The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi
[ Encyclopedia of Gandhi's Thoughts ]

The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi

(Encyclopedia of Gandhi's Thoughts)

Compiled & Edited by :
R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao

Table of Contents

An Introduction
  2. TRUTH
  4. FAITH

About This Book

Compiled & Edited by : R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao
With Forewords by: Acharya Vinoba Bhave & Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
I.S.B.N :81-7229-149-3
Published by : Jitendra T. Desai,
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
Ahmedabad - 380 014,
© Navajivan Trust, 1960


Chapter-2: My Mahatmaship

No Mahatma
I DO not feel like being one [a Mahatma]. But I do know that I am among the humblest of God's creatures.

( YI, 27-10-1921, p.342)

Often the title has deeply pained me; and there is not a moment I can recall when it may be said to have tickled me.

(A, p. xiv)

My Mahatma ship is worthless. It is due to my outward activities, due to my politics which is the least part of me and is, therefore, evanescent. What is of abiding worth is my insistence on truth, non-violence and brahmacharya which is the real part of me. That part of me, however small, is not to be despised. It is my all. I prize even the failures and disillusionment's which are but steps towards success.

(YI, 25-12-1926, pp78-79)

The world knows so little of how much my so-called greatness depends upon the incessant toil and drudgery of silent, devoted, able and pure workers, men as well as women.

(YI, 26-4-1928, p130)

Truth to me is infinitely dearer than the 'mahatmaship', which is purely a burden. It is my knowledge of my limitations and my nothingness which has so far saved me from the oppressiveness of the 'mahatmaship'.

(YI, 1-11-1928, p361)

Sick of Adoration
I have become literally sick of the adoration of the unthinking multitude. I would feel certain of my ground if I was spat upon by them. Then there would be no need for confession of Himalayan and other miscalculations, no retracing, no re-arranging.

(YI, 2-3-1922, p135)

In the majority of cases, addresses presented to me contain adjectives which I am ill able to carry. Their use can do good neither to the writers nor to me. They unnecessary humiliate me, for I have to confess that I do not deserve them. When they are deserved, their use is superfluous. It cannot add to the strength of the qualities possessed by me. They may, if I am not on my guard, easily turn my head. The good that a man does is more often than not better left unsaid. Imitation is the sincerest flattery.

(YI, 21-5-1925, p176)

The Mahatma I must leave to his fate. Though a non-co-operator, I shall gladly subscribe to a Bill to make it criminal for anybody to call me Mahatma and to touch my feet. Where I can impose the law myself, i.e., at the Ashram, the practice is criminal.

(YI, 17-3-1927, p86)

True Honour
The highest honour that my friends can do me is to enforce in their own lives the programme that I stand for or to resist me to their utmost if they do not believe in it.

(YI, 12-6-1924, p197)

It will be waste of good money to spend . . . on erecting a clay or metallic statue of the figure of a man who is himself made of clay and is more fragile than a bangle which can keep by preservation for a thousand years, whereas the human body disintegrates daily and undergoes final disintegration after the usual span of life. I have learnt from my Muslim friends, among whom I have passed the best part of my life, my dislike of statues and photographs of my figure. . . .
Let these lines serve as a warning to those who want to honour me by erecting statues and having portraits of my figure, that I heartily dislike these exhibitions. I shall deem it ample honour if those who believe in me will be good enough to promote the activities I stand for.

(H, 11-12-1939, p1)

No 'Avatar'
I hold it to be a blasphemy to represent me as Shri Krishna. I claim to be a humble worker and no more among many in a great cause, which can only be injured rather than advanced by glorification of its leaders. A cause has the best chance of success when it is examined and followed on its own merits. Measures must always, in a progressive society, be held superior to men, who are after all imperfect instruments, working for their fulfillment.

(YI, 13-7-1921, p224)

The only virtue I want to claim is Truth and Non-violence. I lay no claim to superhuman powers. I want none. I wear the same corruptible flesh that the weakest of my fellow-beings wears, and am, therefore, as liable to err as any. My services have many limitations, but God has up to now blessed them in spite of the imperfections.

(YI, 16-2-1922, p102)

I lay claim to nothing exclusively divine in me. I do not claim prophetship. I am but a humble seeker after Truth and bent upon finding It. I count no sacrifice too great for the sake of seeing God face to face. The whole of my activity, whether it may be called social, political, humanitarian or ethical, is directed to that end.
And as I know that God is found more often in the lowliest of His creatures than in the high and mighty, I am struggling to reach the status of these. I cannot do so without their service. Hence my passion for the service of the suppressed classes. And as I cannot render this service without entering politics, I find myself in them. Thus I am no master. I am but a struggling, erring, humble servant of India and there through of humanity.

(H, 11-9-1924, pp298)

It is curious how we delude ourselves. We fancy that one can make the perishable body impregnable and we think it impossible to evoke the hidden powers of the soul. Well, I am engaged in trying to show, if I have any of these powers, that I am as frail a mortal as any of us and that I never had anything extraordinary about me nor have any now.

(YI, 6-5-1926, p164)

I do not consider myself worthy to be mentioned in the same breath with the race of prophets. I am a humble seeker after truth. I am impatient to realize myself, to attain moksha in this very existence. My national service is part of my training for freeing my soul from the bondage of flesh. Thus considered, my service may be regarded as purely selfish. I have no desire for the perishable kingdom of earth. I am striving for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is moksha.

(YI, 3-4-1924, p114)

I claim to be no more than an average man with less than average ability. Nor can I claim any special merit for such non-violence or continence as I have been able to reach with laborious research. I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith.

(H, 3-10-1936, p269)

Some of my correspondents seem to think that I can work wonders. Let me say as a devotee of truth that I have no such gift... All the power I may have comes from God. But He does not work directly. He works through His numberless agencies.

(H, 8-10-1938, p285)

Awareness of Limitations
I consider myself to be a sagacious worker and my sagacity means no more and no less than a fine perception of my limitations. I hope I never travel beyond my limits. Certainly, I have never done so consciously.

(YI, 23-6-1920, p3)

I am conscious of my own limitations. That consciousness is my only strength. Whatever I might have been able to do in my life has proceeded more than anything else out of the realization of my own limitations.

(YI, 13-11-1924, p378)

If I was what I want to be, the fast would not have been necessary. I would not then need to argue with anyone. My word would go straight home. Indeed, I would not even need to utter the word. The mere will on my part would suffice to produce the required effect. But I am painfully aware of my limitations.

(H, 15-4-1939, p86)

I shall continue to confess blunders each time the people commit them. The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within. And even though I have to face the prospect of a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.

(YI, 2-3-1922, p135)

I claim to be a fairly accurate student of human nature and vivisector of my own failings. I have discovered that man is superior to the system he propounds.

(MGI, p241)

I hope there is no pride in me. I feel I recognize fully my weakness. But my faith in God and His strength and love is unshakable. I am like clay in the Potter's hand.

(YI, 26-1-1922, p49)

I have no desire for prestige anywhere. It is furniture required in courts of Kings. I am a servant of Mussalmans, Christians, Parsis and Jews as I am of Hindus. And a servant is in need of love, not prestige. That is assured to me so long as I remain a faithful servant.

(YI, 26-3-1925, p112)

Readiness for Martyrdom There are certain things which you cannot escape all at once, even whilst you are avoiding them. This earthly case in which I am locked up is the bane of my life, but I am obliged to put up with it and even indulge it.

(YI, 27-10-1921, p342)

I implicitly believe in the truth of the saying that not a blade of grass moves but by His will. He will save it [my life] if He needs it for further service in this body. None can save it against His will.

(EF, p114)

Do not seek to protect me. The Most High is always there to protect us all. You may be sure that when my time is up, no one, not even the most renowned in the world, can stand between Him and me.

(YI, 2-4-1931, p64-55)

I must be true to my Maker, and the moment I feel that life is insupportable for me, I hope not to be found wanting. What better reparation can I do than willing surrender of the body that has ceased to evoke response and may be a hindrance to the discovery of the true way?

(ibid, p60)

I am not aching for martyrdom, but if it comes in my way in the prosecution of what I consider to be the supreme duty in defense of the faith I hold. . . I shall have earned it.

(H, 29-6-1934, p156)

Whilst I prize the unbounded affection of the people, let them realize that my life is not worth keeping if anxiety to save it deflects the attention of the nation from the main purpose.

(H, 11-3-1939, p44)

Assaults have been made on my life in the past, but God has spared me till now, and the assailants have repented for their action. But if someone were to shoot me in the belief that he was getting rid of a rascal, he would kill not the real Gandhi, but the one that appeared to him a rascal.

(BC, 9-8-1942)

God alone is my protector. How can puny man, who is not sure even of his own tomorrow, presume to protect another? I am content to be under God's care. He may protect or destroy. I know He sometimes even destroys to protect.

(H, 9-6-1946, p170)

I do not want to die . . . of a creeping paralysis of my faculties-a defeated man. An assassin's bullet may put an end to my life. I would welcome it. But I would love, above all, to fade out doing my duty with my last breath.

(MGMLP, I, p562)

I am not afraid to die in my mission, if that is to be my fate.

(H, 27-4-1947, p127)

Avoidance of Anger
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.

(YI, 15-9-1920, p6)

I spare neither friend nor foe when it is a question of departing from the code of honour.

(YI, 2-3-1922, p140)

It is not that I do not get angry. I do not give vent to anger. I cultivate the quality of patience as angerlessness, and, generally speaking, I succeed. But I only control my anger when it comes. How I find it possible to control it would be a useless question, for it is a habit that everyone must cultivate and must succeed in forming by constant practice.

(H, 11-5-1935, p98)

If I had no sense of humor, I should long ago have committed suicide.

(YI, 18-8-1921, p238)

I am an irrepressible optimist, because I believe in myself. That sounds very arrogant, doesn't it? But I say it from the depths of my humility. I believe in the supreme power of God. I believe in Truth and, therefore, I have no doubt in the future of this country or the future of humanity.
I am an optimist because I expect many things from myself. I have not got them, I know, as I am not yet a perfect being. If I was one, I should not even need to reason with you. When I am a perfect being, I have simply to say the word and the nation will listen. I want to attain that perfection by service.

(YI, 13-8-1925, pp.279-80)

My philosophy, if I can be said to have any, excludes the possibility of harm to one's cause by outside agencies. The harm comes deservedly and only when the cause itself is bad or, being good, its champions are untrue, faint-hearted or unclean.

(H, 25-7-1936, p185)