SECTION II : Extracts From Letters

[ from Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi : Vol - 4 ]

Mahatma Gandhi

Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi
Volume IV

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Publisher's Note



  1. Faith in God
  2. Religions and Scriptures
  3. Value of Prayer
  4. Truth and Non-violence
  5. The Science of Satyagraha
  6. Fasting in Satyagraha
  7. Unto This Last
  8. Khadi and Village Industry
  9. East and West
  10. Hindu-Muslim Unity
  11. Upliftment of Women
  12. The Good of All
  13. India's Freedom
  14. Education
  15. Caste System and Untouchability
  16. Brahmacharya
  17. Fearlessness
  18. Health and Hygene
  19. Self-restraint
  20. Self-development
  21. Selfless Service
  22. Voluntary Poverty

About This Volumes

Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi

Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi comprises of Five volumes.

  • Vol-I: Autobiography
  • Vol-II: Satyagraha in South Africa
  • Vol-III: Basic Works
    1. Ethical Religion
    2. Unto This Last
    3. Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
    4. From Yeravada Mandir
    5. Discourses on the Gita
    6. Constructive Programme
    7. Key to Health
  • Vol-IV: Selected Letters
  • Vol-V: Voice of Truth

This book, Selected Letters, is volume-4.

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
General Editor : Shriman Narayan
Volume Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi : A set of five books
ISBN: 81-7229-278-3 (set)
Printed and Published by :
Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1968


Chapter 15: Caste System and Untouchability

...I think we are committing a great sin in treating a whole class of people as untouchables and it is owing to the existence of this class that we have still some revolting practices among us. Not to eat in company with a particular person and not to touch him are two very different things. No one is an untouchable now. If we don't mind contact with a Christian or a Muslim, why should we mind it with one belonging to our own religion? No defence of untouchability is possible now, either from the point of view of justice or that of practical common sense.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XIII, p. 120, 26-7-1915

It has been a passion of my life to serve the untouchables because I have felt that I could not remain a Hindu if it was true that untouchability was a part of Hinduism.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XIX p. 289, 29-1-1921

The crime against the untouchables I feel, the exploitation of the dumb millions I feel, but I realize still more clearly our duty to the lower animal world. When Buddha carried that lamb on his back and chastised the Brahmins, he showed the highest measure of love. The worship of the cow in Hinduism typifies that love.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XIX, p. 395, 2-3-1921

The caste has every right to excommunicate a person who commits a breach of its regulations. There is nothing however, in all that you have done so far for which you need feel ashamed or repentant. No doubt your influence on the caste will suffer a setback, and your capacity to collect funds will decrease; that, however, does not worry me in the least. It should not be a matter for sorrow or regret even if you have to be a pauper as a result of this development. Pauperism, if it comes in consequence of an adherence to principles that are dear to us, deserves to be welcomed. When ultimately the caste recognizes your firmness as also your courtesy, it will relent and be humble. Castes will necessarily have to undergo reform; and it is likely that this even will pave the way for it.

To A Gandhian Capitalist, p. 64, 16 7 1926

Untouchability is a soul-destroying sin. Caste is a social evil. . .

Selected Letters-II,p. 34, 10-10-1932

Purity is of the mind. It ought to be in all men as a matter of course. In this age of enlightenment, if a woman wants to preserve her dharma, she will have to serve Daridranarayan, and should educate herself. Service of Daridranarayan means propagation of Khadi, spinning, etc. And Harijan-service means to remove the blot of untouchability. These two things are God's own work. Education can never go side by side with the observance of purdah.

To A Gandhian Capitalist, p. 139, 25-10-1933

In these days of self-purification, Harijans ought to know that they are to avoid all the bad customs of caste- Hindus. They should therefore avoid child marriages. But reformers may not be impatient. Sarda Act is, in my opinion, a wise step. But it may not be strictly enforced against Harijans when it is very laxly enforced against caste-Hindus. There should be effective enlightened propaganda by Harijans among fellow Harijans on the evil of child marriages and the bearing of the Sarda Act on them. And then when it is made certain that people willfully ignore that Act a few prosecutions may be undertaken. But even then, they must be the sole concern of Harijans. They may not ask for or receive even financial assistance in this matter from caste- Hindus. In any case at least one year should be given to concentrated propaganda.

Letters to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, p. 11, 2-2-1935

Castes are innumerable and in their present condition they are a drag upon Hinduism....
Varna stands on a different footing, and it means profession. It has nothing to do with inter-dining and inter-marriage. People belonging to the four professions used formerly to inter-dine and even to intermarry and by so doing they naturally could not and did not leave their varna. This is absolutely clear from the definitions of the different varnas in the Bhagavadgita. A man falls from his varna when he abandons his hereditary profession. Today however varnashram is a lost treasure and there is utter confusion.

Selected Letters-II, p. 40