Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No- 09404955338



Farmers and Mahatma Gandhi


Farmer is a person engaged in agriculture work and lives in villages.  Who raises living organisms for food or raw materials? A farmer might own the farmed land or might work as a labourer on land owned by others, but in advanced economies, a farmer is usually a farm owner. Mahatma Gandhi loved farmers very much. But he worried their problem. He wanted to improve their economical condition. He wanted to pick out them from social evils. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “I for one am a farmer and I wish you all to become farmers, or to continue as such if you have already become farmers. My way of life has completely changed here. The whole day is spent in digging the land and other manual labour instead of in writing and explaining things to people. I prefer this work and consider this alone to be my duty.”1 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Of course the farmer is the father of the world. But it is his greatness that he is not aware of the fact. Those who devote themselves to good works of any worth are not aware of their own goodness. Just as we breathe every moment but are not aware of the fact, so are good people by their very nature impelled to give expression to their goodness. They are not conscious that they deserve any credit. They do not care to be honoured.”2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “A farmer cannot work without applying his mind. He must be able to test the nature of his soil, must watch changes of weather, must know how to manipulate his plough skillfully and be generally familiar with the movements of the stars, the sun and the moon. The farmer knows enough of astronomy, geography and geology to serve his needs. He has to feed his children and has, therefore, some idea of the duties of man, and, residing as he does in the vast open spaces of this earth, he naturally becomes aware of the greatness of God. Physically, it goes without saying, he is always sturdy. He is his own physician, when ill. Thus, we can see, he does have an educated mind.”3 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “A farmer should not go about from place to place. A farmer’s son would be violating his dharma if he were to neglect sowings that he might go and see his father. You have spread your fragrance there; it must be that some good deeds of yours and mine are now bearing their fruit.”4

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Agricultural work will be difficult till some land has been obtained. Perhaps it will be best to drop it for the time being. The man who teaches us should be one who has himself been a successful farmer.”5 The term farmer usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops and related of plants. Their products might be sold in market. In a subsistence economy, farm products might to some extent be either consumed by the farmer's family.  Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “India lives in farmers’ huts. The weavers’ skill is a reminder of India’s glory, and so I feel proud in describing myself as a farmer and weaver.”6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “An illiterate farmer can represent the difficulties of the agricultural classes much better than an Indian learned but without experience in that particular field. I wish; therefore, to see an ever-increasing number of delegates from among farmers, weavers, carpenters, blacksmiths, shoe-makers and other such groups. I, for one, think that no substantial progress in the country is possible so long as patriotic farmers do not attend our political and social conferences in numbers proportionate to their numerical strength. The understanding of farmers’ conditions which, through direct experience, I acquired in few months in Champaran1 and Kheda cannot be had from any number of books.”7 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Go and give the message from this farmer Gandhi to other farmers that he has asked them not to steal and not to gamble. Their duty is to grow corn and sell it at reasonable prices. They may not sell at a loss, but it is not right for a cultivator to make unduly large profits like a miserly trader. They will find theirs a worth-while profession only if they save themselves from this.”8

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “The Indian farmer is responsible for his own ruin in that he has indolently neglected cotton culture which was once so good.”9 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “When a farmer wants to sow, he removes the weeds and pebbles from the field, ploughs it and makes the soil even. If, even after he has done all this, he goes on turning things this way and that in the field, he will be simply wasting his time. Nor will it be proper for him to make the same experiments in another field without first watching their effects in the first one. Those of you who are farmers will understand the point. From among the plants which grow from the seeds sown by him, a farmer will pluck out those which are of indifferent quality, sallow, or lifeless. Even from the crop of wheat which he has harvested, he will stock the best portion as seed and will reap a better harvest every year. We have succeeded in enlarging the area; now we should address ourselves to improving the strength and quality.”10

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “In India, no farmer can have enough to live on without some small extra income and he can get it only through spinning. Weaving will not serve the purpose, for it cannot be done only in spare time.”11 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “It is indeed true that agriculture involves the destruction of countless insects. But another statement, equally true, is that the process of living, even respiration, involves violence of the same kind. But just as by committing suicide one does not completely get rid of the body, so also by refusing to take up agriculture one does not abolish it. A human being is made of earth. His body springs from the earth and derives its sustenance from the various forms which earth takes. Anyone who lives by begging his food in order to avoid the sin that is involved in agriculture commits a twofold sin. He is guilty of the sin involved in agriculture since the food which he begs was produced by the labour of some farmer. He who fills his stomach by begging shares the sin of which that farmer is guilty by virtue of his farming. Secondly, he is guilty of the sin of harbouring ignorance and the indolence which results from it.”12

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Those who see the poverty of India and feel grieved should probe under the surface and find its real cause. It is not as if it were slowly decreasing. It is growing, in spite of hospitals, schools, metalled roads and railways. In spite of all these you find the people are being ground down as between two millstones. They live in enforced idleness. A century ago every cottage was able to replenish its resources by means of the spinning wheel. Now every farmer, scratching the earth only a few inches deep with the wooden plough, works in the season of cultivation. But he cannot do much work in the other seasons of the year.”13 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Self-help means the ability to stand on one’s own feet without help from others. This does not mean that one should be indifferent to such help, or decline it when offered or never desire it or ask for it. But a farmer who, though wanting and seeking others’ help, can preserve his composure and self-respect when it is refused, is a man of self-help. A farmer who, though he can get others’ help, himself attends to all the operations of tilling the land, sowing and reaping, himself makes the required implements, himself weaves cloth for his use from yarn spun by himself, stitches his own clothes, cooks his own food and labours to build a house for himself such a farmer is either stupid or self-conceited or is just a savage.”14

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “The farmer sleeps in the field. Are you or the British officer ever likely to sleep there? But who cares for the poor man’s feelings? What joy does he get out of life? He has to work in the field from early morning. So he also spreads his bed there. He may die of snakebite. But the farmer leads such a life by compulsion. If it is at all called sacrifice on his part, it is sacrifice forced on him. It is not as though he refused to travel by train; if someone provided him the opportunity, he would travel. But if he leads his particular kind of life in full knowledge of it, his life would indeed be blessed. Some sages lead a life like this farmer, or like Jada Bharat. But in their case they have taken to such life purposely.”15 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “I have nowhere described the unavoidable destruction of life that a farmer has to commit in pursuit of his calling as ahimsa. One may regard such destruction of life as unavoidable and condone it as such, but it cannot be spelt otherwise than as himsa. The underlying motive with the farmer is to subserve his own interest or, say, that of society. Ahimsa on the other hand rules out such interested destruction. But the killing of the calf was undertaken for the sake of the dumb animal itself. Anyway its good was the only motive.”16

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Every farmer will utilize in his own fields the excreta of his own family, so that no one will find anyone else being a burden to him and everyone will go on enriching his own crop.”17 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “We must clear our field of weeds; but he who lets his field lie fallow after weeding it wastes his effort and unwanted grass grows in it again. However, he who sows his field after weeding it is a wise farmer and becomes prosperous. In exactly the same way, if we do not sow seeds in the form of constructive activity, the weeding in the form of the past twelve months’ non-violent movement will go waste.”18 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Ancient ploughs are used as well as modern improved models; water is pumped from wells by methods which can be followed in villages. We are rather partial to ancient implements which are suitable for the poor farmer. They may be susceptible of some slight improvement, but nothing definite can be said about it, as the Ashram has not the time to apply its mind to the subject.”19

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Every farmer ought to use his hands and feet fully, especially the hands. In a country where the farmers have no subsidiary industry, they become almost like animals. If the company of animals is necessary, the experience of using tools is equally necessary. If all men cultivated manual skill, then even if the population went on increasing, within limits, everybody would have enough food to eat, cloth to cover his or her body with and protection against heat and cold in a home. Remember the meaning of varnadharma which I have been explaining these days.”20 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “If you take a farmer to a field in the vicinity of Bochasan, he will show you a few varieties of eatable leafy vegetables. Some of these grow like grass—they are in fact grass. It will serve your purpose even if you get ten or twenty leaves. The people there are bound to have seeds of leafy vegetables. Which house will not have fenugreek, mustard and coriander seeds?”21

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “Every farmer should have his own cow.”22 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “The farmer needs to know that his first business is to grow for his own needs. When he does that, he will reduce the chance of a low market ruining him.”23

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “It is quite impossible for an individual farmer to look after the welfare of his cattle in his own home in a proper and scientific manner. Amongst other causes lack of collective effort has been a principal cause of the deterioration of the cow and hence of cattle in general.  The world today is moving towards the ideal of collective or cooperative effort in every department of life. Much in this line has been and is being accomplished. It has come into our country also, but in such a distorted form that our poor have not been able to reap its benefits. Pari passu with the increase in our population land-holdings of the average farmer are daily decreasing. Moreover, what the individual possesses is often fragmentary.2 For such farmers to keep cattle in their homes is a suicidal policy; and yet this is their condition today. Those who give the first place to economics and pay scant attention to religious, ethical or humanitarian considerations proclaim from the house-tops that the farmer is being devoured by his cattle due to the cost of their feed which is out of all proporation to what they yield. They say it is folly not to slaughter wholesale all useless animals.”24

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; Under the collective system no farmer can keep cattle in his house as he does today. They foul the air and dirty the surroundings. There is neither intelligence nor humanitarianism in living with animals. Man was not meant to do so. The space taken up by the cattle today would be spared to the farmer and his family if the collective system were adopted. As the number of cattle increases, life becomes impossible for the farmer in his home. Hence he is obliged to sell the calves and kill the male buffaloes or else turn them out to starve and die. This inhumanity would be averted, if the care of cattle were undertaken on a co-operative basis. Collective cattle-farming would ensure the supply of veterinary treatment to animals when they are ill. No ordinary farmer can afford this on his own. The sale of milk at good prices will be greatly facilitated, and there will be no need or temptation for the farmer to adulterate it as he does as an individual.”24

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about farmers; “I am sorry to read about the bullock. I think the bullock is like a son to the farmer. Animal husbandry is a difficult science. Agriculture can be fruitful only through co-operation. The larger part of it should involve manual labour. I have advised them in Noakhali to clear the fields by manual labour. Bullocks are scarce there. A large number of them were slaughtered. My advice will be that no new bullocks should be bought. How long can they go on buying bullocks? This whole question needs consideration.”25 India is an agriculture country. More than 60% of its population directly or indirectly depends upon it. Maximum agriculture is depending on monsoon. There are great problems of draught and huge rains.





  1. LETTER TO MAGANLAL GANDHI; August 21, 1910
  2. Indian Opinion, 3-12-1910
  3. VOL. 13 : 12 MARCH, 1913 - 25 DECEMBER, 1913; Page- 64
  4. LETTER TO MAGANLAL GANDHI; January 11, 1915
  5. VOL. 15: 21 MAY, 1915 - 31 AUGUST, 1917; Page-  417
  6. VOL. 18 : 1 MAY, 1919 - 28 SEPTEMBER, 1919; Page-  345
  7. VOL. 21 : 1 JULY, 1920 - 21 NOVEMBER, 1920; Page-  165
  8. Navajivan, 1-5-1921
  9. Young India, 8-12-1921
  10. Navajivan, 3-8-1924
  11. VOL.31: 22 MARCH, 1925 -15 JUNE, 1925; Page-  331
  12. Navajivan, 20-9-1925
  13. VOL. 34: 11 FEBRUARY, 1926 - 1 APRIL, 1926; Page-  399
  14. VOL. 34: 11 FEBRUARY, 1926 - 1 APRIL, 1926; Page-  471
  15. VOL. 37: 11 NOVEMBER, 1926 - 1 JANUARY, 1927; Page-  473
  16. VOL. 43: 10 SEPTEMBER, 1928 - 14 JANUARY, 1929; Page-  109
  17. VOL. 47: 1 SEPTEMBER, 1929 - 20 NOVEMBER, 1929; Page-  121
  18. Navajivan, 15-3-1931
  19. VOL. 56: 16 JUNE, 1932 - 4 SEPTEMBER, 1932; Page-  185
  20. VOL. 60: 10 MARCH, 1933 - 26 APRIL, 1933; Page-  9
  21. LETTER TO VASUMATI PANDIT; March 15/16, 1935
  22. Harijanbandhu, 2-5-1937
  23. VOL. 81: 18 AUGUST, 1941 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1942; Page-  359
  24. Harijan, 15-2-1942
  25. LETTER TO BALVANTSINHA; July 24, 1947




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