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)
  • Daridranarayana is insatiable and there is room enough in his belly for all the money and ornaments you can give.T-2-272
  • The real Daridranarayana even I have not seen, but know only through my imagination. T-2-272
  • I would like to assure those who would serve Daridranarayana that there is music, art, economy and joy in the spinning wheel. T-2-275
  • Of all the myriad of Gods, Daridranarayana is the most sacred, inasmuch as it represents the untold millions of poor people as distinguished from the few rich people. T-2-377
  • It is my great misfortune that I have to measure your love by the money and gifts you give for Daridranarayana.T-2-354
  • Death is at any time blessed, but it is twice blessed for a warrior who dies for his cause, that is, truth. T-2-237
  • Death is no fiend, he is the truest of friends. He delivers us from agony. T-2-237
  • Death on the battlefield is welcome to a soldier. XXV-329
  • To die in the act of killing is, in essence, to die defeated. MM-169
  • Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state.XXV-333
  • It is as clear to me as daylight that life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin. T-3-4
  • A courageous man prefers death to the surrender of self-respect.MM-462
  • Life becomes livable only to the extent that death is treated as a friend, never as an enemy. T-8-205
  • If love was not the law of life, life would not have persisted in the midst of death. TIG-18
  • True ahimsa should wear a smile even on a deathbed brought about by an assailant. It is only with that ahimsa that we can convert our opponents and win their love. T-5-243
  • It was the cowards who died many times before their death. T-7-110
  • If we weep for all the deaths in our country, the tears in our eyes would never dry. TIG-147
  • Running away for fear of death, leaving one's dear ones, temples or music to take care of themselves, is irreligion; it is cowardice. XXV-138
  • No amount of casuistry can defend the penalty of stoning to death in any event or that of death, whether by stoning or otherwise, for apostasy. XXVI-415
  • Where death without resistance or death after resistance is the only way, neither party should think of resorting to law-courts or help from the government. XXV-138
  • What is imprisonment to the man who is fearless of death itself? T-2-65
  • I came alone in this world, I have walked alone in the valley of the shadow of death, and I shall quit alone when the time comes. T-7-147
  • Only my death will determine whether I am 'Mahomed Gandhi', Jinnah's slave, destroyer of the Hindu religion or its true servant and protector. T-7-370
  • I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists. Hence I gather that God is life, Truth, Light. He is Love. He is the supreme good. T-2-313
  • You may pluck out my eyes, but that cannot kill me. You may chop off my nose, but that will not kill me. But blast my belief in God, and I am dead. TIG-35
  • It is much more difficult to live for nonviolence than to die for it.T-5-4
  • History is replete with instances of men, who, by dying with courage and compassion on their lips converted the hearts of their violent opponents. T-3-3
  • Slow and inglorious self-imposed starvation among the starving masses is every time more heroic than the death of the scaffold under false exaltation. XXVI-141
  • In the billiard room and on the tennis-court think of the big debt that is being piled against you from day to day. T-2-272
  • What God may have enabled me to do is but a repayment of debt, and he who repays a debt deserves no praise. T-4-257
  • Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak.T-2-20
  • Heroes are made in the hour of defeat. Success is, therefore, well described as a series of glorious defeats. XXV-588
  • Never own defeat in a sacred cause and make up your minds henceforth that you will be pure and that you will find a response from God. TIG-58
  • Defeat has no place in the dictionary of nonviolence. T-4-139Defence
  • It is the Maginot Line* that has made the Siegfried Line** necessary and vice versa. T-5-178* For defence of France constructed by France on her frontier ** For defence of Germany constructed by Germany on her frontier
  • Whether one or many, I must declare my faith that it is better for India to discard violence altogether even for defending her borders. T-5-178
  • Democracy necessarily means a conflict of will and ideas, involving sometimes a war of the knife between different ideas. T-3-291
  • Democracy can only represent the average if not less than the average. MM-343
  • The very essence of democracy is that every person represents all the varied interests which compose the nation. T-5-75
  • Democracy comes naturally to him who is habituated normally to yield willing obedience to all laws, human or divine. T-5-104
  • Democracy demands patient instruction on it before legislation. MM-344
  • Democracy, disciplined and enlightened, is the finest thing in the world. MM-338
  • Democracy and dependence on the military and police are incompatible. MM-347
  • Democracy is a great institution and, therefore, it is liable to be greatly abused. MM-345
  • Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy. MM-345
  • Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep. MM-341
  • Democracy and violence can ill go together. MM-347
  • Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side. MM-342
  • The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within. T-3-301
  • In the days of democracy there is no such thing as active loyalty to a person. You are, therefore, loyal or disloyal to institutions. T-3-25
  • Democracy will break under the strain of apron strings. It can exist only on trust. MM-339
  • Islam was nothing if it did not spell complete democracy. T-7-312
  • My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest. T-5-277
  • To safeguard democracy people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect and their oneness. MM-339
  • What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education. T-7-209
  • Intolerance, discourtesy and harshness are taboo in all good societies and are surely contrary to the spirit of democracy. MM-342
  • The line of demarcation between democracy and monocracy is often thin, but rigid and stronger than unbreakable steel. MM-346
  • In true democracy every man and woman is taught to think for himself or herself. MM-338
  • The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular. MM-347
  • The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart. MM-338
  • People in a democracy should be satisfied with drawing the Government's attention to a mistake, if any. MM-341
  • You have to uphold democracy, for, democracy and dependence on the military and the police are incompatible. T-7-284/
  • Under democracy, individual liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded. MM-341
  • No perfect democracy is possible without perfect nonviolence at the back of it. MM-348
  • The only force at the disposal of democracy is that of public opinion. T-8-100
  • True democracy is not inconsistent with a few persons representing the spirit, the hope and the aspirations of those whom they claim to represent. T-3-301
  • The voice of the people may be said to be God's voice, the voice of the Panchayat. MM-340
  • A born democrat is a born disciplinarian. T-5-104
  • A democrat must be utterly selfless. He must think and dream not in terms of self or of party, but only of democracy. T-5-104
  • The true democrat is he who, with purely nonviolent means, defends his liberty and, therefore, his country's and ultimately that of the whole of mankind. MM-347
  • A democratic organization has to dare to do the right at all costs. MM-346
  • If fighting for the legislatures meant a sacrifice of truth and non-violence, democracy would not be worth a moment's purchase. T-4-156
  • Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today. T-3-301
  • No nation being under another nation can accept gifts, and kick at the responsibility attached to those gifts imposed by the conquering nation. T-2-13
  • By means of a desire for enjoyment we have created and continue to maintain this encumbrance in the shape of the body. TIG-132
  • When there is no desire for fruit, there is also no temptation for untruth or himsa. T-2-311
  • "Despair" is a term which does not occur in my dictionary. XXVI-266
  • I shall despair when I despair of myself, of God and humanity. XXVI-266
  • Man is the maker of his own destiny, and I therefore ask you to become makers of your own destiny. XXVI-294
  • To find Truth completely is to realize oneself and one's destiny, to become perfect. T-2-73
Devotee - Devotion (Bhakti)
  • Devotion to Truth is the sole justification for our effusiveness. TIG-20
  • Devotion required by the Gita is not soft-hearted effusiveness. T-2-309
  • Without devotion, action and knowledge are cold and dry, and may even become shackles. MOG-26
  • A devotee may use, if he likes, rosaries, forehead marks, make offerings, but these things are not a test of his devotion. T-2-309
  • A devote of Rama may be said to be the same as the steadfast one (sthitaprajnya) of the Gita. TIG-111
  • The path of bhakti, karma, love, as expounded in the Gita, leaves no room for the despising of man by man. T-2-278
  • Knowledge without devotion will be like a misfire. TIG-99
  • Renunciation is the central sun, around which devotion, knowledge and the rest revolve like planets. TIG-99
  • Knowledge and devotion, to be true, have to stand the test of renunciation of the fruits of action. T-2-309
  • One rupee can purchase for us poison or nectar, but knowledge or devotion cannot buy us either salvation or bondage. T-2-309
  • In order that knowledge may not run riot, the author of the Gita has insisted on devotion accompanying it and has given it the first place. T-2-309
  • A correct diagnosis is three-fourths the remedy. T-5-129
  • The truest test of civilization, culture and dignity is character and not c1othing. XXVI-258
  • I know no diplomacy save that of truth. XXV-423
  • A free India will throw all her weight in favour of world disarmament and should herself be prepared to give a lead in this. T-5-319
  • True discipline gives enthusiastic obedience to instructions even though they do not satisfy the reason. T-5-266
  • A disciplined army of a few hundred picked men has routed countless undisciplined hordes. XXVI-564
  • Conscience is the ripe fruit of strictest discipline. XXV-23
  • A student's life has been rightly likened to the life of a sanyasi. He must be the embodiment of simple living and high thinking. He must be discipline incarnate. His pleasure is derived from his studies. T-8-71
  • Unless discipline is rooted in nonviolence, it might prove a source of infinite mischief. T-4-256
  • For winning Swaraj one requires iron discipline. XXV-5
  • A born democrat is a born disciplinarian. T-5-104
  • A man who would interpret the scriptures must have spiritual discipline. MOG-13
  • Chastity is one of the greatest disciplines without which the mind cannot attain requisite firmness. X-52
  • No general ever won a victory by following the principle of 'being vigilant so long as he could'. T-2-365
  • I have not known of a war gained by a rabble, but I have known of wars gained by disciplined armies. T-2-13
  • Non-co-operation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and it demands respect for the opponents views. T-2-12
  • We are like the nurses, who may not leave their patients because they are reported to have an incurable disease. T-4-73
  • A businessman who lies and cheats his simple minded and ignorant customers cannot hope to be saved. T-7-124
  • Labour is a great levelers of all distinctions. T-8-97
  • It is weakness which breeds fear, and fear breeds distrust. T-2-123
Divine Rights
  • There is no such thing as the divine right of the kings to rule and the humble duty of the ryots to pay respectful obedience to their masters. T-8-31
  • Divine knowledge is not borrowed from books. It has to be realized by oneself. TIG-94
  • The meaning of prayer is that I want to evoke that Divinity without me. T-5-147
  • The Divine Radio is always singing, if we could only make ourselves ready to listen to it, but it is impossible to listen without silence. TIG-60
  • There is a divine purpose behind every physical calamity. TIG-24
  • I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is as divine as Krishna or Rama or Muhammad or Zoroaster. TIG-78
  • My belief in the Hindu scriptures does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired. TIG-75
  • A doctor who uses his talent to pander to the vice of his patient degrades himself and his patient. TIG-114
Dominion Status
  • Dominion status is nothing if it does not mean the ability of the dominion in question to stand by itself. T-5-254
  • My conception of dominion status implies present ability to sever the British connection if I wish to. T-2-382
  • Close the day with prayer so that you may have a peaceful night free from dreams and nightmares. TIG-43
  • Drink makes a man forget himself. He ceases to be a man for the time being. He becomes less than a beast. XXVI-350
  • It is wrong and immoral for a nation to supply intoxicating liquor to those who are addicted to drink. XXV-474
  • Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. X-37
  • A duty religiously performed carries with it several other important consequences. T-3-225
  • A man can give up a right, but he may not give up a duty without being guilty of a grave dereliction. T-2-324
  • Means to be means must always be within our reach, and so ahimsa is our supreme duty. TIG-37
  • Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if we cannot practise it in full, we must try to understand its spirit and refrain as far as is humanly possible from violence. T-7-61
  • Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. X-37
  • Out of the performance of duties flow rights, and those that knew and performed their duties came naturally by their rights. XXV-573
  • A pure fast, like duty, is its own reward. T-8-247
  • The true source of rights is duty. T-2-179
  • A teetotaler would regard it as his duty to associate with his drunkard brother for the purpose of weaning him from the evil habit. XXVI-65
  • If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o'-the-wisp. TIG-152
  • If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. XXV-564
  • A wretched parent who claims obedience from his children, without first doing his duty by them, excites nothing but contempt. T-8-31
  • He who is ever brooding over result often loses nerve in the performance of his duty. T-2-310
  • No people have risen who thought only of rights. Only those did so who thought of duties. XXV-573
  • You cannot neglect the nearer duty for the sake of a remote. XXV-160
  • Violence becomes imperative when an attempt is made to assert rights without any reference to duties. T-4-13
  • In my humble opinion, non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good. T-2-100
  • I know, too, that performance of one's duty should be independent of public opinion. T-2-320
  • I know that not only is Swaraj our birthright, but it is our sacred duty to win it. T-2-26222
  • No displeasure, even of the dearest friends, can put me off the duty I see clearly in front of me. T-5-296