You are here:
ONLINE BOOKS > INDIA OF MY DREAMS > Obiter Dicta
Obiter Dicta
Adivasis
The Adivasis are the original inhabitants whose material position is perhaps no better than of Harijans and who have long been victims of neglect on the part of the so-called high classes. The Adivasis should have found a special place in the constructive programme. Non-mention was an oversight. They provide a vast field of service for Congressmen. The Christian missionary has been more or less in sole occupation of the field. Great as his labour has been, it has not prospered as it might have, because of his ultimate aim being the Adivasis’ conversion to his fold and their becoming de-Indianised. Any way no one who hopes to construct Swaraj on the foundation of non-violence can afford to neglect even the least of India’s sons. Adivasis are too numerous to be counted among the least.
Harijan, 18-1-42

Discipline
The highest from of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied, unbridled license is a sign of vulgarity alike to self and one’s neighbours.
Young India, 3-6-26

There will have to be rigid and iron discipline before we achieve anything great and enduring and that discipline will not come by mere academic argument and appeal to reason and logic. Discipline is learnt in the school of adversity. And when zealous young men will train themselves to responsible work without any shield, they will learn what responsibility and discipline are.
Young India, 19-5-27

Doctors
The fact remains that the doctors induce us to indulge, and the result is that we have become deprived of self-control and have become effeminate.
Hind Swaraj, p. 83

My quarrel with the medical profession in general is that it ignores the soul altogether and strains at nothing in seeking merely to repair such a fragile instrument as the body. Thus ignoring the soul, the profession puts men at its mercy and contributes to the diminution of human dignity and self-control.
Young India, 11-6-25

Dress
The national dress…is the most natural and the most becoming for an Indian. I believe that our copying of the European dress is a sign of our degradation, humiliation and our weakness, and that we are committing a national sin in discarding a dress which is best suited to the Indian climate and which, for its simplicity, art and cheapness, is not to be beaten on the face of the earth and which answers hygienic requirements.
Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 393

My narrow nationalism rebels against the hat; my secret internationalism regards the sola hat as one of the few boons from Europe. But for the tremendous national prejudice against the hat, I would undertake to become president of a league for popularizing sola hats.
Educated India has erred in taking to (in this climate) unnecessary, unhygienic, inelegant trousers and betraying general hesitation to take up the sola hat. But I know that national likes and dislikes are not governed by reason.
Young India, 6-6-29

Flag
A flag is a necessity for all nations. Millions have died for it. It is no doubt a kind of idolatry which it would be a sin to destroy. For a flag represents an ideal. The unfurling of the Union Jack evokes in the English breast sentiments whose strength it is difficult to measure. The Stars and Stripes mean a world to the Americans. The Stars and the Crescent will call forth the best bravery in Islam. It will be necessary for us Indians-Hindus, Mahomedans, Christians, Jews, Parsis and all others to whom India is their home-to recognizes a common flag to live and to die for.
Young India, 13-4-21

Lawyers
The duty of a lawyer is always to place before the judges, and to help them to arrive at, the truth, never to prove the guilty as innocent.
Young India, 11-6-25

Leadership
Those who claim to lead the masses must resolutely refuse to be led by them, if we want to avoid mob law and desire ordered progress for the country. I believe that mere protestation of one’s opinion and surrender to the mass opinion is not only not enough but in matters of vital importance, leaders must act contrary to the mass opinion, if it does not commend itself to their reason.
Young India, 14-7-20

A leader is only first among equals. Some one must be put first, but he is and should be no stronger than the weakest link in the chain. Having made our selection we must follow him or the chain is broken and is loose.
Young India, 8-12-21

Music
Music, truly speaking, is an ancient and sacred art. The hymns of Samaveda are a mine of Music, and no ayat of the Koran can be recited unmusically. David’s Psalms transport you to raptures and remind you of the hymns from Samaveda. Let us revive this art and patronize the school of music.
We see Hindu and Musalman Musicians sitting cheek by jowl and partaking in musical concerts. When shall we see the same fraternal union in other affairs of our life? We shall then have the name of Rama and Rahman simultaneously on our lips.
Young India, 15-4-26

Parties
If we have no charity, and no tolerance, we shall never settle our difference amicably and must therefore always submit to the arbitrament of a third party, i.e. to foreign domination.
Young India, 17-4-24

No school of thought can claim a monopoly of right judgment. We are all liable to err and are often obliged to revise our judgments. In a vast country like this, there must be room for all school of honest though. And the least, therefore, that we owe to ourselves as to others is to try to understand the opponent’s viewpoint and, if we cannot accept it, respect it as fully as we would expect him to respect ours. It is one of the indispensable tests of a healthy public life and, therefore, fitness for Swaraj.
Young India, 17-4-24

Politics
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.
An Autobiography, p. 504

Priests
It is a painful fact, but it is a historical truth, that priests who should have been the real custodians of religion have been instrumental in destroying the religion of which they have been custodians.
Young India, 20-10-27

Public Funds
If we do not account for every single pie we receive and do not make judicious use of the funds, we shall deserve to be blotted out of public life.
Young India, 6-7-21

Public money belongs to the poor public of India than whom there is none poorer on earth. We have to be more wakeful, more cautious, and more careful; and let us be ready to account for every pie that we receive from the public.
Young India, 16-4-31

Public Institutions
…After considerable experience with the many public institutions which I have managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is not good to run public institutions on permanent funds. A permanent fund carries in itself the moral fall of the institution….Institutions maintained on permanent funds are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. In our country we experience this at every step. Some of the so-called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts. The trustees have become the owners and are responsible to none. I have no doubt that the ideal is for public institution to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support has no rights to exist as such.
An Autobiography, p. 198

It is my settled conviction that no deserving institution ever dies for want of support. Institutions that have died have done so either because there was nothing in them to commend them to the public or because those in control lost faith, or which is perhaps the same thing, lost stamina.
Young India, 15-10-25

It is not our financial position, but our moral position that is precarious. No movement or activity that has the sure foundation of the purity of character of its workers is ever in danger to come to an end for want of funds….We having to tap humbler resources. Our middle classes and even poor classes support so many beggars, so many temples, why will they not support a few good workers? We must beg from door to door, beg grain, copper coins, do as they do in Bihar and Maharashtra….But remember that everything will depend on the singleness of your purpose, your devotion to the task and the purity of your character. People won’t give for such work unless they are sure of our selflessness.
Harijan, 28-11-36

Public Opinion
Public opinion alone can keep a society pure and healthy.
Young India, 18-12-20

Legislation in advance of public opinion is often worse than useless.
Young India, 29-1-21

Healthy public opinion has an influence of which we have not realized the full significance. Public opinion becomes intolerable when it becomes violent and aggressive.
Young India, 7-5-31

Public Workers
There is in modern public life a tendency to ignore altogether the character of a public worker so long as he worker efficiently as a unit in an administrative machinery. It is said that everybody’s character is his own private concern. Though I have known this view to have been often taken I have never been able to appreciate, much less to adopt if. I have known the serious consequences overtaking organizations that have counted private character as a matter of no consequence.
Harijan, 7-11-36

Punctuality
It would be a distinct gain to the national cause if the leaders and workers strictly keep their hours….No man is expected to do more than he really can. If at the end of the day there is surplus work left or he cannot get through it without missing a meal or encroaching upon the hours of sleep or recreation, there is mismanagement somewhere. I have no doubt that if we cultivate the habit of punctuality and acting according to programme, the index of national efficiency will go up, our advance towards our goal will be rapid, and the workers will be healthier and longer lived.
Harijan, 24-9-38

Races
It is wholly unnecessary for the sake of the love of horse flesh to have horse races and all their attendant excitement. They pander to the vices of humanity and mean a waste of good cultivable soil and good money. Who has not witnessed as I have the ruin of fine men caused by the gamble on the race-courses? It is time to leave alone the vices of the West and to strive to adopt the best that it has to give.
Harijan, 18-1-48

Refugees
They should learn the art of humility which demands a rigorous self-searching rather than a search of others and consequent criticism, often harsh, oftener undeserved and sometimes only deserved. Searching of self ennobles, searching of others debases. The sufferers should learn the art and virtue of corporate life, in which the circumference of co-operation is ever widening till at last it encircles the whole human race. If they did this, no sufferer will live in isolation. All of them, no matter to which province they belong, will hold together and would be considering not the welfare of self but that of all. This does not mean that all of them will live or insist on living at one place, an impossible feat at any time, more so today, when lakhs and lakhs of people have been torn from their homes, not knowing where to lay their heads upon. But this humble spirit of co-operation does mean that wherever they are placed, they will feel one with all the sufferers, no matter from what strata of society they are drawn or to which province they belong. Insistence on being accommodated in a particular place of one’s choice there will be none. The sufferers will never grumble.
Moreover, every sufferer who is not a cripple will do his or her full share of work against bread, clothing and shelter in a becoming manner. Thus they will realize the dignity of labour and feel dependent upon no one. All will be equal to one another irrespective of sex. Some labour will be shared by all, e.g. sanitary work including latrine-cleaning and scavenging. No labour will be considered too low or too high. In this society there will be no room for drones, idlers or loafers.
Hariajn, 14-12-47

Rivers
We have more Ganges and Jamunas than the two. They remind us of the sacrifices we must make for the sake of the land we are living in. They remind us of the process of purification that we must continuously go through as the rivers themselves are going through from moment to moment. In the modern rush, the chief use we have for our rivers is to empty our gutters in them and navigate our cargo vessels, and in the process make them dirtier still. We have no time…to stroll down to these rivers, and in silent meditation listen to the message they murmur to us.
Young India, 23-12-‘26