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Mahatma Gandhi


2. The Meaning of 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

By Swaraj I mean the government of India by the consent of the people as ascertained by the largest number of the adult   population, male or female, native born or domiciled, who have contributed by manual labour to the service of the State and who have taken the trouble of having registered their names as voters....Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be obtained by education the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.

Young India, 29-1-'25

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 the name. I have, therefore, endeavoured to show both in the 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 by precisely the same means that are required for individual self-government or self-rule.

Young India, 1-12-'27

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

My Swaraj is to intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many new things but they must all be written on the Indian slate. I would gladly borrow from the West when I can return the amount with decent interest.

Young India, 26-6-'24

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

The Swaraj of my...our...dream recognizes no race or religious destinations. Nor is it to be the monopoly of the lettered persons nor yet of moneyed men. Swaraj is to be for all, including the farmer, but emphatically including the maimed, the blind the starving toiling millions.

Young India, 26-3-'31

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 people, is the rule of justice.

Young India, 16-4-'31

If Swaraj was not meant to civilize us, and to purify and stabilize our civilization, it would be nothing worth. The very essence of our civilization is that we give a paramount place to morality in all our affairs, public or private.

Young India, 23-1-'30

Poorna Swaraj....'Poorna' complete because it is as much for the prince as for the peasant, as much for the rich landowner as for the landless tiller of the soil, as much for the Hindus as for the Musalmans, as much for Parsis and Christians as for the Jains, Jews and Sikhs, irrespective of any distinction of caste or creed or status in life.

Young India, 5-3-'31

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 some one than for the other, being partial to some one than for the other, being partial to some and prejudicial to others.

Young India, 5-3-'31

The Swaraj of my dream is the poor man's Swaraj. The necessaries of life should be enjoyed by you in common with those enjoyed by the princes and the moneyed men. But that does not mean that you should have palaces like theirs. They are not necessary for happiness. You or I would be lost in them. But you ought t get all-the ordinary amenities of life that a rich man enjoys. I have not the slightest doubt that Swaraj is not Poorna Swaraj until these amenities are guaranteed to you under it.

Young India 26-3-'31

My notion of Poorna Swaraj is not isolated independence but healthy and dignified independence. My nationalism, fierce though it is, is not exclusive, is not devised to harm any nation or individual. Legal maxims are not so legal as they are moral. I believe in the eternal truth of 'sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas' ('Use thy own property so as not to injure thy neighbour's').

Young India, 26-3-'31

It all depends upon what we mean by and want through Poorna Swaraj. If we mean an awakening among the masses, a knowledge among them of their true interest and ability to serve that interest against the whole world and if through Poorna Swaraj we want harmony, freedom from aggression from within or without, and a progressive improvement in the economic condition of the masses, we can gain our end without political power and by directly acting upon the powers that be.

Young India, 18-6-'31

Let there be no mistake about my conception of Swaraj. It is complete economic independence of alien control and complete economic independence. So at one end you have political independence, at the other the economic. It has two other ends. One of them is moral and social, the corresponding end is Dharam, i.e. religion in the highest sense of the term. It includes Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc., but is superior to them all.... Let us call this the square of Swaraj, which will be out of shape if any of its angles is untrue.

Harijan, 2-1-'37

The Swaraj of my conception will come only when all of us are firmly persuaded that out Swaraj has got to be won, worked and maintained through truth and Ahimsa alone. True democracy or Swaraj of the masses can never come through untruthful and violent means, for the simple reason that the natural corollary to their use would be to remove all opposition through the suppression or extermination of the antagonists. That does not make for individual freedom. Individual freedom can have the fullest play only under a regime of unadulterated Ahimsa.

Harijan, 27- 5-'39

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 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 goondaism. 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

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 immortality 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 places 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