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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section I: Truth, World and Man > Man and his destiny


Man and his destiny

“Is man a special creation of God?”

Man is a special creation of God precisely to the extent that he is distinct from the rest of His creation.

Young India, 13-2-‘30, p. 56


In eating, sleeping and in the performance of other physical functions, man is not different from the brute. What distinguishes him from the brute is his ceaseless striving to rise above the brute on the moral plane.

Harijan, 7-4-‘46, p. 74


Man is not a brute. He has risen to higher state after countless births in brute creation. He is born to stand, not to walk on all fours or crawl. Bestiality is as far removed from manhood, as matter from spirit.

Young India, 29-4-‘26, p. 157


The brute by nature knows no self-restraint. Man is man because he is capable of, and only in so far as he exercises self-restraint.

An Autobiography (1966), p. 238


Human nature will only find itself when it fully realizes that to be human it has to cease to be beastly or brutal.

Harijan, 8-10-‘38, p. 282


Man is higher than the brute in his moral instincts and moral institutions. The law of nature as applied to the one is different from the law of nature as applied to the other. Man has reason, discrimination, and free will such as it is. The brute has no such thing. It is not a free agent, and knows no distinction between virtue and vice, good and evil. Man, being a free agent, knows these distinctions, and when he follows his higher nature shows himself far superior to the brute, but when he follows his baser nature can show himself lower than the brute. Even the races regarded as the most uncivilized on earth accept some restriction on sexual relations. If it be said that the restriction is itself barbarous, then freedom from all restraints should be the law of man. If all men were to act according to this lawless law, there would be perfect chaos within twenty-four hours. Man being by nature more passionate than the brute, the moment all restraint is withdrawn, the lava of unbridled passion would overspread the whole earth and destroy mankind. Man is superior to the brute inasmuch as he is capable of self-restraint and sacrifice, of which the brute is incapable.

Young India, 3-6-‘26, p. 204


Progress is man’s distinction, man’s alone, not beast’s. Man has discrimination and reason. Man does not live by bread alone, as the brute does. He used his reason to worship God and to know Him, and regards the attainment of that knowledge as the summum bonum of life. The brute, if he is said to worship god, does so involuntarily. The desire to worship god is inconceivable in the brute, while man can voluntarily worship even Satan. It must therefore be, and is, man’s nature to know and find God. When he worships Satan, he acts contrary to his nature. Of course, I will not carry conviction to one who makes no distinction between man and the brute. To him virtue and vice are convertible terms. While to the man whose end and aim is realization of God, even the functions of eating and drinking can be natural only within certain limits. For having knowledge of God as his end, he will not eat or drink for the sake of enjoyment, but solely for sustaining the body. Restraint and renunciation will therefore always be his watch-words even in respect of these functions.

Young India, 24-6-‘26, pp. 229-30


Atman is the same in every one of us. All souls possess equal potentialities; only some have developed their powers, while others have them in a dormant condition. These latter too will have a like experience, if only they try.

Navjivan, 25-5-‘24, p. 306


The Divine powers within us are infinite.

An Autobiography, (1966), p. 206


Man is neither mere intellect, nor the gross animal body, nor the heart or soul alone. A proper and harmonious combination of all the three is required for the making of the whole man.

Harijan, 8-5-‘37, p. 104


It is not man’s duty to develop all his functions to perfection; his duty is to develop all his God-ward faculties to perfection and to suppress completely those of a contrary tendency.

Young India, 24-6-‘26, p. 229


Unless the mind and the body and the soul are made to work in unison, they cannot be adequately used for the service of mankind. Physical, mental and spiritual purity is essential for their harmonious working. Therefore man should concentrate on developing, purifying and turning to the best use all his faculties.

The Gita According to Gandhi, (1956), p. 208


The aim of life is that we should serve the Power that has created us, and on Whose mercy or consent depends our very breath, by heartily serving Its creation. That means love, not hate, which one sees every here.

Harijan, 6-4-‘47, pp. 98-99


The soul’s natural progress is towards selflessness and purity.

The Gita according to Gandhi, (1956), p. 202


Man’s ultimate aim is the realization of God, and all his activities, social, political, religious, have to be guided by the ultimate aim of the vision of God. The immediate service of all human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavor 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.

Harijan, 29-8-‘36, p. 226


Man is not at peace with himself till he has become like unto God.

The Gita According to Gandhi, (1956), pp. 128-29


The purpose of life is undoubtedly to know oneself. We cannot do it unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives. The sum-total of that life is God. Hence the necessity of realizing God living within every one of us….

The instrument of this knowledge is boundless selfless service.

The Diary of Mahadev Desai-1, (1953), p. 184


Of all the animal creations of God, man is the only animal who has been created in order that he may know his Maker. Man’s aim in life is not therefore to add from day to day to his material prospects and to his material possessions but his predominant calling is from day to day to come nearer his own Maker.

Young India, 20-10-‘27, p. 355


Man is not born day after day to explore avenues for amassing riches and to explore different means of livelihood; on the contrary man is born in order that he may utilize every atom of his energy for the purpose of knowing his Maker.

Young India, 27-10-‘27, p. 357


Adam is not God but he is a spark of the divine. And therefore he who is the most religiously behaved has most of the divine spark in him.

The Gita According to Gandhi, (1956), p. 128