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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section X : Social Ideas > Birth-Control

 

75. Birth-Control

I think is the height of ignorance to believe that the sexual act is an independent function, necessary like sleeping or eating. The world depends for its existence on the act of generation, and as the world is the play-ground of God and a reflection of His glory, the act of generation should be controlled for the ordered growth of the world. He who realizes this will control his lust at any cost, equip himself with the knowledge necessary of the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of his progeny, and give the benefit of that knowledge to posterity.

An Autobiography,(1966), p. 153


The union is meant not for pleasure, but for bringing forth progeny. And union is a crime when the desire for progeny is absent.

Young India, 12-3-25, p. 88


Once the idea that the only and grand function of the sexual organ is generation, possesses man and woman, union for any other purpose they will hold as criminal waste of the vital fluid and the consequent excitement caused to man and woman as an equally criminal waste of energy.

Harijan, 21-3-36,p. 48


Sex urge is a fine and noble thing. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. But it is meant only for the act of creation. Any other use of it is a sin against God and humanity.

Harijan, 28-3-36, p. 53


It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. It is good for a person who over-eats to have an ache and a fast. It is bad for him to indulge his appetite and then escape the consequence by taking tonics or other medicine. It is still worse for a person to indulge in his animal passions and escape the consequences of his acts. Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced my moral restraints. All other restraints defeat the very purpose for which they are intended.

Young India, 12-3-25, pp. 88-89


There can be no two opinions about the necessity of birth-control. But only method handed down from ages past is self-control or Brahmacharya. It is an infallible sovereign remedy doing good to those who practice it. And medical men will earn the gratitude of mankind, if instead of devising artificial means of birth control, they will find out the means of self control….

Artificial methods are like putting premium upon vice. They make man and woman reckless. And respectability that is being given to the methods must hasten the dissolution of the restraints that public opinion puts one. Adoption of artificial methods must result in imbecility and nervous prostration. The remedy will be found to be worse than the disease.

Young India, 12-3-25, pp. 88-89


If it is contended that birth-control is necessary for the nation because of over-population, I dispute the proposition. It has never been proved. In my opinion, by a proper land system, better agriculture and a supplementary industry, this country is capable of supporting twice as many people as there are in it today.

Young India, 2-4-25, p. 118


The bogey of increasing birth-rate is not a new thing. It has been often trotted out. Increase in population is not and ought not to be regarded as calamity to be avoided. Its regulation or restriction by artificial methods is a calamity of the first grade, whether we know it or not. It is bound to degrade the race if, it becomes universal which, thank God, it is never likely to be. Pestilence, war and famines are cursed antidotes against cursed lust which is responsible for unwanted children. If we would avoid this threefold curse, we would avoid too the curse if unwanted children by the sovereign remedy of self-control. The evil consequences of artificial methods are being seen by discerning men even now. Without, however, encroaching upon the moral domain, let me say that propagation of the race rabbit-wise must undoubtedly be stopped; but no so as to bring greater evils in its train. It should be stopped by methods which in themselves ennoble the race. In other words, it is all a matter of proper education which would embrace every department of life; and dealing with one curse will take in its orbit all the others. A way is not to be avoided because it is upward and therefore uphill. Man’s upward progress necessarily means ever-increasing difficulty, which is to be welcomed.

Harijan, 31-3-46, p. 66


Man must choose either of the two curses, the upward or the downward; but as he has the brute in him, he will more easily choose the downward course than the upward, especially when the downward course is presented to him in a beautiful garb. Man easily capitulates when sin is presented in the garb of virtue, and that is what Marie-Stopes and others are doing.

Harijan, 1-2-35, p. 410


This little globe of ours is not a toy of yesterday. It is not suffered from the weight of over-population through its age of countless millions. How can it be that the truth has suddenly dawned upon some people that it is in danger of perishing of shortage of food unless the birth rate is checked through the use of contraceptives?

Harijan, 14-9-35, p. 244


I urge the advocates of artificial methods to consider the consequences. Any large use of the methods is likely to result in the dissolution of the marriage bond and in free love. If a man may indulge in animal passion for the sake of it, what is he to do whilst he is, say, away from his home for any length of time, or when he is engaged as a soldier in a protracted war or when he is widowed, or when his wife is too ill to permit him the indulgence without injury to her health, notwithstanding the use of artificial methods?

Young India, 2-4-25, P. 118


To ask India’s women to take to contraceptives is, to say the least, putting the cart before the horse. The first thing is to free her from mental slavery, to teach her the sacredness of her body, and to teach her the dignity of national service and the service of humanity.

Harijan, 2-5-36, p. 93


It is the philanthropic motive that no doubt impels many birth-control reformers to a whirlwind campaign in the favour of the use of contraceptives. I invite them to contemplate the ruinous consequences of their misplaced philanthropy. Those whom they want to reach never use them in any appreciable numbers. Those who ought not to use them will, without doubt, use them to the undoing of themselves and their partners. This would not matter in the least if the use of contraceptives was incontestably proved to be right physically and morally.

Harijan, 12-9-36, p. 244


…I have felt that during the years still left to me if I can drive home to women’s minds the truth that they are free, we will have to birth-control problem in India. If they will only learn to say ‘no’ to their husbands when they approach them carnally…all will be well… The real problem is that they do not want to resist them… I want woman to learn the primary right of resistance. She thinks now that she has not got it.

Harijan, 25-1-36, p. 396


It is a sin to bring forth unwanted children, but I think it is a greater sin to avoid the consequences of one’s own action. It simply unmans man.

Harijan, 7-9-35, p. 234


And so is a woman guilty of criminal folly who will receive the seed in her life-producing field with the deliberate intention of letting it run to waste. Both he and she will be judged guilty of misuse of the talents given to them and they will be dispossessed of what they have been given.

Harijan, 28-3-36, p. 53


I suggest that it is cowardly to refuse to face the consequences of one’s acts. Persons who use contraceptives will never learn the virtue of self-restraint. They will not need it. Self-indulgence with contraceptives may prevent the coming of children but will sap the vitality of both men and women, perhaps more of men than of women. It is unmanly to refuse battle with the devil.

Harijan, 17-4-37, p. 77


I know what havoc secret vice has played among school boys and school girls. The introduction of contraceptives under the name of science and the imprimatur of known leaders of society has intensified the complication and made the task of reformers who work for purity of social life well-nigh impossible...

Harijan, 28-3-36, p. 53


I know that there are modern women who advocate these methods. But I have little doubt that the vast majority of women will reject them as inconsistent with their dignity. If man means well by her, let him exercise control over himself. It is not she who tempts. In reality, man being the aggressor is the real culprit and the tempter.

Young India, 2-4-25, p. 118


And my plea based on positive experience is that even as truth and Ahimsa are not merely for the chosen few but for the whole of humanity, to be practiced in daily life, so, exactly is self-control not merely for a few Mahatma1 but for the whole of humanity. And even as, because many people will be untruthful and violent, humanity may not lower its standard, so also, though many, even the majority, may not respond to the message of self-control, we may not lower our standard.

Harijan, 30-5-36, p. 126


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