Importance of Khadi
"Like swaraj, khadi is our birth-right, and it is our life-long duty to use that only. Anyone who does not fulfil that duty is totally ignorant of what swaraj is."
(Navajivan, 5-3-1922; 23:11)
"We cannot claim to have understood the meaning of swaraj till khadi becomes as universal as currency."
(Navajivan, 12-3-1922; 23:77)
"I have only one message to give and that concerns khadi. Place khadi in my hands and I shall place swaraj in yours. The uplift of the Antyajas is also covered by khadi and even Hindu- Muslim unity will live through it. It is also a great instrument of peace. This does not mean that I do not favour boycott of Councils and law-courts, but in order that people may not have a grievance against those who go to them, I desire that the people should carry on work concerning khadi even with the help of lawyers and members of legislatures. Keep the Moderates highly pleased, cultivate love and friendship for them. Once they become fearless, that very moment they will become one with us. The same holds good also for Englishmen."
(In an interview to Indulal Yagnik, which was published in Navajivan on 19-3-1922; 23:86-87.)
"Ever since the commencement of our present struggle, we have been feeling the necessity of boycotting foreign cloth. I venture to suggest that, when khaddar comes universally in use, the boycott of foreign cloth will automatically follow. Speaking for myself, charkha and khaddar have a special religious significance to me because they are a symbol of kinship between the members of both the communities and the hunger- and disease- stricken poor. It is by virtue of the fact that our movement can today be described as moral and economic as well as political."
(Letter written to Abdul Bari from Sabarmati Jail, after 12-3-1922; 23:92.)
"You have asked me why wearing of Indian mill cloth does not amount to boycott of foreign cloth. This is colossal ignorance. For fulfilling the boycott it is not enough if we wear mill cloth. The Bengalis even today complain of the exploitation of Bengal by the mill-owners at the time of the Partition. Their experience should teach us that boycott cannot be achieved with the help of only mill cloth. The propaganda should, therefore, be in favour of khadi only. It is obvious that mill cloth has no place in the house of the Congress."
(A speech at Public Meeting, Poona, on 4-9-1924; 25:87.)
"I am convinced that swaraj cannot come so long as the tens of millions of our brothers and sisters do not take to the charkha, do not spin, do not make khadi and wear it."
(Opening speech at Belgaum Congress, 26-12-1924; 25:465.)
"What is the national programme today? Removal of untouchability by the Hindus, khaddar and Hindu-Muslim unity. I think all the three items are calculated to help a solution of your difficulties. Even Hindu-Muslim unity means more or less a solution of the untouchability question too, and khaddar can unite us as nothing else can."
(Young India, 14-5-1925; 27:14.)
"The charkha will help us overcome our narrowness. Today a North Indian visiting Bengal has to tell others that he is an Indian. Bengalis living in other provinces regard themselves as foreigners. Similarly, South Indians become foreigners as soon as they set foot in North India. The charkha is the only device which makes us all feel that we are children of the same land. We have so far accomplished nothing. Let us accomplish some little thing at any rate. Boycott of foreign cloth is something which all can equally further, towards which all can contribute equally. Untouchability hurts Hindus alone; the quarrels between the Hindus and Muslims will also be over some time or other; but if there is no khadi, the whole country will remain sunk in utter poverty."
(Speech at Shantiniketan on 31-5-1925; 27:181.)
"Even today I tell you with all the confidence that I can command that if only you all completely boycott all foreign and Indian mill-made cloth, you will achieve swaraj within less than a year."
(Speech at swadeshi exhibition, Kanpur, 24-12-1925; 29:351.)
"Khadi has a tonic effect but, like nourishing food, it may not please one's taste; its savour lies in its tonic effect. Increased production of khadi will correspondingly increase the vitality of the country and, in any case, will not bring about indigestion. To the workers in the field the immediate gain may seem too small, but, as a mango sapling yields thousands of mangoes when it grows into a tree, so a patient worker will certainly witness, in the long run, excellent results of his seemingly modest beginning."
(Navajivan, 14-2-1926; 30:16-17.)
"Khaddar is the concrete and central fact of swadeshi. Swadeshi without khaddar is like the body without life, fit only to receive a decent burial or cremation. The only swadeshi cloth is khaddar. If one is to interpret swadeshi in the language of and in terms of the millions of this country, khaddar is a substantial thing in swadeshi like the air we breathe. The test of swadeshi is not the universality of the use of an article which goes under the name of swadeshi, but the universality of participation in the production or manufacture of such article. Thus considered, mill-made cloth is swadeshi only in a restricted sense. For, in its manufacture only an infinitesimal number of India's millions can take part. But in the manufacture of khaddar millions can take part."
(Young India, 17-6-1926; 31:11.)
"Do you believe in the ability of khadi to remodel political life? Do you know that I have staked all upon khadi? The proposition enunciated is that you advance the political life in the country in exact proportion to the advance of khadi and no more. The moment I have driven this truth home, that moment will begin the forward movement."
(Letter to Dr. N. S. Hardikar, Wardha, 9-12-1926, 32:413.)
"Needless to say that khadi is not a threat. It is the breath of national life like swaraj. The khadi movement like swaraj cannot be given up against any concessions however generous. To give up khadi would be to sell the masses, the soul of India."
(Young India, 19-1-1928; 35:478.)
"The boycott of foreign cloth will succeed only when the twenty-two crores of our peasants begin to use khadi. And to convert them to the use of khadi means to explain to them the science of khadi, to show them the advantages of self-help and to teach them the entire process of khadi production. For this we need volunteers, mobile schools and preparation and distribution of booklets describing the processes of spinning, carding, etc."
(Navajivan, 21-4-1929; 40:268-69.)
"If all those who are dedicated to swaraj also dedicate themselves to the cause of khadi, we can boycott foreign cloth today sitting in our homes and if that boycott can be realized, the people will acquire new vigour and self-confidence."
(Navajivan, 4-8-1929; 41:252.)
"I repeat what I have said so often that voluntary universal adoption of khaddar with all its vast implications means puma swaraj and that civil disobedience becomes a necessary duty only because khaddar has not yet obtained the hold it should."
(Young India, 5-2-1931; 45:135.)
"Self-sufficient khadi eliminates the middleman altogether. It is the easiest method of perceptibly" increasing the income of the millions of the semi-starved villagers.
"But will the villager ever take to self-sufficient khadi? Yes, if we have faith accompanied by technical skill, or rather a living faith that will move mountains and give the worker all the skill necessary for his task which is undoubtedly difficult. . . .
"Without decentralization of cotton cultivation, universal manufacture in villages may not be possible. We have authentic examples of deserts having been turned into smiling gardens by judicious manipulation of the soil. It ought not, therefore, to be impossible to grow enough cotton in every village for local use. Not only will this cheapen khadi for the villagers, but it will also improve the durability of khadi."
(Harijan, 3-8-1935; 61:305-6.)
". . . And khadi should be linked with liberty. All the time you are spinning, you would not think in terms of your own requirements but in terms of the requirements of the nation. You will say, 'I want to clothe the whole nation that is naked and I must do it non-violently.' Each time you draw a thread, say to yourselves, 'We are drawing the thread of swaraj.' Multiply this picture millionfold and you have freedom knocking at your door."
(Talk to Travancore State Congress Deputation, 15-11-1938; 68:133.)
"I have not hesitated to say, and I make bold to repeat, that there is no swaraj for the millions, for the hungry and the naked and for the millions of illiterate women without khadi. Habitual use of khadi is a sign that the wearer identifies himself with the poorest in the land, and has patriotism and self-sacrifice enough in him to wear khadi even though it may not be so soft or elegant in appearance as foreign fineries, nor so cheap."
(Harijan, 27-1-1940; 71:125.)
"The constructive programme to be sure comprises thirteen different activities. It can be further enlarged. But there are three items in it that are the most important. They are pregnant with revolutionary possibilities. They are: khadi, eradication of untouchability and Hindu-Muslim unity. The MacDonald Award and 'Pakistan' are nothing but projections of our mental attitude of treating the Harijans and Muslims as separate from us. Remember that the separation is not of their asking. It is what we have chosen to give them, what we forced them to ask for. Thus, the unity between the caste Hindus and outcaste Hindus, and that between Hindus and Muslims and khadi represent a revolution in our own lives."
(During discussion with Kishorelal Mashruwala on 13-11- 1940; 73:175.)
"I see khadi dying. Hence if khadi, which is the main plank of the constructive programme, is to be saved, it ought to become self-supporting. Those who do not spin have no right to wear khadi. All those who wear khadi must spin so that khadi may survive."
(Talk with Narahari D. Parikh, 12-12-1944; 78:386.)
"Swaraj cannot come through the machine. But if two hundred million people with full understanding produce khadi with their own labour and wear it the face of India will be transformed."
(Harijan Sevak, 28-7-1946; 85:15.)
"In German East Africa, I am told, cloth shortage during World War I was actually met by the Negroes being induced to manufacture their own cloth. Whether that is so or not, if India made full use of her spinning and weaving tradition which is universal and the matchless hereditary skill of her artisans, she could not only solve her own difficulty but even help the world to meet the present crisis by releasing her mill production, for countries less favourably placed in the matter of cloth manufacture."
(Discussion with a friend, 17-8-1946; 85:171.)
"People, whether in towns or in villages, should spin and wear khadi. It should be as natural as cooking one's own food which is done in every home. This is not a very big thing. We shall all perish if we do not practise this. We are facing starvation because we do the things we ought not to do. India is a country poorer than even China. We appear to be human beings, but. actually we live like animals. What would happen to the cow if human beings turn into animals? If every village in India became self-sufficient in the matter of food and clothing,-we would easily save a billion rupees. I have no doubt about this. We would require no help from anyone, and the whole of India would become a co-operative enterprise . . .
". . . Khadi is meant for everyone. Even a depraved man, a sinner, a drunkard, a gambler, anybody, can wear it. But the sacred quality of khadi is that it is a symbol of freedom. Those who wish to live in free India ought to wear khadi."
(Address to workers, Sadaquat Ashram, Patna, 24-4-1947; 87:349.)