I am not a ‘statesman in the garb of a saint’. But since Truth is the highest wisdom, sometimes my acts appear to be consistent with the highest statesmanship. But, I hope I have no policy in me save the policy of Truth and ahimsa. I will not sacrifice Truth and ahimsa even for the deliverance of my country or religion. That is as much as to say that neither can be so delivered.

I was living in South Africa then. It was the reading of Unto This Last on a railway journey to Durban, in 1904, when I was thirty-five, that made me decide to change my whole outward life. There is no other word for it, Ruskin’s words captivated me. I read the book in one go and lay awake all the following night, and I there and then decided to change my whole plan of life. Tolstoy I had read much earlier. He affected the inner being.

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow-mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough in me to confess my errors and to retrace my steps. I own that I have an immovable faith in God and His goodness, and unconsumable passion for truth and love. But, is that not what every person has latent in him?

Whenever I see an erring man, I say to myself I have also erred; when I see a lustful man, I say to myself so was I once; and in this way, I feel kinship with everyone in the world and feel that I cannot be happy without the humblest of us being happy.

I am not afraid to die in my mission, if that is to be my fate.

My life has been an open book. I have no secrets and I encourage no secrets.

I believe in trusting. Trust begets trust. Suspicion is fetid and only stinks. He who trusts has never yet lost in the world.

I am content with the doing of the task in front of me. I do not worry about the why and wherefore of things. Reason helps us to see that we should not dabble in things we cannot fathom.

By instinct I have been truthful, but not non-violent. As a Jain muni once rightly said, I was not so much a votary of ahimsa as I was of truth, and I put the latter in the first place and the former in the second. For, as he put it, I was capable of sacrificing non-violence for the sake of truth. In fact, it was in the course of my pursuit of truth that I discovered non-violence.

I have ventured to place before India the ancient law of self-sacrifice. For satyagraha and its off-shoots, non-cooperation and civil resistance are nothing but new names for the law of suffering.

There come to us moments in life when about some things we need no proof from without. A little voice within us tells us, ‘You are on the right track, move neither to your left nor right, but keep to the straight and narrow way.’

My religion teaches me that, whenever there is distress which one cannot remove, one must fast and pray.

I must admit my many inconsistencies. But since I am called ‘Mahatma’, I might well endorse Emerson’s saying that ‘Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ There is, I fancy, a method in my inconsistencies. In my opinion, there is a consistency running through my seeming inconsistencies, as in Nature there is unity running through seeming diversity.

I have sacrificed no principle to gain a political advantage.

I am not aware of having done a single thing in my life as a matter of expedience. I have ever held that the highest morality is also the highest expedience.

What I have done will endure, not what I have said or written.

I may be a despicable person, but when Truth speaks through me, I am invincible.

I believe that, if in spite of the best of intentions, one is led into committing mistakes, they do not really result in harm to the world or, for the matter of that, any individual. God always saves the world from the consequences of unintended errors or men who live in fear of Him.

Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must, therefore, continue to bear testimony to Truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.

I believe that we can all become messengers of God, if we cease to fear man and seek only God’s Truth. I do believe I am seeking only God’s Truth and have lost all fear of man.

Truth is the first thing to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you. Jesus was, to my mind, a supreme artist because he saw and expressed Truth; and so was Muhammad, the Koran being, the most perfect composition in all Arabic literature – at any rate, that is what scholars say. It is because both of them strove first for Truth that the grace of expression naturally came in and yet neither Jesus not Muhammad wrote on Art. That is the Truth and Beauty I crave for, live for, and would die for.

To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its exterior, shines with the Truth within the soul. There is no Beauty apart from Truth. On the other hand, Truth may manifest itself in forms, which may not be outwardly beautiful at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of his time, and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To my mind he was beautiful, because all his life was a striving after Truth, and you may remember that his outward form did not prevent Phidias from appreciating the beauty of Truth in him, though as an artist he was accustomed to see Beauty in outward forms also.

Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral.

Fearlessness connotes freedom from all external fear – fear of disease, bodily injury or death, of dispossession, of losing one’s nearest and dearest, of losing reputation or giving offence, and so on.

There is so much superstition and hypocrisy around that one is afraid even to do the right thing. But if one gives way to fear, even truth will have to be suppressed. The golden rule is to act fearlessly upon what one believes to be right.

To me it is as plain as a pike-staff that, where there is an appeal to reason pure and undefiled, there should be no appeal to authority however great it may be.

I can give my own testimony and say that a heartfelt prayer is undoubtedly the most potent instrument that man possesses for overcoming cowardice and all other bad old habits.

Love of the people brought the problem of untouchability early into my life. My mother said. ‘You must not touch this boy, he is an untouchable.’ ‘Why not?’ I questioned back, and from that day my revolt began.

I have been a ‘gambler’ all my life. In my passion for finding truth and in relentlessly following out my faith in non-violence, I have counted no stake too great. In doing so, I have erred, if at all, in the company of the most distinguished scientist of any age and any clime.

The doctrine that has guided my life is not one of inaction but of the highest action.

Inculcation of cowardice is against my nature. Ever since my return from South Africa, where a few thousand had stood up not unsuccessfully against heavy odds, I have made it my mission to preach true bravery which ahimsa means.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

Ahimsa is a science. The word ‘failure’ has no place in the vocabulary of science. Failure to obtain the expected result is often the precursor to further discoveries.

Satyagraha is utter self-effacement, greatest humiliation, greatest patience and brightest faith. It is its own reward.

True suffering does not know itself and never calculates. It brings its own joy which surpasses all other joys.

Fasting unto death is the last and the most potent weapon in the armoury of Satyagraha. It is a sacred thing. But it must be accepted with all its implication. It is not the fast itself, but what it implies that matters.

My ahimsa would not tolerate the idea of giving a free meal to a healthy person who has not worked for it in some honest way, and if I had the power, I would stop every Sadavrat where free meals are given. It has degraded the nation and has encouraged laziness, idleness, hypocrisy and even crime. Such misplaced charity adds nothing to the wealth of the country, whether material or spiritual, and gives a false sense of meritoriousness to the donor.

The ideal that marriage aims at is that of spiritual union through the physical. The human love that it incarnates is intended to serve as a stepping – stone to divine or universal love.

Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity to me, the female sex, not the weaker sex. It is the nobler of the two, for it is even today the embodiment of sacrifice, silent suffering, humility, faith and knowledge.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err and even to sin. If God Almighty has given the humblest of His creatures the freedom to err, it passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.

In matters of conscience the law of majority has no place.

Healthy, well-informed and balanced criticism is the ozone of public life.

My goal is friendship with the world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong.

A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success.

I believe that I discovered some of my deepest convictions reflected in this great book of Ruskin, and that is why it so captured me and made me transform my life. The teachings of Unto This Last I understood to be:

1 That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.
2 That a lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.
3 That a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.

The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly realized. The third had
never occurred to me. Unto This Last made it as clear as daylight for me that the second and the third were contained in the first.

I have come to regard secrecy as a sin more especially in politics. If we realized the presence of God as witness to all we say and do, we would not have anything to conceal from anybody on earth. For we would not think unclean thoughts before our Maker, much less speak them. It is uncleanliness that seeks secrecy and darkness. The tendency of human nature is to hide dirt; we do not want to see or touch dirty things, we want to put them out of sight. And so must it be with our speech. I would suggest that we should avoid even thinking thoughts we would hide from the world.