You are here:
What Swaraj Means To Me

Swaraj for me means freedom for the meanest of our countrymen .. I am not interested n freeing India merely from the English yoke. I am bent upon freeing India from any yoke whatsoever. I have no desire to exchange ‘king log for king stork. (YI, 12-6-1924, p. 195)

By Swaraj I mean the government of India by the consent of the people as ascertained by the largest number of the adult population, male or female, native-born or domiciled, who have contributed by manual labour to the service of the State and who have taken the trouble of having their names registered as voters.

Real Swaraj will come, not by the acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be attained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority. (YI, 29-1-1925, p. 41)

Self-government means continuous effort to be independent of government control, whether it is foreign government or whether it is national. (YI, 6-8-1925, p. 276)

The word Swaraj is a sacred word, a Vedic word, meaning self-rule and self-restraint, and not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means. (YI, 19-3-1931, p. 38)

Swaraj For The Poor

The Swaraj of my-our-dream recognizes no race or religious distinctions. Not is it to be the monopoly of the lettered persons or yet of moneyed men. Swaraj is to be for all, including the former, but emphatically including the maimed, the blind, the starving, toiling millions. (YI, 1-5-1930, p. 149)

The Swaraj of my dream is the poor man’s Swaraj. The necessaries of life should be enjoyed by you in common with those enjoyed by the princes and the moneyed men. But that does not mean that they should have palaces like theirs. They are not necessary for happiness. You or I would be lost in them. But you ought to get all the ordinary amenities of life that a rich man enjoys. I have not the slightest doubt that Swaraj is not Poorna Swaraj until these amenities are guaranteed to you under it. (YI, 26-3-1931, p. 46)

… What we mean and want through Poorna Swaraj ……is an awakening among the masses, a knowledge among them of their true interest and ability to serve that interest against the whole world, ….. harmony, freedom from aggression from within or without, and a progressive improvement in the economic condition of the masses… (YI, 18-6-1931, p. 147)

Real Swaraj must be felt by all-man, woman and child. To labour for that consummation is true revolution,. India has become a pattern for all exploited races of the earth, because India’s has been an open, unarmed effort which demands sacrifice from all without inflicting injury on the usurper. The millions in India would not have been awakened but for the open, unarmed struggle. Every deviation from the straight path has meant a temporary arrest of the evolutionary revolution. (H, 3-3-1946, p. 31)

No Majority Rule

It has been said that Indian Swaraj will be the rule of the majority community, i.e., the Hindus. There could not be a greater mistakes than that. If it were to be true, I for one would refuse to call it Swaraj and would fight it with all the strength at my command, for to me Hind Swaraj is the rule of all people, is the rule of justice. Whether, under rule, the ministers were Hindus or Musalmans or Sikhs and whether legislatures were exclusively filled by the Hindus or Musalmans or any other community, they would have to do even-handed justice. (YI, 16-4-1931, p. 78)

Today our minds are clouded by delusion. In our ignorance, we quarrel with one another and indulge in rowdyism against our own brethren. For such as these there is neither salvation not Swaraj. Self-discipline or rule over self is the first condition of self-rule or Swaraj. (H, 28-4-1946, p. 111)

Freedom Of Expression

In a vast country like this, there must be room for all schools of honest thought. And the least, therefore, that we owe to ourselves, as to others, is to try to understand the opponent ‘s view-point and, if we cannot accept it, respect is as fully as we expect him to respect ours. It is one of the indispensable tests of a healthy public life and, therefore, fitness for Swaraj. (YI, 17-4-1924, p. 170)

Freedom of speech and pen is the foundation of Swaraj. If the foundation stone is in danger, you have to exert the whole of your might in order to defend that single stone. (H, 29-9-1940, p. 306)

Achievement Of Swaraj

I have had the hardhood to say that Swaraj could not be granted even by God. We would have to earn it ourselves. Swaraj from its very nature is not in the giving of anybody. (YI, 25-5-1921, p. 164)

Swaraj is the abandonment of the fear of death. A nation which allows itself to be influenced by the fear of death cannot attain Swaraj, and cannot retain it if some-how attained. (YI, 13-10-1921, p. 326)

Swaraj can never be a free gift by one nation to another. It is a treasure to be purchased with a nation’s best blood. It will cease to be a gift when we have paid dearly for it. … Swaraj will be a fruit of incessant labour, suffering beyond measure. (YI, 5-1-1922, p. 4)

Surely Swaraj will not drop from the clouds. It will be the fruit of patience, perseverance, ceaseless toil, courage and intelligent appreciation of the environment. (YI, 27-8-1925, p. 297)

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. (YI, 22-9-1920, p. 1)

The pilgrimage to Swaraj is a painful climb. It requires attention to details. It means vast organizing ability, it means penetration into the villages solely for the service of the villagers. In other words, it means national education, i.e., education of the masse. It means an awakening of national consciousness among the masses. It will not spring like the magician’s mango. It will grow almost unperceived like the banyan tree. A bloody revolution will never perform the trick. Haste here is most certainly waste. (YI, 21-5-1925, p. 178)

One sometimes hears it said: ‘Let us get the government of India in our own hands and everything will be all right.. There could be no greater superstition than this. No nation has thus gained its independence. The splendor of the spring is reflected in every tree, the whole earth is then filled with the freshness of youth. Similarly, when the Swaraj spirit has really permeated society, a stranger suddenly come upon us will observe energy in very walk of life, he will find national servants engaged, each according to his own abilities, in a variety of public activities. (SW, p. 146)

Basis In Self-Sacrifice

Swaraj can be maintained only where there is a majority of loyal and patriotic people to whom the good of the nation is paramount above all other considerations what-ever including their personal profit. (YI, 28-7-1921, p.238)

My Swaraj will be… not a result of murder of others but a voluntary act of continuous self-sacrifice. My Swaraj will not be bloody usurpation of rights, but the acquisition of power will be a beautiful land natural fruit of duty well and truly performed. It will…provide amplest excitement of the Chaitanya type, not of the Nero type…. It can come often does come, when the horizon is the blackest. But I know that it will be preceded by the rise of a class of young men and women who will find full excitement in work, work and nothing but work for the nation. (YI, 27-8-1925, p. 297)

Without a large, very large, army of self-sacrificing and determined workers, real progress of the masses I hold to be an impossibility. And without that progress, there is no such thing as Swaraj. Progress towards Swaraj will be in exact proportion to the increase in the number of workers who will dare to sacrifice their all for the cause of the poor. (YI, 24-6-1926, p. 226)

Without a large, very large, army of self-sacrificing and determined workers, real progress of the masses I hold to be an impossibility. And without that progress, there is no such thing as Swaraj. Progress towards Swaraj will be in exact proportion to the increase in the number of workers who will dare to sacrifice their all for the cause of the poor. (YI, 24-6-1926, p. 226)

Through Truth And Nonviolence

If we wish to achieve Swaraj through truth and non-violence, gradual but steady building-up from the bottom upwards by constructive effort is the only way. This rules out the deliberate creation of an anarchical state for the overthrow of the established order in the hope of throwing up from within a dictator who would rule with a rod of iron and produce order out disorder. (H, 18-1-1942, p. 4)

We have all-rulers and ruled-been living so long in a stifling, unnatural atmosphere that we might well feel, in the beginning, that we have lost the lungs for breathing the invigorating ozone of freedom. If the reality comes in an orderly, that is, a non-violent manner, because the parties feel that it is right, it will be a revealing lesson for the world. (H, 7-4-1946, p. 70)

Genius Of Our Civilization

My Swaraj is to keep intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many new thing but they must be all written on the Indian slate. I would gladly borrow from the West when I can return the amount with decent interest. (YI, 26-6-1924, p. 210)

If Swaraj was not meant to civilize us, and to purify and stabilize our civilization, it would be nothing worth. The very essence of our civilization is that we give a paramount place to morality in all our affairs, public or private. (YI, 23-1-1930, p. 26)