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Misquotes that Bapu is forced to wear

Times of India

By Paul John

AHMEDABAD: "Be the change you want to see in the world," "There is enough wealth in the world to satisfy everyone's needs, but there is not enough to satisfy everyone's greed," "Customer is God,"... And, the list of what are said to be some of Mahatma Gandhi's most quotable quotes is much longer.

However, those exchanging greeting cards, key chains and posters with these quotes printed on them would be disappointed to know that Mahatma never uttered these words.

Scholars who have been pouring over more than 50,000 pages of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG) have not found any references to these quotes in these voluminous works. And, it is none other than Gandhiji's great grandson Tushar Gandhi, who endorses their stand and calls for a serious need to clear any aberrations in Bapu's work and sayings.

"The 'Be the change...' quote is not Gandhiji's. It can be considered a paraphrase of what he may have said," said Tushar Gandhi. " Customer is an important visitor..." is again not Bapu's quote, but a highly condensed portion of a speech that he made at an inaugural function of a Khadi outlet.

The CWMG is a collection of Bapu's personal correspondences, articles that he wrote for journals and newspapers, speeches, interviews, letters to editors and even telegrams in his lifetime prepared in 98 volumes since from July 4, 1888. The only reference that one finds to the "Be the change..." quote are interviews of Bapu's grandson Arun Gandhi by Carmella B'Hahn and Michel W. Potts in early 2000. Arun Gandhi indirectly quoted Gandhiji.

In an article that appeared in the Harijan in 1940 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "I own that often my articles suffer from condensation. They are made to yield a meaning I had never intended. . ." Mahatma Gandhi had strong reservations of anyone modifying his language without his prior permission.

The quote, 'There is enough wealth in the world to satisfy everyone's needs, ...' is actually credited to an American pastor of Swiss origin Frank Buckman, founder of the Moral Rearmament movement. The famous quote 'Customer is an important visitor...' which appears on every traders and businessman's desk is a highly condensed paraphrase of one of Bapu's speech. Bapu never said "Western civilization is a good idea....". It is not mentioned in his autobiography or the CWMG.

The only persons authorized to write or modify what Gandhiji wrote when he was alive were his two personal assistants, Mahadev Desai and Pyarelal Nayar. Their memoirs and diaries are considered authentic sources of Bapu's quotes apart from CWMG and the Bapu's autobiography.

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