Махатма Ганди quotes

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Махатма Ганди

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
Махатма Ганди
Freedom's Battle
Freedom's Battle
Махатма Ганди

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

—  Махатма Ганди

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 reality there are as many religions as there are individuals….“

—  Махатма Ганди

1900s, Hind Swaraj (1908)
Context: 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?

„We cannot evoke the true spirit of sacrifice and valour, so long as we are not free.“

—  Махатма Ганди

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.

„My life is dedicated to service of India through the religion of nonviolence which I believed to be the root of Hinduism.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

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.

„If we are to reach real peace in this world“

—  Махатма Ганди

Young India (19 November 1931, p. 361)
1930s
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1940s, To Every Briton (1940)
Context: 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. <!-- They may tell you that our non-co-operation was not wholly non-violent, that it was born of hatred. If they give that testimony, I won’t deny it. Had it been wholly non-violent, if all the non-co-operators had been filled with goodwill towards you, I make bold to say that you who are India’s masters would have become her pupils and, with much greater skill than we have, perfected this matchless weapon and met the German and Italian friends’ menace with it. Indeed the history of Europe during the past few months would then have been written differently. Europe would have been spared seas of innocent blood, the rape of so many small nations, and the orgy of hatred.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

„I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non-violent arms.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1940s, To Every Briton (1940)
Context: 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. <!-- They may tell you that our non-co-operation was not wholly non-violent, that it was born of hatred. If they give that testimony, I won’t deny it. Had it been wholly non-violent, if all the non-co-operators had been filled with goodwill towards you, I make bold to say that you who are India’s masters would have become her pupils and, with much greater skill than we have, perfected this matchless weapon and met the German and Italian friends’ menace with it. Indeed the history of Europe during the past few months would then have been written differently. Europe would have been spared seas of innocent blood, the rape of so many small nations, and the orgy of hatred.

„I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India's and my strength for better purpose.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

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„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

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

—  Махатма Ганди

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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

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.

„Good government is no substitute for self-government.“

—  Махатма Ганди

Young India (2 September 1920) p. 1
1920s
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

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

—  Махатма Ганди

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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

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.

„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.“

—  Махатма Ганди

1920s, The Doctrine Of The Sword (1920)
Context: 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.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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