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


Means and Ends

For me, it is enough to know the means. Means and end are convertible terms in my philosophy of life.

Young India, 26-12-‘24, p. 424


The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree, and there is just the same inviolable connection between there means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.

Hind Swaraj, (1952), p. 71


They say ‘means are after all means’. I would say ‘means are after all everything’. As the means so the end…… There is no wall of separation between means and end. Indeed the Creator has given us control (and that too very limited) over means, none over the end. Realization of the goal is in exact proportion to that of the means. This is a proposition that admits of no exception.

Young India, 17-7-‘24, p. 236


Right conduct is not like Euclid’s right line. It is like a beautiful tree, not one of whose millions of leaves is like any other. Though therefore they are from one seed and belong to the same tree, there is none of the uniformity of a geometrical figure about any part of a tree. And yet we know that the seed, the branches and the leaves are one and the same. We know too that no geometrical figure can bear comparison with a full-blossomed tree in point of beauty and grandeur.

Young India, 14-8-‘24, p. 267


Imagine a rectangular frame without a slate. The slightest rough handling of the frame would turn the right angles into acute and obtuse angles and if the frame was again rightly handled at one corner the other three would be a automatically turned into right angles.

Harijan, 30-11-‘47, p. 447


Impure means result in an impure end….. One cannot reach truth by untruthfulness. Truthful conduct alone can reach Truth. Are not Non-violence and Truth twins? The answer is an emphatic ‘No’. Non-violence is embedded in Truth and vice versa. Hence has it been said that they are faces of the same coin. Either is inseparable from the other. Read the coin either way. The spelling of words will be different. The value is the same. This blessed state is unattainable without perfect purity. Harbors impurity of mind or body and you have untruth and violence in you.

Harijan, 13-7-‘47, p. 232


“To work thou hast the right, never to the fruit thereof” is one of the golden precepts of the Gita.

Harijan, 18-8-‘40 p. 254


We are merely the instruments of the almighty will and are therefore often ignorant of what helps us forward and what acts as an impediment. We must thus rest satisfied with a knowledge only of the means, and if these are pure, we can fearlessly leave the end to take care of itself.

Satyagraha in South Africa, (1950), p. 318


The cleanest 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 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.

Selections from Gandhi, (1957), pp. 36-7


However much I may sympathize with and admire worthy motives, I am an uncompromising opponent of violent methods even to serve the noblest of causes….. Experience convinces me that permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence. Even if my belief is a fond delusion, it will be admitted that it is a fascinating delusion.

Young India, 11-12-‘24, p. 406


I have often said that if one takes care of the means, the end will take will take care of itself. Non-violence is the means, the end for every nation Is complete independence.

Harijan, 11-2-‘39, p. 8


My faith in the wise saying that what is gained by the sword will also be lost by the sword is imperishable.

Harijan, 2-9-‘39, p. 260


By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct. Really, it means that things will come right in the end if you take care of the means and leave the rest to Him.

Harijan, 7-4-‘46, p. 72


Success or failure is not in our hands. It is enough we do our part well…. Ours is but to strive. In the end, it will be as He wishes.

Harijan, 12-1-‘47, p. 490