SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VOL. IV - SELECTED LETTERS > SECTION TWO : EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS > Fearlesness
17. Fearlesness
All fear is of the nature of a moral weakness and, so long as we are subject to it, we shall always have to face such misfortunes.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, p. 93, 30-5-1913

Death should make us think of our duty and fill us with contempt for the body, but inspire no fear. It seems that a man does not suffer excessively even when he is burnt to death. When the pain becomes unbearable, he loses consciousness. Those who cling to the body so very tenaciously only suffer the more. One who knows the truth about the atman will have no fear of death.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, pp. 365-66, 1-3-1914

I have not got rid of the fear of death, despite much thinking. But I feel no impatience. I keep on trying and I am sure I shall get rid off it one day. We should not let go a single occasion when we may try. That is our duty. It is for God to produce or will the result. Why worry then? When feeding her baby, the mother has no thought of the result. The result does follow, though. To get rid of the fear of death and to drive away desire, make the effort and keep cheerful; and they will disappear. Otherwise, it will be the same with you as with the man who, resolving not to think about a monkey, kept on thinking of one.
We are born in sin, and we are enslaved in the body, because of our sinful deeds; how can you hope to cleanse yourself of all the impurity just in a minute?
You may live as you like,
Realize God anyhow.
This is the teaching of Akha Bhagat.1
Tulsidasji says:
Whether in adversity or no, repeat over again the name of Rama and you will achieve all there is to be achieved.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, pp. 375, 7-3-1914

No man can hasten or delay my death even by a minute. The best way of saving oneself from death is to go seeking it. It is no doubt our duty to take care of our life in a general way. More than this we need not do. We should rather welcome death whenever it comes.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, p. 386, 14-3-1914

Death should cause no fear in us, if we have lived in the fear of God and have done nothing in violation of the voice of our conscience. Then, indeed, is death but a change for the better and, therefore, a welcome change which need not evoke any sorrow.
Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, p. 390, 18-3-1914

The man who knows in his heart of hearts that this mortal frame is liable to perish any moment will be ever ready to meet death. That he might be so, the householder will limit his external activities and expand the inner and live accordingly.
To A Gandhian Capitalist, XIII, p. 30, 27-2-1915

The more I observe and study things, the more convinced I become that sorrow over separation and death is perhaps the greatest delusion. To realize that it is a delusion is to become free. There is no death, no separation of the substance. And yet the tragedy of it is that though we love friends for the substance we recognize in them, we deplore the destruction of the insubstantial that covers the substance for the time being. Whereas real friendship should be used to reach the whole through the fragment. You seem to have got the truth for the moment. Let it abide forever.
Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 41, 27-4-1927

To wish to see the dearest ones as long as possible in the flesh is a selfish desire and it comes out of weakness or want of faith in the survival of the soul after the dissolution of the body. The form ever changes, ever perishes, the informing spirit neither changes nor perishes. True love consists in transferring itself from the body to the dweller within and then necessarily realizing the oneness of all life inhabiting numberless bodies.
Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 156, 6-7-1931

Death as such leaves little impression on me; I only feel for the bereaved relatives. There can be no greater ignorance than to mourn over death.
The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 213, 5-7-1932

So long as we wear this vesture of clay, let us keep it clean, pure and healthy, and when we have to cast it off, let us discard it without any regret. It was given to us for use. Let the Giver take it away when He pleases. We have to use it for service only, and not for enjoyment.
The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 276, 7-8-1932

The human body is less durable even than a glass bangle, which, if we preserved, may continue to exist for hundreds of years. But our bodies, no matter how carefully preserved, cannot last beyond a certain period, and may be destroyed at any time during that period. We may not put our trust in them.
The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, pp. 276-77, 7-8-1932

The spirit which you love is always with you. The body through which you learned to love the spirit is no longer necessary for sustaining that love. It is well that it lasts whilst there is use for it. It is equally well that it perishes when there is no use for it. And since we don't know when it will outlast its use, we conclude that death through whatever cause means that there was no longer any use of it.
Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 210, 20-9-1932

I have personally ceased for years to grieve over death at all. The shock is felt when a comrade is torn away from me, but that is purely due to personal attachment which in other words is selfishness. But I immediately recover and realize that death is a deliverance and has to be welcomed, even as a friend is welcomed, and that it means dissolution of the body, not of the indwelling spirit.
Selected Letters-II, p. 28, 24-11-1932

We are born only to die and we die only to be born again. This is all old argument. Yet it needs to be driven home. Somehow or other we refuse to welcome death as we welcome birth. We refuse to believe even the evidence of our senses, that we could not possibly have any attachment for the body without the soul and that we have no evidence whatsoever that the soul perishes with the body.
Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 260, 4-5-1933

The frank admission of one's proved helplessness does not make one a coward but may be the beginning of bravery.
Letters to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, p. 29, 19-6-1935

So long as God wants me to work on this earth in this body, He will take care of it. Not all the physicians in the world can save me, when the hour strikes.
Letters to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, p. 99, 16-10-1936

We die to live once more, even as we live only to die at last. Life therefore is not an occasion for joy nor death an occasion for sorrow. But there is one thing needful. We must ascertain our duty in life and continue to discharge it till we die.
Selected Letters-I, p. 18

To be afraid of death is like being afraid of discarding an old and worn out garment. I have often thought of death and have the intellectual conviction that it is sheer ignorance which makes us afraid of death.
Selected Letters-I, p. 24

I am engaged in my present activities as I look upon them as essential to life. If I have to face death while thus engaged, I shall face it with equanimity. I am now a stranger to fear.
Selected Letters-I, p. 32

"Death is but a sleep and a forgetting." This is such a sweet sleep that the body has not to awake again, and the dead load of memory is thrown overboard.
Selected Letters-I, p. 24

Death is an event to be celebrated and much more so than birth. For birth is preceded by nine months of life in a solitary cell and is also followed by much unhappiness. But death for some of us spells the attainment of the end of life. To qualify for such a death one should devote one's life to work done in a spirit of detachment.
Selected Letters-I, p. 49

1. A mystic Gujarati poet of the 17th century known for his satire; a devotee and vedantist.