Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Conflicts in India and Mahatma Gandhi, Part-II

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338




Conflicts in India and Mahatma Gandhi, Part-II



Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In this conception of the law of Varna no one is superior to any other. All occupations are equal and honourable in so far as they are not in conflict with morals, private or public. A scavenger has the same status as a Brahmin. Was it not Max Muller who said that it was in Hinduism more than in any other religion that life was no more and no less then Duty?”50 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The students cannot blow hot and cold. If they will be with the people’s cause, they must hold their scholastic career sub-servant to the cause and sacrifice it when it comes in conflict with the interest of the country. I saw this quite clearly in 1920 and subsequent experience has confirmed the first impression there in no doubt that the safest and the most honourable course for the student world is to leave Government schools and colleges at any cost. But the next best course for them is to hold themselves in readiness to be thrown out whenever a conflict occurs between the Government and the people. If they will not be, as they have been elsewhere, leaders themselves in the revolt against the Government, they must at least become staunch and true followers. Let their facing of the consequences be as was their response to the nation’s call. Let them not humiliate themselves; let them not surrender their self-respect in trying to re-enter colleges and schools from which they may have been dismissed. The bravery of their response will be counted as bravado, if it succumbs on the very first trial.”51

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “But the next best course for them is to hold themselves in readiness to be thrown out whenever a conflict occurs between the Government and the people. If they will not be, as they have been elsewhere, leaders themselves in the revolt against the Government, they must at least become staunch and true followers. Let their facing of the consequences be as was their response to the nation’s call. Let them not humiliate themselves; let them not surrender their self-respect in trying to re-enter colleges and schools from which they may have been dismissed. The bravery of their response will be counted as bravado, if it succumbs on the very first trial.”52 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My opposition to and disbelief in war was as strong then as it is today. But we have to recognize that there are many things in the world which we do although we may be against doing them. I am as much opposed to taking the life of the lowest creature alive as I am to war. But I continually take such life hoping some day to attain the ability to do without this fratricide. To entitle me in spite of it to be called a votary of non-violence; my attempt must be honest, strenuous and unceasing. The conception of moksha, absolution from the need to have an embodied existence, is based upon the necessity of perfected men and women being completely non-violent. Possession of a body like every other possession necessitates some violence be it ever so little. The fact is that the path of duty is not always easy to discern amidst claims seeming to conflict one with the other.” 53

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Ashram believes that the principal faiths of the world constitute a revelation of Truth, but as they have all been outlined by imperfect man they have been affected by imperfections and alloyed with untruth. One must therefore entertain the same respect for the religious faiths of others as one accord to one’s own. Where such tolerance becomes a law of life, conflict between different faiths becomes impossible, and so does all effort to convert other people to one’s own faith. One can only pray that the defects in the various faiths may be overcome, and that they may advance, side by side, towards perfection.”54 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Under ideal conditions these two duties are not incompatible, but in the present situation we often see only conflict between them. That is so because love of family is based on selfishness and the family members are worshippers of selfishness; therefore, as a normal course it may be suggested that one should plunge into the service of the country after providing for the needs of the family in accordance with the poor living conditions in India.”55

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Nothing in the resolution shall interfere with the propaganda for familiarizing the people with the goal of independence in so far as it does not conflict with prosecution of a campaign for the adoption of the said Report.”56 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The strike of nearly seven hundred students of the Gujarat College which has now gone on for over 20 days is no longer a matter merely of local importance. A labour strike is bad enough, a students’ strike is worse whether it is justly declared or unjustly. It is worse because of the consequences it entails in the end and because of the status of the parties. Unlike labourers, students are educated and can have no material interest to serve by means of strikes, and unlike employers, heads of educational institutions have no interest in conflict with that of the students. Students moreover are supposed to be embodiments of discipline. A strike of students therefore produces far-reaching consequences and can only be justified in extraordinary circumstances.”57

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “But cases such as this do not often occur to non-co-operators. They would avoid undertaking trusts wherein there might be conflict between public duty and private conduct. It is therefore that I warned the public against copying me in this case. The general test is that a non-co-operator should have nothing to do with bail bond or defence for his personal advantage or comfort.”58 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Whatever the outcome of the tussle between the Speaker of the Assembly and the Government, Sjt. Vithalbhai’s J. Patel has more than vindicated the choice of the Assembly in electing him to the Speaker’s chair. He had upheld the dignity of the office by his strict impartiality. But within the limits prescribed by law or tradition, he had missed not a single opportunity of advancing the national cause. This has naturally brought about a conflict between him and the Government. And he had won every time; he won even when he was betrayed by the heat of the moment into a departure from his usual urbanity. He corrected himself the very next day by tendering a dignified, voluntary, ample apology. He has never hidden his colours. By his fearless conduct in the chair, he has enhanced the prestige of the nation.” 59

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The human body is the battle-field where the internal duel between Right and Wrong goes on. Therefore, it is capable of being turned into the gateway to Freedom. It is born in sin and becomes the seed-bed of sin. Hence it is also called the field of Kuru. The Kauravas represent the forces of Evil, the Pandavas the forces of Good. Who is there that has not experienced the daily conflict within himself between the forces of Evil and the forces of Good?” 60 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Here is comfort for the faithful and affirmation of the truth that Right ever prevails. An eternal conflict between Right and Wrong goes on. Sometimes the latter seems to get the upper hand, but it is Right which ultimately prevails. The good are never destroyed, for Right…which is Truth…cannot perish; the wicked are destroyed because Wrong has no independent existence. Knowing this let man cease to arrogate to himself authorship and eschew untruth, violence and evil. Inscrutable Providence…the unique power of the Lord…is ever at work. This in fact is avatar, incarnation. Strictly speaking there can be no birth for God.”61 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is about eight days since I commenced spinning and I shall spin all my life because I have unshakable faith in the spinning-wheel. For the last seven years or so, there has been an inward conflict in me; however, I have been able to maintain reasonable self-control.”62

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In the circumstances these friends of the League really need not only no advocacy from these columns, but they have ranged themselves against the millions of India in so far as the European interest may be regarded as against that of India. If the half-born claim the rights and privileges of the ruling race, theirs is an interest which as the occasion may demand will, if the ruling race can help it, override that of the indigenous inhabitants whenever the latter is in conflict with theirs.”63

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In the Government school, love for the country is subordinate to loyalty to the foreign rule. Who does not know that when there is a conflict between the two, the Government school teaches its students to align themselves on the side of the protection of the foreign regime? Therefore, those who have in their heart the love of the country will prefer the cottage of the national school to the palace of the Government school. Is there a man who will give preference to the slavery of a prison-house even though it may provide all physical comforts and have the appearance of a big palace…over the freedom of his dilapidated cottage? Had we not forgotten this decisive difference between the two, blinded by our selfishness and attachment to false glitter, the national schools, far from suffering from want of an adequate number of students in them, would have been full, and the rich would have vied with one another in setting up good buildings for these institutions. Be that as it may, even though the national school has to meet underneath a tree, even though it has only a handful of boys, our teachers should never lose their faith.”64 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There can be no comparison at all between national schools and government schools. There cannot be full appreciation of the former so long as the spirit of nationalism is not fully felt and so long as its merits are not fully understood. But why should, for that reason, those who understand nationalism doubt their own conviction? It is necessary to understand the distinctive feature of a national school. It is this: the first and last lesson in it is one of patriotism, national service and sacrifice for the sake of the country. In a government school, patriotism comes after loyalty to foreign rule. Who does not know that when a conflict arises between the two, the lesson of loyalty to the foreign government is taught? Hence those who are devoted nationalists will prefer the hut of a national school to the palace of a government school. Who would prefer subservience in a gorgeous, comfortable prison to freedom in one’s own leaking and dilapidated hut? If, as a result of our craze and our inherent selfishness, we had not wiped out this decisive distinction between government schools and national schools today, the latter would have been overflowing with pupils instead of having a handful of them, and wealthy people would have been vying with one another to build beautiful buildings for these. However, although national schools may have to be run under the shade of a banyan tree, although only a handful of children may attend them, let nationalist teachers never lose their faith. I believe that the school in Vile Parle is of this type and hence I regarded myself as fortunate in having visited it.”65

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Indeed there should be no competition between the Congress and the other organizations. If we would be true to ourselves, the Congress would be admitted by all to be the only national organization to which the members of the other organizations, whilst retaining their own, would deem it a pride to belong. For this consummation Congressmen should show striking results in constructive effort and broadest toleration towards those holding opposite views, so long as they do not come in conflict with the avowed object of the national organization.”66 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “But why are you dejected? I hope there is no fear of public opinion in you. If you have done nothing wrong, why dejection? The ideal of independence is not in conflict with greater freedom. As an executive of ficer now and President for the coming year, you could not keep yourself away from a collective act of the majority of your colleagues. In my opinion your signature was logical, wise and otherwise correct. I hope therefore that you will get over your dejection and resume your unfailing cheerfulness.”67 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The All-India Spinners’ Association believes that khaddar would give us swaraj. If tomorrow the Congress fails to believe in khaddar and is of opinion that the policy of the Spinners’ Association is against the policy of the Congress, it has only to pass a resolution at a general meeting and to disown that body. The Congress should, when such conflict arises, non-co-operate with that body.”68 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There never can be any conflict between the real interest of one’s country and that of one’s religion. Where there appears to be any, there is something wrong with one’s religion, i.e., one’s morals. True religion means good thought and good conduct. True patriotism also means good thought and good conduct. To set up a comparison between two synonymous things is wrong. But if the Congress is ever forced to consider a solution based on communalism, the resolution binds it to reject any that does not satisfy the parties concerned. In order however that the Congress may never be faced with a situation demanding a communal solution, it should now be joined in large numbers by Mussalmans, Sikhs and others who will have India as one indivisible nation. I for one would welcome the Congress passing into Mussalman, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Jewish hands rather than that it should be in any sense a sectional organization. Anyone who has the spirit of service in him can capture the Congress. It has the most democratic franchise. Its doors are ever open to those who would serve. Let all join it and make it a mighty instrument for gaining complete independence for the poorest, the weakest and the most downtrodden. I must defer the consideration of other resolutions and the other matters relating to this remarkable Congress to a future issue, if not the next.”69 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am quite positive that it is fully ripe. The reason I will tell you. Nothing has happened externally, but the internal conflict in me, which was the only barrier, has ceased; and I am absolutely certain now that the campaign had been long overdue. I might have started it long before this.”70

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Let me distinguish between the call of 1920 and the present call. The call of 1920 was for emptying Government institutions and bringing into being national ones. It was a call for preparation. Today the call is for engaging in the final conflict, i. e., for mass civil disobedience. This may or may not come. It will not come if those who have been hitherto the loudest in their cry for liberty have no action in them. If the salt loses its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? The students are expected to precipitate a crisis not by empty meaningless cries but by mute, dignified, unchallengeable action worthy of students. It may again be that the students have no faith in self-sacrifice, and less in non-violence. Then naturally they will not and need not come out. They may then, like the revolutionaries, whose letter is reproduced in another column, wait and see what non-violence in action can do. It will be sportsmanlike for them either to give themselves whole-heartedly to this non-violent revolt or to remain neutral, and (if they like) critical, observers of the developing events. They will disturb and harm the movement, if they will act as they choose and without fitting in with the plan of the authors or even in defiance of them. This I know, that if civil disobedience is not developed to the fullest extent possible now, it may not be for another generation. The choice before the students is clear. Let them make it. The awakening of the past ten years has not left them unmoved. Let them take the final plunge.”71

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “People have already begun to defend their salt pans. If we have evolved that sufficient amount of courage, it must be done methodically and regularly. As soon as the police come to charge us and break through the living wall, women should, if the police give the opportunity, stand aside and let their men be wounded. They do so all the world over in armed conflict; let them do so in a conflict in which one party deliberately chooses to remain unarmed.”72 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There is a world-wide conflict between capital and labour, and the poor envy the rich. If all worked for their bread, distinctions of rank would be obliterated; the rich would still be there, but they would deem themselves only trustees of their property and would use it mainly in the public interest. Bread labour is a veritable blessing to one who would observe non-violence, worship Truth and make the observance of brahmacharya a natural act. This labour can truly be related to agriculture alone. But at present at any rate everybody is not in a position to take to it. A person can, therefore, spin or weave, or take up carpentry or smithery, instead of tilling the soil, always regarding agriculture, however, to be the ideal. Everyone must be his own scavenger. Evacuation is as necessary as eating; and the best thing would be for everyone to dispose of his own waste. If this is impossible, each family should see to its own scavenging. I have felt for years that there must be something radically wrong where scavenging has been made the concern of a separate class in society. We have no historical record of the man who first assigned the lowest status to this essential sanitary service. Whoever he was, he did us no good. We should, from our very childhood, have the idea impressed upon our minds that we are all scavengers, and the easiest way of doing so is for everyone who has realized this to commence bread labour as a scavenger. Scavenging, thus intelligently taken up, will help one to understand religion in a different and truer light. If children, the old and those disabled by illness do not do bread labour that should not be regarded as violation of the law of bread labour.” 73

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I need not give the assurance, perhaps you will be able to give it, if any be required, that my presence among my companions will not be used to subvert discipline but on the contrary, it is highly likely to promote it. The moral code of a civil resister requires him willingly to submit to all prison discipline that is not in conflict with self-respect.”74  Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “So far as I am concerned I should endorse without hesitation any solution that Mussalman friends as a whole may present but that by it would not solve our difficulties. Our difficulties could only be solved by either Hindus or Mussalmans settling with the Sikhs or Hindus settling both with Mussalmans and Sikhs. But so far as I am personally concerned I should endorse any solution presented by Sikh friends as a whole as I would the Mussalman claim. But if there is a conflict between the Sikh and the Mussalman claim, then my endorsement of the claim of each would be of little value. I have therefore assumed that whatever Mussalman friends or Sikh friends present as a final claim would take note of the other party. If you find any flaw in this, you will not hesitate to let me know. All I want is an honourable settlement wholly satisfactory to the Mussalmans, to the Sikhs as also to all other communities who may wish a communal solution.”75

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “First about the Gallway incident. I have not the autobiography with me. But there is no conflict between the two statements. The healthy rivalry between Europeans and Indians took place during the day on our way to Chieveley camp which we reached at night and immediately received orders from Col. Gallway to remove Lieut. Roberts’s remains. So you see, there is no contradiction between the reference to the sultry day and the removal of the remains at night. Lady Roberts is certainly not the Field Marshal’s wife, but the wife of Charles Roberts. There undoubtedly you have got mixed up. The late Field Marshal’s wife never corresponded with me.”76 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You have started an independent organization. It is up to you to see that you do not embark on any activity in the name of the Congress without first obtaining the permission of the Congress. Similarly particular care would have to be taken to see that there is no conflict or overlapping of activities. Khaddar work is dear to me and that is why while giving my blessings to the Mandal that has attached itself to this work, I have thought fit to utter a necessary note of warning.”77

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In the midst therefore of conflict of opinion there should be a referee. My suggestion for a tribunal is, therefore, the most natural corollary. What shape that tribunal should take is undoubtedly a matter for mutual discussion and accommodation. Personally, I should be satisfied so long as there is reasonable assurance of impartiality from the tribunal. The appointment of such a tribunal can in no way diminish the dignity, prestige or authority of the Government. I hold that such an appointment is an ordinary function of a well-ordered Government and if this very Government has appointed committees of enquiry for matters outside contractual relations, how much greater there must be the need for such a tribunal when parties to the contract are dissatisfied as to the conduct of each towards the other and arising out of the contract itself?”78 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Though Congress may be repudiated by sections of the people of India, it aims at representing the whole of India and, therefore, to deserve the trust that had been reposed in me and imposed upon me, I shall endeavour to represent every interest that does not conflict with the interests of the dumb millions for whom the Congress predominantly exists.” 79

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “All interests not in conflict with the interests of the dumb millions will be scrupulously respected, whether foreign or indigenous. Personally, I hate distinction between foreign and indigenous. This is the India of my dreams for which I shall struggle at the next Round Table Conference. I may fail, but if I am to deserve the confidence of the Congress, I shall be satisfied with nothing less.”80

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Now you see that there is here a daily conflict between what you and we understand today as civilization and the state which I am picturing to you as a state of bliss and a desirable state. On the one hand, the basis of culture or civilization is understood to be the multiplication of all your wants. If you have one room, you will desire to have two rooms, three rooms, and the more the merrier. And similarly, you will want to have as much furniture as you can put in your house, and so on, endlessly. And the more you possess the better culture you represent, or some such thing. I am putting it, perhaps, not as nicely as the advocates of that civilization would put it, but I am putting it to you in the manner I understand it.”81

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “What I am trying to give you is as faithful a picture as possible of India as it is at present. I must also not detain you with the impress that British rule has left on India, what that rules is today and what it accounts for. I have dwelt upon that at other meetings and you have some of the literature; but you have no literature on the future of India. I could not possibly have given you a picture of the future unless I had given you this background. If I tell you more about this peasantry of India, you will not now be surprised. The Congress has made it an article of faith that the test of its work and its progress shall be the measure of its becoming a predominantly present organization, and we have set for ourselves this rule, that we shall not consider any interest in India which is in conflict with the fundamental well-being of this eighty per cent of the population.” 82 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In my humble opinion, the proposition enunciated by Sir Hubert Carr is the very negation of responsible Government, the very negation of nationalism. If he says that, if you want a live European on the legislature, then he must be elected by the Europeans themselves, well, Heaven help India if India has to have representatives elected by these several, special, cut-up groups. That European will serve India as a whole, and the European only, who commands the approval of the common electorate and not the mere Europeans. This very idea suggests that the responsible Government will always have to contend against these interests which will always be in conflict against the national spirit—against this body of 85 per cent of the agricultural population. To me it is an unthinkable thing. If we are going to bring into being responsible Government and if we are going to get real freedom, then I venture to suggest that it should be the proud privilege and the duty of every one of these so-called special classes to seek entry into the Legislatures through this open door, through the election and approval of the common body of electorates. You know that Congress is wedded to adult suffrage, and under adult suffrage it will be open to all to be placed on the voters’ list.”83

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Then you have “not being in conflict with the best interests of the nation”. I have in mind certain monopolies, legitimately acquired undoubtedly, but which have been brought into being in conflict with the best interests of the nation. Let me give you an illustration which will amuse you somewhat, but which is on neutral ground. Take this white elephant which is called New Delhi. Crores have been spent upon it. Suppose that the future Government comes to the conclusion that this white elephant, seeing that we have got it, ought to be turned to some use. Imagine that in Old Delhi there is a plague or cholera going on, and we want hospitals for the poor people. What are we to do? Do you suppose the National Government will be able to build hospitals, and so on? Nothing of the kind. We will take charge of those buildings and put these plague stricken people in them and use them as hospitals, because I contend that those buildings are in conflict with the best interests of the nation. They do not represent the millions of India. They may be representative of the monied men who are sitting at the table; they may be representative of His Highness the Nawabs Sahib of Bhopal or of Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas or of Sir Phiroze Sethna or of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, but they are not representative of those who lack even anywhere to sleep and have not even a crust of bread to eat. If the National Government comes to the conclusion that that place is the unnecessary, no matter what interests are concerned, they will be dispossessed, and they will be dispossessed, I may tell you, without any compensation, because, if you want this Government to pay compensation, it will have to rob Peter to pay Paul, and that would be impossible.”84 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “If I remember rightly, Your Lordship used the words obviously it was in the interests of India. I was really waiting to find some illustrations, but no doubt you took it for granted that we would know those matters or those illustrations which you had in mind. I had really converse illustrations in mind while you were speaking, and I said to myself, I have within my own experience several illustrations where I could show that the interests of India were not, in those particular illustrations, identical with the interests of Great Britain, that the two were in conflict, and that, therefore, we could not possibly say that every time there were loans from Great Britain, they were in the interest of India.”85 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I can only close with the great sorrow that has overtaken me in connection with these things that I should find myself in conflict with so many administrators who have experience of Indian affairs and also of so many of my countrymen who are attending this Round Table Conference; but, if I am to discharge my duty as a representative of the Congress, even at the risk of incurring displeasure I must give expression to the views I hold in common with so many members of the Congress.”86 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This is a question which begs itself. Love for God is not to be distinct from love for man. But if there was a conflict between the two loves I would know there was a conflict in the man himself. I should therefore invite him to carry on a search within himself. But when you find love for man divorced from love for God, you will find at basis a base motive. Real love for man I regard to be utterly impossible without love for God.”87 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I said, I or Congress would not discriminate against a person because he was an Englishman, but there would be discrimination on other grounds, and I presented him with the formula: any interest in conflict with the national interest or not legitimately acquired, I said, would be taken over by the State and I said that it would apply to Europeans of India. This, I said, would not be done by an executive order but by the order from the Federal Court.”88



Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The distinction you have made is correct. The writer of articles in Young India is one person, and the man whom the inmates of the Ashram know intimately is another. In Young India, I might present myself as one of the Pandava, but, in the Ashram, how can I help showing myself as I am? I am, moreover, a votary of truth and can make no attempt consciously to hide my weaknesses. Hence, the Kauravas dwelling in me make their presence felt in one way or another. Haven’t you said that a conflict is always going on in me between the divine and the demoniac? I feel, however, that the Kauravas are being vanquished. But one cannot yet be positive about that. As Solon3 has said, the final judgment about a man can be expressed only after his death. I have known cases in which crores were reduced to cowries in a moment.”89

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “We should also know what is meant by “memorizing”. We should sincerely attempt to live according to the teaching of the book which we learn by heart. That teaching should not be in conflict with certain fundamental principles and we should have understood its meaning fully.” 90  “People should not give left-overs to Harijans. We should try to teach them rules of cleanliness, etc. In short, we should take all necessary measures, without creating any conflict, for improving their conditions of life.”91 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “What is it that prevents the heart from following or co-operating with reason? Can it be want of faith? Though I have not come to any final decision, my opinion tends in that direction. Though my reason tells me that there is no need to avoid a snake if I have love in me, it must be my want of faith that prevents my association with him. Instances of this character can be multiplied. I would like you to make researches in this direction and try to trace the cause of conflict between the heart and reason in every case you can recall. By so doing it may be possible for you to make the heart co-operative with reason. If it is good for me and everybody that I should fast, why should the heart refuse to rejoice? The heart does rejoice if I am healthy. It is better in certain cases that I should fast than that I should be healthy. Reason says so, yet the heart rejects the clear testimony of reason. Does it do so for want of faith? Or is there here self-deception and as a matter of fact reason has not perceived the necessity for fasting as it has for the preservation of health? Here I have simply stated the problem for you without presuming to decide. I cannot have sufficient data for coming to a decision even if I wanted to come to a decision. I must leave this subject at this point for the time being at any rate.”92

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Those who want to enforce a custom have to show that it has been in vogue for a long time and that it is not in conflict with the moral sense, but the burden may be shifted if a custom already recognized is challenged. Communal property is also entitled to protection if communal ownership is not in conflict with the common weal.”93 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Women like Saralabehn, etc., who was involved in this, said that even though there was no conflict between the Harijan Labour Committee and their Committee, the scope of both these Committees was not well defined. And since they do not have a clear idea as to what you desire, conflict may arise in course of time. Meet them personally in this connection and clarify the issue. If it is necessary to meet me, you may come any time you wish.”94

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not consider “the Gita to be the only scripture of unquestionable authority which alone should be our true guide”. What I have said and what I still hold is that for me in view of the multitude of books claimed to be scriptural and [of] conflicting texts, Gita is the only safe guide, because it contains the concentrated essence of all that the Hindu scriptures have to teach and that I would unhesitatingly reject anything that is in conflict with the spirit of the Gita. Thus I would test the validity of every religious precept or code of conduct on the anvil of that teaching.  I quite agree with your view of the Samhita, but my difficulty in applying them to daily conduct arises from the fact that there are conflicting statements in the same Samhita and there is conflict among the different Samhita. There again I summon the Gita to my aid.”95 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Of the other parts of your letter I desire to say nothing beyond this that I am unable to endorse your interpretation of the Shastras as being repugnant to common sense, universal morals and contrary to the interpretation of the Shastras by Pandit having no less learning and authority than the opposite school and in the presence of such a conflict of interpretation you will not blame me if I accept that which is more consistent with my moral sense.”96



Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In regard to inter-dining and inter-marriage there is no contradiction between my earlier writings and present writings. When I wrote those articles I had Lakshmi with me and I was planning to have her married outside the Dhed community. I still hold that in interdining and inter-marriage some restrictions are necessary. I do not think that varnashrama comes in here. There is no loss of dharma in marrying a suitable partner outside one’s Varna. I may say that my views are now much clearer than before. But I hesitate to revise the views I have held for a long time. My present views supplement the views I have expressed earlier. However, if it appears that there is conflict between the two you should accept what I say now and reject what I have said before.”97

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Technically the Government is right in their reply. Naturally every concession lapses with the end of the prisoner’s incarceration. The limits of the current concessions I have not questioned, though I did not like them in so far as the inquiry about the treatment or conduct of other prisoners was concerned. Happily there was no occasion for definitely raising the point. My endeavour has been to avoid, as far as possible, occasion of conflict with authority. I have been content to live, as becomes a prisoner, a hand-to-mouth existence in the hope that with the march of time my conduct would inspire the Government with confidence in my desire to tender and promote prison discipline to the best of my ability and thus make my way smooth for humanitarian work that was possible for me even as a prisoner to do. And I may be pardoned for referring to a policy once established by the Government and pleading for its continuity.”98 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As to the Nattar-Harijan conflict, you will see my article in this week’s Harijan.2 I have now your additional report3. I shall keep it in my file, but I am not going to deal with it next week. I shall watch developments and deal with the situation as occasion may arise.”99 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Let him turn also to the extreme south. There he will find a cluster of villages inhabited by the land-owning ryots known as Nattars and their landless ‘semi-slaves’, the Harijans. There was a conflict between these two during May, June and July last year. There was also a resolution in the Madras Council, carried by 44 votes against 22, recommending to the Government the appointment of a committee to inquire into and report on the alleged atrocities committed by the Nattars on the Harijans. Nothing is said as yet to have been done by the Government on the recommendation.”100  Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I would not easily accept the change. I have not yet considered it. Because everybody agrees, it does not follow that I should accept it. I would examine every such proposal solely from the Harijan point of view, because it never crossed my mind that there can ever be a conflict of interest between the Harijans and the caste Hindus. My confirmed opinion is that whatever is in the real interest of the Harijans must necessarily be in the interest of the caste Hindus. As I believe I have the capacity of examining such questions from the Harijan point of view, I should not mind standing alone, and defending my position if unfortunately things came to such a pass that, for my opinion, I could not secure a single supporter.”101

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Civil resisters represent the non-violent army of the nation. And just as every citizen cannot be a soldier on the active list, every citizen cannot be a civil resister on the active list. And if a soldier may not consider he a superior being because he fights at the risk of his life for his nation much less may a civil resister will undergoes sufferings for the sake of his nation. Those outside the rank of fighters are equally important limbs of their nation if they regard themselves as national servants dedicating their talents for the nation’s welfare, and not engaging in any activity, private or public, that may be in conflict with the national interest.”102 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It may not be superfluous to mention that the Ashram has for the past two years refused to pay revenue dues and consequently goods of considerable value have been seized and sold in respect of them. I make no complaint of the procedure. But it cannot be a matter of pleasure or profit to carry on a great institution in such precarious circumstances. I fully realize that whether a State is just or unjust and whether it is under popular or foreign control, the citizen’s possessions may at any time be forcibly taken away from him by the State, if he comes in conflict with it. In the circumstances, it seems to me to be simple prudence to anticipate the inevitable in a conflict which promises to be indefinitely prolonged.”103



Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Once on an important occasion I had said that the rich have right to earn and accumulate wealth. This world will always call some to adventure. It cannot be stopped. I say then, let these people earn much but let them spend it as if it belonged to the people and give of it generously to others. One of my cherished hopes is that in our country there should be no ill will, no conflict, between the rich and the poor that both may realize their own dharma and adhere to it. In the world a fierce battle is going on between capital and labour, between the rich and the poor. May our country be saved from this strife? One man’s wish cannot achieve it. But if many cherished the wish we could achieve this ideal. Through Sir Girijaprasad, I wish to convey to the rich people of Ahmadabad and by the grace of God there are many here that they should enhance the legacy left by Sir Chinubhai. It is up to the rich to reach the ideal which I have placed before them. It is my ambition that Ahmadabad may set an example for India, in fact for the whole world.”104 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “That fast was intended for the purification of the workers. I have given an illustration in Harijan to show when a purificatory fast becomes necessary. Please refer to it. If such impurity creeps into us, religious reform would not spread among the crores of people and the irreligious practice of untouchability which has entered deep into our villages cannot be eradicated. I have already described the great conflict in my heart and the terrible storm through which I had to pass before arriving at the decision to fast. I have not cited in Harijan all the instances of impurity that have come to my notice. I came to know a great many other things during and even after my fast. Many of the workers woke up and told me that they had considered themselves absolutely pure that they could not see the blemishes in them. I have already published the confession2 of an overseer who had collected a pice each from the labourers. If I were to publish all such instances the pages of Harijan would start stinking. I have, therefore, refrained from doing so. We need not worry about purifying the world. But we can certainly except that those who have dedicated their lives to Harijan work will always remain pure. Fasting is a very common thing in Hinduism, but other religions too have recommended fasting as a means for purification.”105

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Then there is the question of the whole Hindu culture. I see, even at the present moment, a conflict going on between Hindu culture and the Christianity of Indians; the latter are being torn between two almost opposite attractions. Somehow or other, Christianity has become synonymous with Western culture. Perhaps rightly so, for, the religion of the Western people is predominantly Christianity and therefore Western culture may be fittingly described as Christaian culture as Indian culture would certainly be described as Hindu culture. The progeny of Elizabeth must be brought up in entirely different surroundings unless Manu decides to tear himself away from his own surroundings and lives an exclusive life or decides to settle down in the West. I think that, spiritually considered, Elizabeth herself should not be a party to the possibility of Manu having to tear himself away.”106 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The present fight is not for people who have debts to pay and wish to discharge their responsibilities towards their brothers and sisters. This fight requires one to sacrifice one’s all. How do a poor man’s brothers and sisters get education? We should adopt such a way that our brothers and sisters grow up in poverty and get educated and start earning as soon as possible. That leaves the problem of Father. The fifty rupees which he gets should suffice. Both of you should renounce your share in his property. Jayaprakash can remain in the present fight only if he is thus prepared to embrace poverty. This is a soldier’s dharma. The other dharma is towards one’s family. It also is worth following if one wishes to do so. When it becomes an absolute dharma, it is in conflict with the good of society as a whole. That is what we find among us today. It is the aim of Satyagraha to remedy this situation. But anybody who does not understand Satyagraha and still follows it fails in both dharmas for he will remain discontented. If you do not understand anything in this, you may ask me to explain again. But I don’t think you will find any difficulty in understanding it.”107

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “On my explaining my conflict of duties, they became silent. The matter was discussed in minute detail. I felt that Nariman had no sense. I told them:“If somebody writes ‘Whither India?’ and another writes ‘Whither Congress?’, I hope it wouldn’t seem too much if I write ‘Whither Nariman?’.” Jawahar is indeed a jawahar4. About Jamnalalji I needn’t write anything. He has put on weight. His health is all right, more or less. Chikhalda benefited him very much. The condition of his ear is as bad as that of your nose. One is without nose, and the other is deaf. To whom may I complain about these difficulties? Please let me know, however, if the injections help you now.”108 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My belief in the necessity of communal unity is just as firm as ever before. What I could do now, it may be asked. My position is the same now as before. I would accept any solution that may commend itself to the Muslims as a whole and that is not in conflict with any other national interest. Naturally, I endorse the suggestion made by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. Nothing can be fairer. As a nationalist I claim to represent all communities equally, the largest as well as the smallest.”109

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Harijan finishes one year of its existence with this issue. The subscribers and readers know the limits within which it is working. It devotes itself solely to the Harijan cause. Even so it eschews all matters which may be calculated to bring it in conflict with the Government. It eschews politics altogether. These limitations were essential, if it was to be a paper controlled by a prisoner. For reasons which I need not repeat here, though I am not a prisoner in law, I am conducting the paper as if I was one in fact. It can, therefore, naturally draw only those men and women who are interested in the campaign against untouchability and who would help the cause even if it is only to the extent of subscribing to the paper and thus helping the only paper that is solely devoted to the cause of anti-untouchability and is the mouthpiece of the Harijan Sevak Sangh. The subscribers know that it will not be continued at a loss. I believe that the paper, in order to justify its existence, must be a felt want, and it must, therefore, have the minimum number of subscribers to pay its way. The readers know also that, as it avoids all advertisements, it has no other source of income. Therefore, subscribers whose subscriptions are due are requested to send their subscriptions promptly to the Manager, Harijan, Triplicane, and Madras. The dispatch of the paper will be automatically discontinued for those inland subscribers who fail to send their subscriptions after the receipt of two issues after this. Those who had constituted themselves as voluntary agents will kindly perform that office for the next year, if they are satisfied that the paper has justified its existence.”110

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Unless there are other reasons for it you should not be hasty in courting imprisonment on account of the inner conflict I am going through. You should await my decision.”111  Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It will thus be seen that the change in activity that I have suggested to you does in no way conflict with the interests of major industries. I want to say only this much: Treat your national servants well, restrict your activities to minor industries and let major ones help themselves as they are doing today. Minor industries, I conceive, will not replace major ones but will supplement them. Of large industries, I even aspire to induce owners to take interest in this work, which is purely humanitarian. I am a well-wisher of the mill-owners, too, and they will bear me out when I say that I have not failed to help them when I could.”112  Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “If the capitalists are liquidated, we would be liquidated too. Both should unite in amity. We would need gold and silver bricks too. The important thing is that we should know how to put all these to good use. This is the conflict between the proper and the improper use of capital. Both the classes will benefit if we learn how to make good use of capital. I cannot change this view of mine, for it is based on my experience of fifty years. You may do whatever you think is right, and in your interest.”113

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Let me tell the sanatanists who claim to be monopolists of religious truth that I believe in the same Shastras as they do. I have profound disagreement with them as regards interpretation. These Shastras lay down that, when there is a conflict of interpretation, one must follow the promptings of one’s own conscience. And that is exactly what I am doing. I would be the sanatanists’ slave if they could convince me that I was wrong. Meanwhile, I will say even with my last breath that, if we do not wash out the stain of untouchability, Hindus and Hinduism will be wiped out from the face of the earth.”114 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Khaddar in a sense is purely an economic proposition. A khaddar organization must be a business concern before everything else. The democratic principle, therefore, cannot apply to it. Democracy necessarily means a conflict of will and ideas, involving sometimes a war to the knife between these different ideas. There can be no room for such conflict within a business organization. Imagine parties, groups and the like in a business concern. It must break to pieces under their weight. But a khadi organization is more than a business concern. It is a philanthropic institution designed to serve demos. Such an institution cannot be governed by popular fancy. There is no room in it for personal ambition.”115 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Sangh needn’t have incurred that expenditure. But I don’t write this by way of criticism. Compassion is a wonderful thing. On the one hand, a trust, and, on the other, compassion. Who can solve this conflict? But the expenditure ought not to be borne by the Sangh. I, therefore, assume responsibility for that bill and for the ten rupees spent from Parikshitlal’s pocket. I will lay my hand on some other appropriate fund. Please forget about that bill. I will send from here a hundi or money order to Parikshitlal’s in a day or two.”116

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As a result of mutual conversation we have come to the conclusion that it should be common cause between the Parliamentary Board and the Nationalist Party2 that wheresoever’s between rival candidates it is manifest that one candidate has an overwhelming chance against another the latter should be withdrawn. Not having sufficient material before us, it was not possible to make any recommendation as to the chances of success of rival candidates whose names were before us. Nor had any of us any authority to come to any decision. It was enough for us to be able to enunciate the principle we have done. We may also state that we met together purely as friends and co-workers without being deputed by respective parties. Our purpose was to find ways and means of avoiding a domestic conflict.”117 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As to the Ashram at Delhi, the fact that there is the other Central one should not be overemphasized. There should be an ashram or institution at the headquarters, and the idea is that the office should be taken there, with accommodation for the whole of the staff, and provision for a technical institute. If the provinces can raise sufficient money for themselves, each of them can certainly have such training centers. Karachi has almost a model institute where, under first class expert guidance, all kinds of articles are manufactured from leather. Sewing is also done there, and the ground is exceedingly well kept. The whole thing is due to the enterprise of Mehta Bros. Now it has become so popular that even non-Harijans are applying for admission. Therefore, the idea of the Delhi institute is not in conflict with yours, but on the contrary it is in support of yours only Delhi can’t find the funds for other centers. Bangalore is also developing such things.”118

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Even though khadi is the most powerful means for attaining freedom, our khadi organizations are carrying on the work only as an economic activity. An element of democracy can be introduced in these organizations only to a certain extent. Conflict and even competition can have a place in democracy. But these cannot be permitted in an economic organization. Can we think of different or opposing groups in a commercial firm? The whole administration of the firm would be thrown out of gear if such a thing happens. Moreover, the khadi organizations are not merely economic organizations; they are benevolent institutions too. Their aim is not to serve anybody’s selfish interests but to promote public welfare. In democracy it is a rule to carry on work by humoring public opinion. The aim of our khadi organizations is to attain not merely preya but sreya for the people. Hence, at times they may have to carry on their work independently of the ever-shifting public opinion. They cannot be allowed to become the means of nurturing individual ambitions.”119 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “No person being a member of any elective Congress Committee shall be a member of any similar committee of a communal organization the object or programme of which involves political activities which are in the opinion of the Working Committee anti-national and in conflict with those of the Congress.”120 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “No person who is member of any elected Congress Committee shall be member of any similar committee of a communal organization, the object or programme of which involves political activities which are, in the opinion of the Working Committee anti-national and in conflict with those of the Congress.”121 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Though I know that there is no legal bar against my entering the Frontier Province, I have no desire to do anything that may bring me in conflict with the Government. It is my earnest effort to avoid such conflict in so far as it is humanly possible.”122 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There is no possibility of the Association coming in conflict with Government, because the ideal that the Association has set before it appears to me to be different from that of the Government effort if I have understood it rightly, except, perhaps, in the matter of sanitation. We should certainly not take up the work of sanitation in villages where the Government agencies might be doing it. There is no idea whatsoever to supplant the Government agency. It may be to supplement the work.”123



Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There is a conflict of interest between capital and labour, but we have to resolve it by doing our own duty. Just as pure blood is proof against poisonous germs, so will labour, when it is pure, be proof against exploitation. The labourer has but to realize that labour is also capital. As soon as labourers are properly educated and organized and they realize their strength, no amount of capital can subdue them. Organized and enlightened labour can dictate its own terms. It is no use vowing vengeance against a party because we are weak. We have to get strong. Strong hearts, enlightened minds and willing hands can brave all odds and remove all obstacles. No, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is on counsel of perfection. The capitalist is as much a neighbour of the labourer as the latter is a neighbour of the former, and one has to seek and win the willing co-operation of the other. Nor does the principle mean that we should accept exploitation lying down. Our internal strength will render all exploitation impossible.”124




  1. Young India, 17-11-1927
  2. Young India, 16-2-1928
  3. Young India, 16-2-1928
  4. Young India, 15-3-1928
  5. VOL. 42 : 2 MAY, 1928 - 9 SEPTEMBER, 1928, Page- 110
  6. Navajivan, 1-7-1928
  7. VOL. 43 : 10 SEPTEMBER, 1928 - 14 JANUARY, 1929, Page-  440
  8. VOL. 44 : 16 JANUARY, 1929 - 3 FEBRUARY, 1929, Page-  34
  9. VOL.45 : 4 FEBRUARY, 1929 - 11 MAY, 1929, Page-  295
  10. Young India, 18-4-1929
  11. VOL. 46 : 12 MAY, 1929 - 31 AUGUST, 1929, Page-  175
  12. VOL. 46 : 12 MAY, 1929 - 31 AUGUST, 1929, Page-  185
  13. Navajivan, 30-6-1929
  14. Young India, 29-8-1929
  15. Navajivan, 15-9-1929
  16. VOL. 47: 1 SEPTEMBER, 1929 - 20 NOVEMBER, 1929, Page-  79
  17. Young India, 10-10-1929
  18. A Bunch of Old Letters, p. 76
  19. VOL. 48 : 21 NOVEMBER, 1929 - 2 APRIL, 1930, Page-  154
  20. Young India, 9-1-1930
  21. VOL. 48 : 21 NOVEMBER, 1929 - 2 APRIL, 1930, Page-  401
  22. Young India, 20-3-1930
  23. Young India, 17-4-1930
  24. VOL.50 : 23 AUGUST, 1930 - 5 JANUARY, 1931, Page-  59
  25. VOL.50 : 23 AUGUST, 1930 - 5 JANUARY, 1931, Page-  66
  26. VOL. 52 : 29 APRIL, 1931 - 1 JULY, 1931, Page-  145
  27. VOL. 53 : 2 JULY, 1931 - 12 OCTOBER, 1931, Page-  12
  28. The Bombay Chronicle, 11-7-1931
  29. The Hindu, 23-8-1931
  30. The Hindu, 30-8-1931
  31. The Hindustan Times, 5-9-1931
  32. VOL. 53 : 2 JULY, 1931 - 12 OCTOBER, 1931, Page-  398
  33. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  57
  34. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  158
  35. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  180
  36. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  206
  37. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  210
  38. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  276
  39. VOL.54: 13 OCTOBER, 1931 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1932, Page-  277
  40. VOL. 55 : 10 FEBRUARY, 1932 - 15 JUNE, 1932, Page-  15
  41. VOL. 56 : 16 JUNE, 1932 - 4 SEPTEMBER, 1932, Page-  269
  42. Mahadevbhaini Diary, Vol. II, pp. 155
  43. VOL. 58 : 16 NOVEMBER, 1932 - 12 JANUARY, 1933, Page-  205
  44. VOL. 58 : 16 NOVEMBER, 1932 - 12 JANUARY, 1933, Page-  222
  45. VOL. 58 : 16 NOVEMBER, 1932 - 12 JANUARY, 1933, Page-  304
  46. VOL. 59 : 13 JANUARY, 1933 - 9 MARCH, 1933, Page-  340
  47. VOL. 59 : 13 JANUARY, 1933 - 9 MARCH, 1933, Page-  486
  48. VOL. 60 : 10 MARCH, 1933 - 26 APRIL, 1933, Page-  275
  49. VOL. 60 : 10 MARCH, 1933 - 26 APRIL, 1933, Page-  344
  50. VOL. 60 : 10 MARCH, 1933 - 26 APRIL, 1933, Page-  441
  51. VOL. 60 : 10 MARCH, 1933 - 26 APRIL, 1933, Page-  447
  52. The Hindu, 24-4-1933 
  53. VOL. 61: 27 APRIL, 1933- 7 OCTOBER, 1933, Page-  263
  54. VOL. 61: 27 APRIL, 1933- 7 OCTOBER, 1933, Page-  268
  55. VOL. 61: 27 APRIL, 1933- 7 OCTOBER, 1933, Page-  411
  56. VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934, Page-  61
  57. VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934, Page-  176
  58. VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934, Page-  210
  59. VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934, Page-  256
  60. The Hindustan Times, 14-12-1933
  61. Harijan, 9-2-1934
  62. VOL. 63 : 18 JANUARY, 1934 - 19 MAY, 1934, Page-  344
  63. The Hindu, 26-7-1934
  64. Harijanbandhu, 15-7-1934
  65. Harijan, 3-8-1934
  66. VOL. 64 : 20 MAY, 1934 - 15 SEPTEMBER, 1934, Page-  339
  67. VOL. 64 : 20 MAY, 1934 - 15 SEPTEMBER, 1934, Page-  361
  68. The Hindu, 21-9-1934
  69. VOL. 65 : 16 SEPTEMBER, 1934 - 15 DECEMBER, 1934, Page-  156
  70. VOL. 65 : 16 SEPTEMBER, 1934 - 15 DECEMBER, 1934, Page-  203
  71. VOL. 65 : 16 SEPTEMBER, 1934 - 15 DECEMBER, 1934, Page-  241
  72. VOL. 65 : 16 SEPTEMBER, 1934 - 15 DECEMBER, 1934, Page-  249
  73. VOL. 65 : 16 SEPTEMBER, 1934 - 15 DECEMBER, 1934, Page-  347
  74. The Hindustan Times, 22-1-1935
  75. Harijan, 1-3-1935



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