Back | Next

PHILOSOPHY > THE MIND OF MAHATMA GANDHI > The Gospel of Freedom

 

The Gospel Of Freedom

THERE IS no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free, we are slaves. All birth takes place in a moment. (YI, 9-3-1922, p. 148)

Gilded Slavery
Golden fetter are no less galling to a self-respecting man than iron ones. The sting lies in the fetters, not in the metal. (YI, 6-6-1929, p. 188)


To my mind golden shackles are far worse than iron ones, for one easily feels the irksome and galling nature of the latter, and is prone to forget the former. If, therefore, India must be in chains, I would they were of iron rather than of gold or other precious metals. (YI, 16-1-1930, p. 17)


Right To Freedom
Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err and even to sin. If God Almighty has given the humblest of His creatures the 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.
(YI, 12-3-1931, p. 31)


As every country is fit to eat, to drink and to breathe, even so is every nation fit to manage its own affairs, no matter how badly. (YI, 15-10-1931, p. 305)


Superimposed control is bad any day….. When this control is removed, the nation will breathe free, it will have the right to make mistakes. This ancient method, of progressing be making mistakes and correcting them, is the proper way. (H, 21-12-1947, p. 477)
Individual Freedom
It is my certain conviction that no man loses his freedom except through his own weakness. (ICS, p. 209)


I value individual freedom, but you must not forger that man is essentially a social being. He has risen to his present status by learning to adjust his individualism to the requirements of social progress. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle. We have to learn to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint. Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member.
(H, 27-5-1939, p. 144)


If this [individual liberty] goes, then surely all is list, 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 an automaton and society is ruined. No society can possible be built on a denial of individual freedom. It is contrary to the very nature of man. Just as a man will not grow horns or tail, so he will 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. Modern editions of chenghiz khan retain their own. (H, 1-9-1942, p. 27)

Concept Of Freedom
My conception of freedom is no narrow conception. It is co-extensive width the freedom of man in all his majesty. (H, 7-6-1942, p. 183)


Every individual must have the fullest liberty to use his talents consistently with equal use by neighbours, but no one is entitled to the arbitrary use of the gains from the talents. He is part of the nation or, say, the social structure surrounding him. Therefore, he can use his talents not for self only but for the social structure of which he is but a part and on whose sufferance he lives. (H, 2-8-1942, p. 249)

Will To Be Free
No tyrant has ever yet succeeded in his purpose without carrying the victim with him, it may be, as it often is, by force. Most people choose rather to yield to the will of the tyrant than to suffer for the consequence of resistance. Hence does terrorism form part of the stock-in-trade of the tyrant. But we have instances in history where terrorism has failed to impose the terrorist’s will upon his victim. (YI, 9-6-1920, p. 3)


Even the most despotic government cannot stand except for the consent of the governed, which consent is often forcibly procured by the despot. Immediately the subject ceases to fear the despotic force, his power is gone. (YI, 30-6-1920, p. 3)


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 is 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.’

The so-called master may lash you and try to force you to serve him. You will say; ‘No, I will not serve you for your money or under a threat.’ This may mean suffering. Your readiness to suffer will light the torch of freedom which can never be put out. (H, 24-2-1946, p. 18)
Price Of Freedom
Whether we are one or many, we must refuse to purchase freedom at the cost of our self-respect or our cherished convictions. I have known even little children become unbending when an attempt has been made to cross their declared purpose, be it ever so flimsy in the estimation of their parents.
(YI, 15-2-1921, p. 418)


We must be content to die if we cannot live as free men and women. (YI, 5-1-1922, p. 5)


Man has to thank himself for his dependence. He can be independent as soon as he wills it.
(H, 11-1-193.6, p. 380)


Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?
(H, 10-12-1938, p. 368)

Freedom For Lowliest
It gives me both pain and surprise when I find people feeling anxious about their future under a freed India. For me an India which does not guarantee freedom to the lowliest of those born, not merely within an artificial boundary but within its natural boundary, is not free India.

Our fear paralyses our thinking powers, or we should at once know that freedom means a state, at any rate some what better than the present for every honest man or woman. It is exploiters, money-grabbers, pirates and the like who have to fear the advent of freedom. (YI, 26-12-1929, p. 421)


I shall strive for a constitution which will release India from all thralldom and patronage, and give her, if need be, the right to sin. I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability, or the curse of the intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men.

Since we shall be at peace with all the rest of the world, neither exploiting, nor being exploited, we should have the smallest army imaginable. All interests not in conflict with the interests of the dumb millions will be scrupulously respected, whether foreign or indigenous. Personally, I hate distinction between foreign and indigenous. This is the India of my dreams… I shall be satisfied with nothing else.
(YI, 10-9-1931, p. 255)

No Exploitation
If I want freedom for my country, believe me, if I can possibly help it, I do not want that freedom in order that I, belonging to a nation which counts on-fifth of the human race, may exploit any other race upon earth, or any single individual. If I want that freedom for my country, I would not be deserving of that freedom if I did not cherish and treasure the equal right of every other race, weak or strong, to the same freedom. (YI, 1-10-1931, p. 278)


Men aspiring to be free can hardly think of enslaving others. If they try to do so, they will only be binding their own chains of slavery tighter. (H, 13-4-1947, p. 106)


Independence of my conception means nothing less than the realization the "Kingdom of God" within you and on this earth. I would rather work for and die in the pursuit of this dream, though it may never be realized. That means infinite patience and perseverance.
If India is satisfied with the mere attainment of political independence and there is nothing better for me to do you will find me retiring to the Himalayas leaving those who wish to listen to me to seek me out there. (HSt, 1-4-1940)


In concrete terms, …. The independence should be political, economic and moral.
‘Political ‘ necessarily means the removal of the control of the British army in every shape and form. ‘Economic’ means entire freedom from British capitalists and capital, as also their Indian counterpart. In other words, the humblest must feel equal to the tallest. This can take place only by capital or capitalists sharing their skill and capital with the lowliest and the least.

‘Moral’ means freedom from armed defence forces. (H, 5-5-1946, p. 116)

Means Of Peace
India has never waged war against any nation. She has put up, sometimes, ill-organized or half-organized resistance in self-defence pure and simple. She has, therefore, not got to develop the will for peace. She has that in abundance whether she knows it or not.
The way she can promote peace is to offer successful resistance to her exploitation by peaceful means. That is to say, she has to achieve her independence. … by peaceful means. If she can do this, it will be the largest contribution that any single nation will have made towards world peace. (YI, 4-7-1929, p. 218)


I personally would wait, if need be, for ages rather than seek to attain the freedom of my country through bloody means. I feel in the innermost recesses of my heart, after a political experience extending over an unbroken period of close upon thirty-five years, that the world is sick unto death of blood-spilling. The world is seeking a way out, and I flatter myself with the belief that perhaps it will be the privilege of the ancient land of India to show that way out to the hungering world.

I have, therefore, no hesitation whatsoever in inviting all the great nation of the earth to give their hearty co-operation to India in her mighty struggle. It must be a sight worth contemplating and treasuring that millions of people have given themselves to suffering without retaliation in order that they might vindicate the dignity and honour of the nation. (ICS, p. 209)


I would far rather that India perished than that she won freedom at the sacrifice of truth. (YI, 1-10-1931, p. 281)


It would not satisfy my soul to gain freedom for India and not to help in the peace of the world. I have the conviction in me that, when England ceases to prey upon India, she will also cease to prey upon other nations. At any rate, India will have not part in the blood-guilt. (YI, 3-12-1931, p. 380)
Meaning Of India's Independence
….India’s freedom must revolutionize the world’s outlook upon Peace and War. Her impotence affects the whole of mankind. (YI, 17-9-1925, p. 322)


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 o Western exploitation…. (YI, 12-1-1928, p. 13)


National independence is not a fiction. It is as necessary as individual independence. But neither, if it is based on non-violence, may ever be a menace to the equal independence of the nation or the individual as the case may be. As with individual and national independence, so with the international. The legal maxim is equally moral. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas*. It has been well said that the universe is compressed in the atom. There is not one law for the atom and another for the universe.
(YI, 30-1-1930, p. 37)

International Co-operation
I want co-operation between nations for the salvaging of civilization, but co-operation presupposes free nations worthy of co-operation. (YI, 12-11-1931, p. 353)

Freedom Of Exploited Races
When I am gone India will be free and, not only India, but the whole world will be free. I do not believe that the Americans or English are free. They will not be free so long as they have the power to hold the coloured nations in subjection. I know my purpose and I know what freedom is. English teachers taught me its meaning, and I must interpret that freedom according to what I see and have experienced.
(BC, 9-8-1942)


Freedom of India will demonstrate to all the exploited races of the earth that their freedom is very near and that in no case will they, henceforth, be exploited. (BC, 18-4-1942)


 * ‘So use your own property as not to injure the rights of another’.