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)
Vaccination :
  • I have no doubt in my mind that vaccination is a filthy process, that is harmful in the end and that it is little short of taking beef.T-3-4
Varnashram Dharma :
  • My varnashram dharma teaches me that there must be some significance in the fact of my being born in India instead of Europe. XX-49
  • I do regard varnashram as a healthy division of work based on birth.XXVI-540
  • My varnashram refuses to bow the head before the greatest potentate on earth, but my varnashram compels me to bow down my head in all humility before knowledge, purity, before every person where I see God face to face. T-2-283
Vedas :
  • Words have, like man himself, an evolution, and even a Vedic text must be rejected if it is repugnant to reason and contrary to experience. T-2-273
  • The story of a shudra having been punished by Ramchandra for daring to learn the Vedas, I reject as an interpolation. TIG-94
  • The Vedas are as indefinable as God and Hinduism. T-3-181
Vegetarianism :
  • The correct way for the people to spread vegetarianism was to reason out its beauties, which should be exhibited in their lives. T-8-175
Vice :
  • Vice pays a homage to virtue, and sometimes the way it chooses is to expect virtue not to fall from its pedestal even whilst vice is rampant round about. T-3-3
  • We should cease to grow the moment we cease to discriminate between virtue and vice, and slavishly copy the past which we do not fully know. T-2-51
Victory :
  • The greater our innocence, the greater our strength and the swifter our victory. T-2-52
  • Without satyagraha carried out in the proper spirit, there is no victory, no Swaraj. T-5-264
Villages :
  • A samagra gramsevak must know everybody living in the village and render them such service as he possibly can. T-7-46
  • Basic education links the children, whether of the cities or villages, to all that is best and lasting in India.EWE-24
  • Coal is not dear for the coal-miner who can use it there and then, nor is khadi dear for the villager who manufactures his own khadi. T-4-3
  • Education should be so revolutionized as to answer the wants of the poorest villager, instead of answering those of an imperial exploiter. T-4-18
  • Healthy and nourishing food was the only alpha and omega of rural economy. T-7-181
  • If there ever is to be a republic of every village in India, then I claim variety for my picture in which the last is equal to the first, or, in other words, no one is to be the first and none the last. T-7-169
  • If the village worker is not a decent man or woman, conducting a decent home, he or she had better not aspire after the high privilege and honour of becoming a village worker. T-4-43
  • If we want to impart education best suited to the needs of the villagers, we should take the vidyapith to the villages. T-4-163
  • India's way is not Europe's; India is not Calcutta and Bombay. India lives in seven hundred thousand villages. XXVI-286
  • I would like to bury myself in an Indian village, preferably in a Frontier* village. T-3-299 * North-West Frontier Province of undivided India prior to 1947
  • Khaddar is an attempt to revise and reverse the process and establish a better relationship between the cities and villages. T-2-256
  • Khaddar was conceived with a much more ambitious object, that is, to make our villages starvation-proof. T-3-292
  • Khadi is the sun of the village solar system. T-4-4
  • Khadi service, village service and the Harijan service are one in reality, though three in name.T-4-39
  • No sophistry, no jugglery in figures can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages present to the naked eye. T-2-99
  • Organization of Khaddar is infinitely better than co-operative societies or any other form of village organization. XXV-474
  • Return to the villages means a definite, voluntary recognition of the duty of bread labour and all its connotes. MM-201
  • The message of khaddar can penetrate to the remotest villages if we only will that it shall be so.T-2-244
  • The snakes have their place in the agricultural economy of the village, but our villagers do not seem realize it. T-4-89
  • The villagers want bread - not butter - and disciplined work, some work that will supplement their agricultural avocations which do not go on for all the 12 months. XXVI-379
  • Today the cities dominate and drain the villages so that they are crumbling to ruin. MM-370
  • Urbanization in India is slow but sure death for her villages and villagers. T-3-291
  • You cannot build nonviolence on a factory civilization, but it can be built on self-contained villages. MM-369
  • Give the villagers village arithmetic, village geography, village history and the literary knowledge that they must use daily, i.e. reading and writing letters, etc. EWE-2
  • We have to tackle the triple malady which holds our villages fast in its grip; want of corporate sanitation, deficient diet and inertia. T-4-73
Violence-Himsa :
  • I hold that the world is sick of armed rebellions.XXVI-140
  • It is my firm conviction that nothing enduring can be built on violence. T-2-333
  • My dictionary has no such expression as a violent fight. T-5-232
  • With God as witness, I want to proclaim this truth that the way of violence cannot bring Swaraj, it can only lead to disaster. T-3-77
  • Violence can only be effectively met by nonviolence. This is an old established truth. T-7-404
  • I do believe that ideas ripen quickly when nourished by the blood of martyrs. XXVI-489
  • I condemn, for all climes and for all times, secret murders and unfair methods even for a fair cause.XXVI-488
  • Between violence and cowardly fight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. T-2-131
  • If intellect plays a large part in the field of violence, I hold that it plays a larger part in the field of nonviolence. T-5-291
  • I invite even the school of violence to give this peaceful non-co-operation a trial. T-2-6
  • I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life. T-8-37
  • My opposition to the socialist and the other consists in attacking violence as a means of effecting any lasting reform.T-7-404
  • Having flung aside the sword, there is nothing except the cup of love which I can offer to those who oppose me.T-3-77
  • I would risk violence a thousand times rather than risk the emasculation of the whole race. MM-142
  • For me popular violence is as much an obstruction in our path as the Government violence. MM-138
  • My experience teaches me that truth can never be propagated by doing violence. MM-177
  • My interest in India's freedom will cease if she adopts violent means, for their fruit will not be freedom but slavery in disguise. T-2-126
  • I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. T-2-4
  • I hold that whatever may be true of other countries, a bloody revolution will not succeed in India. XXVI-140
  • It is an ever-growing belief with me that truth cannot be found by violent means. T-3-217
  • To kill these (rabid) dogs, in my opinion, amount to himsa, but I believe it to be inevitable if we are to escape much greater himsa. T-2-323
  • I suffer snakes to be killed in the ashram when it is impossible to catch them and put them out of harm's way. T-3-323
  • I do not want to live at the cost of the life even of a snake. I should let him bite me to death rather than kill him. TIG-117
  • My modesty has prevented me from declaring from the house-top that the message of non-co-operation, nonviolence and swadeshi is a message to the world. T-2-26
  • I isolate this non-co-operation from Sinn Feinism for it is so conceived as to be incapable of being offered side by side with violence. T-2-6
  • I do not regard killing or assassination or terrorism as good in any circumstances whatsoever. XXVI-489
  • Violence becomes imperative when an attempt is made to assert rights without any reference to duties.T-4-13
  • Himsa does not need to be taught. Man as animal is violent, but as spirit he is nonviolent. T-5-316
  • What is gained by violence must be lost before superior violence. T-5-225
  • Violence is a concession to human weakness, satyagraha is an obligation. MM-117
  • 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-4-217
  • The individual has a soul, but as the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its vary existence. T-4-11
  • Satyagraha has been designed as an effective substitute for violence. TIG-53
  • It is claimed for satyagraha that it is a complete substitute for violence or war. T-3-260
  • Civil disobedience does not admit of any violence or countenancing of violence directly or indirectly. XXVI-538
  • Civil disobedience is not only the natural right of a people, especially when they have no effective voice in their own Government, but that it is also a substitute for violence or armed rebellion.T-3-153
  • Violence always thrived on counter violence. T-8-86
  • Our aim is not to do things by violence to opponents. XXVI-270
  • Naked violence repels like the naked skeleton shorn of flesh, blood and the velvety skin. T-3-11
  • Violence is bound sooner or later to exhaust itself but peace cannot issue out of such exhaustion.T-7-5
  • If there is violence, it will certainly be crushed because violence can only end in a disgraceful rout. T-5-256
  • A successful bloody revolution can only mean further misery for the masses. XXVI-140
  • The essential part of your message to the country is now to wield the sword but to cease to be afraid of it. T-7-114
  • Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. T-2-4
  • To answer brutality with brutality is to admit one's moral and intellectual bankruptcy, and it can only start a vicious circle. MM-146
  • Armed conspiracies against something satanic is like matching Satans against Satan. MM-140
  • Peace through superior violence inevitably leads to the atom bomb and all that it stands for. MM-146
  • Pure motives can never justify impure or violent action. XXV-442
  • We do want to drive out the beast in man, but we do not want on that account to emasculate him.MM-142
  • The state represents violence in a concentrated and organize form. T-4-11
  • To prevent the workers from going to their work by standing in front of them is pure violence and must be given up. T-4-269
  • By using violence to subjugate one another we are using violence against our own souls. XXV-279
  • Violent nationalism, otherwise known as imperialism, is the curse. XXV-369
  • What senseless violence does is to prolong the lease of life of British or any foreign rule. T-7-194
  • Disorder and violence were in fact the one thing that might check the pace of India's progress.T-7-22
  • India's freedom will not be won by violence by only by the purest suffering without retaliation.T-2-164
  • 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
  • The socialistic conception of the West was born in an environment reeking with violence. MM-251
  • The man who uses coercion is guilty of deliberate violence. Coercion is inhuman. T-7-61
  • It is difficult to judge, when both sides are employing weapons of violence, which side 'deserves' to succeed. T-5-13
  • The consumption of vegetables involves himsa, but I cannot give them up. T-2-323
  • The man who coerces another not eat fish commits more violence than he who eats it. T-7-61
  • To yield to the threat or actual use of violence is a surrender of one's self respect and religious conviction.T-2-133
  • None, while in flesh, can be entirely free from himsa, because one never completely renounces the will to live. T-2-322
  • Any act of injury done from self-interest, whether amounting to killing or not, is doubtless himsa.T-2-322
  • The function of violence is to obtain reform by external means, the function of passive resistance, that is, soul-force, is to obtain it by growth from within, which, in its turn, is obtained by self-suffering, self-purification. X-248
  • For me to dominate the Congress in spite of these fundamental differences is almost a species of violence which I must refrain from. T-3-319
  • A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. T-4-314
  • The bomb-throwers have discredited the cause of freedom, in whose name they threw the bombs. T-2-357
  • The present [second] war is the saturation point in violence. It spells, to my mind, also its doom.T-5-316
  • Carrying arms for the removal of the Arms Act can never fall under any scheme of nonviolence.T-2-279
  • The moral to be legitimately drawn from the supreme tragedy of the bomb is that it will not be destroyed by counter bombs even as violence cannot be by counter-violence. TIG-142
  • Nonviolence is an unchangeable creed. It has be pursued even in the face of violence raging around you.T-4-236
  • Nonviolence of the strong is infinitely braver than their violence. T-7-2
  • Nonviolence in the sense of mere non-killing does not appear to me, therefore, to be any improvement on the technique of violence. T-7-67
  • True nonviolence is mightier than the mightiest violence. T-4-252
  • True ahimsa lay in running into the mouth of himsa. T-5-83
  • 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
  • Vehement writing, even if it is charged with truth, is no answer to violent action. T-5-178
  • Nonviolence becomes meaningless if violence is permitted for self-defense. XXV-280
  • Our nonviolence in respect of the Government is a result of our incapacity for effective violence.T-5-187
  • Indeed the very word, nonviolence, a negative word, means that it is an effort to abandon the violence that is inevitable in life.MM-265
  • The rishis, who discovered the law of nonviolence in the midst of violence, were greater geniuses than Newton. T-2-5
  • The Koran says that there can be no heaven for one who sheds the blood of an innocent neighbour.XXV-519
  • If it is by force that we wish to achieve Swaraj, let us drop nonviolence and offer such violence as we may. T-2-92
  • The Fragrance of nonviolence to him was never sweeter than it was today amidst the stink of violence of the most cowardly type that was being displayed in the cities of India.T-8-27
  • Just as there are signs by which you can recognize violence with the naked eye, so is the spinning wheel to me a decisive sign of nonviolence.T-5-277
  • A nonviolent occupation is that occupation which is fundamentally free from violence and which involves no exploitation or envy of others. MM-265
  • A nonviolent warrior knows no leaving the battle. He rushes into the mouth of himsa, never ever once harbouring an evil thought. T-5-116
  • History records numerous instances of the truth that those who use the sword shall perish by the sword.T-3-62
  • A dissolute character is more dissolute in thought than in deed, and the same is true of violence.
  • A nonviolent action accompanied by nonviolence in thought and word should never produce enduring violent reaction upon the opponent. T-5-130
  • Civilization based on nonviolence must be different from that organised for violence. T-5-209
  • If God holds me to be a pure instrument for the spread of nonviolence in place of the awful violence now ruling the earth, He will give me the strength and show me the way. T-5-213
  • The reaction that a ruthless dictator sets up in us either that of awe or pity according respectively as we react to him violently on nonviolently. T-5-4
  • Is it not possible for us all to realize that the masses will never mount to freedom through murder? T-5-258
  • The difficulty one experiences in meeting himsa arises from weakness of mind. T-7-404
  • When the panchayat raj is established, public opinion will do what violence can never do. T-7-405
  • When there is no desire for fruit, there is also no temptation for untruth or himsa. T-2-311
Virtue :
  • Virtue must not be suppressed because many will feign it.MM-32
  • We should cease to grow the moment we cease to discriminate between virtue and vice, and slavishly copy the past which we do not fully know. T-2-51
  • Vice pays homage to virtue, and sometimes the way it chooses is to expect virtue not to fall from its pedestal even whilst vice is rampant round about. T-3-3
  • Nonviolence is not merely a personal virtue. It is also a social virtue to be cultivated like the other virtues. T-5-18
  • Loyalty to a state so corrupt is a sin, disloyalty a virtue. T-3-26
  • That which is inherent in man is his virtue.XXVI-294
Vow :
  • A vow imparts stability, ballast and firmness to one's character.T-2-364
  • A vow must lead one upwards, never downwards towards perdition. T-2-365
  • A life without vows is like a ship without an anchor or like an edifice that is built on sand instead of a solid rock. T-2-364
  • The taking of vows that are not feasible or that are beyond one's capacity would betray thoughtlessness and want of balance.T-2-365
  • A person unbound by vows can never be absolutely relied upon. T-2-364
  • It goes without saying that moderation and sobriety are of the very essence of vow-taking.T-2-365
  • Self-restraint is the very keystone of the ethics of vow-taking. T-2-365
  • To shirk taking of vows betrays indecision and want of resolution. T-2-365
  • My religion teaches me that a promise once made or a vow once taken for a worthy object may not be broken. T-2-154
  • What can be richer and more fruitful than a greater fulfillment of the vow of nonviolence in thought, word and deed o the spread of that spirit?T-2-86
  • The essence of a vow does not consist in the difficulty of its performance but in the determination behind it unflinchingly to stick to it in the teeth of difficulties. T-2-365