SELECTIONS FROM GANDHI
Fundamental Beliefs And Ideas
67. Abstract truth has no value unless it incarnates in human beings who represent it by proving their readiness to die for it. YI,22-12-21, 424.
Seeing Truth in Fragments
68. Does not but God Himself appears to different individuals in different aspects? Still we know that He is one. But Truth is the right designation of God. Hence there is nothing wrong in everyone following Truth According to his lights. Indeed it is his duty to do so. Then if there is a mistake on the part of anyone so following Truth, it will be automatically set right. For the quest of Truth involves tapasself-suffering, sometimes even unto death. There can be no place in it for even a trace of self-interest. In such selfless search for Truth nobody can lose his bearings for long. Directly he takes to the wrong path he stumbles, and is thus redirected to the right path. YM, 4.
69. The golden rule of conduct, therefore, is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never all think alike and we shall see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision. Conscience is not the same thing for all. Whilst, therefore, it is a good guide for individual conduct, imposition of that conduct upon all will be an insufferable interference with everybodys freedom of conscience.* -YI, 23-9-26, 334.
70. Q. With regard to your Satyagraha doctrine, so far as I understand it, it involves the pursuit of Truth and in that
*Rebutting the charge that he was undemocratic, Gandhiji once wrote: I have never been able to subscribe to the charge of obstinacy or autocracy. On the contrary, I pride myself on my yielding nature in non-vital matters. I detest autocracy. Valuing my freedom and independence I equally cherish them for others. I have no desire to carry a single soul with me if I cannot appeal to his or her reason. My unconventionality I carry to the point of rejecting the divinity of the oldest Shastras if they cannot convince my reason. But I have found by experience that, if I wish to live in society and still retain my independence, I must limit the points of utter independence to matters of first rate importance. In all others which do not involve a departure from ones personal religion or moral code, one must yield to the majority.YI, 14-7-20 (from Ganesans edition Vol. I, p. 207).
Pursuit you invite suffering on yourself and do not cause violence to anybody else.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. However honestly a man may strive in his search for Truth, his notions of Truth may be different from the notions of others. Who then is to determine the Truth?
A. The individual himself would determine that
Q. Different individuals would have different views a to Truth. World that not lead to confusion?
A. I do not think so.
Q. Honestly striving after Truth is different in every case?
A. That is why the nonviolence part was a necessary corollary. Without that there would be confusion and worse. – Tagore,29
71.Courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to understand their view-point is the ABC of nonviolence. –HS, 20-7-44
72. The very insistence on. Truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise. It has often meant endangering my life and incurring the displeasure of friends. But Truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom. Auto, i84.
Propagation of Truth
73.Q. Should we not confine our pursuit of Truth to ourselves and not press it upon the world, because we know that it is ultimately limited in character?
A . You cannot so circumscribe Truth even if you try. Every expression of Truth has in it the seeds of propagation, even as the sun cannot hide its light. MR, I935, 413.
74. Spiritual experiences are shared by us whether we wish it or not – by our lives. Not by our speech, which is a most imperfect vehicle of experience. Spiritual experiences are deeper even than thought. – Sabarmati, 1928, 19.
His Conception of the Law of life
75. I do dimly perceive that whilst everything around me is ever changing, ever dying, there is underlying all that change a living power that is changeless, that holds all together, that creates, dissolves and re-creates. That informing power or spirit is God. And since nothing else I see merely through the senses can or will persist, He alone is.
And is this power benevolent or malevolent? I see it as purely benevolent, for I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists. Hence I gather that God is Life, Truth, Light. He is Love. He is the supreme Good. YI, 11-10-28, 340.
76. Though there is repulsion enough in Nature, she lives by attraction. Mutual love enables Nature to persist. Man does not live by destruction. Self-love compels regard for others. Nations cohere because there is mutual regard among individuals composing them. Some day we must extend the national law to the universe, even as we have extended the family law to form nations – a larger family. –YI, 2-3-22, 130.
77. The fact that there are so many men still alive in the world shows that it is based not on the force of arms but on the force of truth or love. Therefore, the greatest and most unimpeachable evidence of the success of this force is to be found in the fact that, in spite of the wars of the world, it still lives on.
Thousands, indeed tens of thousands, depend for their existence on a very active working of this force. Little quarrels of millions of families in their daily lives disappear before the exercise of this force. Hundreds of nations live in peace. History dies not and cannot take note of this fact. History is really a record of every interruption of the even working of the force of love or of the soul. Two brothers quarrel; one of them repents and re-awakens the love that was lying dormant in him; the two again begin to live in peace; nobody takes note of this. But if the two brothers, through the intervention of solicitors or some other reason take up arms or go to law which is another form of the exhibition of brute force,their doings would be immediately noticed in the press, they would be the talk of their neighbours and would probably go down to history. And what is true of families and communities is true of nations. There is no reason to believe that there is one law for families and another for nations. History, then, is a record of an interruption of the course of nature. Soul-force, being natural, is not noted in history. IHR, 45.
His Philosophy of History
78. I believe that the sum total of the energy of mankind is not to bring us down but to lift us up, and that is the result of the definite, if unconscious, working of the law of love. –YI, 12-.11-31, 355
79. Human society is a ceaseless growth, an unfoldment in terms of spirituality. YI,16-9-26, 324.
80.If we turn our eyes to the time of which history has any record down to our own time, we shall find that man has been steadily progressing towards ahimsa. Our remote ancestors were cannibals. Then came a time when they were fed up with cannibalism and they began to live on chase. Next came a stage when man was ashamed of leading the life of a wandering hunter. He therefore took to agriculture and depended principally on mother earth for his food. Thus from being a nomad he settled down to civilized stable life, founded villages and towns, and from member of a family he became member of a community and a nation. All these are signs of progressive ahimsa and diminishing Himsa. Had it been otherwise, the human species should have been extinct by now, even as many of the lower species have disappeared.
Prophets and avatars have also taught the lesson of ahimsa more or less. Not one of them has professed to teach Himsa. And how should it be otherwise? Himsa does not need to be taught. Man as animal is violent, but as Spirit is nonviolent. The moment he awakes to the Spirit within, he cannot remain violent. Either he progresses towards ahimsa or rushes to his doom. That is why the prophets and avatars have taught the lessons of truth, harmony, brotherhood, justice, etc. all attributes of ahimsa.
And yet violence seems to persist, even to the extent of thinking people like the correspondent regarding it as the final weapon. But as I have shown history and experience are against him.
If we believe that mankind has steadily progressed towards ahimsa, it follows that it has to progress towards it still further. Nothing in this world is static, everything is kinetic. If there id no progression, then there is inevitable retrogression. No one can remain without the eternal cycle, unless it be God Himself. – H, 11-8-40, 245.
Consequence of the Recognition of that Law
81.I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would a well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living. And if that is the law of life, we have to work it out in daily life. Whenever there are jars, wherever you are confronted with an opponent conquer him with love in this crude manner I have worked it out in my life. That does not mean that all my difficulties are solved. Only I have found that this law of love has answered as the law of destruction has never done.
It is not that I am incapable of anger, for instance, but I succeed on almost all occasions to keep my feelings under control. Whatever may be the result, there is always fin me conscious struggle for following the law of non-violence deliberately and ceaselessly. Such a struggle leaves one stronger for fit. The more I work at this law, the more I feel the delight in life, the delight in the scheme of the universe. It gives me a peace and a meaning of the mysteries of nature that I have no power to describe. YI, 1-10-31, 286.
82. When an appeal to man is made to copy or study nature, he is not invited to follow what the reptiles do or even the king of the forest does. He has to study mans nature at its best, i.e. I presume his regenerate nature, whatever it may be. Perhaps it requires considerable effort to know what regenerate nature is. H, 4-4-36,. 61
83.Q. Why cant see that whilst there is possession it must be defended against all odds? Therefore your insistence that violence should be eschewed in all circumstances is utterly unworkable and absurd. I think nonviolence is possible only for select individuals.
A. This question has been answered often enough in some form or other in these columns as also in those of Young India. But it is an evergreen. I must answer it as often as it is put especially when it comes from an earnest seeker as this one does. I claim that even now, though the social structure is not based on a conscious acceptance of nonviolence, all the world over mankind lives and men retain their possessions on the sufferance of one another. If they had not done so, only the fewest and the most ferocious would have survived. But such is not the case. Families are bound together by ties of love, and so are groups in the so-called civilized society called nations. Only they do not recognize the supremacy of the law of nonviolence. It follows, therefore, that they have not investigated its vast possibilities. Hitherto out of sheer inertia, shall I say, we have taken it for granted that complete nonviolence is possible only for the few who take the vow of non-possession and the allied abstinences. Whilst it is true that the votaries alone can carry on research work and declare from time to time the new possibilities of the great eternal law governing man, if it is a law, it must hold good for all. The many failures we see are not of the law but of the followers, many of whom do not even know that they are under that law willy nilly. When a mother dies for her child she unknowingly obeys the law. I have been pleading for the past fifty years for a conscious acceptance of the law and its zealous practice even in the face of failures. Fifty years work has shown marvelous results and strengthened my faith. I do claim that by constant practice we shall come to a state of things when lawful possession will command universal and voluntary respect. No doubt such possession will not be tainted. It will not be an insolent demonstration of the inequalities that surround us everywhere. Nor need the problem of unjust and unlawful possessions appall the votary of nonviolence. He has at his disposal the nonviolent weapon of satyagraha and non-co-operation which hitherto has been found to be a complete substitute of violence whenever it has been applied honestly in sufficient measure. I have never claimed to present the complete science of nonviolence. It does not lend itself to such treatment. So far as I know no single physical science does not even the very exact science of mathematics. I am but a seeker and I have fellow seekers like the questioner whom I invite to accompany me in the very difficult but equally fascinating search. H,22-2-42, 48.
Life is Unity
84. I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another.
85.I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.
YI, -3-9-25, 304.
86. Several correspondents had complained to him that he was utilizing his prayer meetings for the propagation of his favourite political ideas. But the speaker never suffered from any feeling of guilt on that account. Human life being and undivided whole, no line could ever be drawn between its different compartments, nor between ethics and politics. A trader who earned his wealth by deception only succeeded in deceiving himself when he thought that his sins could be washed away by spending some amount of his ill-gotten gains on so-called religious purposes. Ones everyday life was never capable of being separated from his spiritual being. Both acted and reacted upon one another.
Service to God and Man
87. Mans ultimate aim is the realization of God, and all his activities, social, political, religious, have to be guided by the ultimate him aim of the vision of God. The immediate service of all human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavour, simply because the only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it. This can only be done by service of all. I am a part and parcel of the whole, and I cannot find Him apart from the rest of humanity. My countrymen are my nearest neighbours. They have become so helpless, so resource less, so inert that I must concentrate myself on serving them. If I could persuade myself that I should find Him in a Himalayan cave I would proceed there immediately. But I know that I cannot find Him apart from humanity.
H, 29-8-36, 226.
88. My creed is service of God and therefore of humanity.
YI, 23-I0-24, 350.
89. To serve without desire is to favour not others, but ourselves, even as in discharging a debt we serve only ourselves, lighten our burden and fulfill our duty. Again, not only the good, but all of us are bound to place our resources at the disposal of humanity. The duty of renunciation differentiates mankind from the beast.
90. Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.
The Oneness of Man
91. I believe in absolute oneness of God and therefore also of humanity. What though we have many bodies? We have but one soul. The rays of the sun are many through refraction. But they have the same source.
YI, 25-9-24, 313.
92. I do not believe that an individual may gain spiritually and those that surround him suffer. I believe in advaita. I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter of all that lives. Therefore I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.
YI, 4-I2-24, 398.
93. There is not a single virtue which aims at, or is content with, the welfare of the individual alone. Conversely, there is not a single moral offence which does not, directly or indirectly, affect many others besides the actual offender. Hence, whether an individual is good or bad is not merely his own concern, but really the concern of the whole community, nay of the whole world.
94. I subscribe to the belief or the philosophy that all life in its essence is one, and that the humans are working consciously or unconsciously towards the realization of that identity. This belief requires a living faith in a living God who is the ultimate arbiter of our fate. Without Him not a blade of grass moves.
95. The individual is the supreme consideration. YI, 13-11-24, 378.
96. I look upon an increase of the power of the state with the greatest fear, because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root of all progress. MR,I935, 4I3.
97. A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. H,19-11-38, 343
Man above Institutions
98. Man and his deed are two distinct things. It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being but with him the whole world. Auto, 337.
99. I have discovered, that man is superior to the system he propounded. And so I fell, that Englishmen as individuals, are infinitely better than the system they have evolved as a corporation. YI, 13-7-21,22I. CF. 224.
Faith in Man
100. I refuse to suspect human nature. It will, is bound to respond to any noble and friendly action.
YI, 4-8-20, Tagore, 559.
101. My proposal for British withdrawal is as much in Britain’s interest as India’s. Your difficulty arises from your disinclination to believe that Britain can never do justice voluntarily. My belief in the capacity of nonviolence rejects the theory of permanent inelasticity of human nature.
-H, 7-6-42, 177.
102. In the application of the method of nonviolence, one must believe in the possibility of every person, however depraved, being reformed under humane and skilled treatment.
H, 22-2-42, 49.
103. When I was a little child, there used to be two blind performers in Rajkot. One of them was a musician. When he played on his instrument, his fingers swept the strings with an unerring instinct and everybody listened spell-bound to his playing. Similarly there are chords in every human heart. If we only know how to strike the right chord, we bring out the music.
H, 27-5-39, 136.
Reason and the Heart
104.Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the test of reason and universal assent. YI, 26-2-25-, 74.
105. Rationalists are admirable beings, rationalism is a hideous monster when it claims for itself omnipotence. Attribution of omnipotence to reason is as bad a piece of idolatry as is worship of stock and stone believing it to be God. I plead not for the suppression of reason, but for a due recognition of that in us which sanctifies reason. YI, 14-10-26, 359.
106. I have come to this fundamental conclusion that if you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy reason, you must move the heart also. The appeal of reason is more to the head but the penetration of the heart comes from suffering. It opens up the inner understanding in man.
107. But He is no God who merely satisfies the intellect if He ever does. God to be God must rule the heart and transform it. YI, II-Io-28, 340.
No room for Unintelligence any where
108. Man alone can worship God with knowledge and understanding. Where devotion to God is void of understanding, there can be no true salvation, and without salvation there can be no true happiness.
109. Truth and nonviolence are not for the dense. Pursuit of them is bound to result in an all-round growth of the body, mind and heart. If this does not follow, either truth and nonviolence are untrue or we are untrue, and since the former is impossible, the latter will be the only conclusion.
H, 8-5-37, 98.
110. You must know that a true practice of ahimsa means also in one who practices it the keenest intelligence and wide-awake conscience.
H, 8-9-40, 274.
111. Swaraj is for the awakened, not for the sleepy and the ignorant.
H, 28-1-39, 437.
112. In every branch of reform constant study giving one a mastery over ones subject is necessary. Ignorance is at the root of failures, partial or complete, of al reform movements whose merits are admitted, for every project masquerading under the name of reform is not necessarily worthy of being so designated.
H, 24-4-37, 84.
113. A handicraft plied merely mechanically can be as cramping to the mind and soul as any other pursuit taken up mechanically. An unintelligent effort is like a corpse from which the spirit has departed.
114. The virtue of an ideal consists in its boundlessness. But although religious ideals must thus from their very nature remain unattainable by imperfect human beings, although by virtue of their boundlessness they may seem ever to recede farther and farther away from us, the nearer we go to them, still they are closer to us than our very hands and feet because we are more certain of their reality and truth than even our own physical being. This faith in ones ideals constitutes true life, in fact, it is mans all in all.
115. The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
116. We need not be afraid of ideals or of reducing them to practice to the uttermost. Nat, 355.
117. I was in the midst of a population which would not kill wild animals that daily destroy their crops. Before the Sardar threw the whole of his tremendous influence into the campaign of the destruction of rats and fleas, the people of the Borsad Taluka had knot destroyed a single rat or flea. (These were plague strickenN.K.B.). But they could not resist the Sardar to whom they owed much, and Dr. Bhaskar Patel was allowed to carry on wholesale destruction of rats and fleas. I was in daily touch with what was going on in Borsad.
The Sardar had invited me naturally to endorse what had been done. For the work had still to continue, though henceforth with the peoples own unaided effort. Therefore, in order to emphasize my endorsement, I redeclared in the clearest possible terms my implicit belief in ahimsa, i. e. sacredness and kinship of all life.
But why this contradiction between belief and action? Contradiction is undoubtedly there. Life is an aspiration. Its mission is to strive after perfection which is self-realization. The ideal must not be lowered because of our weaknesses or imperfections. I am painfully conscious of both in me. The silent cry goes out to Truth to help me to remove these weaknesses and imperfections of mine. I own my fear of snakes, scorpions, lions, tigers, plague stricken rats and fleas, even as I must own fear of evil-looking robbers and murderers. I know that I ought not to fear any of them. But this is no intellectual feat. It is a feat of the heart. It needs more than a heart of oak to shed all fear except the fear of God. I could not in my weakness ask the people of Borsad not to Kill deadly rats and fleas. But I knew that it was a concession to human weakness.
Nevertheless there is that difference between a belief in ahimsa and a belief in himsa which there is between north and south, life and death. One who hooks his fortunes to ahimsa, the law of love, daily lessens the circle of destruction and to that extent promotes life and love; he who swears by himsa, the law of hate, daily widens the circle of destruction and to that extent promotes death and hate. Though, before the people of Borsad, I endorsed the destruction of rats and fleas, my own kith and kin, I preached to them without adulteration the grand doctrine of the eternal Law of Love of all Life. Though I may fail to carry it out to the full in this life, my faith in it shall abide. Every failure brings me nearer the realization.
The Age of Miracles
118. It is open to anyone to say that human nature has not been known to rise to such height. But if we have made unexpected progress in physical sciences, why may we do less in the science of the soul?
H, 14-5-38, 114.
119. In this age of wonders no one will say that a thing or idea is worthless because it is new. To way it is impossible because it is difficult, is again not in consonance with the spirit of the age. Things undreamt of are daily being seen, the impossible is ever becoming possible. We are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of nonviolence.
H, 25-8-40, 260.
Hatred can never yield Good
120. Brute force has been the ruling factor din the world for thousands of years, and mankind has been reaping its bitter harvest all along, as he who runs may read. There is little hope of anything good coming out of it in the future. If light can come out of darkness, then alone can love emerge from hatred.
122. (1) Nonviolence implies as complete self-purification as is humanly possible.
(2) Man for man the strength of nonviolence is in exact proportion to the ability, not the will, of the nonviolent person to inflict violence.
(3) Non-violence is without exception superior to violence, i. e., the power at the disposal of a nonviolent person is always greater than he would have if he was violent.
(4) There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence. The end of violence is surest defeat.
(5) The ultimate end of nonviolence is surest victory if such a term may be used of nonviolence. In reality where there is no sense of defeat, there is no sense of victory. H, 12-10-35, 276.
123. The only condition of a successful use of this force is a recognition of the existence of the soul as apart from the body and its permanent nature. And this recognition must amount to a living faith and not mere intellectual grasp. Nat, I66.
Consequences of Nonviolence
124. Q. Is love or nonviolence compatible with possession or exploitation in any shape or from?
A. Love and exclusive possession can never go together. MR, I935, 4I2.
125. Military force is inconsistent with soul-force. Frightfulness, exploitation of the weak, immoral gains, insatiable pursuit after enjoyments of the flesh are utterly inconsistent with soul-force.YI, 6-5-26, 164.
126. The principle of non-violence necessitates complete abstention from exploitation in any form. –(27I)
127. Rural economy as I have conceived it eschews exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of violence. H, 4-11-39, 331.
128. No man could be actively nonviolent and not rise against social injustice no matter where it occurred. H, 20-4-40, 97.
Nonviolence always Applicable and in all Spheres of Life
129. Non-violence is a universal principle and its operation is not limited by a hostile environment. Indeed, its efficacy can be tested only when it acts in the midst of and in spite of opposition. Our non-violence would be a hollow thing and nothing worth, if it depended for its success on the goodwill of the authorities. (Here, reference is made to the British Government in India). H, 12-11-38, 326.
130. Truth and non-violence are no cloistered virtues but applicable as much in the forum and the legislatures and the market place. H 8-37,98.
131. Some friends have told me that truth and nonviolence have no place in politics and worldly affairs. I do not agree. I have no use for them as a means of individual salvation. Their introduction and application in everyday life has been my experiment all along. ABP, 30-6-44.
132. We have to make truth and nonviolence, not matters for mere individual practice but for practice by groups and communities and nations. That at any rate is my dream. I shall live and die in trying to realize it. My faith helps me to discover new truths every day. Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore, to be practiced by everybody in all the affairs of life. If it cannot be practical in all departments, it has no practical value. H, 2-3-40,23
The Meaning of Non-resistance
133. Hitherto the word revolution has been connected with violence and has as such been condemned by established authority. But the movement of Non-co-operation, if it may be considered a revolution, is not an armed revolt; it is an evolutionary revolution, it is a bloodless revolution. The movement is a revolution of thought, of spirit. Non-co-operation is a process of purification, and, as such it constitutes a revolution in ones ideas. Its suppression, therefore, would amount to co-operation by coercion. Orders to kill the movement will be orders to destroy, or interfere with, the introduction of the spinning wheel, to prohibit the campaign of temperance, and an incitement, therefore, to violence. For any attempt to compel people by indirect methods to war foreign clothes, to patronize drink-shops would certainly exasperate them. But our success will be assured when we stand even this exasperation and incitement. We must not retort. Inaction on our part will kill Government madness. For violence flourishes on response, either by submission to the will of the violator, or by counter violence. My strong advice to every worker is to segregate this evil Government by strict non-co-operation, not even to talk or speak about it, but having recognized the evil, to cease to pay homage to it by co-operation.-YI, 30-3-21, 97.
134. Passive resistance is a method of securing rights by personal suffering; it is the reverse of resistance by arms. When I refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force. For instance, the Government of the day has passed a law, which is applicable to me. I do not like it. If by using violence I force the Government to repeal the law, I am employing what may be termed body-force. If I do not obey the law and accept the penalty for is breach, I use soul-force. It involves sacrifice of self.
Everybody admits that sacrifice self is infinitely superior to sacrifice of other. Moreover, if this kind of force is used in a cause that is just, only the person using it suffers. He does not make others suffers for his mistakes. Men have before now done many things which were subsequently found to have been wrong. No man can claim that he is absolutely in the right or that a particular thing is wrong because h thinks so, but it is wrong for him so long as that is his deliberate judgment. It is therefore meet that he should not do that which he knows to be wrong, and suffer the consequence whatever it may be. This is the key to the use of soul-force. IHR, 45.
135. The method of passive resistance adopted to combat the clearest and safest, because, if the cause is not true, it is the resisters, and they alone, who suffer. Nat, 305.
136. That is the way of Satyagraha or the way of non-resistance top evil. It is the aseptic method in which the physician allows the poison to work itself out by setting in motion all the natural forces and letting them have full play. * -H, 9-7-38, I73.
137. I accept the interpretation of ahimsa, namely, that it is not merely a negative state of harmlessness but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. But it does not mean helping the evil-doer to continue the wrong or tolerating it by passive acquiescence. On the contrary, love the active state of ahimsa, requires you to resist the wrongdoer by dissociation yourself from him even though it may offend him or injure him physically. YI, 25-8-20, Tagore, 322.
138. In its negative form, it (ahimsa) means not injuring any living being whether by body or mind. It may not, therefore, hurt the person of any wrongdoer or bear any ill-will to him and so cause him mental suffering. The statement does not cover suffering caused to the wrongdoer by natural acts of mine which do not proceed from ill-will. It, therefore, does not prevent me from withdrawing from his presence a child whom he, we shall imagine, is about to strike. Indeed, the proper practice of ahimsa requires me to withdraw the intended victim from the wrongdoer, if I am in any way the guardian of such a child. It was therefore most proper for the passive resisters of South Africa to have resisted the evil that the Union Government sought to do to them. They bore no ill-will to it. They showed this by helping the Government whenever it needed their help. "Their resistance Consisted of disobedience of the orders of the Government even to the extent of suffering death at their hands." Ahimsa requires deliberate self-suffering, not a deliberate injury of the supposed wrongdoer. Nat, 346 (from MR, Oct. 1916).
139. If a man abused him, it would never do for him to return the abuse. An evil returned by another evil only succeeded in multiplying it, instead of leading to its reduction. It was a universal law that violence would never be quenched by superior violence but could only be quenched by non-violence or non-resistance. But the true meaning of non-resistance had often been misunderstood or even distorted. It never implied that a nonviolent man should bend before the violence of an aggressor. While not returning the latter’s violence by violence, he should refuse to submit to the latter’s illegitimate demand even to the point of death. That was the true meaning of non-resistance. –H, 30-3-47, 85.
Evolution and Revolution
140. Q. Have you studied history and noted the progress of nations? Have you at all noted that progress is made by growth and gradual development; and not by revolution and destruction? Do you ever notice how God works through nature that the life of plants and animals grows by slow advance, by evolution, not revolution? Do you ever watch the sky and the movement of the stars? The suns and systems which continue through the ages can scarcely be seen to move at all. To ascend a mountain the climber has to take slow and painful steps one after another. To descend quickly he need only step over the precipice and he is at the bottom in a few seconds.
A. The nations have progressed both by evolution and revolution. The one is as necessary as the other. Death, which is an eternal verity, is revolution as birth and after is slow and steady evolution. Death is as necessary for mans growth as life itself. God is the greatest Revolutionist the world has ever known or will know. He seconds deluges. He sends storms where a moment ago there was calm. He levels down mountains which. He builds with exquisite care and infinite patience. I do watch the sky and it fills me with awe and wonder. In the serene blue sky, both of India and England, I have seen clouds gathering and bursting with a fury which has struck me dumb. History is more a record of wonderful revolutions than the so-called ordered progress no history more so than the English. And I beg to inform the correspondent that I have seen people trudging slowly up mountains and have also seen men shooting up the air through great heights. YI, 2-2-22, 78.
Inward Freedom and Outward Expression
141. The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is the correct view of freedom, our, chief energy must be concentrated upon achieving reform from within. YI, 1-11-28, 363.
142. The Devil succeeds only by receiving help from his fellows. He always takes advantage of the weakest spots in our natures in order to gain mastery over us. Even so does the Government retain control over us through our weaknesses or vices. And if we could render ourselves proof against its machinations, we must remove our weaknesses. It is for that reason that I have called Non-co-operation a process of purification. As soon as that process is completed, this Government must fall to pieces for want of the necessary environment, Just as mosquitoes cease to haunt a place whose cesspools are filled up and dried. YI, 19-1-21, 21.
The Nature of Swaraj and the Meaning of Freedom
143. The first step to Swaraj lies in the individual. The great truth: As with the individual so with the universe, is applicable here as elsewhere.
144. Government over self is the truest Swaraj, it is synonymous with mocha or salvation.
145. Swaraj of a people means the sum total of the Swaraj (self-rule) of individuals. H, 25-3-39, 64.
146. Self-government depends entirely upon our own internal strength, upon our ability to fight against the heaviest odds. Indeed, self-government which does not require that continuous striving to attain it and to sustain it, is not worth the name. I have therefore endeavoured to show both in word and deed, that political self-government-that is self-government for a large number of men and women,-is no better than individual self-government. And therefore, it is to be attained by precisely the same means that are required for individual self-government or self-rule.
147. Evolution is always experimental. All progress is gained through mistakes and their rectification. No good comes fully fashioned, out of Gods hand, but has to be carved out through repeated experiments and repeated failures by ourselves. This is the law of individual growth. The same law controls social and political evolution also. The right to err, which means the freedom to try experiments, is the universal condition of all progress. Ganesh (1921), 245.
The End and The Means
148. They say means are after all means. I would say means are after all everything. As the means so the end. Indeed the Creator has given us control (and that too very limited) over means, non over the end. Realization of the goal is in exact proportion to that of the means. The is a proposition that admits of no exception. YI, 17-7-24, 236.
149. The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree. IHR, 39.
150. One I said In spinning wheel lies Swaraj, next I said In prohibition lies Swaraj. In the same way I would say in cent per cent swadeshi lies Swaraj lies Swaraj. Of course, it is like the blind men describing the elephant. All of them are right and yet not wholly right. H, 28-9-34, 259.
151. It seems that the attempt made to win Swaraj is Swaraj itself. The faster we run towards it, the longer seems to be the distance to be traversed. The same is the case with all ideals. Nat, 685.
152. Though you l have emphasized the necessity of a clear statement of the goal, but having once determined it, I have never attached importance to its repetition. The clearest possible definition of the goal and its appreciation would fail to take us there, if we do not know and utilize the means of achieving it. I have, therefore, concerned myself principally with the conservation of the means and their progressive use. I know if we can take care of them attainment of the goal is assured, I feel too that our progress towards the goal is assured. I feel too that our progress towards the goal will be in exact proportion to the purity of our means.
This method may appear to be long, perhaps too long, but I am convinced that it is the shortest.
Rights and Duties
153. The true source of rights is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o-the-wisp. The more we pursue them, the farther will they fly. The same teaching has been embodied by Krishna in the immortal words: Action alone is thine. Leave thou the fruit severely alone. Action is duty: fruit is the right.
The Greatest Good of All
154. A votary of ahimsa cannot subscribe to the utilitarian formula (of the greatest god of the greatest number). He will strive for the greatest good of all and die in the attempt to realize the ideal. He will therefore be willing to die, so that the others may live. He will serve himself with the rest, by himself dying. The greatest good of all inevitably includes the good of the greatest number, and therefore, he and the utilitarian will converge in many points in their career but there does come a time when they must part company, and even work in opposite directions. The utilitarian to be logical will never sacrifice himself. The absolutist will even sacrifice himself.
–YI, 9-12-26, 432.
True Civilization and Self-restraint
155. Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary restriction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service. YM, 36.
156. Q. But some comforts may be necessary even for mans spiritual advancement. One could not advance himself by identifying himself with the discomfort land squalor of the villager.
A. A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above that level, it becomes a hindrance instead of help. Therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and a snare. The satisfaction of ones physical needs, even the intellectual needs of ones narrow self, must meet at a point a dead stop, before it degenerates into physical and intellectual voluptuousness. A man must arrange his physical and cultural circumstances so that they may not hinder him in his service of humanity, on which all his energies should be concentrated.
157. As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should deep it. If you were to give it up in a mood of self-sacrifice or out of a stern sense of duty, you would continue to want it back, and that unsatisfied want would make trouble for you. Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you or when it seems to interfere with that which is more greatly desired. Vishva-Bharati Quarterly, New Series II, part II, 46.
158.Ideas derived by Gandhi from Ruskins Unto This Last in the year 1904:
(1) That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.
(2) That a lawyers work has the same value as the barbers, inasmuch as all l have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.
(3) That a life of labour, i. E. the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.
159. Every human being has a right to live, and therefore to find the wherewithal to feed himself and where necessary, to clothe and house himself.
Nat, 350 (273).
160. According to me the economic constitution of India and for the matter of that of the world, should be such that no one under it should suffer from want of food and clothing. In other words everybody should be able to get sufficient work to enable him to make the two ends meet. And this ideal can be universally realized only if the means of production of the elementary necessaries of life remain in the control of the masses. These should be freely available to all as Gods air and water are or ought to be; they should not be made a vehicle of traffic for the exploitation of others. Their monopolization by any country, nation or group of persons would be unjust. The neglect of this simple principle is the cause of the destitution that we witness today not only in this unhappy land but in other parts of the world too.
YI, 15-11-28, 381.
161. Violence is no monopoly of any one party. I know Congressmen who are neither socialists nor communists, but who are frankly devotees of the cult of violence. Contrariwise, I know socialists and communists who will not hurt a fly but who believe in the universal ownership of the instruments of production, I rank myself as one among them.
H, 10-12-38, 366
162. Q. Is it possible to defend by nonviolence anything which can only be gained by violence?
A. It followed from what he had said above that what was gained by violence could not only not be defended by non-violence, but the latter required the abandonment of ill-gotten gains.
Q. Is the accumulation of capital possible except through violence whether open or tacit?
A. Such accumulation by private persons was impossible except through violent means, but accumulation by the State in a nonviolent society, was not only possible, it was desirable and inevitable.
Q. Whether a man accumulates material or moral wealth, he does so only through the help or co-operation of other members of society. Has he then the moral right to use any of it mainly for personal advantage?
A. The answer was an emphatic no.
H, 16-2-47, 25(Corrected with reference to the original).
163. If they were to prefer death to dishonour, they had to have the heart of a fakir, not the fakir of old who went about with a staff and a beggars bowl. That was time when there were rich and poor. Then there was room for beggars. Societys thought had advanced since, though practice had not kept pace with thought. The society of the future was to be a society in which there was to be no distinction between rich and poor. Then there was room for beggars. Societys thought had advanced since, though practice had not kept pace with thought. The society of the future was to be a society in which there was to be a society in which there was to be no distinction between rich and poor, or colour and colour, or country and country. H, 3-11-46, 388.
Economics and Morality
164. That economics is untrue which ignores or disregards moral values. The extension of the law of non- violence in the domain of economics means nothing less than the introduction of moral values as a factor to be considered in regulating international commerce. YI, 26-12-24, 421.
165. True economics never militates against the highest ethical standard, just as all true ethics to be worth its name, must at the same time be also good economics. An economics that inculcates Mammon worship, and enables the strong to amass wealth at the expense of the weak, is a false and dismal science. It spells death. True economics, on the other hand, stands for social justice, it promotes the good of all equally including the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life. H, 9-I0-37, 292.
The Social Ideal
166. I want to bring about an equalization of status. The working classes have all these centuries been isolated and relegated to a lower status. They have been shudras, and the word has been interpreted to mean and inferior status. I want to allow no differentiation between the son of a weaver, of an agriculturist and of a schoolmaster. –H, 15-1-38, 416.
167. To me political power is not an end but one of the means of enabling people to better their condition in every department of life. Political power means capacity to regulate national life through national representatives. If national life becomes so perfect as to become self-regulated, no representation becomes necessary. There is then a state of enlightened anarchy. In such a state everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbours. In the ideal state therefore, there is no political power because there is no State. But the ideal is never fully realized in life. Hence the classical statement of Thoreau that that government is best which governs the least.*
-YI, 2-7-31, 162.
168. I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear, because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it dies the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root of al progress.
*The statement that I had derived my idea of Civil Disobedience from the writings of Thoreau is wrong. The resistance to authority in South Africa was well advanced before I got the essay of Thoreau on Civil Disobedience. But the movement was then known as Passive Resistance. As it was incomplete I had coined the word Satyagraha for the Gujarati readers. When I saw the title of Thoreaus great essay, I began to use his phrase to explain our struggle to the English readers. But I found that even Civil Disobedience failed to convey the full meaning of the struggle. I, therefore, adopted the phrase Civil Resistance. Nonviolence was always and integral part of our struggle.
(Letter to Kodanda Rao, quoted in Incidents in Gandhijis Life edited by Chandrashankar Shukla,1949. P. 114-5).
The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence.
It is my firm conviction that if the State suppressed capitalism by violence, it will be caught in the coils of violence itself and fail to develop nonviolence at any time.
What I would personally prefer, would be, not a centralization of power in the hands of the State but an extension of the sense of trusteeship; as in my opinion, the violence of private ownership is less injurious than the violence of the State. However, if it is unavoidable, I would support a minimum of State-owner-ship.
What I disapprove of is an organization based on force which a State is Voluntary organization there must be. MR, 1935, 412.
169. Let there be no manner of doubt that Swaraj established by nonviolent means will be different in kind from the Swaraj that can be established by armed rebellion. YI, 2-3-22, 130.
170. Violent means will give violent Swaraj. That would be a menace to the world and India herself.
171. I hold that democracy cannot be evolved by forcible methods. The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from with out. It has to come from within. Sita, 982.
172. I read Carlyles History of the French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian Revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence, they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by nonviolence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. GC, 173.
173. I believe that true democracy can only be and outcome of nonviolence. The structure of a world federation can be raised only on a foundation of nonviolence, and violence will have to be totally given up in world affairs. GC, 175.
True National Independence
174. I live for Indias freedom and would die for it, because it is part of Truth. Only a free India can worship the true God. I work for Indias freedom because my swadeshi teaches me that being born in it and having inherited her culture, I am fittest to serve her and she has a prior claim to my service. But my patriotism is not exclusive; it is calculated not only not to hurt another nation but to benefit all in the true sense of the word. Indias freedom as conceived by me can never be a menace to the world.
YI, 3-4-24, 109.
175. We want freedom for our country, but not at the expense or exploitation of others, not so as to degrade other countries. I do not want the freedom of India if it means the extinction of England or the disappearance of Englishmen. I want the freedom of my country so that other countries may learn something from my free country, so that the resources of my country might be utilized for the benefit of mankind. Just as the cult of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to die for the district, the district for the province, and province for the country, even so, a country has to be free in order that it may die, if necessary, for the benefit of the world. My love therefore of become free, that if need be, the whole country may die, so that the human races may live. There is no room for race-hatred there. Let that be our nationalism.
The International Ideal
176. My religion has no geographical limits. If I have a living faith in it, it will transcend my love for India herself.
YI, 11-8-20, Tagore, 714.
177. Isolated independence is not the goal of the world States. It is voluntary interdependence.
YI, 17-7-24, 236.
178. There is no limit to extending our services to our neighbours across State-made frontiers. God never made those frontiers.
YI, 31-12-31, 427.
Freedom of the Self and of the Nation
179. I do not realize that I am staking a whole nation for self-evolution. For self-evolution is wholly consistent with a nations evolution. A nation cannot advance without the units of which it is composed advancing, and conversely no individual can advance without the nation of which he is a part also advancing. YI, 26-3-31, 50.
180. The motto of the Gujarat Vidyapith is. It means: That is knowledge which is designed for salvation. On the principle that the greater includes the less, national independence or material freedom is included in the spiritual. The knowledge gained in educational institutions must therefore at least teach the way and lead to such freedom. YI, 20-3-30, 100.
His Own Mission
181. I have not conceived my mission to be that of a knight-errant wandering everywhere to deliver people from difficult situations. My humble occupation has been to show people how they can solve their own difficulties. H, 28-6-42, 201.
182. My work will be finished if I succeed in carrying conviction to the human family, that every man or woman, however weak in body, is the guardian of his or her self-respect and liberty. This defense avails, though the whole world may be against the individual resister. - HS, 6-8-44,
Character of His Leadership
183. You will see that my influence, great as it may appear to outsiders, is strictly limited. I may have considerable influence to conduct a campaign for redress of popular grievances because people are ready and need a helper. But, I have no influence to direct peoples energy in a channel in which they have no interest.H,26-7-42, 242.
184. If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircle us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.
YI, 12-5-20, Tagore, 1069.
185. My work of social reform was in no way less or subordinate to political work. The fact is, that when I saw that to a certain extent my social work would be impossible without the help of p9olitical work, I took to the latter and only to the extent that it helped the former. I must therefore confess that work so social reform or self-purification of this nature is a hundred times dearer to me than what is called purely political work.
YI, 6-8-31, 203.
186. My life is oneindivisible whole, and all my activities run into one another, and they all have their rise in my insatiable love of mankind.
H, 2-3-34, 24.
A Practical Idealist
187. In dealing with living entities the dry syllogistic method leads not only to bad logic but sometimes to fatal logic. For if you miss even a tiny factor-and you never have control over all the factors that enter to be wrong. Therefore, you never reach the final truth, you only reach an approximation; and that too if you are extra careful in your dealings.
H, 14-8-37, 212.
188. For me, the law of complete love is the law of my being. Each time I fail, my effort shall be all the more determined for my failure. But I am not preaching that final law through the Congress or the Khilafat. I know that any such attempt is foredoomed to failure. To expect a whole mass of men and women to obey that law all at once is not to know its working.
–YI, 9-3-22, 141.
189. I adhere to the opinion that I did will to present to the Congress nonviolence as an expedient. I could not have done otherwise, if I was to introduce it into politics. In South Africa too I introduced it as an expedient. It was successful there because resisters were a small number in a compact area and therefore easily controlled. Here we had numberless persons scattered over a huge country. The result was that they could not be easily controlled or trained. And yet it is a marvel the way they have responded. They might have responded much better and shown far better results. But I have no sense of disappointment in me over the results obtained. If I had started with men who accepted nonviolence as a creed, I might have ended with myself. Imperfect as I am, I started with imperfect men and women and sailed on an uncharted ocean. Thank God, that though the boat has not reached its haven, it has proved fairly storm-proof.
–H, 12-4-42, 116.
190. God has blessed me with the mission to place nonviolence before the nation for adoption. For better or for worse the Congress, admittedly the most popular and powerful organization, has consistently and to the best of its ability tried to act up to it.
I hope the learned critic does not wish to suggest that as the Congress did not accept my position, I should have dissociated myself entirely from the Congress and refused to guide it. My association enables the Congress to pursue the technique of corporate non-violent action.
H, 2-12-39, 357.
191. I would not serve the cause of nonviolence, if I deserted my best co-workers because they could not follow me in an extended application of nonviolence. I therefore remain with them in the faith that their departure from the nonviolent method will be confined to the narrowest field and will be temporary.
H, 30-9-39, 289.
192. I lay claim to nothing exclusively divine in me. I do not claim prophetship. I am but a humble seeker after Truth and bent upon finding It. I count no sacrifice too great for the sake of seeing God face to face. The whole of my activity whether it may be called social, political, humanitarian or ethical is directed to that end. And as I know that God is found more often in the lowliest of His creatures than in the high and mighty, I am struggling to reach the status of these. I cannot do so without their service. Hence my passion for the service of the suppressed classes. And as I cannot render this service without entering politics, I find myself in them. Thus I am no master, I am but a struggling, erring, humble servant of India and there through, of humanity.
YI, 11-9-24, 298.
193. I claim no perfection for myself. But I do claim to be a passionate seeker after Truth, which is but another name for God. In the course of that search the discovery of nonviolence came to me. I its spread is my life mission. I have no interest in living except for the prosecution of that mission.
H, 6-7-40, 185.
194. I have been a willing slave to this most exacting Master for more than half a century. l His voice has been increasingly audible as year as have rolled by. He has never forsaken me even in my darkest hour. He has saved me often against myself and left me not a vestige of independence. The greater the surrender to Him, the greater has been my joy.
H, 6-5-33, 4.
195. Q. Are you happy?
Ah! I can answer that question. I am perfectly happy.
Q. More happy than you were outside the village?
A. I cannot say, for my happiness is not dependent on external circumstances.
H, 8-8-36, 201.