Quotations by Mohandas Gandhi

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Mohandas Gandhi, political and spiritual leader of India

Mohandas Gandhi in 1931

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 - 30 January 1948), also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha-a philosophy that is largely concerned with truth and 'resistance to evil through active, non-violent resistance' - which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi is commonly known in India and across the world as the Mahatma ("Great Soul" - an epithet given by Tagore) and as Bapu ("Father"). In India, he is officially accorded the honour of Father of the Nation. October 2nd, his birthday, is commemorated each year as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday. On 15 June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2 October to be the "International Day of Non-Violence."

Gandhi famously led his nation in the disobedience of the British salt tax imposed in India with the 400 kilometre (250 miles) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and in an open call for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years on numerous occasions in both South Africa and India.

Gandhi practiced and advocated non-violence and truth in all situations. He lived simply, organizing an ashram that was self-sufficient in its needs. Making his own clothes - the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with the hand spun yarn he spun on a charkha-he lived on a simple vegetarian and, later, fruitarian diet. He underwent long (at times over a month) fasts, for both self-purification and protest. (Source: Wikipedia)


  1. A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
  2. A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
  3. A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.
  4. A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.
  5. A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
  6. A policy is a temporary creed liable to be changed, but while it holds good it has got to be pursued with apostolic zeal.
  7. A principle is the expression of perfection, and as imperfect beings like us cannot practise perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.
  8. A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.
  9. A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
  10. A vow is a purely religious act which cannot be taken in a fit of passion. It can be taken only with a mind purified and composed and with God as witness.
  11. A weak man is just by accident. A strong but non-violent man is unjust by accident.
  12. Action expresses priorities.
  13. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.
  14. All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
  15. All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.
  16. Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.
  17. Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.
  18. An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
  19. An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
  20. An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
  21. An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.
  22. Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.
  23. Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
  24. Are creeds such simple things like the clothes which a man can change at will and put on at will? Creeds are such for which people live for ages and ages.
  25. As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves.
  26. Be the change that you want to see in the world.
  27. Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.
  28. But for my faith in God, I should have been a raving maniac.
  29. Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.
  30. Commonsense is the realised sense of proportion.
  31. Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.
  32. Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.
  33. Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.
  34. Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
  35. Each one prays to God according to his own light.
  36. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
  37. Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal assent.
  38. Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone.
  39. Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.
  40. Faith... must be enforced by reason... when faith becomes blind it dies.
  41. Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
  42. Fear of death makes us devoid both of valour and religion. For want of valour is want of religious faith.
  43. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
  44. For me every ruler is alien that defies public opinion.
  45. Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living ?
  46. Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.
  47. Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.
  48. Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it.
  49. God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
  50. God sometimes does try to the uttermost those whom he wishes to bless.
  51. God, as Truth, has been for me a treasure beyond price. May He be so to every one of us.
  52. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
  53. Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.
  54. Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.
  55. I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.
  56. I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.
  57. I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world.
  58. I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed.
  59. I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another.
  60. I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.
  61. I do all the evil I can before I learn to shun it? Is it not enough to know the evil to shun it? If not, we should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up.
  62. I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.
  63. I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul.
  64. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could.
  65. I have worshipped woman as the living embodiment of the spirit of service and sacrifice.
  66. I know, to banish anger altogether from one's breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God's grace.
  67. I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
  68. I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won't presume to probe into the faults of others.
  69. I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
  70. I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with morality.
  71. I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
  72. I will far rather see the race of man extinct than that we should become less than beasts by making the noblest of God's creation, woman, the object of our lust.
  73. I would heartily welcome the union of East and West provided it is not based on brute force.
  74. If co-operation is a duty, I hold that non-co-operation also under certain conditions is equally a duty.
  75. If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.
  76. If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.
  77. If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
  78. Imitation is the sincerest flattery.
  79. In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
  80. In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.
  81. In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
  82. Increase of material comforts, it may be generally laid down, does not in any way whatsoever conduce to moral growth.
  83. Infinite striving to be the best is man's duty; it is its own reward. Everything else is in God's hands.
  84. Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.
  85. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause.
  86. Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
  87. Is it not enough to know the evil to shun it? If not, we should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up.
  88. It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
  89. It is any day better to stand erect with a broken and bandaged head then to crawl on one's belly, in order to be able to save one's head.
  90. It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
  91. It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.
  92. It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
  93. It is my own firm belief that the strength of the soul grows in proportion as you subdue the flesh.
  94. It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.
  95. 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.
  96. Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.
  97. Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.
  98. Let everyone try and find that as a result of daily prayer he adds something new to his life, something with which nothing can be compared.
  99. Let us all be brave enough to die the death of a martyr, but let no one lust for martyrdom.
  100. Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
  101. Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.
  102. Man can never be a woman's equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.
  103. Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man's happiness really lies in contentment.
  104. Man lives freely only by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him.
  105. Man should forget his anger before he lies down to sleep.
  106. Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been know to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.
  107. Measures must always in a progressive society be held superior to men, who are after all imperfect instruments, working for their fulfilment.
  108. Moral authority is never retained by any attempt to hold on to it. It comes without seeking and is retained without effort.
  109. Morality is contraband in war.
  110. Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.
  111. Morality which depends upon the helplessness of a man or woman has not much to recommend it. Morality is rooted in the purity of our hearts.
  112. My life is my message.
  113. My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him.
  114. Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it.
  115. No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.
  116. Nobody can hurt me without my permission.
  117. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.
  118. Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.
  119. Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
  120. Non-violence is the article of faith.
  121. Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
  122. Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man.
  123. Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.
  124. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
  125. One's own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one's Maker and no one else's.
  126. Only he can take great resolves who has indomitable faith in God and has fear of God.
  127. Peace is its own reward.
  128. Poverty is the worst form of violence.
  129. Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
  130. Prayer is a confession of one's own unworthiness and weakness.
  131. Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
  132. Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
  133. Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
  134. Providence has its appointed hour for everything. We cannot command results, we can only strive.
  135. Purity of personal life is the one indispensable condition for building up a sound education.
  136. Religion is a matter of the heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one's own religion.
  137. Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the truest to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.
  138. Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.
  139. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.
  140. Self-respect knows no considerations.
  141. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
  142. Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.
  143. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
  144. That service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake.
  145. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
  146. The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problem.
  147. The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
  148. The good man is the friend of all living things.
  149. The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
  150. The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.
  151. The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective it demands the sacrifice of the bravest and the most spotless.
  152. The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body.
  153. The moment there is suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted.
  154. The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.
  155. The pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one's opponent.
  156. The real ornament of woman is her character, her purity.
  157. The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.
  158. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
  159. There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.
  160. There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.
  161. There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.
  162. There is an orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is no blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings.
  163. There is more to life than increasing its speed.
  164. There is no principle worth the name if it is not wholly good.
  165. There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
  166. Those who know how to think need no teachers.
  167. Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.
  168. Though we may know Him by a thousand names, He is one and the same to us all.
  169. To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.
  170. To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary amenities of life is worse then starving the body; it is starvation of the soul, the dweller in the body.
  171. To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
  172. Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.
  173. Truth never damages a cause that is just.
  174. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
  175. Unwearied ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.
  176. Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.
  177. Violent men have not been known in history to die to a man. They die up to a point.
  178. We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study.
  179. We may have our private opinions but why should they be a bar to the meeting of hearts?
  180. We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.
  181. We must become the change we want to see in the world.
  182. We should meet abuse by forbearance. Human nature is so constituted that if we take absolutely no notice of anger or abuse, the person indulging in it will soon weary of it and stop.
  183. We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.
  184. What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
  185. What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.
  186. What is true of the individual will be to-morrow true of the whole nation if individuals will but refuse to lose heart and hope.
  187. Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.
  188. When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.
  189. When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.
  190. Where love is, there God is also.
  191. Where there is love there is life.
  192. You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.
  193. You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
  194. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
  195. 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.