SECTION I : Selected 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


Gandhi Letter 52 : To A Friend1

148, Russa Road,
August 1, 1925


I have your letter. A man who owns land which is haunted by wild beasts will be able to excuse himself for shooting them. It would be classed as inevitable Himsa. It will be justified on the ground of necessity, but there is no doubt that, if one has a full perception of Ahimsa, it would be well for him to let his land be overrun by wild beasts or be himself killed by them. Ahimsa is not a mechanical matter, it is personal to everyone. More¬over, possession of property against the whole world is inconsistent with Ahimsa. A man who will follow the principle of non-violence to its uttermost limit has nothing in this world he can call his own. He must merge himself into the whole, which includes snakes, scorpions, tigers, wolves, etc. There are instances on record of innocent men whose innocence even wild beasts have recognized. We must all strive to reach that Stage.
The same remark applies to your second question. It is Himsa to kill the germs and the insects, but even as we commit Himsa by taking vegetable food (for vegetables have life) but regard it as inevitable, so must we treat the germ life. You will recognize that the doctrine of necessity can be stretched so as to justify even man-eating.
A man who believes in Ahimsa carefully refrains from every act that leads to injury. [My] argument only applies to those who believe in Ahimsa. The necessity that I have in mind is a universal necessity, hence it is not permissible to take Ahimsa beyond a limit. That is why the Shastras of custom only permit Himsa in certain cases. It is not only lawful but obligatory upon everyone to make the least use possible of the permission and relaxation. It is unlawful to go beyond the limitation.

Yours sincerely,

Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 3-4

  1. The identity of the addressee is not ascertainable.