A. THE LAW OF LOVE AGAINST HATE
Having flung aside the sword, there is nothing except the cup of love which I can offer to those who oppose me. It is by offering that cup that I expect to draw them close to me.
2-4-'31, p. 54
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.
11-5-'47, p. 146
It is no non-violence if we merely love those that love us. It is non-violence only when we love those that hate us.
[From a private letter dated 31-12-'34]
In its positive form, Ahimsa means the largest love, greatest charity. If I am a follower of Ahimsa, I must love my enemy. I must apply the same rules to the wrong-doer who is my enemy or a stranger to me, as I would to my wrong-doing father or son.
Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi,
G. A. Natesan, Madras, 1933, p, 346
My appeal to you is to cleanse your hearts and to have charity. Make your hearts as broad as the ocean.... Do not judge others lest you be judged. There is that supreme Judge who can hang you, but He leaves you alive. There are so many enemies within you and around you, but He protects and looks upon you with a kindly eye.
1-1-'25, p. 8
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
2-4-'31, p. 59
They say 'means are after all means'. I would say *means are after all everything'. As the means so the end. There is no wall of separation between means and end. Indeed the Creator has given us control (and that too very limited) over means, none over the end. Realization of the goal is in exact proportion to that of the means. This is a proposition that admits of no exception.
17-7-'24, p. 236
I have therefore concerned myself principally with the conservation of the means and their progressive use. I know if we can take care of them, attainment of the
goal is assured. I feel too that our progress towards the goal will be in exact
proportion to the purity of our means.
This method may appear to be long, perhaps too long, but I am convinced that it is the shortest.
The Amrit Bazar Patrika,
You need not be afraid that the method of non-violence is a slow long-drawn but process- It is the swiftest the world has seen, for it is the surest.
30-4-'25, p. 153
It (resistance by love) is a force that may be used by individuals as well as by communities. It may be used as well in political as in domestic affairs. Its universal applicability is a demonstration of its permanence and invincibility. It can be used alike by men, women and children. It is totally untrue to say that it is a force to be used only by the weak so long as they are not capable of meeting violence by- violence... This force is to violence, and therefore to all tyranny, all injustice, what light is to darkness.
3-11-'27, p. 369
In the application of the method of non-violence, one must believe in the possibility of every person, however depraved, being reformed under humane and skilled treatment.
22-2-'42, p. 49
It is against my creed to punish even a murderer, a thief or a decoit.
2-4-'31, p. 55
When a person claims to be non-violent, he is expected not to be angry with one who has injured him. He will not wish him harm; he will wish him well; he will not swear
at him; he will not cause him any physical hurt. He will put up with all the
injury to which he is subjected by the wrongdoer. Thus non-violence is complete
innocence. Complete non-violence is complete absence of ill-will against all
that lives. It therefore embraces even subhuman life not excluding noxious
insects or beasts. They have not been created to feed our destructive
propensities. If we only knew the mind of the Creator, we should find their
proper place in His creation. Non-violence is therefore in its active form
goodwill towards all life. It is pure love. I read it in the Hindu scriptures,
in the Bible, in the Quran.
Non-violence is a perfect state. It is a goal towards which all mankind moves naturally though unconsciously. Man does not become divine when he personifies innocence in himself. Only then does he become truly man. In our present state we are partly men and partly beasts, and in our ignorance and even arrogance say that we truly fulfill the purpose of our species, when we deliver blow for blow and develop the measure of anger required for the purpose. We pretend to believe that retaliation is the law of our being, whereas in every scripture we find that retaliation is nowhere obligatory but only permissible. It is restraint that is obligatory. Retaliation is indulgence requiring elaborate regulating. Restraint is the law of our being. For, highest perfection is unattainable without highest restraint. Suffering is thus the badge of the human tribe.
The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress, the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
9-3-'22, p. 141
If we turn our eyes to the time of which history has any record down to our own time, we shall find that man has been steadily progressing towards Ahimsa. Our remote
ancestors were cannibals. Then came a time when they were fed up with
cannibalism and they began to live on chase. Next came a stage when man was
ashamed of leading the life of a wandering hunter. He therefore took to
agriculture and depended principally on mother earth for his food. Thus from
being a nomad he settled down to civilized stable life, founded villages and
towns, and from member of a family he became member of a community and a nation.
All these are signs of progressive Ahimsa and diminishing Himsa. Had it been
otherwise, the human species should have been extinct by now, even as many of
the lower species have disappeared.
Prophets and avatars have also taught the lesson of Ahimsa more or less. Not one of them has professed to teach Himsa. And how should it be otherwise? Himsa does not need to be taught. Man as animal is violent, but as Spirit is non-violent. The moment he awakes to the Spirit within, he cannot remain violent. Either he progresses towards Ahimsa or rushes to his doom. That is why the prophets and avatars have taught the lessons of truth, harmony, brotherhood, justice, etc.—all attributes of Ahimsa.
And yet violence seems to persist, even to the extent of thinking people like the correspondent regarding it as the final weapon. But as I have shown history and experience are against him.
If we believe that mankind has steadily progressed towards Ahimsa, it follows that it has to progress towards it still further. Nothing in this world is static, everything is kinetic. If there is no progression then there is inevitable retrogression. No one can remain without the eternal cycle, unless it be God Himself.
11-8-'40 p. 245
I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would a well ordered society be intelligible and life worth living. And if that is the law of life, we have to work it cut in daily life. Whenever there are jars, whenever you are confronted with an opponent conquer him with love. In this crude manner I have worked it out in my life. That does not mean that all my difficulties are solved. Only I have found that this law of love has answered as the law of destruction has never done. The more I work at this law, the more I feel delight in life, delight in the scheme of this universe. It gives me a peace and a meaning of the mysteries of nature that I have no power to describe.
1-10-'31, pp. 286-87
I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of life. But are not all great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.
[From a private letter dated 31-12-'34]
In this age of wonders no one will say that a thing or idea is worthless because it is new. To say it is impossible because it is difficult, is again not in consonance with the spirit of the age. Things undreamt of are daily being seen, the impossible is ever becoming possible. We are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of non-violence.
25-8-'40 p. 260
I am an irrepressible optimist. My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop non-violence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might over sweep the world.
28-1-'39, p. 443
B. DIRECT ACTION
Never has anything been done on this earth without direct action. I reject the word 'passive resistance' because of its insufficiency and its being interpreted as a weapon of the weak.
12-5-'20, p. 3
My goal is friendship with the whole world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong.
10-3-'20, p. 5
Non-violence is 'not a resignation from all real fighting against wickedness'. On the contrary, the non-violence of my conception is a more active and real fight against wickedness than retaliation whose very nature is to increase wickedness. I contemplate a mental and therefore a moral opposition to immoralities. I seek entirely to blunt the edge of the tyrant's sword not by putting up against it a sharper-edged weapon, but by disappointing his expectation that I would be offering physical resistance. The resistance of the soul that I should offer would elude him. It would at first dazzle him and at last compel recognition from him, which recognition would not humiliate him but would uplift him.
8-10-'25, p. 346
Non-violence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the pitting of one's whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration.
11-8-'20, p. 3
No Room for Cowardice
My creed of non-violence is an extremely active force. It has no room for cowardice or even weakness. There is hope for a violent man to be some day non-violent, but there is none for a coward. I have therefore said more than once in these pages that if we do not know how to defend ourselves, our women and our places of worship by the force of suffering, i.e. non-violence, we must, if we are men, be at least able to defend all these by fighting.
16-6-'27, p. 196
Non-violence and cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.
15-7-'39, p. 201
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
11-8-'20, p. 3
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
19-11-'38 p. 343
The votary of non-violence has to cultivate the capacity for sacrifice of the highest type in order to be free from fear. He wrecks not if he should lose his land, his wealth, his life. He who has not overcome all fear cannot practise Ahimsa to perfection. The votary of Ahimsa has only one fear, that is of God.
1-9-'40, p. 268
Where there is fear there is no religion.
2-9-'26, p. 308
Nothing whatever in this world is ours. Even we ourselves are His. Why then should we entertain any fear?
11-9-'20, p. 2
Let us fear God and we shall cease to fear man.
Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi,
G. A. Natesan, Madras, 1933, p. 330
Spirituality is not a matter of knowing scriptures and engaging in philosophical discussions. It is a matter of heart culture, of unmeasurable strength. Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral.
13-10-21, p. 323
A Satyagrahi bids good-bye to fear. He is, therefore, never afraid of trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the Satyagrahi is ready to trust him the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed.
Satyagraha in South Africa,
1950, p. 246
Let our first act every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: 'I shall not fear any one on earth. I shall fear God only. I shall not bear ill-will towards any one. I shall not submit to injustice from any one. I shall conquer untruth by truth and in resisting untruth I shall put up with all suffering.'
4-5-'19, p. 14
Dare to Stand Alone
That something in me which never deceives me tells me now: 'You have to stand against the whole world although you may have to stand alone. You have to stare the world in the face although the world may look at you with blood-shot eyes. Do not fear. Trust that little thing in you which resides in the heart and says: Forsake friends, wife, all; but testify to that for which you have lived and for which you have to die.’
The Bombay Chronicle,
Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid. The valiant in spirit glory in fighting alone.
17-6-'26, p. 217
The greatest men of the world have always stood alone. Take the great prophets, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed — they all stood alone like many others whom I can name. But they had living faith in themselves and their God, and believing as they did that God was on their side, they never felt lonely.
10-10-'29, p. 330
Reliance on God
Non-violence succeeds only when we have a living faith in God.
28-1-'39, p. 443
In a righteous struggle, God himself plans campaigns and conducts battles. A dharmayuddha can be waged only in the name of God, and it is only when the Satyagrahi feels quite helpless, is apparently on his last legs and finds utter darkness all round him, that God comes to the rescue.
Satyagraha in South Africa,
1950, p. 5
I have learned this one lesson that what is impossible with man is child's play with God, and if we have faith in that Divinity which presides on the destiny of the meanest of His creation, I have no doubt that all things are possible and in that final hope I live and pass my time and endeavour to obey His will.
19-11-'31, p. 361
I know the path. It is straight and narrow. It is like the edge of a sword. I rejoice to walk on it. I weep when I slip. God's word is: 'He who strives never perishes'. I have implicit faith in that promise. Though, therefore, from my weakness I fail a thousand times, I will not lose faith.
17-6-'26, p. 215
He (the Satyagrahi) must know that relief will come when there is least hope for it. For such is the way of the cruelly-kind Deity who insists upon testing His devotee through a fiery furnace and delights in humbling him to the dust.
4-6-'25, p. 189
Appeal Through Self-suffering
Love never claims, it ever gives. Love ever suffers, never revenges itself.
9-7-'25, p. 240
I have come to this fundamental conclusion that if you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy reason, you must move the heart also. The appeal of reason is more to the head but the penetration of the heart comes from suffering. It opens up the inner understanding in man.
5-11-'31, p. 341
The conviction has been growing upon me, that things of fundamental importance to the people are not secured by reason alone but have to be purchased with their suffering. Suffering is the law of human beings; war is the law of the jungle. But suffering is infinitely more powerful than the law of the jungle for converting the opponent and opening his ears, which are otherwise shut, to the voice of reason.
5-11-'31, p. 341
The religion of Ahimsa consists in allowing others maximum of convenience at the maximum of inconvenience to us, even at the risk of life.
2-12-'26, p. 422
The hardest heart and the grossest ignorance must disappear before the rising sun of suffering without anger and without malice.
19-2-'25, p. 61
Aim to Convert the Opponent
It is often forgotten that it is never the intention of a Satyagrahi to embarrass the wrongdoer. The appeal is never to his fear, it is, must be, always to his heart. The Satyagrahi's object is to convert, not to coerce, the wrongdoer.
18-3-'39, p. 53
The Satyagrahi seeks to convert his opponent by sheer force of character and suffering. The purer he is and the more he suffers, the quicker the progress.
18-9-'24, p. 306
The aim of the non-violent worker must ever be to convert. He may not however wait endlessly. When therefore the limit is reached, he takes risks and conceives plans of active Satyagraha which may mean civil disobedience and the like.
6-2-'30, p. 44
Since Satyagraha is one of the most powerful methods of direct action, a Satyagrahi exhausts all other means before he resorts to Satyagraha. He will, therefore, constantly and continually approach the constituted authority, he will appeal to public opinion, educate public opinion, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody who wants to listen to him, and only after he has exhausted all these avenues will he resort to Satyagraha. But when he has found the impelling call of the Inner Voice within him and launches out upon Satyagraha he has burnt his boats and there is no receding.
, 20-10-'27, p. 353
Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.
23-12-'39 p. 386
It is not because I value life low that I countenance with joy thousands voluntarily losing their lives in Satyagraha, but because I know that it results, in the long run, in the least loss of life and, what is more, it ennobles those who lose their lives and morally enriches the world for their sacrifice.
8-10-'25, p. 365
I may say that I began my experiments in fasting on any large scale as an instrument of reform in 1913. I had fasted often enough before, but not in the manner of 1913. My definite opinion is that the general result of my numerous fasts was without doubt beneficial. They invariably quickened the conscience of the people interested in, and sought to be influenced by those fasts. I am not aware of any injustice having been perpetrated through those fasts. In no case was there any idea of exercising coercion on any one. Indeed, I think that the word coercion would be a misnomer for the influence that was exerted by the fasts, under criticism. Coercion means some harmful force used against a person who is expected to do something desired by the user of the force. In the fasts in question, the force used was against myself. Surely, force of self-suffering cannot be put in the same category as the force of suffering caused to the party sought to be influenced. If I fast in order to awaken the conscience of an erring friend whose error is beyond question, I am not coercing him in the ordinary sense of the word.
The fact is that all spiritual fasts always influence those who come within the zone of their influence. That is why spiritual fasting is described as tapas. And all tapas invariably exerts purifying influence on those in whose behalf it is undertaken.
Of course, it is not to be denied that fasts can be really coercive. Such are fasts to attain a selfish object. A fast undertaken to wring money from a person or for fulfilling some such personal end would amount to the exercise of coercion or undue influence. I would unhesitatingly advocate resistance of such undue influence. I have myself successfully resisted it in the fasts that have been undertaken or threatened against me. And if it is argued that the dividing line between a selfish and an unselfish end is often very thin, I would urge that a person who regards the end of a fast to be selfish or otherwise base should resolutely refuse to yield to it, even though the refusal may result in the death of the fasting person. If people will cultivate the habit of disregarding fasts which in their opinion are taken for unworthy ends, such fasts will be robbed of the taint of coercion and undue influence. Like all human institutions, fasting can be both legitimately and illegitimately used. But as a great weapon in the armoury of Satyagraha, it cannot be given up because of its possible abuse. Satyagraha has been designed as an effective substitute for violence. This use is in its infancy and, therefore, not yet perfected. But as the author of modern Satyagraha I cannot give up any of its manifold uses without forfeiting my claim to handle it in the spirit of a humble seeker.
9-9-'33, p. 5
My non-co-operation, though it is part of my creed, is a prelude to co-operation. My non-co-operation is with methods and systems, never with men.
12-9-'29, p. 300
Behind my non-co-operation there is always the keenest desire to co-operate on the slightest pretext even with the worst of opponents.
4-6-'25, p. 193
My non-co-operation has its root not in hatred, but in love. My personal religion peremptorily forbids me to hate anybody. I learnt this simple yet grand doctrine when I was twelve years old through a school book and the conviction has persisted up to now. It is daily growing on me. It is a burning passion with me.
6-8-'25, p. 272
Civil Disobedience against an Evil State
Civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen. He does not give it up without ceasing to be a man. Civil disobedience is never followed by anarchy. Criminal disobedience can lead to it. Every State puts down criminal disobedience by force. It perishes, if it does not. But to put down civil disobedience is to attempt to imprison conscience.
5-1-'22. p. 5
An out-and-out civil resister simply ignores the authority of the State. He becomes an outlaw claiming to disregard every unmoral State law. Thus, for instance, he may refuse to pay taxes, he may refuse to recognize the authority of the State in his daily intercourse. He may refuse to obey the law of trespass and claim to enter military barracks in order to speak to the soldiers, he may refuse to submit to limitations upon the manner of picketing and may picket within the prescribed area. In doing all this he never uses force and never resists force when it is used against him.
10-11-'21, p. 362
I hold the opinion firmly that civil disobedience is the purest type of constitutional agitation. Of course, it becomes degrading and despicable, if it’s civil, i.e., nonviolent character is a mere camouflage.
15-12-'21, p. 419
Disobedience to be civil must be sincere, respectful, restrained, never defiant, must be based upon some well-understood principle, must not be capricious, and, above all, must have no ill-will or hatred behind it.
, 24-3-'20, p. 4
It requires the fewest number of soldiers. Indeed one perfect civil resister is enough to win the battle of Right against Wrong.
10-11-'21, p. 362
C. IN PLACE OF WAR
Not the Sword for Defence
I am not a visionary. I claim to be a practical idealist. The religion of non-violence is not meant merely for the Rishis and saints. It is meant for the common people as well. Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law — to the strength of the spirit.
I have therefore ventured to place before India the ancient law of self-sacrifice. For Satyagraha and its offshoots, non-co-operation and civil resistance, are nothing but new names for the law of suffering. The Rishis, who discovered the law of non-violence in the midst of violence, were greater geniuses than Newton. They were themselves greater warriors than Wellington. Having themselves known the use of arms, they realized their uselessness and taught a weary world that its salvation lay not through violence but through non-violence.
And so I am not pleading for India to practise nonviolence because it is weak. I want her to practise nonviolence being conscious of her "strength and power. No training in arms is required for realization of her strength. We seem to need it because we seem to think that we are but a lump of flesh. I want India to recognize that she has a soul that cannot perish and that can rise triumphant above every physical weakness and defy the physical combination of a whole world. What is the meaning of Rama, a mere human being, with his host of monkeys, pitting himself against the insolent strength of ten-headed Ravana surrounded in supposed safety by the raging waters on all sides of Lanka? Does it not mean the conquest of physical might by spiritual strength? If India takes up the doctrine of the sword, she may gain momentary victory. Then India will cease to be the pride of my heart. I am wedded to India because I owe my all to her. I believe absolutely that she has a mission for the world. She is not to copy Europe blindly. India's acceptance of the sword will be the hour of my trial. I hope I shall not be found wanting. My religion has no geographical limits. If I have a living faith in it, it will transcend my love for India herself. My life is dedicated to the service of India through the religion of non-violence which I believe to be the root of Hinduism.
11-8-'20, pp. 3, 4
Participation in War
Being a confirmed war resister I have never given myself training in the use of destructive weapons in spite of opportunities to take such training. It was perhaps thus that I escaped direct destruction of human life. But so long as I lived under a system of Government based on force and voluntarily partook of the many facilities and privileges it created for me, I was bound to help that Government to the extent of my ability when it was engaged in a war unless I non-co-operated with that Government and renounced to the utmost of my capacity the privileges it offered me.
Let me take an illustration. I am a member of an institution which holds a few acres of land whose crops are in imminent peril from monkeys. I believe in the sacredness of all life and hence I regard it a breach of Ahimsa to inflict any injury on the monkeys. But I do not hesitate to instigate and direct an attack on the monkeys in order to save the crops. I would like to avoid this evil. I can avoid it by leaving or breaking up the institution. I do not do so because I do not expect to be able to find a society where there will be no agriculture and therefore no destruction of some life. In fear and trembling, in humility and penance, I therefore participate in the injury inflicted on the monkeys, hoping some day to find a way out.
Even so did I participate in the three acts of war. I could not, it would be madness for me to sever my connection with the society to which I belong. And on those three occasions I had no thought for non-co-operating with the British Government. My position regarding the Government is totally different today and hence I should not voluntarily participate in its wars, and I should risk imprisonment and even the gallows if I was forced to take up arms or otherwise take part in its military operations.
But that still does not solve the riddle. If there was a national Government, whilst I should not take any direct part in any war, I can conceive occasions when it would be my duty to vote for the military training of those who wish to take it. For I know that all its members do not believe in non-violence to the extent I do. It is not possible to make a person or a society non-violent by compulsion.
Non-violence works in a most mysterious manner. Often a man's actions defy analysis in terms of non-violence; equally often his actions may wear the appearance of violence when he is absolutely non-violent in the highest sense of the term and is subsequently found so to be. All I can then claim for my conduct is that it was, in the instance cited, actuated in the interests of non-violence. There was no thought of sordid national or other interest.
13-9-'28, p. 308
Before general disarmament in Europe commences, as it must some day, unless Europe is to commit suicide, some nation will have to dare to disarm herself and take large risks. The level of non-violence in that nation, if that ever happily comes to pass, will naturally have risen so high as to command universal respect. Her judgments will be unerring, her decisions firm, her capacity for heroic self-sacrifice will be great, and she will want to live as much for other nations as for herself.
8-10-'25, P. 345
Like opium production, the world manufacture of swords needs to be restricted. The sword is probably responsible for more misery in the world than opium.
19-11-'25, p. 397
If there were no greed, there would be no occasion for armaments.
12-11-'38, p. 328
If the recognized leaders of mankind who have control over the engines of destruction were wholly to renounce their use, with full knowledge of its implications, permanent peace can be obtained. It is my conviction that the root of the evil is want of a living faith in a living God. It is a first class human tragedy that peoples of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus whom they describe as the Prince of Peace show little of that belief in actual practice. It is painful to see sincere Christian divines limiting the scope of Jesus' message to select individuals. I have been taught from my childhood and tested the truth by experience that the primary virtues of mankind are possible of cultivation by the meanest of the human species. It is this undoubted universal possibility that distinguishes the humans from the rest of God's creation. If even one nation were unconditionally to perform the supreme act of renunciation, many of us would see in our lifetime visible peace established on earth.
18-6-'38, p. 153
I reiterate my conviction that there will be no peace for the Allies or the world unless they shed their belief in the efficacy of war and its accompanying terrible deception and fraud and are determined to hammer out real peace based on freedom and equality of all races and nations.
The Bombay Chronicle,