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 19: Self-restraint

There is no need to be sorry for what is past and over, but it is important that one should learn something from it.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XII, pp. 420-21, 28-5-1914

All good actions, by whatever feelings prompted, yield some fruit. The man who follows truth or exercises self-restraint out of fear or shame will yet reap the outward benefit of doing so; such is the power of good action.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XVII, p. 369, 1-5-1920

Not to dine with a fellow-being out of repugnance is a sin. Not to dine with him by way of self-restraint is a virtue.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XVII, p. 500, 20-6-1920

The one condition for fighting for peace and liberty is to acquire self-restraint. To do that, it is necessary to give up the pleasure of the world.

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXVI, p. 45, 25-1-1925

The Gita says somewhere that those who practise self-control outwardly, but crave for pleasures of the senses in their thoughts, are foolish and deceitful. This statement was particularly made for hypocrites. About those who are honest and sincere, the same Gita says that they should constantly control the instincts that agitate them.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 59, 19-12-1927

Those who are afraid of getting excited by a mere touch should admit the fact candidly and they must remain within their limits. Such a passionate nature is a kind of disease, and persons of this type should avoid the touch of another man or woman. The disease is likely to disappear in course of time.

Bapu's Letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 89, 9-12-1929

There are men who can be excited by merely touching a woman. There are women who become so likewise by a mere touch from a man. It is necessary that such persons should avoid all human contact even if it means a certain coercion or even illness.

Bapu's letters to Ashram Sisters, p. 89, 9-12-1929

Self-control is the best thing for a prisoner and his friends and dear ones. But self-control to be self-control must brace one up. It becomes mechanical or superimposed when it unnerves or saddens one.

Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 170, 4-2-1932

Man's span of life may be a hundred and even more. But no matter how long he lives, his life is hardly one millionth part of a drop in the ocean that is eternity. All attachment for it and all calculations about it hardly make sense. Our calculations are bound to be uncertain. We can only make a guess at the maximum years a man may live. For the rest we see even healthy children succumb to death. And we cannot assert that a man given to the pleasures of life will not live long. All we can say is that a man who lives a life of simplicity and chastity will probably live long. But to exercise self-control in order to live long is like a mountain in labour bringing forth a mouse. The passions must be subdued in order that we may attain self-realization. If in the course of that discipline we find that life is being shortened instead of being lengthened, we need not bother about it. Health and longevity are a very insignificant fruit of self-control.

The Diary of Mahadev Desai, Vol. I, p. 119, 19-5-1932

Our life should become daily simpler and not more complex. We should be progressively more self-restrained.

Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 257, 27-4-1933

Self-control. . . comes only by definite realization that God is with us and looks after us as if He had no other care besides. How this happens I do not know. That it does happen I do know. Those who have faith have all their cares lifted from off their shoulders.

Bapu's Letters to Mira, p. 267, 5-6-1933

Voluntary obedience always carries its own conviction.

Letters to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, p. 85, 30-8-1936

In working our plans of self-restraint, attention must not for a moment be withdrawn from the fact that we are all sparks of the divine and therefore partake of its nature, and since there can be no such thing as self- indulgence with divine, it must of necessity be foreign to human nature.

Selected Letters-1, p. 35