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 12: The Good of All

Please do not carry unnecessarily on your head the burden of emancipating India. Emancipate your own self. Even that burden is very great. Apply everything to yourself. Nobility of soul consists in realizing that you are yourself India. In your emancipation is the emancipation of India. All else is make-believe. If you feel interested, do persevere. You and I need not worry about others. If we bother about others, we shall forget our own task and lose everything. Please ponder over this from the point of view of altruism, not of selfishness.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. X, p. 206, 2-4-1910

It is our duty to help every class of workers. I have no doubt about this. I have little faith in what goes under the name of 'co-operation'. I think our first task is to make a careful survey of the condition of the working-class. What does the worker earn? Where does he live ? In what condition ? How much does he spend? How much does he save? What debts does he incur? How many children has he? How does he bring them up? What was he previously? What brought about the change in his life? What is his present condition? It does not seem proper at all to start a co-operative society straightway, without finding answers to all these questions. It is necessary that we go into the midst of the working-class. If we do, we can solve a number of problems in a very short time.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XIV P- 147, 3-1-1918

I am opposed to advertisements because they are so untrue. Every decent paper should, free of charge, advertise books which it considers the public should read. It is, in my opinion, one of the necessary functions of a N [ews] p [aperl. I feel too that we should have a general advertising agency which for a payment will advertise all useful things. But I abhor the idea of a newspaper making money out of advertisements. It is a fraud on the public.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XVI, p. 250, 22-10-1919

Making people give up their habits with the help of law does not by itself constitute brute force or violence—to stop the sale of liquor by law and thereby force the addicts to give up the habit of drinking is not violence. If it were suggested that those given to drinking should be whipped, that would certainly be brute force. Selling liquor is no duty of the State.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIV p. 274, 21-6-1924

Stick to truth alone. We should act non-violently in everything we do. For the sake of the country and for our own sake, we should ply the Charkha, wear Khadi; Hindus and Muslims should live amicably, Hindus should give up untouchability, considering the untouchables to be our brothers; drunkards should give up drinking, addicts should give up their bad habits. This is the duty of us all.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXV P- 256, 22-10-1924

Do we not recite आत्मवत् सर्वभूतेषु— that we are to regard all creatures as our own selves? If we think and feel in this way, when we see somebody's children dirty, we would feel as if our own children are dirty and would feel ashamed, on finding someone else miserable, we would feel ourselves miserable and begin to look for a way of removing the misery.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 13, 17-1-1927

A ruler can issue orders only if he has acquired the highest qualification for service. His orders should be intended not to advance his own interests but the welfare of society. Rulers nowadays have lost sight of their duty, so that instead of setting an example of selflessness and devotion they give themselves up to pleasures and use their powers as an instrument of self-indulgence.

Selected Letters-I, p. 8, Jan. 1927

We have to develop in ourselves the quality which enables us to look upon all as equals as laid down in the Gita.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 42, 22-8-1927

Even if there are differences of opinion, annoyances and irritation, whatever work has to be done must be done. We should certainly not do less than what others do.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 52, 31-10-1927

There will always be some thieves in this world. There are three ways of guarding against them: (1) We should not keep anything with us. This ideal is hardly feasible. (2) If we keep anything with us, to that extent we should be vigilant. (3) We should frighten away the thief by fear of punishment by law, and we too should join in punishing him. We have turned away from this last course of remedy. The first method is to be our ideal. The second one we have already been putting into practice—accumulating as little as possible, and being extremely vigilant about that what it is absolutely necessary to keep with us.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 85, 11-11-1929

As we acquire more skill, we are able to put in more work with less strain on our physical and mental resources.

Selected Letters-II, p. 13, 8-5-1932

The doctrine of the greatest good of the greatest number. . . means in its nakedness that in order to achieve the supposed good of 51 per cent the interest of 49 per cent may be, or rather, should be sacrificed. It is a heartless doctrine and has done harm to humanity. The only real, dignified, human doctrine is the greatest good of all, and this can only be achieved by uttermost self-sacrifice.

The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 149, 4-6-1932

I do not believe in the "greatest good of the greatest number", nor can I agree that might is right. For human beings the object in view should be the good of all, with the weak being served first. We are two-legged men, but have still to cast away the nature of four-footed beasts.

The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 221, 10-7-1932

A prison should be a house of correction and not punishment. If that is so, why should a forger have fetters on his legs in prison ? The fetters will not improve his character. To my mind it is intolerable that anyone should be fettered if there is no likelihood 0f his trying to escape or becoming unmanageable.

The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 170, 17-6-1932

Good results do not justify violence and they not nullify the evil that violence works. It is not always possible to lay one's hands on the evil that violence works. Thus it is not possible to weigh the evil wrought by hanging a murderer, though we may have a sigh of relief when he is put out. Faith would be meaningless, if we were able always to account for everything.

Letters to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, p. 116, 2-6-1937

It is God's grace that there are undistressed persons even in the areas of distress. When all are in distress, who can serve the nurses? So we must fend for ourselves when we go out to serve. We must not rely on others, but should be thankful to them for such- help as they can afford to give.

Selected Letters-I, p. 22