Quotations from the book : EPIGRAMS FROM GANDHIJI

Epigrams from Gandhiji

Quotations from the book
Epigrams from Gandhiji

Alphabetical Listing





Numerals after each epigram refer to the pages of volumes indicated by the following abbreviations. Where publisher is not mentioned, it is Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad.

  • I to XXVI: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Publications Division
  • A : An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth: M. K. Gandhi; Navajivan  Publishing House, Ahmedabad
  • AA: Asia and the Americas: Monthly Magazine published from New York
  • ABP: Amrita Bazar Patrika: English Daily
  • AG: Among the Great: Dilip Kumar Roy; Nalanda Publications, Bombay, 1945
  • AOA: Ashram Observations in Action: Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad
  • BC: The Bombay Chronicle: Daily newspaper published from Bombay
  • Bunch: A Bunch of Old Letters, J. Nehru (Asia, 1958)
  • CP: Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place: M. K. Gandhi; Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad
  • EF: The Epic Fast: Pyarelal, Ahmedabad, 1932
  • ER: Ethical Religion: Mahatma Gandhi; S. Ganesan, Madras, 1930
  • EWE : Evil Wrought by the English Medium, R. K. Prabhu(1958)
  • FYM: From Yeravda Mandir: Ashram Observations: M. K. Gandhi; NavajivanPublishing House,
  • GCG: Gandhi's Correspondence with the Government,1924-44: Navajivan Publishing House
  • GIV : Gandhiin Indian Villages: Mahadev Desai; S. Ganesan, Madras1927
  • H: Harijan: (1933-1956) English Weekly Journal founded by Gandhi,
  • HS: Hind SWARAJ OR Indian  Home Rule: ; Navjivan Publishing House,Ahmedabad
  • MM: Mind of Mahatma Gandhi (Ed. Prabhu & Rao), 3rd Edn., 1968
  • MOG: The Message of the Gita, R. K. Prabhu (1959)
  • MGCG: Mahatma Gandhi: Correspondence with the Government (1959)
  • T: (Followed by Vol. No.) Mahatma (D.G. Tendulkar) Vols. 1-8; 2nd Edn.(1960), Publications Division
  • TIG: Truth is God, Ed. R. K. Prabhu(1955)
Abstinence :
  • Abstinence is forgiveness only when there is power to punish; it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature.T-2-4
Abuse :
  • The best way of losing a cause is to abuse your opponent and to trade upon his weakness. T-51
Action :
  • Action for one's own self binds, action for the sake of others delivers from bondage.T-2-278
  • My Gita tells me that evil can never result from good action.XXV-520
  • What is faith worth if it is not translated into action?T-5-180
Administration :
  • You assist an administration most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil administration never deserves such allegiance. T-3-26
Advaita :
  • I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. XXV-390
Affliction :
  • Every affliction has its own rich lesson to teach, if we would learn it.T-8-24
Africa :
  • The commerce between India and Africa will be of ideas and services, not of manufactured goods against raw materials after the fashion of the Western exploiters.T-7-46
Aggressor :
  • The aggressor always had a purpose behind his attack; he wanted something to be done, some object to be surrendered by the defender.T-8-86
Agriculture :
  • To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.MM-364
  • Weeding is as necessary to agriculture as sowing. MM-182
  • Agricultural colleges to be worthy of the name must be self-supporting. EWE-26
Ahimsa :
  • Ahimsa is the highest ideal. It is meant for the brave, never for the cowardly. T-7-128
  • Ahimsa is the eradication of the desire to injure or to kill.XIV-463
  • Ahimsa is not a matter of mere dietetics: it transcends it.MM-117
  • Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if we cannot practice it in full, we must try to understand its spirit and refrain as far as is humanly possible from violence. T-7-61
  • Ahimsa means infinite love, which again means infinite capacity for suffering. MM-295
  • Ahimsa is an attribute of the brave. Cowardice and ahimsa don't go together any more than water and fire.T-5-83
  • Ahimsa in theory no one knows. It is as indefinable as God.T-5-248
  • The highest religion has been defined by a negative word: ahimsa. MM-425
  • Ahimsa is one of the world's great principles, which no power on earth can wipe out.MM-147
  • Dharma is one and one only. Ahimsa means moksha, and moksha is the realization of Truth.MOG-117
  • Love and ahimsa are matchless in their effect. TIG-57
  • Love in the sense of ahimsa has only a limited number of votaries in the world. T-3-144
  • Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore to be practised by everybody in all the affairs of life.MM-24
  • Ahimsa is the strongest force known. T-5-307
  • Ahimsa is the height of Kshatriya dharma as it represents the climax of fearlessness. XXV-563
  • The fullest application of ahimsa does make life impossible.XXVI-335
  • The most distinctive and largest contribution of Hinduism to India's culture is the doctrine of ahimsa.T-2-341
  • True ahimsa should mean a complete freedom from ill-will and anger and hate and an overflowing love for all. T-2-318
  • Ahimsa and love are one and the same thing. TIG-19
  • Ahimsa and Truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disentangle and separate them. TIG-37
  • Ahimsa is my God, and Truth is my God. MM-24
  • Truth and ahimsa will never be destroyed.T-5-245
  • The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody.TIG-36
  • Ahimsa calls for the strength and courage to suffer without retaliation, to receive blows without returning any. T-7-75
  • Ahimsa can be practiced only towards those that are inferior to you in every way.XIV-463
  • Ahimsa was preached to man when he was in full vigor of life and able to look his adversaries straight in the face. XIV-476
  • The greater the realization of truth and ahimsa, the greater the illumination.XXV-521
  • The path of Truth is as narrow as it is straight. Even so is that of ahimsa. TIG-36
  • Use truth as your anvil, nonviolence as your hammer and anything that does not stand the test when it is brought to the anvil of truth and hammered with ahimsa, reject as non-Hindu. XXVI-374
  • The removal of untouchability is one of the highest expressions of ahimsa.T-4-239
  • Cow-protection can only be secured by cultivating universal friendliness, i.e. ahimsa.XXV-520
  • Ahimsa is nothing if not a well-balanced exquisite consideration of one's neighbour, and an idle man is wanting in that elementary consideration.T-2-354
  • Ahimsa is a science. The word 'failure' has no place in the vocabulary of science. T-5-81
  • Ahimsa magnifies one's own defects, and minimizes those of the opponent. It regards the mole in one's own eye as a beam and the beam in the opponent's eye as a mole. T-5-91
  • Ahimsa must be placed before everything else while it is professed. Then alone it becomes irresistible.T-5-127
  • Ahimsa must express itself through acts of selfless service of the masses. T-5-81
  • Ahimsa is no mere theory with me, but it is a fact of life based on extensive experience. T-7-402
  • Ahimsa should not fear the secret of open hand of imperialists. T-7-402
  • When the Gita was written, although people believed in ahimsa, wars were not only taboo, but nobody observed the contradiction between them and ahimsa. TIG-103
  • My ahimsa is my own. I am not able to accept in its entirety the doctrine of non-killing of animals.MM-429
  • What is it but my ahimsa that draws thousands of women to me in fearless confidence? T-5-291
  • Truth is my religion and ahimsa is the only way of its realization. T-4-250
  • Truth and ahimsademand that no human being may debar himself from serving any other human being, no matter how sinful he may be. XXVI-374
  • One who hooks his fortune to ahimsa, the law of love, daily lessens the circle of destruction and to that extent promotes life and love.T-4-33
  • My anekantavada is the result of the twin doctrines of satya and ahimsa.TIG-12
  • When two nations are fighting, the duty of a votary of ahimsa is to stop the war.TIG-40
  • My ahimsa would not tolerate the idea of giving a free meal to a healthy person who has not worked for it in some honest way.MM-194
  • Ahimsa and Truth are my two lungs. I cannot live without them.MM-425
  • My errors have been errors of calculation and judging men, not in appreciating the true nature of truth and ahimsa or in their application.T-2-204
  • Indeed, these errors and my prompt confessions have made me surer, if possible, of my insight into the implications of truth and ahimsa. T-2-204
  • For me the only certain means of owing God that nonviolence in practice means common labour with the body. T-2-126
  • All my experiments in Ahimsa have taught me that nonviolence in practice means common labour with the body. T-5-225
  • Whatever strength the masses have is due entirely to ahimsa, however imperfect or defective its practice might have been. T-7-147
  • True ahimsa should wear a smile even on a deathbed brought about by an assailant. It is only with that ahimsa that we can befriend our opponents and win their love.T-5-243
  • If our ahimsa is not of the brave but of the weak, and if it will bend the knee before himsa, Gandhism deserves to be destroyed.T-5-242
  • The alphabet of ahimsa is best learnt in domestic school and I can say from experience that if we secure success there, we are sure to do so everywhere else. T-5-304
  • A votary of ahimsa always prays for ultimate deliverance from the bondage of the flesh. MM-425
  • A steadfast pursuit of ahimsa is inevitably bound to truth-not violence. MM-118
  • I see a clear breach of ahimsa even in driving away monkeys; the breach would be proportionately greater if they have to be killed. T-2-322
  • A votary of ahimsa cannot subscribe to the utilitarian formula (of the greatest good of the greatest number). He will strive for the greatest good of all and die in the attempt to realize that ideal.TIG-139
  • Woman is the incarnation of ahimsa. (Ahimsa means infinite love, which again means infinite capacity for suffering.)T-5-227
  • Woman is more fitted than man to make explorations and take bolder action in ahimsa. MM-294
  • Unless the charkha adds to your ahimsa and makes you stronger every day, your Gandhism is of little avail. T-5-242
  • Khadi has been conceived as the foundation and the image of ahimsa. A real khadi-wearer will not utter an untruth. A real khadi-wearer will harbour no violence, no deceit, no impurity.T-4-21
  • In Swaraj, based on ahimsa, people need not know their rights, but it is also necessary for them to know their duties. MM-135
  • No power on earth can subjugate you when you are armed with the sword of ahimsa. It ennobles both the victor and the vanquished. T-7-11
  • The votary of ahimsa has only one fear, that is, of God. MM-12
  • A votary of ahimsa must cultivate the habit of unremitting toil, sleepless vigilance, ceaseless self-control.T-5-80
  • It is against the spirit of ahimsa to overawe even one person into submission.T-7-388
  • The richest grace of ahimsa will descend easily upon the owner of hard discipline.MM-127
  • Love, otherwise ahimsa, sustains this planet of ours.MM-127
  • In an atmosphere of ahimsa, one has no scope to put his ahimsa to the test. It can be tested only in the face of himsa. T-5-90
  • A soldier fights with an irresistible strength when he has blown up his bridges and burnt his boats. Even so, it is with a soldier of ahimsa. T-5-127
  • Man lives freely by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him. MM-122
  • The strength to kill is not essential for self-defence; one ought to have the strength to die.T-3-3
  • If the lambs of the world had been willingly led, they would have long ago saved themselves from the butcher's knife.T-2-52
  • If the circulation of blood theory could not have been discovered without vivisection, the human kind could well have done without it. MM-426
  • The scriptures of Christians, Mussalmans and Hindus are all replete with the teaching of ahimsa. XXV-521
  • By ahimsa we will be able to save the cow and also win the friendship of the English. XXV-520
America :
  • America is today able to hold the world in fee by selling all kinds of trinkets, or by selling her unrivalled skill, which she has a right to do.T-3-134
  • It reflects the greatest credit on the determined minority in America that by sheer force of its moral weight it was able to carry through the prohibition measure, however short-lived.T-4-173
Anekantavad :
  • My anekantavad is the result of the twin doctrine of satya and ahimsa.TIG-12
Anger :
  • Fasts could not be undertaken out of anger. Anger was a short madness. T-8-5
  • True ahimsa should mean a complete freedom from ill-will and anger and hate and an overflowing love for all.T-2-318
  • The hardest heart and the grossest ignorance must disappear before the rising sun of suffering without anger and without malice. XXVI-159
Angle :
  • Rectify one angle of a square and the other angles will be automatically right.MM-91
Appeasement :
  • A friendly approach is not one of appeasement. An appeasement is possible between enemies. T-8-4
  • In no case can there be any appeasement at the cost of honour. Real appeasement is to shed all fear and do what is right at any cost.T-7-29
Armaments :
  • If the mad race for armaments continues, it is bound to result in a slaughter such as has never occurred in history.MM-4
  • For India to enter into the race for armaments is to court suicide. T-5-178
Army :
  • The power of unarmed nonviolence is any day far superior to that of armed force. T-4-252
  • What faith can you place in a general or a soldier who lacks resolution and determination, who says 'I shall keep guard as long as I can'? T-2-365
  • No general ever won a victory by following the principle of 'being vigilant so long as he could'.T-2-365
Art :
  • Art to be art must soothe. MM-56
  • All true art must help the soul to realize its inner self.XXV-248
  • Purity of life is the highest and truest art. MM-57
  • True art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and purity of its authors. T-2-56
  • True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind. MM-56
  • The art that is in the machine-made article appeals only to the eye, the art in khadi appeals first to the heart and then to the eye. T-3-292
  • The art of producing good music from a cultivated voice can be achieved by many, but the art of producing that music from the harmony of a pure life is achieved very rarely.TIG-109
  • There is a beauty and an art in simplicity which he who runs may see. T-4-170
  • A life of sacrifice is the pinnacle of art, and is full of true joy.MOG-21
  • Whatever can be useful to those starving millions is beautiful to my mind. MM-56
  • I consider writing as a fine art. We kill it by imposing the alphabet on little children and making it the beginning of learning. T-4-164
  • A semi-starved nation can have neither religion nor art nor organization. T-2-251
  • Why should I need an artist to explain a work of art to me? Why should it not speak out to me itself? T-4-93
  • Painters and poets are obliged to exaggerate the proportions of their figures in order to give true perspective.T-2-215
  • To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its exterior, shines with the truth within the soul.T-2-159
Asceticism :
  • By all means drink deep of the fountains that are given to you in the Sermon on the Mount, but then you will have to take sackcloth and ashes. T-2-296
Astrology :
  • I know nothing of the science of astrology and I consider it to be a science, if it is a science, of doubtful value, to be severely left alone by those who have any faith in Providence. T-2-314
Atheist :
  • God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist. TIG-10
Atom Bomb :
  • The atom bomb brought an empty victory to the Allied armies, but it resulted for the time being in destroying the soul of Japan. TIG-142
  • So far as I can see, the atomic bomb has deadened the finest feeling that has sustained mankind for ages.TIG-1
Autocracy :
  • Mobocracy is autocracy multiplied a million times. XXV-531