Mahatma Gandhi quotes

Mahatma Gandhi photo
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Mahatma Gandhi

Birthdate: 2. October 1869
Date of death: 30. January 1948
Other names: Móhandás Karamčand Gándhí

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā —applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa—is now used worldwide. In India, he is also called Bapu and Gandhi ji, and unofficially known as the Father of the Nation.

Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.

Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and political protest.

Gandhi's vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism, however, was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India. Eventually, in August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to stop religious violence. The last of these, undertaken on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest. Captured along with many of his co-conspirators and collaborators, Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were tried, convicted and executed while many of their other accomplices were given prison sentences.

Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

Works

The Essential Gandhi
The Essential Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Freedom's Battle
Freedom's Battle
Mahatma Gandhi

„Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Basic Education (1951) p. 89
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
Context: 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.

„A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

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."
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
Context: 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.

„I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

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 books.google http://books.google.de/books?id=I7_5OM2VWuMC&pg=PA74) by Bill Wilson.
A variation is found in Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal & Gandhi Research Foundation's website mkgandhi.org http://www.mkgandhi.org/africaneedsgandhi/gandhi's_message_to_christians.htm. 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 https://archive.org/details/mahatmagandhiani000019mbp" (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 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)
Disputed
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

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
1920s, An Autobiography (1927)
Context: "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.

„The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Attributed to Gandhi in Stone, The Full Spectrum Synthesis Bible, iUniverse, 2001. link to Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=K6NiilgGaqMC&pg=PA168&dq=%22lose+yourself+in+the+service+of+others%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAGoVChMI9pbPuNK_yAIVVMxjCh0RxgLp#v=onepage&q=%22lose%20yourself%20in%20the%20service%20of%20others%22&f=false. 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 https://books.google.com/books?id=9oM7AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA78&dq=%22lose+yourself+in+the+service+of+others%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAWoVChMIrZvI7tG_yAIVEcVjCh0WsgJW#v=onepage&q=%22lose%20yourself%20in%20the%20service%20of%20others%22&f=false;
"To lose yourself in the service of others may be to truly find yourself" from Usher, Protestantism (1897) Googe Books link https://books.google.com/books?id=kftDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA43&dq=%22lose+yourself+in+the+service+of+others&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMI4_Ls6NG_yAIVQsdjCh1iSAL7#v=onepage&q=%22lose%20yourself%20in%20the%20service%20of%20others&f=false.
Disputed

„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.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

From the Quit India speech in Bombay, on the eve of the Quit India movement (8 August 1942)
1940s
Context: 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.

„In judging myself I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Introduction
1920s, An Autobiography (1927)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Young India, (Bulletin), 2-10-1930, p. 2 In: My God (1962), Chapter 13. Pathways of God http://www.mkgandhi.org/god/mygod/pathwaystogod.html, Printed and Published by: Jitendra T. Desai, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemadabad-380014 India
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
Context: 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.

„A non-violent soldier of freedom will covet nothing for himself, he fights only for the freedom of his country.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

From the Quit India speech in Bombay, on the eve of the Quit India movement (8 August 1942)
1940s
Context: 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.

„An unjust law is itself a species of violence.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Non-Violence in Peace & War (1962) Vol. 2, edited by Mahadev Haribhai Desai, p. 144
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
Context: 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.

„I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter of all that lives.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Young India (4 December 1924)
1920s
Context: 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.

„It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Harijan (30 January 1937)
1930s
Context: 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

„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.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

"Non-Violence — The Greatest Force" in The World Tomorrow (5 October 1926)
1920s
Context: 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.

„To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Young India (10 April 1930)
1930s
Context: 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?

„The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwara of Hindus.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Harijan, 14-5-1938, pp. 110-11; In: My God (1962), Chapter 13. Pathways of God http://www.mkgandhi.org/god/mygod/pathwaystogod.html, Printed and Published by: Jitendra T. Desai, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemadabad-380014 India
Posthumous publications (1950s and later)
Context: 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.

„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…“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

This appears to have been originally written by John Briley in the screenplay http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/Gandhi.txt for the movie, Gandhi (1982), spoken by Ben Kingsley, playing Gandhi. The earliest [partial] misattribution to Gandhi appears to be by Ronald Reagan in an address http://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/25/world/transcript-of-reagan-s-address-to-the-un-general-assembly.html?pagewanted=all to the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September 1984 (also a misquotation, substituting the word fail for fall). John S. Dunne misattributes the first sentence in The Peace of the Present (1991) on p. 50 https://books.google.com/books?id=NYIJAAAAIAAJ&q=%22when+Gandhi+says%22+%22When+I+despair,+I+remember+that+all+through+history+the+way+of+truth+and+love+has+always+won.%22&dq=%22when+Gandhi+says%22+%22When+I+despair,+I+remember+that+all+through+history+the+way+of+truth+and+love+has+always+won.%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhufXN09LWAhWG7SYKHbRdCJ0Q6AEIJzAA, just after misattributing the same first two sentences that Reagan did. Dunne also misattributes the final part of the quotation in the same book on p. 34 https://books.google.com/books?id=NYIJAAAAIAAJ&q=%22Think+of+it+%E2%80%94+always%E2%80%A6%22+%22When+you+are+in+doubt+that+that+is+God%27s+way,+the+way+the+world+is+meant+to+be%E2%80%A6+think+of+that.%22&dq=%22Think+of+it+%E2%80%94+always%E2%80%A6%22+%22When+you+are+in+doubt+that+that+is+God%27s+way,+the+way+the+world+is+meant+to+be%E2%80%A6+think+of+that.%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEw57e1tLWAhUSdiYKHUNiA2kQ6AEIMTAC.
Misattributed
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Mahatma Gandhi

Farewell, p. 454
1920s, An Autobiography (1927)
Context: 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.

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