Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi
To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?
Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent.
Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
I’m a lover of my own liberty, and so I would do nothing to restrict yours. I simply want to please my own conscience, which is God.
I have even seen the writings suggesting that I am playing a deep game‚ that I am using the present turmoil to foist my fads on India‚ and am making religious experiments at India's expense. I can only answer that Satyagraha is made of sterner stuff. There is nothing reserved and nothing secret in it.
Truth never damages a cause that is just.
I do not want to see the allies defeated. But I do not consider Adolf Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed. Englishmen are showing the strength that Empire builders must have. I expect them to rise much higher than they seem to be doing.
All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family‚ and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul.
You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians or coloured people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams.
It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace … Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man?''
I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him.
Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
I wanted to know the best of the life of one (Muhammad) who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity‚ the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges‚ his intense devotion to his friends and followers‚ his intrepidity‚ his fearlessness‚ his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.
In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the native. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?
If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should feel free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite violence.
If India adopted the doctrine of love as an active part of her religion and introduced it in her politics.Swaraj would descend upon India from heaven. But I am painfully aware that that event is far off as yet.
It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.
Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension. Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.
Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.
Leo Tolstoy's life has been devoted to replacing the method of violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of non­resistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in self­suffering. He admits of no exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind.
I came in contact with every known Indian anarchist in London. Their bravery impressed me, but I felt that their zeal was misguided. I felt that violence was no remedy for India's ills, and that her civilisation required the use of a different and higher weapon for self-protection.
The ideally non-violent state will be an ordered anarchy. That State is the best governed which is governed the least.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?
If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.
In the dictionary of Satyagraha, there is no enemy.
I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.
You assist an unjust administration most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil administration never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.
A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.
Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different road, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarreling?
We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.
My life is my message.
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs.
On all occasions of trial He has saved me. I know that the phrase 'God saved me' has a deeper meaning for me today, and still I feel that I have not yet grasped its entire meaning. Only richer experience can help me to a fuller understanding.
But in all my trials — of a spiritual nature, as a lawyer, in conducting institutions, and in politics — I can say that God saved me. When every hope is gone, 'when helpers fail and comforts flee', I experience that help arrives somehow, from I know not where.
Poverty is the worst kind of violence.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.
An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.
I have been known as a crank, faddist, madman. Evidently the reputation is well deserved. For wherever I go, I draw to myself cranks, faddists, and madmen.
Mahatma Gandhi's Biography
Indian political and spiritual leader‚ called Mahatma ("Great Soul"). Gandhi helped India's struggle for independence from Britain through a campaign based on nonviolence and civil disobedience. His doctrine of nonviolent action had a profound influence on Martin Luther King Jr.‚ the leader of the civil rights movement in the U.S‚ and Nelson Mandela‚ the most prominent figure of the black opposition to apartheid in South Africa. However‚ Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Poorbandar‚ Kathiawar‚ on the western coast of India. For several generations‚ the Gadhi's had been Prime Ministers in several Kathiawald States. Karamchand Gandhi‚ his father was the chief minister of Porbandar and a member of the Rajasthanik Court. He married four times. Putlibai‚ his last wife and Gandhi's mother‚ was a deeply religious Hindu. When Gandhi was sixteen‚ his father died - four years later he lost his mother. "The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness‚" Gandhi later wrote in his book of memoir‚ An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth (1927-29).

Gandhi was married at the age of 13‚ as was not unusual by the custom. Officially he was betrothed three times‚ but his first two fiancees died. Gandhi's third bride‚ Kasturba Makanji‚ also 13‚ was the only daughter of rich merchants. Kasturba and Gandhi had four sons; their first child was born in 1885‚ but died after a few days. Kasturba could not read or write and Gandhi's attempts to teach her were fruitless. Although she often had to submit to her husband's decisions‚ she also had a will of her own. The marriage endured until her death in 1944.

In 1888 Gandhi went to London to study law‚ leaving his wife for three years. While learning the law‚ he set to the task of making himself an English gentleman. He was told it was necessary for him to take lessons in dancing‚ French and elocution. In the new surrounding Gandhi also began experiments with diet that continued throughout his lifetime. After he was called to the bar at Inner Temple‚ he returned home to practice as a barrister in Bombay. Unable to find a suitable post‚ Gandhi moved to South Africa in 1893. During his journey to Pretoria he had a firsthand experience with racist degradation‚ a most crucial experience in his formative years. Gandhi worked for Dada Abdullah & Co and the Indian community. Kasturba had again waited with the children in India‚ but in 1897 she joined her husband in Durban. Gandhi gained fame as a tenacious political campaigner‚ who courageously opposed the Transvaal government's discriminatory legislation against Indian settlers. His ideological basis was much derived from the liberal-humanist values he had absorbed in England‚ exemplified in the works of Ruskin‚ Thoreau‚ and Emerson.

Gandhi remained in South Africa for 20 years and developed a system of non-violent defiance. During the Boer War (1899-1902) he organized an Indian Ambulance Corps to assist the British‚ wrote freelance field reports‚ and also contributed to Dadabhai Naroroji's India. For his services he was awarded the War Medal. In the Transvaal‚ he established the Phoenix Farm settlement‚ an attempt at communal living along the lines of Leo Tolstoy's estate at Yasnaya Polyana. Indian Opinion‚ a weekly from Durban originally launched by two of Gandhi's friends in 1903‚ became a medium for his thoughts.

After the birth of their fourth son‚ Gandhi suggested to his wife that they sleep in separate beds. Gandhi's one-sided decision and sexual abstinence caused Kasturbai for a long time much stress. In search for spiritual development Gandhi studied the Bible‚ the Koran‚ and memorized the Bhagavad Gita. Also Leo Tolstoy influenced him deeply. Gandhi saw that his methods were in harmony with Hindu doctrines of ahimsa and that "the strongest physical force bends before moral force when it is used in the defense of truth." In his middle thirties‚ Gandhi took the vow of bramahcharya‚ which means not only complete chastity but the elimination of sexual desire. To test his self-control Gandhi slept naked with young women. On his return trip from England to South Africa‚ he composed Hind swaraj‚ an updated glimpse of dharma‚ on the stationery of RMS Kildonian Castle. This product of feverish writing‚ which first appeared in two instalments in Indian Opinion‚ has remained a key to the understanding of Gandhi's political philosophy.

Written in a the form of a dialogue between an Editor and Reader‚ and addressing a mixed audience‚ Gandhi attempted to convince his readers‚ that to drive out the English from India by modern methods of violence was a suicidal policy and that "modern civilization" was a greater threat than colonialism. When the text was published in book form in 1910‚ under the title Indian Home Rule‚ by Gandhi's own International Printing Press in South Africa‚ it was banned for security reasons. The South African ban lasted almost thirty years. The first Indian edition was published by Ganesh and Co. in 1919‚ with a new foreword and a 'Note' by C. Rajagopalachari. An American edition came out under the title Sermon on the Sea in 1924.

Most of Gandhi's writing between Hind Swaraj and Satyagraha in South Africa (1924-25) took the form of journalism. In 1914 he returned permanently to India. His most prominent adversary‚ Gen. Jan Smuts‚ wrote to a friend reliefed: "The saint has left our shores‚ I hope‚ forever." Gandhi became a highly influential figure in the National Congress‚ transforming it into an instrument of change. Following the massacre at Amritsar in 1919‚ in which British soldiers killed hundreds of Indians‚ Gandhi launched a policy of non-violent non-co-operation to secure swaraj (independence) from Britain. This process made Gandhi a gurulike figure. Resistance methods included strikes‚ refusal to pay taxes‚ abandonment of western for Indian dress‚ and refusal to respect colonial law. "One step enough for me‚" Gandhi often said without planning his actions far ahead.

Gandhi himself adopted a simple‚ ascetic way of life‚ dressing only in a loincloth of handwoven cloth and sandals. He was jailed several times and went on hunger strikes to focus attention on his cause. The bulk of his autobiography‚ Satayana Prayogo Athava Atmakatha‚ he dictated in Gujarati while in Yeravada Jail in 1923-24. It was published serially in Navajivan and Young India and translated into English by Mahadev Desai‚ a lawyer and man of letters‚ who had joined Gandhi in 1917 and served as his secretary and diarist. Through the English translation‚ it has been the most widely read Gujarati book all over the world.

When communal riots started on India's northwest frontier in 1924‚ Gandhi undertook a 21-day purificatory fast. After he had walked some 200 miles on foot to the sea to collect salt illegally‚ he was arrested at Surat and charged for planning to seize the Government salt depots. As a result of the international attention to the case‚ the Viceroy began to relieve the punitive salt taxes and the government monopoly.

"We may read the Gita or the Ramayana or Hind Swaraj"‚ Gandhi said. "But what we have to learn from them is desire for the welfare of others." Gandhi also strove to raise the status of untouchables‚ the caste whom everybody avoided. He gave them the name harijan‚ or "children of God"‚ and founded the weekly paper Harijan‚ which was published in English and Hindi. In an attempt to persuade the orthodox Hindus to wipe out the "blight of untouchability"‚ Gandhi undertook fast in the summer of 1933 for three weeks. In order to promote village self-sufficiency‚ Gandhi popularized handspinning and made know khadi‚ hand-spun cloth‚ the "livery of freedom." However‚ Gandhi's rejection of the Industrial Revolution wasn't supported by some his most close fiends‚ among them Jawaharlal Nehru.

In 1936 Gandhi moved his headquarters from Sabarmati to Sevagram‚ a village near Wardha‚ which became a center to test his ideas. His eldest son Harilal turned into Islam in 1936 and changed his name to Abdullah Gandhi. During World War II Gandhi's struggle for India's independence and satyagraha (defence of and by truth) became a threat to the war effort of the Allies. Gandhi argued that India should remain passive and neutral in the world conflict. On May 10‚ 1942‚ Gandhi wrote in his newspaper: "The presence of the British in India is an invitation to Japan to invade India. Their withdrawal would remove the bait. Assume however that it does not‚ Free India would be better able to cope with invasion. Unadulterated non-co-operation would then have full sway." Gandhi was arrested with Nehru and other Congress leaders‚ and interned in Aga Khan’s Palace at Poona. At the age of 73‚ Gandhi began another fast. Winston Churchill‚ Britain's prime minister‚ who had earlier called Gandhi a "seditious fakir"‚ suspected that Gandhi was fed glucose whenever he drank water: "... and this‚ as well as his intense vitality and lifelong austerity‚ enabled this frail being to maintain his prolonged abstention from any visible form of food. Nearly all the Indian members of the Viceroy's Executive Council demanded his release‚ and resigned in protest at our refusal. In the end‚ being quite convinced of our obduracy‚ he abandoned his fast and his health‚ though he was very weak‚ was not seriously affected." (from The Second World War‚ vol. 4.‚ by Winston Churchill‚ 1951). Gandhi was released from custody unconditionally in the spring of 1944.

Kasturba died at the palace of Aga Khan in 1944. Before her death‚ Harilal‚ the eldest son‚ had appreared drunk in the palace‚ and was chased away. Gandhi saw India gain independence in 1947. However‚ he had to witness deploring the formation of two new nations - and savage fighting. His illusion that India would gain indepencence by nonviolent means was shattered. "Who listens to me today?" Gandhi said‚ and did not remain in New Delhi to celebrate India's freedom on the Fifteenth of August.

Gandhi's last months were shadowed by communal strife between Hindu and Muslim. When he walked barefoot through the scorched villages in East Bengal‚ locals strewed shattered glass on his path. Gandhi pleaded for amicable settlement between India and Pakistan‚ but on January 30‚ 1948‚ he was assassinated in Delhi on his way to an evening prayer. A young Hindu Brahmin‚ named Nathuram Godse‚ viewed Gandhi's acceptance of partition as a betrayal of the Hindu population‚ and fired three shots point-blank. Gandhi had not allowed police to search people near him. Godse believed that the prayer and the purity of the mind were signs of superstitions and without the "father of the nation" India would free to follow the course founded on reason.

Gandhi has been criticized for his nostalgia for ancient rural bliss and delaying the modernization and industrialization of his country. On the other hand‚ he has been regarded as the "true soul" of India. With other Hindu sages Gandhi shared a mistrust of worshipping followers‚ and he tried to avoid the title mahatma. In spite of this‚ his disciplines regarded him as a saint. Gandhi's denial of the pleasures of food‚ sex‚ family‚ and friendship‚ has made his way of life extremely demanding for ordinary people‚ who otherwise have found inspiration from his courage and teachings. This question troubled George Orwell in his essay 'Reflections on Gandhi' (1949). While admitting that Gandhi never made claims of sainthood‚ he did not hesitate to reject sainthood as an ideal: "The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection‚ that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty‚ that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible‚ and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life‚ which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals." Joseph Lelyveld‚ a formed editor of the New York Times‚ tells in Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India (2011)‚ that Gandi left his wife for a long time to be with a German-Jewish architecht and weightlifter named Hermann Kallenbach‚ and he had a racist attitude towards Africans. Lelyveld's book was banned in part of India.
Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008


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