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 9: East and West

I have ventured utterly to condemn modern civilization because I hold that the spirit of it is evil. It is possible to show that some of its incidents are good, but I have examined its tendency in the scale of ethics. I distinguish between the ideals of individuals who has risen superior to their environment, as also between Christianity and modern civilization. Its activity is by no means confined to Europe.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi -Vol. X, p. 247, 10-5-1910

We who are engulfed in this civilization may avail ourselves of postal and other facilities as long as we are engulfed. If we make use of these things with knowledge and understanding we shall not go crazy over them, and instead of increasing our preoccupation we shall gradually reduce them. He who will understand this will not be tempted to take the post or the railway to the villages which do not have these. You and I should not remain passive and increase the use of steamers and other evil means for fear that these things cannot be abolished forthwith and that all the people will not give them up. Even if one man reduces or stops their use, others will learn to do. He who believes that it is good to do so will go on doing so irrespective of others. This is the only way of spreading the truth; there is no other in the world.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi -Vol. X, p. 204, 2-4-1910

The total effect of European activity has not been for the good of India. The general body of Europeans who have come to India have succumbed to the vices of the East instead of imposing their own virtues on the East. It could not well be otherwise. Religion has not made a lasting impression on them as we see demonstrated even by the present way. My theory is that modern civilization is decidedly anti-Christian. And what Europeans have brought to India is that civilization, not the life of Jesus. You and a handful of others are striving to represent that life. It is bound to leave its mark upon the soil. But it must take time. “The mills of God grind slowly.” You and people like you are not affected by the evil that stares you in the face. You get behind it, discover the good lying underneath and add it to your own stock, thus producing a perfect blend. What I want is a reciprocity of that method. And so I welcomed your visit to the Ashram as I welcome that of many European friends who are true to their best traditions and are broad-minded enough to take in the best that this land has to give.

My Dear Child, pp. 11-12, 9-6-1917

My message to the businessmen of America is: Understand the inner meaning of the message of the spinning-wheel and you will probably find the solution for the World Peace which I know so many Americans sincerely desire.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, p. 382

My own motive is to put forth all my energy in an attempt to save Indian, that is, ancient culture, from impending destruction by modern, that is, Western culture being imposed upon India. The essence of ancient culture is based upon the practice of the utmost non-violence. Its motto is the good of all including every living thing, whereas Western culture is frankly based upon violence. It, therefore, does not respect all life and, in its progress onward, it has not hesitated to resort wholesale destruction of even human life. Its motto is: Might is Right, and it is essentially individualistic. This does not mean that there is nothing for India to learn from the West, for in spite of the acceptance by the West of the Doctrine of Might is Right, the human touch has not altogether disappeared in the West. The relentless pursuit of a false ideal conceived as truth has opened the eyes of numerous men in the West to the falsity of that ideal. I would like Indian to copy that spirit of search for the truth in the place of being satisfied with tradition without question, but India can safely copy nothing before she has come to her own and realized that her culture has a very important place in the universe and it must be defended at all costs. The importation of Western culture by the British in India has meant exploitation of her resources for the supposed benefit of Great Britain. It has brought millions of people to the verge of starvation, and it has almost emasculated a whole nation.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, pp. 243-44, 14-3-1924

The West has always commanded my admiration for its surgical inventions and all-round progress in that direction.

Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 112, 7-7-1930