SELECTIONS FROM GANDHI
Guide to Health
840. Our body has been given to us on the understanding that we should render devoted service to God with its aid. It is our duty t keep it pure and unstained from within as will as from without, so as to render it back to the Giver when the time comes for it, in the state of purity in which we got it. –GH, 129.
841. The relation between the body and the mind is so intimate that, if either of them got out of order, the whole system would suffer. Hence it follows that a pure character is the foundation of health in the real sense of the term; and we may say that all evil thoughts and evil passions are but different forms of disease. –GH, 8.
842. Perfect health can be attained only by living in obedience to the laws of God, and defying the power of Satan. True happiness is impossible without true health and true health is impossible without a rigid control of the palate. All the other senses will automatically come under control when the palate has been brought under control. And he who has conquered his senses has really conquered the whole world, and he becomes a part of God. –GH, 131.
843. The one thing which we can and must learn from the West is the science of municipal sanitation. The peoples of the West have evolved a science of corporate sanitation and hygiene from which we have much to learn. We must modify Western methods of sanitation to suit our requirements. And as my patriotism is inclusive and admits of no enmity or ill-will, I do not hesitate, in spite of my horror of Western materialism, to take from the West what is beneficial for me. –YI, 26-12-24, 430.
Institutions and Public Support
844. 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. I would therefore urge the conductors of such institutions not to give in because of the general depression. It is a time of test for worthy institutions. –YI, 15-10-25, 351.
845. Q. What is the outlook, in view of the precarious financial position of our Ashrams and institutions (for Harriman work) today?
Q. If it is impossible to get the caste Hindus’ co-operation in anti-untouchability work, would it not be better to take up the village industries work?
A. That is a delusion. You may be sure that he who gives up Harijan work on a pretext like that will be able to do less for the village industries work. You can’t settle down in a village and miss the Harijans who are the foundation of society. –H, 28-11-36, 331.
Running Institutions on Public Money
846. I had learnt at the outset not to carry on public work with borrowed money. One could rely on people’s promise in most matters except in matters of money. –Auto, 186.
847. The public should be the bank for all public institutions, which should not last a day longer than the public wish. An institution run with the interest of accumulated capital ceases to be amenable to public opinion and becomes autocratic and self-righteous. –SA, 202.
848. Take the illustration of the new educational experiment. The experiment I said must go on without asking for monetary help. Otherwise, after my death the whole organization would go to pieces. The fact is that the moment financial stability is assured, spiritual bankruptcy is also assured. –H, 10-12-38, 371.
849. 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 seed of the moral fall of the institution. A public institution means an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds, of the public. When such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist. 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 institutions to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support has no right to exist as such. The subscriptions that an institution annually receives are a test of its popularity and the honesty of its management, and I am of opinion that every institution should submit to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remarks do not apply to the bodies which cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without permanent buildings. What I mean to say is that the current expenditure should be found from subscriptions voluntarily received from year to year. –Auto, 243.
850. Because an institution happens to have plenty of funds it does not mean that it should anyhow spend away every pie that it possesses. The golden rule is not to hesitate to ask for or spend even a crore when it is absolutely necessary and when it is not, to hoard up every pie though one may have a crore of rupees at one’s disposal. –YI, 21-5-31, 118.
851. Public money belongs to the poor public of India than whom there is none poorer on earth. We have t9 be more wakeful, none cautious, more careful; and let us be ready to account for every pie that we receive from the public. –YI, 16-4-31, 74.
852. Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for any organization. Without properly dept accounts it is impossible to maintain truth in its pristine purity. –Auto, 188.
853. If we do not account for every single pie we receive and do not make a judicious use of the funds, we shall deserve to be blotted out of public life. –YI, 6-7-21, 209.
854. The sole aim of Journalism should be service. –Auto, 349.
855. One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly t expose popular defects. –IHR, 1.
865. Reference to abuses in the States is undoubtedly a necessary part of journalism and it is a means of creating public opinion. Only, my scope is strictly limited; I have taken up journalism not for its sake but merely as an aid to what I have conceived to be my mission in life. My mission is to teach by example and precept under severe restraint the use of the matchless weapon of satyagraha which is as direct corollary of nonviolence and truth. I am anxious, indeed I am impatient, to demonstrate that there is no remedy for the many ills of life wave that of nonviolence. It is a solvent strong enough to melt the stoniest heart. To be true to my faith, therefore, I may not write merely to excite passion. The reader can have no idea of f the restraint I have to exercise from week to week in the choice of topics and my vocabulary. It is training for me. It enables me to peep into myself and to make discoveries of my weaknesses. Often my vanity dictates a smart expression or my anger a harsh adjective. It is a terrible ordeal but a fine exercise to remove these weeds. The reader sees the pages of the Young India fairly well-dressed-up and sometimes, with Romain Rolland, he is inclined to say ‘what a fine old man this must be’. Well, let the world understand that the fineness is carefully and prayerfully cultivated. And if it has proved acceptable to some whose opinion I cherish, let the reader understand that when that fineness has become perfectly natural, i. e. when I have become incapable of evil and when nothing harsh or haughty occupies, be it momentarily, my thought-world, then and not till then, my nonviolence will move all the hearts of all the world. I have placed before me and the reader no impossible ideal or ordeal. –YI, 2-7-25, 232.
857. Unfortunately, the newspapers had become more important to the average man than the scriptures. He would fain advise them to give up reading newspapers. They would lose nothing by so doing whereas real food for their minds and spirits lay in the scriptures and other good literature.
The press was called the Fourth Estate. It was definitely a power but to misuse that power was criminal. He was a journalist himself and would appeal to fellow journalists to realize their responsibility and to carry on their work with no idea other than that of upholding the truth. –H, 27-4-47, 128.
The Learned Professions
858. If you would spiritualize the practice of law, you must not make your profession subservient to the interests of your purse, but use your profession for the service of your country. –Ceylon, 36.
859. Put your talents in the service of the country instead of converting them to f. s. d. If you are a medical man, there is disease enough in India to need all your medical skill. If you are a lawyer, there are differences and quarrels enough in India. Instead of fomenting more trouble, patch up those quarrels and stop litigation. If you are an engineer, build model houses suited to the means and needs of your people and yet full of health and fresh air. There is nothing that you have learnt which cannot be turned to account.
(The friend who had asked the question was an accountant and Gandhiji accordingly said to him): There is dire need every-where for accountants to audit the accounts of the Congress and its adjunct associations. Cone to India—I will give you enough work and also hire—four annas per day which is surely more than millions in India get. –YI, 5-11-31, 334.
860. A medical practitioner from Kenya asks whether medical practitioners can engage in money-lending business or speculation. I have long held the opinion that professional men, whether medical or legal or other, should not seek to add to their income by speculation or other pursuits. It tends to make them careless in their special work, There have been cases in which doctors and lawyers have ruined their reputation by going outside their profession to make money.—H, I6-I2-39, 379.
861. There are two aspects of things-the outward and the inward. It is purely a matter of emphasis with me. The outward has no meaning except in so far as it helps the inward. All true art is thus the expression of the soul. The outward forms have value only in so far as they are the expression of the inner spirit in man. Art of that nature has the greatest possible appeal for me. But I know that many call themselves artists, and are recognized as such, and yet in their works there is absolutely no trace of the soul’s upward urge and unrest.
All true art must help the soul to realize its inner self. In my own case, I find that I can do entirely without external forms in my soul’s realization. My room may have blank walls; and I may even dispense with the roof, so that I may gaze out upon the starry heavens overhead that stretch in an unending expanse of beauty. What conscious art of man can give me the panoramic scenes that open out before me, when I look up to the sky above with all its shining stars? This, however, does not mean that I refuse to accept the value of productions of art, generally accepted as such, but only that I personally feel how inadequate these are compared with the eternal symbols of beauty in Nature. These productions of man’s art have their value only so far as they help the soul onward towards self-realization.
862. True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind. There is an art that kills and an art that gives life. True art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors.
863. We have somehow accustomed ourselves to the belief that art is independent of the purity of private life. I can say with all experience at my command that nothing could be more untrue. As I am nearing the end of my earthly life I can say that purity of life is the highest and truest art. The art of producing purity of life is the highest and truest art. The art of producing good music from a cultivated voice can be achieved by many, but the art of producing that music from the harmony of a pure life is achieved very rarely.—H, 19-2-38, 10.
864. Music means rhythm, order. Its effect is electrical. It immediately soothes. Unfortunately like our shastras, music has been the prerogative of the few. It has never become nationalized in the modern sense. If I had any influence with volunteer boy scouts and Seva Samiti organizations, I would make compulsory a proper singing in company of national songs. And to that end I should have great musicians attending every Congress or Conference and teaching mass music.—YI, 8-9-20, Tagore, 763.
Music and Education
865. In Pandit Khare’s opinion, based upon wide experience, music should form part of the syllabus of primary education. I heartily endorse the proposition. The modulation of the voice is as necessary as the training of the hand. Physical drill, handicrafts, drawing and music should go hand in hand in order to draw the best out of the boys and girls and create in them a real interest in their tuition.
That this means a revolution in the system of training is admitted. If the future citizens of the State are to build a sure foundation for life’s work, these four things are necessary. One has only to visit only primary school to have a striking demonstration of slovenliness, disorderliness and discordant speech. I have no doubt, therefore, that when the Education Ministers in the several provinces recast the system of education and make it answer the requirements of the country, they will not omit the essentials to which I have drawn attention. My plan of primary education certainly comprises these things which easily become possible the moment you remove from the children’s shoulders the burden of having to master a difficult foreign language. –H, 11-9-37, 250.
866. The object of mass drill is to enable large bodies of people to perform any movement rhythmically and swiftly and with absolute precision. What a saving in national time and energy it would mean if we could do that in our public meetings and functions! There is a silent music in disciplined movement of masses of men and women. Just now I asked you to move a little towards me so that my low voice may reach you. Had you advanced far enough in your drill, you would have been able to perform that movement with ease, without any noise or confusion. There is a rhythm and music in drill that makes action effort less and eliminates fatigue. If the whole nation of three hundred millions could be drilled so as to move together and act together and if necessary to die together as one man, we should attain independence without striking a blow and set an example of a peaceful revolution the whole world to emulate.--H, 31-12-38, 411.
Regarding Ancient Things
867. I do not subscribe to the superstition that everything is good because it is ancient. I do not believe either that anything is good because it is Indian. –YI, 8-1-25, 11.
868. I am no indiscriminate worshipper of all that goes under the name ‘ancient’. I never hesitate to demolish all that is evil or immoral, no matter how ancient it may be, but with that reservation. I must confess to you that I am an adorer of ancient institutions and it hurts me to think that people in their rush for everything modern despise all their ancient traditions and ignore them in their lives. –Ceylon, 107.
869. I came by a process of examination to this irresistible conclusion that there was nothing so very ancient in this world as these two good old things—truth and non-violence. I also discovered that I must not attempt to revive ancient practices if they were inconsistent with, call it if you will, modern life as it must be lived. Ancient practices may have been perfectly good and perhaps absolutely necessary at the time when those practices were adopted, but they mighty be entirely out of date with modern needs and still not be contrary to truth or non-violence.
870. I have never considered the exclusion of everything foreign under every conceivable circumstance as a part of Swadeshi. The broad definition of Swadeshi is the use of all home-made things to the exclusion of foreign things, in so far as such use is necessary for the protection of home-industry, more especially those industries without which India will become pauperized. In my opinion, therefore, Swadeshi which excludes the use of everything foreign, no matter how beneficent it may be and irrespective of the fact that it impoverishes nobody, is a narrow interpretation of Swadeshi. -YI, 17-6-26, 218.
871. But even Swadeshi, like any other good thing, can be ridden to death if it is made a fetish. That is a danger that must be graded against. To reject foreign manufactures merely because they are foreign, and to go on wasting national time and money in the promotion in one’s country of manufactures for which it is not suited would be criminal folly, and a negation of the Swadeshi spirit. A true votary of Swadeshi will never harbour ill-will towards the foreigner, he will not be moved by antagonism towards anybody on earth. Swadeshism is not a cult of hatred. It is a doctrine of selfless service, that has its roots in the purest ahimsa, i.e. love. –YM, 95.
872. I wish to utter a word of caution against your believing that I am an indiscriminate despiser of everything that comes from the West. There are many things which I have myself assimilated from the West. –Ceylon, 108.
873. If I have to use the adjective ‘true’ before Swadeshi, a critic may well ask, ‘Is there also false Swadeshi?’ Unfortunately I have to answer ‘Yes’. As, since the days of Khadi, I am supposed to be an authority on Swadeshi, numerous conundrums are presented to me by correspondents. And I have been obliged to distinguish between the two kinds of Swadeshi. If foreign capital is mixed with indigenous, or if foreign talent is mixed with indigenous, is the enterprise Swadeshi? There are other questions too. But I had better reproduce the definition I gave to a Minister the other day. ‘Any article is Swadeshi if it sub serves the interest of the millions, even though the capital and talent are foreign but under effective Indian control.’ Thus Khadi of the definition of the A. I. S. A. would be true Swadeshi even though the capital may be all foreign and there may be Western specialists employed by the Indian Board. Conversely, Bata’s rubber or other shoes would be foreign though the labour employed may be all Indian and the capital also found by India. The manufactures will be doubly foreign because the control will be in foreign hands and the article, no matter how cheap it is, will oust the village tanner mostly and the village mochi always. Already the mochis of Bihar have begun to feel the unhealthy competition. The Bata shoe may be the saving of Europe; it will mean the death of our village shoemaker and tanner. I have given two telling illustrations, both partly imaginary. For in the A. I. S. A. the capital is all indigenous and the whole of the talent also. But I would love to secure the engineering talent of the West to give me a village wheel which will beat the existing wheels, though deep down in me I have the belief that the improvements that indigenous talent has made are by no means to be despised. But this is a digression. I do hope that those Ministers and others who guide or serve the public will cultivate the habit of distinguishing between true and false Swadeshi.
–H, 25-2-39, 25,
874. European civilization is no doubt suited for the Europeans but it will mean ruin for India, if we endeavour to copy it. This is not to say that we may not adopt and assimilate whatever may be good and capable of assimilation by us as it does not also mean that even the Europeans will not have to part with what-ever evil might have crept into it. The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is such an evil, and I make bold to say that the Europeans themselves will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves. It may be that my reading is wrong, but I know that for India to run after the Golden Fleece is to court certain death. Let us engrave in our hearts the motto of a Western philosopher, ‘plain living and high thinking’. Today it is certain that the millions cannot have high living and we the few who profess to do the thinking for the masses run the risk, in a vain search after high living, of missing high thinking. –YI, 30-4-31, 88.
875. As to the habit of looking to the West for light, I can give little guidance of the whole of my life has not provided any. Light used to go out from the East. If the Eastern reservoir has become empty, naturally the East will have to borrow from the West. I wonder if light, if it is light and not a miasma, can ever be exhausted. As a boy I learnt that it grew with the giving. Anyway I have acted in that belief and have, therefore, traded on the ancestral capital. It has never failed me. This, however, does not mean that I must act like a frog in the well. There is nothing to prevent me from profiting by the light that may come from the West. Only I must take care that I am not overpowered by the glamour of the West. I must not mistake the glamour for true light. -H, 13-1-40, 414.
To Foreigners in any Land
876. Even as a cup of milk which is full up to the brim does not overflow when sugar is gently added to it, the sugar accommodating itself in the milk, in the same way, I would like you to live in this island so as not to become interlopers, and so as to enrich the life of the people in whose midst you may be living. –Ceylon, 116.