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 8: Khadi and Village Industry

Swadeshi as conceived by me consists in producing cloth enough for the wants of India and in distributing it; and for the purpose of stimulating home production, it consists in inducing people to pledge themselves to the use of Swadeshi cloth only, the right being retained where necessary to continue the use of foreign cloth at present in possession of the pledge / votary. The Swadeshi is conceived only as a religious and an economic necessity; and although it is fraught with political consequences of a lofty, moral type in order that all may take part in it, the Swadeshi propaganda is restricted to the religious and economic aspects only.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi -Vol. XVI, p. 60, 25-8-1919

A hundred years ago, the majority of the women of India spun yarn either for profit or for pleasure and thousands upon thousands of professional weavers wove cloth enough for home consumption. Whether the same can be done today or not, it is unnecessary to inquire. It is beyond question that if these millions of peasants can be induced to take to spinning and weaving, it will materially decrease the economic drain and enable them to supplement their earnings.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi -Vol. XVI, pp. 60-61, 25-8-1919

The work among the poor will be profitless and devoid of religion without the spinning-wheel. We must help the poor to feed and clothe themselves. We can never succeed unless we reintroduced spinning wheel. No other industry can solve the problem of the mass poverty in India.

The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi -Vol. XIX, p. 395, 2-3-1920

Two hundred years ago, the women of India spun not only for home demand but also for foreign lands. They spun not merely coarse counts but the finest that the world has ever spun. No machine has yet reached the fineness of the yarn spun by our ancestors.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XX, p. 496, 11-8-1921

We must be prepared to be satisfied with such cloth as India can produce, even as we are thankfully content with such children as God gives us. I have not known a mother throwing away her baby even though it may appear ugly to an outsider. So should it be with the patriotic women of India about Indian manufactures.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XX, p. 496, 11-8-1921

To me it seems utterly degrading to throw foreign cloth in the face of the poor because we have no longer any use for it, that cloth which has brought pauperism to the land and reduced thousands of women to a life of shame. Not even the poor will understand a sudden manifestation of pity for them in the shape of silk kerchiefs, flimsy saris and flimsier shirts, not to speak of thousands of stinking caps. The central point in burning is to create an utter disgust with ourselves that we have thoughtlessly decked ourselves at the expense of the poor. Yes, I see nothing wrong in making it a sin to wear cloth that has meant India's degradation and slavery. What I am trying to do just now is to perform a surgical operation with a hand that must not shake.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XX, p. 499, 13-8-1921

India does not need to be industrialized in the modern sense of the term. It has 7,50,000 villages scattered over a vast area 1,900 miles long, 1,500 broad. The people are rooted to the soil, and the vast majority are living a hand-to-mouth life. Whatever may be said to the contrary, having travelled throughout the length and breadth of the land with eyes open and having mixed with millions, there can be no doubt that pauperism is growing. There is no doubt also that the millions are living in enforced idleness for at least 4 months in the year. Agriculture does not need revolutionary changes. The Indian peasant requires a supplementary industry. The most natural is the introduction of the spinning-wheel, not the handloom. The latter cannot be introduced in every home, whereas the former can, and it used to be so even a century ago. It was driven out not by economic pressure, but by force deliberately used as can be proved from authentic records. The restoration, therefore, of the spinning- wheel solves the economic problems of India at a stroke.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXII, p. 401, 15-2-1922

Of all my outward activities, I do believe that the spinning-wheel is the most permanent and the most beneficial. I have abundant proof now to support my statement that the spinning-wheel will solve the problem of the economic distress in millions of India's homes, and it constitutes an effective insurance against famines.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXII, p. 401, 15-2-1922

I have nothing to say against the development of any other industry in India by means of machinery, but I do say that to supply India with cloth manufactured either outside or inside through gigantic mills is an economic blunder of the first magnitude, just as it would be to supply cheap bread through huge bakeries established in the chief centres in India and to destroy the family stove.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXII, pp. 401-2, 15-2-1922

I would like you to see the truth of the spinning- wheel. It and it alone is the visible outward expression of the inner feeling for humanity. If we feel for the starving masses of India, we must introduce the spinning-wheel into their homes. We must, therefore, become experts and, in order to make them realize the necessity of it, we must spin daily as a sacrament. If you have understood the secret' of the spinning-wheel, if you realize that it is a symbol of love of mankind, you will engage in no other outward activity. If many people do not follow you, you have more leisure for spinning, carding or weaving.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, p. 99, 17-3-1922

Speaking purely from an economic point of view, I venture to say that unless the merchants, dealing in foreign yarn and cloth give up their trade, and the people get rid of their infatuation for foreign cloth, the greatest disease of the country, viz., starvation, can never be cured. I hope all the merchants will make the fullest contribution to the propagation of Khadi and the spinning-wheel.

To A Gandhian Capitalist, p. 50, 18-3-1922

This spinning is growing on me. I seem daily to be coming nearer to the poorest of the poor and to that extent to God. I regard the four hours to be the most profitable part of the day. The fruit of my labour is visible before me. Not an impure thought enters my mind during the four hours. The mind wanders whilst I read the Gita, the Kuran, the Ramayana. But the mind is fixed whilst I am turning the wheel, or working the bow. I know that it may not and cannot mean all this to everyone. I have so identified the spinning-wheel with the economic salvation of pauper India that it has for me a fascination all its own. There is a serious competition going on in my mind between spinning and carding on the one hand and literary pursuits on the other.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, p. 134, 14-4-1922

To remove the curse of untouchability is to do penance for the sin committed by the Hindus of degrading a fifth of their own religionists. To remove the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs not only purifies the nation, but it also deprives an immoral system of Government of an immoral source of revenue to the extent of nearly 25 crores of rupees. To revive hand- spinning and hand-weaving brings back to millions of cottages of India their supplementary industry, revives the old Indian art, removes the degrading pauperism and provides an automatic insurance against famine. At the same time, it deprives Great Britain of the strongest incentive for Indian exploitation, for if India can cloth herself without importing foreign cloth and foreign machinery, the relations between Great Britain and India become natural and almost idealistic. They take the form then of a voluntary partnership resulting in mutual benefit and, probably, benefit to mankind in general. Unity between the different religionists of India prevents Great Britain from pursuing the immoral policy of Divide and Rule, and the practice of non¬violence in resisting exploitation and degradation, if it becomes successful is likely to serve as an example for the whole world to copy.

Collected, Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, p. 244, 14-3-1924

No machinery in the world can compete with these villagers who need no other machine than their own willing hands and feet, and a few simple wooden instruments which they can devise themselves.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIII, p. 327, 28-3-1924

I believe in Khadi, I believe in the spinning-wheel. It has two aspects—terrible and benign.
In its terrible aspect it is calculated to bring about the only boycott we need for independent national existence, viz., that of foreign cloth....
In its benign aspect, it gives a new life and hope to the villager. It can fill millions of hungry mouths. It alone can bring us in touch and in tune with the villagers. It is the very best popular education that is needed for the millions. It is life giving.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXIV p. 286, 26-6-1924

In our times, God resides in the spinning-wheel. Starvation stalks the country like a forest fire. I do not see any other help against it except through the spinning-wheel. God always reveals Himself to us in some visible form. Therefore, we sing in our hymn about Draupadi1 for whom 'God took the form of raiment'. Anyone who desires to see God today may see Him in the form of the spinning-wheel.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 7, 20-12-1926

In the course of my travels I realize every moment the country's need of a large number of spinning teachers from among women of character.

Letters to Manibehn Patel, p. 31, 6-2-1927

It will take me many incarnations to become disillusioned with the slowness of the Charkha. The slowness of the Charkha is perhaps its most appealing part for me. But it has so many attractions for me that I can never get tired of it. It has a perennial interest for me. Its implications are growing on me and I make discoveries of its beauties almost from day to day.

The Diary of Mahatma Desai, Vol. I, p. 154, 8-6-1932

My study of books on economics has strengthened my belief that the remedies they propound in order to eradicate poverty in India are fruitless. The right rem¬edy lies in so organizing production and consumption that they go on simultaneously of their own accord, that is to say in the revival of village industries.

The Diary of Mahatma Desai, Vol. I, p. 214, 5-7-1932

All useful work ranks the same with us and may be done by us. Tanning, carpentry, cleaning lavatories, agriculture, weaving, cooking, cow-keeping and such other work are all of equal value, and if I could bring the people round to my view, the literate and the illiterate, the teacher and the scavenger would be paid the same remuneration for their work.

The Diary of Mahatma Desai, Vol. I, p. 277, 4-8-1932

There is no cause for worry over the fact that you2 are not using village-made paper there. It requires a certain amount of fervour on your part, as also an intense spirit of sympathy for the poor. When these become part of your nature, you will take to the use of such things of your own accord. What you do spontaneously and in response to your own inner urge will alone be genuine, and that alone will prove fruitful for you.
While you are there you will do well not to discriminate between articles of British and non-British manufacture.

To A Gandhian Capitalist, p. 142, 4-9-1935

Your calling Khadi 'livery of freedom' will live as long as we speak the English language in India. It needs a first class poet to translate into Hindi the whole of the thought behind that enchanting phrase. For me it is not merely poetry but it enunciates a great truth whose full significance we have yet to grasp.

A Bunch of Old Letters, p. 245, 30-7-1937

Let me make one thing clear about clothing. You are free to give up the insistence on Khadi there, if you cannot maintain it out of your own free will. It is open to you to put on whatever dress you find to be convenient and to have it made of any cloth that seems suitable for the purpose. I think this contains an answer to all your questions.
This means that you can, if you like, put an overcoat, socks and a banian made of foreign or Indian mill-cloth. It will not be improper if you make an effort to have all these things made of hand-spun and hand-woven cloth; at the same time an omission to do so will not amount to a sin.

To A Gandhian Capitalist, p. 143, 4-9-1935

A hundred and fifty years ago we manufactured all our cloth. Our women spun fine yarn in their own cottages and supplemented the earnings of their husbands. The village weavers wove that yarn. It was an indispensable part of national economy in a vast agricultural country like ours. It enabled us in most natural manner to utilize our leisure. Today our women have lost the cunning of their hands and the enforced idleness of millions has impoverished the land. Many weavers have become sweepers. Some have taken to the profession of hired soldiers. Half the race of artistic weavers has died out, and the other half is weaving imported foreign yarn for want of finer hand-spun yarn.

Famous Letters of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 36

  1. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi was a woman of great purity and devotion. She was protected by Lord Krishna by supplying garments while her garments were removed forcibly in the assembly of Duryodhan.
  2. Addressed to Kamalnayan Bajaj who was in England at the time.