Back | Next

THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section II: Means and Ends > The Meaning of Non-violence


The Meaning of Non-violence

God can be found only through love, not earthly, but divine.

Harijan, 23-11-‘47, p. 425


Where love is, there God is also.

Satyagraha in South Africa, (1950), p. 237


Ahimsa means Universal Love.

From Yerwada Mandir, (1957), p. 10


Ahimsa means ‘Love’ in the Pauline sense, and yet something more than the ‘Love’ defined by St. Paul, although I know St. Paul’s beautiful definition is good enough for all practical purposes. Ahimsa includes the whole creation, and not only human. Besides, ‘Love’ in the English language has other connotation too, and so I was compelled to use the negative word. But it does not, as I have told you, express a negative force, but a force superior to all the forces put together. One person who can express Ahimsa in life exercises a force superior to all the forces of brutality.

Harijan, 14-3-‘36, p. 39


Non-violence is soul-force or the power of the Godhead within us. We become Godlike to the extent we realize non-violence.

Harijan, 12-11-‘38, p. 326


 Ahimsa is 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 wrong doer by dissociating yourself from him, even though it may offend him or injure him physically. Thus if my Son lives a life of shame, I may not help him to do so by continuing to support him; on the contrary, my love for him requires me to withdraw all support from him although it may mean even his death. And the same love imposes on me the obligation of welcoming him to my bosom when he repents. But I may not by physical force compel my son to become good. That, in my opinion, is the moral of the story of The Prodigal son.

Young India, 25-8-‘20, p. 2


In its positive form Ahimsa means the largest love, the greatest charity. If I am a follower of Ahimsa I must love my enemy. I must apply the same rules to the wrong-doer, who is my enemy or a stranger to me, as I would to my wrong-doing father or son. This active Ahimsa necessarily includes Truth and fearlessness. As man cannot deceive the loved one, he does not fear or frighten him or her. Gift of life is the greatest of all gifts; a man who gives it in reality, disarms all hostility. He has paved the way for an honourable understanding. And none who is himself subject to fear can bestow that gift. He must, therefore, be himself fearless.

Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, (Fourth Edition).


It is no non-violence if we merely love those that love us. It is non-violence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand Law of Love. But are not all great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But, by the grace of God, even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.

Selections from Gandhi, (1957), p. 17