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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IX : Political Ideas > Swaraj


58. Swaraj

The word Swaraj is a sacred word, a Vedic word, meaning self-rule and self restraint, and not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means.

Young India, 19-3-31, p. 38


As every country is fit to eat, to drink and to breathe, even so is every nation fit to manage its own affairs, no matter how badly.

Young India, 15-10-31, p. 305


Self-government depends entirely upon our internal strength, upon our ability to fight against the heaviest odds. Indeed, self government which does not require that continuous striving to attain it and to sustain it is not worth of name. I have, therefore,  endeavoured to show both in word and deed, that political self-government, that is, self-government for a large number of men and women, is no better than individual self government, and, therefore, it is to be attained precisely the same means that the required for individual self-government or self-rule.

Young India, 1-12-27, p. 402


The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is the correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated upon achieving reform from within.

Young India, 1-1-28, p. 363


Self-government means continuous effort to be independent of government control, whether it is foreign government or whether it is national Swaraj government will be a sorry affair if people look up to it for the regulation of every detail of life.

Young India, 6-8-25, p. 276


Under Swaraj based on non-violence nobody is anybody’s enemy, everybody contributes his or her due quota to the common goal, all can read and write, and their knowledge keeps growing from day to day. Sickness and disease are reduced to the minimum. No one is a pauper and labour can always find employment. There is no place under such a government for gambling, drinking and immorality or for class hatred. The rich will use their riches wisely and usefully, and not squander them in increasing their pomp and worldly pleasures. It should not happen that a handful of rich people should live in jewelled palaces and the millions in miserable hovels devoid of sunlight or ventilation.

In non-violent Swaraj there can be no encroachment upon just rights; contrariwise no one can possess unjust rights. In a well-organized State, usurpation should be impossibility and it should be unnecessary to resort to force for dispossessing an usurper.

Harijan, 25-3-39, p. 65


My swaraj is to keep intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many new things, but they must be all written on the Indian slate.

Young India, 26-6-24, p. 210


Swaraj for me means freedom for the meanest of our countrymen…. I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English yoke. I am bent upon freeing India from any yoke whatsoever. I have no desire to exchange ‘king log’ for ‘king stork’.

Young India, 12-6-24, p. 195


In Swaraj based on Ahimsa, people need not know their rights, but it is necessary for them to know their duties. There is no duty but creates a corresponding right, and those only are true rights which flow from a due performance of one’s duties. Hence rights of true citizenship accrue only to those who serve the State to which they belong. And they alone can do justice to the rights that accrue to them. Everyone possesses the right to tell lies or resort to goondasim. But the exercise of such a right is harmful both to the exerciser and society. But to him who observes Truth and Non-violence comes prestige, and prestige brings rights. And people who obtain rights as a result of performance of duty, exercise them only for the service of society, never for themselves. Swaraj of a people means the sum total of the Swaraj (self-rule) of individuals. And such Swaraj comes only from performance by individuals of their duty as citizens. In it, no one thinks of his rights. They come, when they are needed, for better performance of duty.

Harijan, 25-3-39, p. 64


The true source of rights is duty…. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they escape us like a will-o’-the wisp. The more we pursue them, the farther they fly. The same teaching has been embodied by Krishna in a immortal words: “Action alone is thine. Leave thou the fruit severely alone.” Action is duty; fruit is the right.

Young India, 8-1-25, pp. 15-16


National independence is not fiction. It is as necessary as individual independence. Btu neither, if it is based on non-violence, may ever be a menace to the equal independence of the nation or the individual as the case may be. As with individual and national independence, so with the international. The legal maxim is equally moral. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas-1. It has been well said that the universe is compressed in the atom. There is not one law for the atom and another for the universe.

Young India, 30-1-30, p. 37


The Swaraj of my dream recognizes no race or religious distinctions. Nor is it to be the monopoly of lettered persons, not yet of monied men. Swaraj is to be for all, including the former, but emphatically including the maimed, the blind, the starving, toiling millions. A stout-hearted, honest, sane, illiterate man may well be the first servant of the nation.

Young India, 1-5-30, p. 149


Swaraj can be maintained, only where there is majority of loyal and patriotic people to whom the good of the nation is paramount above all other considerations whatever, including their personal profit. Swaraj means government by the many. Where the many are immoral or selfish, their government can spell anarchy and nothing else.

Young India, 28-7-21, p. 238


Let there can be no mistake as to what Purna Swaraj means... It is full economic freedom for the toiling millions. It is no unholy alliance with any interest for their exploitation. Any alliance must mean their deliverance.

Young India, 16-4-31, p. 77


By political independence I do not mean an imitation of the British House of Commons or the Soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramaraj, i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority.

Harijan, 2-1-37, p. 374


It has been said that Indian Swaraj will be the rule of the majority community, i.e., the Hindus. There could not be a greater mistake than that. If it were to be true, I for one would refuse to call it Swaraj and would fight it with all the strength at my command, for to me Hind Swaraj is the rule of all the people, is the rule of justice.

Young India, 16-4-31, p. 78


Every community would be on a par with every other under the Swaraj constitution.

Young India, 14-5-31, p. 108


Purna Swaraj is the common sacred possession of all of us, ­__‘Purna’ complete because it is as much for the prince as for the peasant, as much for the rich land-owner as for the landless tiller of the soil, as much for the Hindus as for the Musalmans, as much for the Parsis and Christians as for the Jains, Jews and Sikhs, irrespective of any distinction of caste or creed or status in life. The very connotation of the word and the means of its attainment to which we are pledged, _Truth and Non-violence _precludes all possibility of that Swaraj being more for someone than for the other, being partial to someone and prejudicial to the other. Truth and Non-violence leave no room for fraud or falsehood…. Swaraj under this method, therefore, can never be achieved by usurping the rights of any community, big or small but by ensuring even-handed justice and fair treatment to all -even the poorest and the weakest in the land.

Young India, 19-3-31, p. 42


Independence of my connection means nothing less than the realization of the ‘Kingdom of God’ within you and on this earth. I would rather work for and die in the pursuit of this dream, though it may never be realized. That means infinite patience and perseverance.

Hindustan Standard, 1-4-40.


1. Use your own rights so that you do not hurt those of another.