Mahatma Gandhi Quotes 1–30 of 296 Quotes

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948), commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi (Sanskrit: महात्मा mahātmā "Great Soul"). In India he is generally regarded as Bapu (Gujarati: બાપુ bāpu "father"), Jathi Pitha and Raashtra Pitha; he was an advocate and pioneer of nonviolent social protest and direct action in the form he called Satyagraha. He led the struggle for India's independence from British colonial rule. He died on 30th January as being shot dead by Nathuram Godse.

Below are 30 of 296 sourced Mahatma Gandhi quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Address given in Bombay (26 September 1896), Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 1, p. 410 (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes.

“One thing we have endeavoured to observe most scrupulously, namely, never to depart from the strictest facts and, in dealing with the difficult questions that have arisen during the year, we hope that we have used the utmost moderation possible under the circumstances. Our duty is very simple and plain. We want to serve the community, and in our own humble way to serve the Empire. We believe in the righteousness of the cause, which it is our privilege to espouse. We have an abiding faith in the mercy of the Almighty God, and we have firm faith in the British Constitution. That being so, we should fail in our duty if we wrote anything with a view to hurt. Facts we would always place before our readers, whether they are palatable or not, and it is by placing them constantly before the public in their nakedness that the misunderstanding between the two communities in South Africa can be removed.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Indian Opinion (1 October 1903)

“Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension. Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Letter to Dr. Porter, Medical Officer of Health for Johannesburg (15 February 1905); later published in The Indian Opinion.

“In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the native. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Comments on a court case in The Indian Opinion (25 March 1905)

“You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians or coloured people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Comments on a court case in The Indian Opinion (2 June 1906)

“A general belief seems to prevail in the colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than the savages or natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: During his time in South Africa from The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol I, p. 150

“Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: "My Experience in Gaol", Indian Opinion (7 March 1908). Also: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, op cit., Vol. 8, p. 199.

“Leo Tolstoy's life has been devoted to replacing the method of violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of non­resistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in self­suffering. He admits of no exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu, Indian opinion, 25 December, (1909)

“We are our own slaves, not of the British. This should be engraved on our minds. The whites cannot remain if we do not want them. If the idea is to drive them out with firearms, let every Indian consider what precious little profit Europe has found in these.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Introduction to the publication of Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu, Indian opinion, 25 December, (1909)

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“The English have taught us that we were not one nation before and that it will require centuries before we become one nation. This is without foundation. We were one nation before they came to India. One thought inspired us. Our mode of life was the same. It was because we were one nation that they were able to establish one kingdom. Subsequently they divided us.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Source: 1900s, Hind Swaraj (1909): (Full text online, multiple formats)

“I do not wish to suggest that because we were one nation we had no differences, but it is submitted that our leading men travelled throughout India . . . They learned one another’s languages . . . they saw that India was one undivided land so made by nature. They, therefore, argued that it must be one nation. Arguing thus, they established holy places in various parts of India, and fired the people with an idea of nationality in a manner unknown in other parts of the world. Any two Indians are one as no two Englishmen are.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Source: 1900s, Hind Swaraj (1909): (Full text online, multiple formats)

“One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: 1900s, Hind Swaraj (1909): (Full text online, multiple formats) Sect. 1

“I believe that the civilization India evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestors, Rome went, Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become Westernized; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation. The people of Europe learn their lessons from the writings of the men of Greece or Rome, which exist no longer in their former glory. In trying to learn from them, the Europeans imagine that they will avoid the mistakes of Greece and Rome. Such is their pitiable condition. In the midst of all this India remains immovable and that is her glory. It is a charge against India that her people are so uncivilized, ignorant and stolid, that it is not possible to induce them to adopt any changes. It is a charge really against our merit. What we have tested and found true on the anvil of experience, we dare not change. Many thrust their advice upon India, and she remains steady. This is her beauty: it is the sheet-anchor of our hope. Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. To observe morality is to attain mastery over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves. The Gujarati equivalent for civilization means “good conduct”.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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More on this quote: 1900s, Hind Swaraj (1909): (Full text online, multiple formats) Sect. 13
• Variant translations: I believe that the civilisation into which India has evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestry. Rome went; Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become westernised; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation.
Greece, Egypt, Rome — all have been erased from this world, yet we continue to exist. There is something in us, that our character never ceases from the face of this world, defying global hostility for centuries.

“It is wrong to consider that courts are established for the benefit of the people. Those who want to perpetuate their power do so through the courts. If people were to settle their own quarrels, a third party would not be able to exercise any authority over them. Truly, men were less unmanly when they settled their disputes either by fighting or by asking their relatives to decide for them. They became more unmanly and cowardly when they resorted to the courts of law. It was certainly a sign of savagery when they settled their disputes by fighting. Is it any less so, if I ask a third party to decide between you and me? Surely, the decision of a third party is not always right. The parties alone know who is right. We, in our simplicity and ignorance, imagine that a stranger, by taking our money, gives us justice. (p. 48)”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Source: 1900s, Hind Swaraj (1909): (Full text online, multiple formats)

“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13 ( 3 May 1919)

“[I]t is not true that we shall necessarily progress if our political conditions undergo a change, irrespectively of the manner in which it is brought about. If the means employed are impure, the change will not be in the direction of progress but very likely in the opposite.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: As quoted in Gandhi’s Experiments With Truth: Essential Writings by and about Mahatma Gandhi, Richard L. Johnson (edit), Lexington Books (2006) p. 118. Original source: Forward to volume of Gokhale’s speeches, Gopal Krishna Gokahalenan Vyakhyanao, 1, 1916

“In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Young India (4 August 1920)

“For me the only training in Swaraj we need is the ability to defend ourselves against the whole world and to live our natural life in perfect freedom, even though it may be full of defects. Good government is no substitute for self-government.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Young India (2 September 1920) p. 1

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“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Young India (15 September 1920), reprinted in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 21 (electronic edition), p. 252.

“I came in contact with every known Indian anarchist in London. Their bravery impressed me, but I felt that their zeal was misguided. I felt that violence was no remedy for India's ills, and that her civilisation required the use of a different and higher weapon for self-protection.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: "A Word of Explanation" on his work Hind Swaraj (1908) in Young India (January 1921)

“If India adopted the doctrine of love as an active part of her religion and introduced it in her politics. Swaraj would descend upon India from heaven. But I am painfully aware that that event is far off as yet.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: "A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)

“I have even seen the writings suggesting that I am playing a deep game, that I am using the present turmoil to foist my fads on India, and am making religious experiments at India's expense. I can only answer that Satyagraha is made of sterner stuff. There is nothing reserved and nothing secret in it.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: "A Word of Explanation" in Young India (January 1921)

“The Jews cannot receive sovereign rights in a place which has been held for centuries by Muslim powers by right of religious conquest. The Muslim soldiers did not shed their blood in the late War for the purpose of surrendering Palestine out of Muslim control.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, 6 April 1921. Quoted from Hinduism and Judaism compilation

“I would, in a sense, certainly assist the Amir of Afghanistan if he waged war against the British Government. That is to say, I would openly tell my countrymen that it would be a crime to help a government which had lost the confidence of the nation to remain in power.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: May 4, 1921. Gandhi commenting on the appeal to the Amir of Afghanistan to invade British India proposed by some Muslim leaders. Quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)

“I cannot understand why the Ali Brothers are going to be arrested as the rumours go, and why I am to remain free. They have done nothing which I would not do. If they had sent a message to the Amir, I also would send one to inform the Amir that if he came, no Indian so long as I can help it, would help the Government to drive him back.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Mahatma Gandhi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.

“I claim that in losing the spinning wheel we lost our left lung. We are, therefore, suffering from galloping consumption. The restoration of the wheel arrests the progress of the fell disease.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: The Great Sentinel in Young India 13 October 1921

“There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free we are slaves.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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Quote source: Young India (15 December 1921)

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