • Michael Nagler, Is There No Other Way?: The Search for a Nonviolent Future (2001), p. 77
  • 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).
  • My respect and admiration for Gandhi, though not uncritical, was deep.


  • "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
  • 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)
  • Reputed historians and other eminent academicians have not undertaken so far any honest study of Gandhi’s character. Just as little is known of his perverse experiments with women, as little is known of his vicious anger and lacerating speech that he routinely spewed at people who opposed him or rejected him.... He treated those whom he considered inferior to him in status with contempt and in wounding language.
    • Radha Rajan, Eclipse of the Hindu Nation: Gandhi and His Freedom Struggle, 2009
  • Independence itself came to us as what Gandhi famously called a "wooden loaf'-a notional freedom tainted by the blood of the thousands who died during Partition.
  • 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 autonomy 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).
  • To make Gandhi appeal to the Western market, he had to be sanctified and turned into Christ – an odd fate for a crafty Gujarati lawyer – and the history of one of the century's greatest revolutions had to be mangled.
    • Salman Rushdie, quoted in Patrick French - Liberty or Death : India's Journey to Independence and Division (1998)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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).
  • ...sustainability is not compatible with the existing profit- and growth-oriented development paradigm. And this means that the standard of living of the North's affluent societies cannot be generalized. This was already clear to Mahatma Gandhi 60 years ago,who, when asked by a British journalist whether he would like India to have the same standard of living as Britain, replied: ‘To have its standard of living a tiny country like Britain had to exploit half the globe. How many globes will India need to exploit to have the same standard of living?’ From an ecological and feminist perspective, moreover, even if there were more globes to be exploited, it is not even desirable that this development paradigm and standard of living was generalized, because it has failed to fulfill its promises of happiness, freedom, dignity and peace, even for those who have profited from it.
  • Mahatma Gandhi once explained the meaning of Namaste to Albert Einstein – “I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you the light, love, truth, peace and wisdom."
  • 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)
  • Gandhi's hatred of State oppression was as passionate and deeply-felt as any contemporary libertarian.
    • 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 extremely difficult for me to have to differ from Mahatma Gandhi in regard to any matter of principle or method. . . . For what could be a greater joy than to join hands in the field of work with one for whom one has such love and reverence? . . . The difference in our standpoints and temperaments . . . makes the Mahatma’s field of work one which my conscience cannot accept as its own. That is a regret that will abide with me always.
    • R. Tagore, quoted in Indian critiques of Gandhi, Coward, Harold G. SUNY series in religious studies
  • A madman, mad and arrogant.
    • Dinshaw Edulji Wacha. Quoted in Wolpert, Stanley A., Jinnah of Pakistan, OUP, Delhi, 1984. page 69. Also quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. chapter 5. Section OTHER VOICES ON GANDHI’S CHARACTER
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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