Category Archives: Collected works of Gandhiji

Mahatma Gandhi and Patanjali

Mahatma Gandi followed the example of saintly persons before him in founding asramas or hermitage.  People residing in these asramas were supposed to follow broadly the yamas and niyamas laid down in the Yogasutra attributed to Patanjali, which constitute the first two of the eight “limbs” of the system of yoga described therein.  And of course Mahatma Gandhi himself tried to manifest them in his life as far as possible.  He is indeed well-known the world over for his espousal of non-violence (ahimsa) and truth (satya) and also known, specially in India, for his espousal of celibacy (brahmacarya).  These are listed among the five yamas in the Yogasutra (II.30).

Towards the end of his life, when the political situation in Indiabegan to slip out of his control, he wondered if he had rally perfected these virtues.  He tried to test, for instance, his commitment to celibacy, upon his failure to control the communal conflagration which was engulfing the country.  However, according to the Yogasutra, the fruit of celibacy is indefatigability (II.38).  The ability to pacify is the fruit of observing ahimsa or non-violence (II.35): tat sannidhau vairatyaagah.  Was Mahatma Gandhi testing himself for the wrong virtue?– Prof. Arvind Sharma, McGillUniversity. Chips from an Indic Workshop. MLBD [Motilal Banarsidass] Newsletter, July 2011. p. 16

More questions

Whenever I receive MLBD Newsletter, the first matter that I will read is Prof. Sharma’s scholarly article: Chips from an Indic Workshop.  He is one of the present day (modern) scholar on Hinduism whose views always helps me to resolve several complicated issues related with Hinduism that too comparing and applying to various other fields of subject, like dialogue, political, social etc. causes.

So when I received July 2011 issue of MLBD Newsletter, as usual with much interest I read the above article by Sharmaji.  As usual, again he left his own scholarly mark on this subject also.  But this article also raised few question to my mind—particularly with Gandhiji and Patanjali.  Because it is interesting to note that, according to Prof. Sharma Gandjiji set such condition for his ashramites to observe ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’ laid down in the Yogasutra attributed to Patanjali.?  Because as a great admirer of Gandhiji I read with a real interest to learn through the life of Gandhiji.  But I am not sure whether Ganndhiji ever set those rules of ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’ strictly based on Patanjali’s terms and aim or just he took those virtues independently from Patanjali’s reference and frame work of eight limbs of yoga system described in his Yoga Sutra?  Because I read Gandhiji’s Autobiography and don’t remember he ever mentioned about this there. [I have to recheck the book again].  At present I have started the reading the Collected Work of Gandhiji (100 volumes) and now I am reading only 9th volume.  So immediately I cannot referrer to the volume in which this point is referred.

Now the questions that come to my minds are:

  1. Did Gandhiji ever read Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and then based on its terms of reference set those rules of ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’.?  And if he ever read and used ‘yama and ‘niyama’ only based on them, yet are we sure he understood them in the entire context of Patanjali’s system of Yoga?
  2. Or did Gandhiji, like several other Indians, take certain ‘ideals and ideas’ from the long established tradition without referring, understanding and implementing the context of those ideals and ideas?  Because in India, ‘yoga’ is a common terms which is used and practiced with or without any reference to Patanjali YogaSutra.  For examples doing all kinds of  ‘asana’ are called as ‘doing yoga’. Various asanas used by all the yoga gurus are not prescribed by Patanjali.  But several asana centers are flourishing in the name of ‘Yoga centre’ that too with the name of Patanjali?!?
  3. The climax of Patanjali YogaSutra is to attain ‘samadhi’ the last and eight anga of his system.  All other limbs were only a means to attain it.  But Gandihi’s aim of brahmacarya and ahimsa are not with that aim.
  4. Patanjali’s fruits of brahmacarya and ahimsa is right in its immediate context of ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’ and overall context of eight limbs to reach samadhi.  But can we question Gandihi’s aim of following those ‘virtues’ by interpreting them based on Patanjali’s point of view?
  5. Gandhi could have used the common virtues like ‘brahmacarya’ and ‘ahimsa’, of course giving his own meaning to it.  Even if he referred Pantanjali, I am not sure whether he was aware of the meaning given by him in Sutra II: 35 & 38.  So interpreting Gandhiji’s life based on Patanjali won’t help us to assess him properly.  And Gandhiji never tested anything in his life for any wrong virtue, because virtue is virtue and when it becomes ‘wrong’ then it ceased to remain a virtue.@

These questions I raise neither to challenge Prof. Sharma’s view or defend Gandhiji.  But as a student of Hinduism, Prof. Sharma’s views only raises more questions than Mahatma Gandhi testing himself for the wrong virtue.


Yama consists of five rules: ahimsaa (non-injury), satya (truth), asteya (p.154) (non-stealing), brahmacarya (celibacy), and aparigraha (non-possession), whereas niyama consists of the following five: sauca (purity), santosa (contentment), tapas (austerity), svaadhyaaya (study), and iisvara-pranidhaana (devotion to God).  It has been said that ‘the five yamas and the five niyamas together constitute all that is necessary for a perfect moral and religious life.  They are, so to say, the ten commandments of yoga.[T.M.P. Mahadevan, Outlines of Hinduism, Bombay: Chetana Limited, 1971, p. 111]— Arvind Sharma, Hindusim and Human Rights, A Conceptual Approach, New Deli,Oxford, 2004. pp.154-55

@. Regarding this that Gandjiji never tested anything in his life for wrong virtue, I may over state my claim, as I am a great admirer of him.  However one incident in his early life inSouth Africais enough to prove this.  When he was credited as the ‘Asst. Supt. Indian Ambulance Corps’ to help the British in their Boar war, Gandhiji wrote the following to the Colonial Secretary, which is enough for me to believe in my claim about Gandhiji:

‘…among the officers mentioned is included my name, described as “Mr. Gandhi, Asst. Supt. Indian Ambulance Corps.”  If the extract is complete, according to my correspondent, no more officers of that Corps are thus mentioned.  It that be so, and if the credit given is to the Assistant Superintendent as such, it belongs to Mr. Shire, who was the only Gentleman in the Corps recognized as such….if I am entitled to any credit for having done my duty, it is due in a greater measure to Dr. Booth, now Dean of St. John’s, and to Mr. Shire, who spared no pains in making the Corps the success it proved to be…..’—124. LETTER TO COLONIAL SECRETARY. Durban, March 30, 1901, in Collected works of Gandhiji. Publications Division.  Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Govt. ofIndia. (1958), Third ed. Reprint. 1994 (100 volumes), Vol. III, p.181

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam,July 28, 2011


When I shared my views with Dr. Madhusudan Rao, he gave the following response:

My comments:

We do not know if Gandhi ever read Yogasutra but if he followed three out of five yamas, that he must at least have been ‘aware’ of yamas and niyamas of Patanjali is credible. Maybe you will find this out in your reading of his collected works.

On your second and third question:

That Gandhiji did not use ahimsa and satya to attain the final goal ‘samadhi’ we will never know; but given the way he has used say the ‘bible’ and read his philosophy into it so he could have done the same with Yogasutra. So I tend to agree with you that he takes a philosophy and gives a spin to it.

Your fourth question:

I agree that Sharmaji is pushing Yogasutra down Gandhiji’s throat. Also he says that when situation inIndiagot out of control, Gandhiji tested his commitment to celibacy. This claim needs to be proved.

Your fifth question:

“And Gandhiji never tested anything in his life for any wrong virtue, because virtue is virtue and when it becomes ‘wrong’ then it ceased to remain a virtue” Do we really known if this is the case with Gandhiji? In questioning Sharmaji’s unproven claim (mentioned above) about Gandhiji testing his commitment to celibacy are we making another unproven claim that Gandhiji never tested anything for any wrong virtue. You may want to question Sharmaji’s claim without making another unproven claim.

I would give the benefit of doubt to Gandhiji that he might have atleast been aware of Patanjali’s yamas as he practiced and spoke about three out of five yamas. But again, Gandhiji was influenced by multiple philosophies and probably never believed any one philosophy ‘in toto’.

This is all I am able to come up with for now.


Gandhiji the Prophet

When I read the following view of Mahatma Gandhiji in Collected Works of Gandhiji, (vol. 10 “HIND SWARAJ”1), I was taken back the way he could prophesied about our Present Parliament.  The things which he warned not only became a reality, yet still continues and become even worst.  The following need no further comments: (Gurukulam, 09-02-2013)


READER: Then from your statement I deduce that the Government of England is not desirable and not worth copying by us. (p.256)

EDITOR: Your deduction is justified. The condition of England at present is pitiable. I pray to God that India may never be in that plight. That which you consider to be the Mother of Parliaments is like a sterile woman and a prostitute. Both these are harsh terms, but exactly fit the case…. It is like a prostitute because it is under the control of ministers who change from time to time….

READER:… The Parliament, being elected by the people, must work under public pressure. This is its quality.

EDITOR:… The best men are supposed to be elected by the people….The electors are considered to be educated and therefore we should assume that they would not generally make mistakes in their choice. Such a Parliament should not need the spur of petitions or any other pressure. Its work should be so smooth that its effects would be more apparent day by day. But, as a matter of fact, it is generally acknowledged that the members are hypocritical and selfish. Each thinks of his own little interest. It is fear that is the guiding motive…. When the greatest questions are debated, its members have been seen to stretch themselves and to doze. Sometimes the members talk away until the listeners are disgusted. Carlyle has called it the “talking shop of the World”. Members vote for their party without a thought. Their so-called discipline binds them to it. If any member, by way of exception, gives an independent vote, he is considered a renegade. If the money and the time wasted by (p.257) Parliament were entrusted to a few good men, the English nation would be occupying today a much higher platform….

READER:  Will you now explain the epithet “prostitute” ?

EDITOR: … Parliament is without a real master. Under the Prime Minister, its movement is not steady but it is buffeted about like a prostitute. The Prime Minister is more concerned about his power than about the welfare of Parliament. His energy is concentrated upon securing the success of his party. His care is not always that Parliament shall do right. Prime Ministers are known to have made Parliament do things merely for party advantage. All this is worth thinking over.

READER: Then you are really attacking the very men whom we have hitherto considered to be patriotic and honest ?

EDITOR: Yes, that is true; I can have nothing against Prime Ministers, but what I have seen leads me to think that they cannot be considered really patriotic. If they are to be considered honest because they do not take what are generally known as bribes, let them be so considered, but they are open to subtler influences. In order to (p.258) gain their ends, they certainly bribe people with honours. I do not hesitate to say that they have neither real honesty nor a living conscience.

READER: As you express these views about Parliament, I would like to hear you on the English people, so that I may have your view of their Government.

EDITOR: To the English voters their newspaper is their Bible. They take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest.  The same fact is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited.….

READER: You shall describe it.

EDITOR:… The people would follow a powerful orator or a man who gives them parties, receptions, etc. As are the people, so is their Parliament. They have certainly one quality very strongly developed. They will never allow their country to be lost. If any person were to cast an evil eye on it, they would pluck out his eyes. But that does not mean that the nation possesses every other virtue or that it should be imitated. If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined.

READER: To what do you ascribe this state of England?

EDITOR: It is not due to any peculiar fault of the English people, but the condition is due to modern civilization. It is a civilization only in name. Under it the nations of Europe are becoming degraded and ruined day by day.


1 This was originally written in Gujarati during Gandhiji’s return journey from England on the Kildonan Castle and published in Indian Opinion, the first twelve chapters on 11-12-1909 and the rest on 18-12-1909. Issued as a booklet in January 1910, it was proscribed in India by the Government of Bombay on March 24, 1910; vide “Our Publications”, (7-5-1910). This hastened Gandhiji’s decision to publish the English translation; vide “Preface to Hind Swaraj”, (20-3-1910). This was issued by the International Printing Press, Phoenix, with a foreword by Gandhiji dated March 20, 1910 and also the English translation of the Gujarati foreword dated November 22, 1909, reproduced here.


CWG Vol. 10

In this Volume we continue to read Gandhi’s visit to London for Deputation and the way he could influence few White people to support his cause and also his influence on them (220,389,432) .  Once the deputation failed to achieve its purpose,  Gandiji returns back to South Africa and continues his struggle.  And in this whole volume again we read Gandhiji’s  ideals and views on various issues like Hinduism (190-91, 398-401), Satyagraha (134-35, 160, 173-76, 180-83, 203), education (‘study for earning your livelihood, it is not proper’ 187)Liberty (380-81) Swadeshi, Hindu-Muslim unity (p. 55, 69 139-40, 187, 337, 383-84, ‘And even when a name is given, we shall have to find a common word over which the question of Hindu or Mussalman will not arise. The word math or ashram has a particularly Hindu connotation and therefore may not be used. “Phoenix” is a very good word…’317), Language: “we must cultivate pride in our language’ (145, 145-48, 172, 183),  racialism (373-74, 390-91),  His views about India and  Indians are idealistic though he poured down his life for them. (171, 403-04, 456) Knowing this he writes:

My present state of mind is such that even if the whole world were against what I have written, I would not be depressed. This I say not out of pride; it is the statement of a fact.’ (400).

Gandhiji’s view on media (journal in his time) remain true even today: ‘Newspaper editors as editors are hardly interested in anything that is not sent to them for publication (p.28) and ‘…We do not want to make a fetish of the journal and worship it….’(p.333, 339,368).  The same is the case with govt. which ‘in order to catch votes, publicly paraded the news’. (431)

Gandhiji was not only an ardent reader, but often quotes the important points from others: ‘Rev. Meyer had observed : “…If a man made no mistakes, he made nothing. No man had not had to regret some word or act which might have been said or performed better,…”(p.236)

Though we read Gandhiji’s rhetorical views on sex (391-93, 399), yet the way he could even discuss this with his son (Manilal) back in those days shows the need to talk about it with one’s own children openly at present:

A person who marries in order to satisfy his carnal desire is lower than even the beast. For the married, it is considered proper to have sexual intercourse only for having progeny. The scriptures also say so. Thus considered, all the progeny that is born now is the issue of passion. (p.26) … I am putting this serious subject before you, though you are but a child, simply because I have a high opinion of your character. I would not place these thoughts before any other child of your age, for he would not understand them….(27)

On his way back to South Africa Gandhi wrote the book Swaraji in Gujarati which was later translated in English to publish in India.  Gandiji’s view on Western Civilization (29, 68, 165-67, 169-71, 394-95)  and all kinds of modern facilities like Railway, Medicine and Courts are too idealistic for the present generation to read and accept.  For example his opposition against processed food which is produced keeping only profit is even true to day (107) But he continue live and practice with a personal conviction against them, though he too cannot escape from the reality of their presence and utility in his life too  ‘Every time I get into a railway car, use a motor-bus, I know that I am doing violence to my sense of what is right.’ (p.171).  In his letter to his friend  A. H. West Gandhi says,:

The more I observe, the greater is the dissatisfaction with the modern life. I see nothing good in it. Men are good. But they are poor victims making themselves miserable under the false belief that they are doing good. I am aware that there is a fallacy underneath this. I who claim to examine what is around me may be a deluded fool. This risk all of us have to take. The fact is that we are all bound to do what we feel is right. And with me I feel that the modern life is not right. The greater the conviction, the bolder my experiments.—387)

And  writing to his third son Ramdas he says, ‘…Do not be angry with me if I have not brought anything for you. What could I do if nothing European appealed to me? I like everything Indian.’ (p.334)

We also read his correspondence with Tolstoy whom he accepted as one of his guru, though he does not agree with him on all points, ‘No one should assume that I accept all the ideas of Tolstoy. I look upon him as one of my teachers. But I certainly do not agree with all his ideas.’ (243) He always maintained a reverential attitude towards Indian leaders (227-28)  His friendship with Hendry Polak (who ‘has given very little of his time to his wife who, in order the better to enable her husband to perform his self-imposed duty, has reconciled herself to a life of almost indefinitely prolonged separation.’—122)and the way he could be part of their life (pp. 229-30 & 366-67 ‘I have entered so much into your and Henry’s lives – I hope for our common good and the good of humanity. Your brief letter haunts me’) again proves his warm relationship with people.  In his letter to A. H. West he shares his struggles openly (pp. 386-88). This we also read in his relationship  with his children (165, 186-87, 338-39).  In his letter to Manilal Gandhi he after encourage him to continue to do his duty at Phoenix (by not sending him to London to study Law but prefers to sent Chhaganlal) ‘As a father, I have felt [it] to be in his interest that he should not yet go to England.’) concludes, ‘While writing this I feel like meeting and embracing you; and tears come to my eyes as I am unable to do that. Be sure that Bapu will not be cruel to you. Whatever I do, I do it because I think it to be in your interest. You will never come to grief, for you are doing service to others. ‘(120-21, 318-19).  He was happy to send Manilal to goal as  he believed that ‘to go to gaol or suffer similar hardships with a pure motive for the sake of the motherland is the truest kind of education. ‘(356-57) Keeping good relationship with his extended family he encourages his brother KHUSHALCHAND GANDHI to spare Narandas Gandhi also for the service at Phoenix.(142) as he alone, ‘among all the brothers … the one who understands me to some extent.’(142)

Gandhiji’s personal integrity and transparency in his life is again clearly demonstrated in his correspondence and public statements.  He request Polak to cancel his Insurance which “has been long preying upon my mind. I have no longer, I conceive, any use for it’ (39) and request him to ‘dismiss me from your conversations…for the sake of the cause’ as he requested Mr. Gokhale also, when he was with him in Calcutta and when he heaped upon him praise that he thought was excessive (150-51). He was happy to hear when his son Harilal was rearrested like others (p.228)  His  open statement when his integrity was questioned about the money spent for the Satyagra struggle: ‘The community knows me; and if it does not yet do so, it is not possible for me to introduce myself to it now.’ (451) Lord Amarpalli’s  comments on Gandhiji’s struggle shows his clear conviction which he never compromised for anything in life, ‘It is impossible not to admire the man, for it is evident that he recognises no court of appeal except that of his own conscience.’(491)

We read a lot about his continuous struggle(216-17, 319-27, 336-37, 339, 342-48, 350-54, 367-68, 381, 436-37, 439-40, 442-44, 453, 455, 472, 486)  and the suffering and sacrifice of everyone involved in it (32, 200, 467-68).

The entire book Swaraj which Gandhiji wrote is found in this book which is reproduced in Indian Opinion (pp. 246-316).  As usual we read all the idealistic view of Gandhiji on various issues like Civilization, Swaraj, British role and place in Independent India, his (negative) views about Railway, Lawyers, doctors,  machinery, education etc.  But this book was banded at India by the British govt. there.

As usual we read Gandhiji’s appreciation of the role of Tamilians’ involvement in his struggle at South Africa and their support back at India. (196, 413-15, 463, 480)

And we also read about Gandhiji’s favorite theme of ‘holding truth’ at any cost and lack of it among Indians. (409-11), vegetarianism ( ‘You know my ideas in the matter. I would have preferred Ba’s passing away without the soup’p.100.) and against violence (137-38, 369)

CWG Vol. 9

In this volume we continue to read about British Indians’ struggle against various laws and Gandhiji’s struggle against the govt. based on Satyagraha.  In this struggle he involved his family members and his eldest son Hiralal also go to jail. (pp. 16-17)  Gandhiji gives four reasons for sending his son to goal (43-44).  As a man of principle he tried to put in practice what he believed. (p.11-12). When writing about serious issues to his family members, he never forgets small things like finance and household expenses by the family members.  While writing about Hiralal going to jail, he also enquires Maganlal, ‘Let me know what you did to dispose of the groundnut stock’ (p.17) and remind Chanchal Behn Gandhi about their poverty (p.259) and console her on her separation from her husband (285).  When Gandhiji’s wife is seriously ill, he refused to pay the fine to get released to go and see her. (p.290).  He was not even allowed to write in Gujarati to his wife. (311).  His letter to his son Manilal not merely reflects Gandhiji as an idealistic father but also caring one with real concern to shape the life of his children. (319-23).  There is a general view that Gandhiji was a good leader but poor father.  But when I read his letters to his children I have to disagree with such view.  Though he was an idealistic but his idealism was put in to practice in his life first—however others failed to cope with him.  So blaming Gandhiji as a failed father, looks too idealistic to me about others view of: Who is a father?

Gandhiji is very clear in his conviction on Satyagraha.  Anyone violating this principle, however great might be that person, he won’t hesitate to oppose their act and views.  This we read Gandhiji’s view about B.G. Tilak’s writing which ‘aimed at inciting Indians against British rule’ (p.29). Though Gandhiji appreciated Tilak’s scholarship and even struggle against British in India, yet he never approved his methods (pp.29-30).  The spirit we also found in him not agreeing with Aryasamaj views on several issues (320-21).  His spirit of Satyagraha is not only to oppose any kind of oppression but also to forgive and reach out those who offended him personally in this journey, as we read about the Pathan Mir Alam confessing his wrong in attacking him and also joining in the struggle (p.87)  For the sake of his involvement with Satyagraha, Gandhiji practically closed his practice and was supported by Mr. Kallenbach (p.149) and many others who joined the struggle have done the same (p.263).  Though Gandhiji is not in favor of sending Deputation to England to reach some kind of compromise, yet he justified it considering the weakness of Indians. (376-77).  Likewise he refuted any kind of accusation that undermined the principle of Satyagraha (449-50; 458-60)

As usual we read a lot of advice to Indians to keep unity among them and be a servant of others. (30-31)  While serving others though we need to ignore insignificant issues, but we have to disagree with others to protect the interest of those whom we want to serve and also for the common good of all.  How we disagree may reflect our character whereas what we disagree should reflect our principle.  While inducing the spirit to fight against the law, yet Gandhiji warns the Indians not to do it (burning the certificates) either out of shame or false modesty (p.69).  His entire speech on this occasion reflects his leadership. (68-71 see under struggle.), which he never imposed arbitrarily (214).  He even refuse to accept anyone glorifying his role as a leader but remind Indians that he is a humble servant for them. (334)  In his Satyagraha Gandhiji not only had to fight with the British govt., but also with his own people, sometime more hardly with much pain to keep up this struggle (pp. 101-109, 112, 116, 139, 237-39, 269, 379), particularly against those who try to create division among the Indians on religious (259-61) and caste lines (291-94).  And to bring the unity among the Hindu and Muslim communities Gandhiji was ready to sacrifice his very life (285-86).  He always strived to keep the unity between Hindus and Muslims, even demanding Hindus to sacrifice their rights for the sake of keeping this unity. (385)  In the same way he never approved killing of English people (the assassination of Sir Curzon Wyllie) to take revenge for Indian cause and severely opposed it (428-30). However it is also encouraging to see that Indians under Gandhiji’s leadership and guidance were ready to follow his advice on several occasions. (146)

We continue to read his repeated advice about the need of upholding truth, accepting suffering etc. (166, 359).  We also read about keeping pickets to persuade gently those Indians who try to take license. (pp. 167-68).  Satyagraha is invariably good (188) even if we fail to get the expected result, is important for us to remember, particularly at present who all claim to follow the path of Gandhiji in their Satyagraha. (188-89).  All that Gandhiji said and wrote about Satyagraha looks too idealistic, yet keeping the context in which he said and wrote are important for us to understand his idealism which he practiced to the letter and spirit (195-97, 213, 291-94, 311, 340-42, 454-55).  He was again arrested and sent to jail (pp.208-09) not minding his personal cost that he has to pay for this.(p.210-11)  And in the jail also he demanded more work than pretending that he is busy in his allotted works (272).  His view about remaining inside Jail, again reflects his view about life quite different from others.  However he glorifies about goal going, even for a noble cause, yet it is a symbol of curse than any blessing, as Gandhiji wants us to believe. (pp.330-331)  His view on luxury and simplicity, as usual reflects his experience and not mere idealism (397-400; 434-35)

Gandhiji’s appeal to the British govt., based on its constitution, sense of justice and Christian faith reflects his noble approach than the reality with British system.  This we read several times. (89)  As usual we also read his own Satyagraha message in the Bible and also in its character (like Daniel, p. 335-36).

Some time it really surprised me to read the way Gandhiji could write using certain words while upholding the rights of Asians in general and Indians in particular and attacking the racial discrimination.  The way he described the immigrants from Europe as ‘refuse’ and ‘garbage’ bit shocked me (100).  In the same way his view on prohibition based on race and partially supporting it at the same time blaming the Whites for this vice of drinking among Indians reflects the manner of his approach with prejudice. How can Gandhiji blame European for the problem of drinking among Indians? But as I too have developed a kind of idealistic view about Gandhiji with a spirit of reverence, I often forgot that he too was a human being with all kinds of shortcomings.

Though Gandhiji is an Indian and World leader, Tamilians had a special place and role in his Satyagraha in SA and later in India.  It is interesting to note that the blood socked cloth after Gandhiji’s assassination is preserved in Gandhi Museum in Tamilnadu (Madurai) shows this remarkable relationship with Tamilians and Gandhiji.  He even learnt Tamil and read Tamil books. (359)

Gandhiji started a residential school at Phoenix and appeal to the Indians to support it. (189-90)  His view on Hinduism is usual one which we have already noted in other previous volumes. (203-04)  While not opposing the practice of following European calendar, yet he upheld his spirit of Swadeshi (p.221, 224) and his reservation of using English to communicate (287-88). His remark about standing naked for the medical checkup with others reflects his concept on sex (273)  He is an ardent reader and at Jail he read so many books. (359)  This volume ends with his visit to London on Deputation which we will continue to read in Volume 10.




August 23, 1908]

…Their Christianity teaches them that every human being is a brother. The British Constitution teaches us, it taught me when yet a child, that every British subject was to be treated on a footing of equality in the eye of the law, and I do demand that equality in the eye of the law in the Transvaal also…[ Indian Opinion, 29-8-1908].—p.89



…(p. 335)  During the last three months, he had found much consolation in reading the book of the prophet Daniel in the Bible. Daniel was one of the greatest passive resisters that ever lived, and they must follow his example….[Indian Opinion, 29-5-1909.]—pp.335-36



July 26, 1908


CWG Vol. 8

In this volume we read Gandhiji’s continuous fight against all kinds of laws (which began in volume 7) of Indian interest, the way he challenged and prepared the Indians for a fight on the principle of Satyagraha, ditched by few Indians, his goal-going, then the compromised that was reached not giving up the Indian interest by conceding to voluntary registration, for the same reason he was assaulted and later accused of giving up Indians’ right, again the way govt. went back etc.  Here we cannot give all the details about those law and all that Gandhiji has written and done.  But reading them is important for us to understand Gandhiji’s service to the Indians in SA.  However I collected those points which shaped Gandhiji as an undisputed leader of Indians, leaving the details of all those laws.

Regarding Satyagraha, Gandhiji reminds the Indians the need for patience in such struggle (18).  The story of Ramsundar Pundit will come to a sad end of his betrayal (18, 61-62).  However it is also important for us to understand Gandhiji’s defence for the ‘cause’ for which Ram Sunder was honored first: ‘The honour that we accorded was not to an individual, but to the qualities of truth and courage which we attributed to him.’ (80) Gandhiji continued to write and publish the names who ditched Indians which caused him much pain (20).  Several times we read about the un-Christian and lack of justice in British govt. acts (26).  Though He was critical about British govt. on several issues, he never failed to appreciate them for their excellent service like that of G. U. Pope. (121) or the support of Whites for his struggle.  He even hosted a dinner to honor them for their support for Indian cause. (213-15). In the same way, he ‘glorified’ the role of Chinese in their struggle for the rights of the Asians: ‘But for you, we would have lost. But we revere you especially for your good qualities of character, which, we believe, (p. 237) ennobled our campaign, with the result that Asiatic communities are treated today with respect. You combine courage with courtesy and humility, on account of which all of us bear you love and want to seek your guidance.’ (pp. 237-38).  However at the end of this meeting, as per his nature, he didn’t forget to impart his teaching that, ‘It would be a good thing for the Asiatics not to be flattered by these compliments. There are yet many tasks ahead. If we fail in these, there will be a set-back. It is necessary we maintain the utmost courtesy, humility and truth. We cannot do so unless we are pure in our hearts [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 28-3-1908, 114. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, CHINESE MEETING—pp.237-38]

Gandhiji’s idealism of Satyagraha is at one’s personal cost.  However his concern about the suffering and need of those who involve in such struggle and helping in their need by suggesting to use their ‘services…for some public work project’ is remarkable one(p.29).  We began to hear about Gandhiji’s spirit of Swadeshi from this volume.  And it starts in finding proper Gujarati terms to replace English words.  And according to Gandhiji, ‘respect our own language, speak it well and use in it as few foreign words as possible—this is also a part of patriotism.’ (p.32)  I think every sensible person will agree with him. It is interesting to note how Gandhiji approved the word ‘Satyagraha’ for ‘passive’ resistance (81).

Gandhiji’s view on sex is very strange one which is debated during his life time and also after that.  So reading his original thoughts will help us to understand his view (p.34).  Similarly, the way he links common issues related to hygiene and governance with ‘sin’ might look strange to us.  But this reflects his deep sense of religion which he stretches to all areas of life. (pp.34-35) And Gandhiji always taking a higher ground for Indians over the West reflects more his sentiment towards Indian values than reality. (p.34) What Gandhiji said about plague during his time is relevant even now for cases like ‘bird flu’ ‘swine fever’ etc.  We Indians never change on such issues.  Unless one gets affected personally, issues related with public life are somebody’s problems. Now we learnt to blame the govt., on such issues.  Personal commitment and responsibility related to common cause still remain a distant dream to Indians living in India.  But it is interesting to note how dramatically we are ready to change and accept it when we are forced to follow in line when we visit outside India and began to live there!  At home one is free!!!

Gandhiji’s leadership is not limited to his political and other activities related to public cause, but reflects in other areas of his life.  A good leader should learn more to share with his followers.  Gandhiji has done this by reading a lot and often shared what he learnt with others through his writings. (233-34) Extracts from Arab Wisdom is one good example. (p.35, 236)

The first trial of Gandhiji and sentenced to go to goal begins in this volume. (40-42) Gandhiji’s pleading in the court on behalf of him and his clients are important for us to understand the nature of the Satyagraha and all the legal issues related to the law (30. TRIAL OF P.K. NAIDOO AND OTHERS, [JOHANNESBURG, December 28, 1907, Indian Opinion; 44-45).  And Gandhiji’s letter to the Star will highlight the plight of Indians who refused to submit to the Law imposed on them by the govt. (32. LETTER TO “THE STAR”, December 30, 1907, The Star, 30-12-1907.—pp.47-49).  We also hear about Gandhiji’s request to the Magister to impose heaviest penalty on him which was granted. In the foot notes by the editor of CWG we read his initial agitation about becoming a prisoner (95-96).  The humility which Gandhiji showed even after he achieved what he wanted through the compromise (103) highlights his leadership quality (101-02, 106).  He also wrote extensively about his goal experience, the condition there, food and other things about his time in prison. (pp.182-85; 198-200; 203-07; 210-211; 217-221)   However we will read the way he was misunderstood by his own people for the very same compromise (115-16, 117,120-122) and the way he was physically assaulted and was taken care by Mr. Duke, a clergy (154-58). All that Gandhi wrote about this and his reflection about the attack on him reflects his personality in clear terms.

Though Gandhiji refuse to accept the compromise reached as a victory for the Indians but only for the Truth, yet the way he reached the govt.,  shows the face saving formula where both parties could exist from the struggle without have a sense of humiliation(118). In the same way he reaches out those betrayed the Indian cause by asking them to contribute to the construction of Federation Hall out of the money they earned is notable one.  This will help them to ‘admit their mistake in all humility and be reconciled with the community’, which they should do voluntarily. (123, 124-25). If the Indians remain honest in their commitment of doing voluntary registration, then alone the Indian Opinion will be put in Golden Letters: ‘We sincerely wish to see that no Indian is proved dishonest and that all the applications for registration are passed without exception. The glorious success that Indians will achieve then, the hosts of heaven will come down to watch. The law will then automatically stand cancelled, and that will be the time to accept the suggestion for printing Indian Opinion in golden letters. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.]—pp.124-25.  But in spite of Gandhiji’s enthusiasm and expectation all not well with his dream.  In response to the acquisition that the compromise was reached out of self-interested, Gandhiji said that, ‘In fact, every act is motivated by some kind of self-interest’ (139-40) reflects the reality than any of his personal self-interest as the leader of Indian community.  At the same time Gandhiji was pained to see the way he was not completely trusted and wrote in length about the Muslim’s misunderstanding.  This shows the way he tirelessly worked hard for the Hindu-Muslim unity. (161-63)

Gandhiji’s principle about Satyagraha as, ‘an attitude of mind’ and ‘He who has attained to the satyagrahic state of mind will remain ever victorious,’ is worthy to read all the time for those who want to follow his path of Satyagraha. (152-54). In the same tone he also reminds the Indians that doing one’s duty is more important than think about the result (194).  What he says about this might look very philosophical for many, but for me he looks very practical from his stand point of view, as he integrated such values as part of his life.  Though the word ‘Satyagraha’ is very much attached with Gandhiji, it was Maganlal# Gandhi who suggested this (195-96), who refused to accept the prize money or want his name be published.  This shows Gandhiji’s influence on others, who were willing to follow his principle.  Even sharing about his experience in goal, Gandhiji never miss an opportunity to insist his principles. (219-212).

#1 Maganlal Gandhi (1883-1928); second son of Khushalchand Gandhi, Gandhiji’s cousin; manager of the Phoenix settlement after Chhaganlal Gandhi’s departure for India on his way to England, and later of the Satyagraha Ashram at Sabarmati. (p230)

Several non-Indians also served along with Gandhiji in his seva in SA.  And we read about one MISS SCHLESIN’s involvement.  This shows Gandhiji’s personality which appealed every one irrespective of their nationality. (83)  In the same way he objected to the use of the word ‘cooli’ for Indians from Calcutta and Madras. (169) showing respect for all Indians.

          I cannot understand why Gandhiji has to use the words of Jesus Christ regarding God and comparing it with the law against Indians?  May be, he thought as it was a Christian govt., imposing such law; he has to use their own terms to communicate his thought. (93)

          Gandhiji, though practical in so many issues, yet looks too idealistic and impractical when it comes to the moral issues, particularly dealing with the Indians.  I think this we will find in his whole life.  Merely appealing to the (religious) sentiment or nationalism, morality cannot be imparted to any one, unless it comes through regeneration.  Gandhiji’s rebuked Indians about lack of morality linking it with famine in India etc. are good examples. (231-32, note especially p. 245, 266-67) for this.  Similarly he encourages Indians to settle down in their colony than remain as migrant all the time (246) and acquire knowledge only to serve others and not to earn money (246).  But at present, like in the past, not only Indians but almost all the migrants in the world, done it for economic cause and survival than for any noble idealism.  Either to encourage or to rebuke Indians (both at India and outside) Gandhiji often used the life and teachings of world figures like Socrates.  However the foot notes given by the editors of CGW about the summary of Socrates, as the ‘Story of a solider of Truth’ (Indian Opinion, 4-4-1908.—pp.247-49) reminds how one should approach such writings of Gandhiji. @

@ Gandhiji’s Gujarati summaries of important works had often a contemporary relevance or practical purpose and were not intended to be historical. Here, for example, he renders the Greek “gods” as Khuda in Gujarati. Elsewhere he refers to God as Khuda-Ishwar. (247).

While fighting for the rights of the Indians, Gandhi never hesitated to prevent the unlawful activities of the Indians and cooperated with the govt. to prevent such acts like ‘permitless Indians …crossing over into the Transvaal from all directions.’ (p.257). He never missed an opportunity to request the Indians to get rid of bad habits like drinking (259).  As usual we read about the racial discrimination where Indians and colored people need to pay a fee to keep dog in municipal limits whereas Whites are exempted from this. (259)

Gandhiji’s complain about lack of religious instructions to the Indian (Hindus and Muslims) prisoners comparing the visit of Christian Priests never reflects the practice of teaching in various religions.  Like Christianity religious and spiritual instructions of all kind (ritual and spiritual) is not the responsibility of the priests among Hindus.  We learn it at our home and from gurus and acharyas.  Priests are paid to do the ritual for a fee like any other professionals.   (235-36)

We know Gandhiji’s view on conversion.  However, though it looks he is supporting in few cases (like that of the conversion of lepers), yet his point is to correct the mistakes of Indians for neglecting them than supporting their conversion. (LEPERS’ BLESSINGS, 255-56)

From this volume we will hear Gandhiji’s view on Swaraj.  Though he begins this by sharing the writings from John Ruskin under the title Sarvodaya, yet he used this article to share his ideals about Swaraj.  So it is important for us to read what all he said about Swaraj beginning from this volume. A summary of Ruskin runs several pages [pp.318-19, 335-37; 349-51; 361-63; 368-69; 383-86; 407-08; 456-60)].  But I wonder who would have read all those articles and assimilate what Gandhiji try to communicate?  Several points discussed with (imagined) illustrations, though important yet looks more idealistic than practical.  What surprises me is the interest and enthusiasm Gandhiji showed not only to read them, but also give a summary in Gujarati in Indian Opinion, with an aim to teach Indians in SA.  Of course idealists like Gandhiji often leave a lot of (written) materials and even examples through their life.  But they remain, most of the time a point to appreciate than implement by majority, though there are notable exceptions all the time.



… It was for this reason that he {Gandhiji} expressed the feeling that Lord Elgin had put an undue strain on Indian loyalty by sanctioning this Immigration Restriction Act. That Act, to his mind, was a barbarous Act. It was the savage Act of a civilized Government, of a Government that dared to call itself Christian. If Jesus Christ came to Johannesburg and Pretoria and examined the hearts of General Botha, General Smuts and the others, he thought he would notice something strange, something quite strange to the Christian spirit….[Indian Opinion, 4-1-1908.]—p.26


The late Dr. G. U. Pope1, whose biography in The Times we reproduce elsewhere, was one of the few Anglo-Indians carrying forward today the traditions of fifty years ago. His erudition and scholarship need no other outward token than the monument of works with which his name will always be associated. There have been few Englishmen for whom the people of Madras should bear greater reverence and deeper respect than Dr. Pope. His example is a shining light to the educated classes of Madras leading them along the path of investigation and explanation so that the world may know something of that great past which only recently was sunk in oblivion, that the treasures of literature, philology, philosophy, and theology may be brought to light, and that the people may receive some indication of their line of growth for the future. The demise of Dr. Pope is a loss to Indian and European scholarship alike. His memory will be ever dear to all who love India and those who have worked for India’s enlightenment in a spirit of sympathy for the people among whom they have spent a lifetime of toil. Indian Opinion, 14-3-1908.—p.201

1 George Uglow Pope (1820-1908); did missionary work in South India,

1839-81, and took holy orders in Madras in 1845; University lecturer in Tamil and Telugu at Oxford, 1884-96; author of First Lessons in Tamil, A Handbook of the Ordinary Dialect of the Tamil Language, A Textbook of Indian History, and translations of Kural and Tiruvachagam.



The Indian community fulfilled one of its many obligations on Saturday last, the 14th.

Some Europeans have helped us a great deal in the satyagraha movement. It was but proper that the community should do something to show its regard for them. It was eventually decided to arrange a banquet and to issue tickets for the purpose. The tickets were to be priced and the proceeds spent on meeting the expenses of the banquet. This would show whether or not the Indian leaders were willing to loosen their purse-strings. The Association would not have to bear the expense, and we would be enabled to come into closer contact with the whites. The suggestion was approved by all. A date was fixed for the banquet…(p.213) …Mr. Hosken, who replied on behalf of the whites. In the course of his speech he said: I feel ashamed now to think that in July [1907] I had advised the Indian community to accept the law. I meant well. I felt it would prove to be futile to resist the Boer Government. But Mr. Gandhi told me that they did not depend on human help for their movement. They depended on divine aid. They were sure of help from Him in Whose name they had embarked on the movement. I see his words have come true. The courage shown by the Indian community has won for it increased sympathy from the whites. The Indian community has taught the whites a great deal. I was glad to receive your invitation. Whites and Coloured persons ought to live together amicably. The Indian community deserves praise for the unity, patience and humility it has shown.(p.214)

…The menu consisted of 24 dishes. Meat being excluded, the courses were so chosen that they would be acceptable to everyone and could be liked equally by the whites and our people. The drinks served were lime juice, soda-water, etc. It is said that this was the first gathering of its kind in South Africa. The dinner was not publicized so as to avoid needless provocation to the feelings of any whites. It was kept strictly private. (p.215).  [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 21-3-1908].—pp.213-15



… Jesus Christ had said that no man had seen God because He was a spirit. Similarly it was not possible to describe in words the underlying spirit of the Act. Every Indian felt that spirit, and having felt it shunned it as he would shun Satan….[Indian Opinion, 18-1-1908.]—p.93



… The task of bringing medical aid to these people appears to have been left to the whites. The Hindus have among them a whole class of people whom they may not even touch. Members of this class are subjected to severe privations and hardly ever treated as human beings. Here again, it is the Europeans who go to their rescue.

…What is the object behind this work? The question is simply answered. Their aim is, undoubtedly, to convert to Christianity the victims of the disease who go to them. But no one is sent away for refusing to be converted. Their constant objective is to treat these people, whatever happens. Is there any reason why people, who so nobly serve humanity and from among whom thousands come forward for such work, should not prosper? Why indeed should they not rule? How can Indians expect to prosper if they refuse to shoulder their own burdens of this sort and forsake what is clearly their own duty? How can they expect to have swaraj? And what will they gain from swaraj? It is not as if there were no lepers in England, or other deserving causes [for their money]. But the British do not depend on others for such work. They attend to their tasks themselves. We do not accept our own responsibilities, let alone help others…(p. 255) It may well be that the British preside over an empire and prosper because of the blessings of these lepers while we live in misery because of their curses. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 11-4-1908]—pp.255-56



We have been assured that the law will be annulled, and [the principle of] voluntary registration has been accepted. That this is a victory, everyone will grant. But in this article we want to approach the question from a rather different point of view. On reflection we find that in this world what people take to be success is in most cases not real success. Sometimes that may signify failure rather than success. We do not exaggerate when we say this. If someone sets out from home with the intention of committing a robbery, and after much effort gains his end, it may be a success from his point of view. On second thoughts we realize that his success was in fact a defeat for him. If he had failed, that would have been true success. This is an obvious example, for it is easy to understand in this context. There are hundreds of occasions in a man’s life when he is unable to distinguish easily between right and wrong. It is therefore difficult to determine whether the achievement of one’s aim is truly failure or triumph. It follows from this that success and failure do not essentially depend on the result. Besides, the result is not in one’s hands. Whenever success (p.193) makes a man vain, he behaves like the fly on the wheel which imagines that it is making the wheel go round. Man’s duty is to do the best he can in a given situation. What he achieves then will, in fact, be true success. The physician’s duty is not to save the patient, for that does not lie in his hands, but to use all his skill in a  sincere effort to save him. If he does that, he will have succeeded well enough. What happens to the patient—whether he lives or dies—will not detract from, or add to, the physician’s success. We are certain that, if we could have had the law repealed without much effort, that would have satisfied us. But then there would have been no question of victory or defeat. There would have been no occasion for us to take out a procession [in celebration], neither would the Indians’ victory be hailed as it is today the world over. This would suggest that the Indians’ victory does not lie so much in the expectations that the law will be annulled as in their exertions to bring about that result. Even if the repeal of the law had not come about, the Indians courage would have been admired in every home….

…. We want [to own] land; we want to be free to ride in carriages. To achieve all this, we shall have to exert ourselves as strenuously as we did on this occasion. If we do, it is easy to see that every step forward is in itself a victory. For we will be doing our duty at every turn. No one will be inflated with success if he looks at it in this light. He will never make a mistake and will not even be concerned about the outcome of his labours, for he will not assume the responsibility [for the result]. The Creator alone must bear that responsibility. It is there fore sheer ignorance for one to be impatient to do things like the dog [under a moving cart] who fancied he was  drawing the cart. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 7-3-1908.]—p.194


47. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, [Before January 10, 1908]


Miss Schlesin1 is an unmarried girl of twenty. Very few Indians know how hard she has worked for the community. She works indeed not for a salary, but because of her deep sympathy [for the Indian cause]. She attends cheerfully to everything that is entrusted to her. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 11-1-1908.]—p. 83

1 Sonja Schlesin; a Jewish girl with “a character as clear as crystal and courage that would shame a warrior”; joined Gandhiji as a steno-typist at the age of 16; made herself very useful to Indian Opinion; was ardently interested in the Indian cause. “Thousands of stalwart Indians looked up to her for guidance. When during the satyagraha days almost everyone was in jail, she led the movement single-handed. She had the management of thousands, a tremendous amount of correspondence, and Indian Opinion on her hands, but she never wearied.” Vide also Satyagraha in South Africa, Ch. XXIII, and Autobiography, Part IV, Ch. XII. (p 83)


1 In October 1908, the Rev. Joseph J. Doke wrote about this occasion of Gandhiji’s first imprisonment as follows: “There is the trial in the B Criminal Court, a great mass of the excited Asiatics crushed in at the door, and spreading to a great crowd outside. The cynical Magistrate with his face flushed, presiding at the Bench; the horse-shoe of legal offices below”. Vide M.K. Gandhi: An Indian Patriot in South Africa. (p. 95)

…Mr. Gandhi asked leave to make a short statement, and, having obtained it, he said he thought there should be a distinction made between his case and those who [sic] were to follow. He had just received a message from Pretoria stating that his compatriots had been tried there and had been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour; and they had been fined a heavy amount, in lieu of payment of which they would receive a further period of three months’ hard labour. If these men had committed an offence, he had committed a greater offence, and he asked the Magistrate to impose upon him the heaviest penalty.

MR. JORDAN: You asked for the heaviest penalty which the law authorizes?

MR. GANDHI: Yes, Sir.

MR. JORDAN: I must say I do not feel inclined to accede to your request of

passing the heaviest sentence, which is six months’ hard labour with a fine of £500. …(p.96)

Mr. Gandhi was then removed in custody.1[Indian Opinion, 18-1-1908.]—pp.95-96

1 Gandhiji was “somewhat agitated”, as he recorded some years later; being alone in custody, he “fell into deep thought”. “Home, the Courts where I practised, the public meeting,—all these passed away like a dream, and I was now a prisoner.” If the people failed to fill the prisons, “two months would be as tedious as an age”. But these thoughts soon filled him with “shame”. And he recalled how he had asked people to look upon prisons as “His Majesty’s hotels”. “This second train of thought acted upon” him as “a bracing tonic”. Vide Satyagraha in South Africa, Ch. XX.—p.96


Asked for a final message previous to his incarceration, Mr. Gandhi gave the following to a Rand Daily Mail representative:

I have undertaken this struggle prayerfully and in all humility believing in the entire righteousness of the cause, and I hope that one day the Colonists will do justice to my countrymen. So far as my countrymen are concerned, I can only hope that they will remain firm in their sacred and solemn resolution. By doing so they have nothing to lose. Even though they may have to lose their all they can only gain in the esteem of their fellow-men by being resolute. I sincerely state that in effecting my arrest General Smuts has done a very honourable act. He believes that my countrymen have been misled by me. I am not conscious of having done so, but I may have been misled myself. In any case removing me from the arena will show whether the position is real or unreal. The position therefore is absolutely in our own hands.[Rand Daily Mail, 11-1-1908]—p. 97


…The impression gained during the conversation given above was that Mr. Gandhi was in no way inclined to consider his release from gaol as a victory to the participants in the passive resistance movement. On the other hand he seemed keenly pleased that a settlement had been come to by which neither side had suffered in honour, integrity or prestige The remaining Asiatics will be liberated from the Fort this morning. [Rand Daily Mail, 31-1-1908.]—pp.101-02


…We have, however, no reason to feel triumphant over the measure of success that we have achieved, neither have the whites any cause to complain against the Government. Even God is won over by humility. It is, therefore, humility which will ensure our success in a just struggle. We must not play foul with the Government; rather, by adopting the highest standard of conduct for ourselves, we must convince the Government and the white Colonists that we do respect laws which uphold our dignity. If, through an oversight on the part of the Government, the door is left open and there is scope for some kind of fraud, our duty will be to shut that door. The Government will see for itself that we do not practise deception…. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.—p.106


I have worked and will continue to work as a passive resister, which means that I must fear no one but God. Some persons are threatening to resort to violence if the community agrees to give the ten finger prints. I must tell these persons that I myself gave my finger-prints twice while in gaol. If violence is to be used against anyone, let it be first used against me. I will not lodge a complaint with the magistrate on that score. Rather, I shall thank the person who assaults me, grateful for the blow from one of my brethren and feel honoured by it. The responsibility for whatever has happened is mine as it will be for whatever happens in the future. No one therefore but (p.115) myself is to be blamed for any of the things [that have happened]. I wish not to be proud of being the leader of the community nor do I claim any credit for that; I wish only to remain a servant. I shall feel joy in rendering whatever service I can do the community. It is my duty to make public the true state of affairs; that is what I have always done. If, under the new law, I were asked to take out the register by only signing my name, I would have refused to do so. Once the new law is withdrawn, I hold that it will be in keeping with our dignity to take out the register voluntarily. Our pledge has been honoured and the demand that we insisted upon has been conceded which means that we shall be treated as men. No one else knows about the law as much as I do and can explain it as well as I. I do not say this out of pride; only because whatever explanation I give, will be correct to the best of my judgment. I am thoroughly familiar with all that has happened since 1903…. I am doing nothing for the community for the sake of reward or fame. Everything I do is as a matter of duty, and I shall continue to do so in future. If anyone wants legal advice, my office is always open. And I shall give the best advice I can. You may accept or reject it as you think best. I am always with the community. I have explained the question about the law, but further elucidation will appear in the Opinion, which may be referred to.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.]—pp.115-16



I had intended to write to you in Gujarati, but I cannot…. [These] things cannot affect me, at any rate seriously, as they will affect you, for two reasons: (1) because I am [much inured] and seasoned; (2) because being at a distance I can take a proper perspective. The discontent in Durban does not affect me or disturb me in the slightest degree. I did not expect it in such vehe[mence]; but neither is it unexpected, if you could perceive the difference between the two expressions. I am fully prepared for it, for the simple and sole reason that, while I have utilized all the help received and promised, I have never placed unflinching reliance on any such helps. At best, I have treated them as so many instruments through which God,  otherwise Truth, has worked…. a time might come when every vestige of support might [be] withdrawn from us? Even then, we [will] continue to do our duty unflinchingly, undismayed, and without being morose. That time has not come, but those who are prepared for the worst can always philosophically take the intermediate stages….


From the handwritten original signed by Gandhiji with a Gujarati postscript inhis hand: S.N. 4794. Courtesy: Chhaganlal Gandhi.—p.117


Furthermore, your view that our offer is tainted with self-interest is rather ill-considered. In fact, every act is motivated by some kind of self-interest. Even in my example, there is an element of self-interest in the service which I render to a friend. My self-interest lies in the(p. 139) inner happiness which I seek. It is the will of God that I should work for such happiness. Knowing this as I do, whatever I do to obey that command is in fact inspired by self-interest, if of the best kind. If I did it so that my friend might love me the more, that also would be self-interest, albeit of a lower kind. In voluntary registration, there is undoubtedly such an element of self-interest. If a man living as a servant of God devotes himself wholly to the service of men or of all living creatures, he is also impelled by self-interest in seeking to be in the presence of God, [that is] to work for nirvana. We revere such a man. If there were many such in this world, we should find in it holiness, prosperity, peace, happiness and unity instead of the wickedness, suffering, misery, starvation and disease which we see in it today.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 15-2-1908.]—pp.139-40



For my part, I am not in the least surprised that I was assaulted….When, in the meeting in front of the Mosque, there’ was strong opposition to the idea of Indians voluntarily giving their finger-impressions, I asked myself what I would do if I had the real spirit of satyagraha in me, and then I declared my resolution that, if I (p.154) was alive on Monday, I would positively give my finger-impressions. I still do not regret having done so; rather, I think that I did my duty to my God and my community….

My only recollection of what followed is that I received very severe blows. I took severe blows on my left ribs. Even now I find breathing difficult. My upper lip has a cut on one side. I have a bruise above the left eye and a wound on the forehead. In addition, there are minor injuries on my right hand and left knee. I do not remember the manner of the assault, but people say that I fell down unconscious with the first blow which was delivered with a stick. Then my assailants struck me with an iron pipe and a stick, and they also kicked me.   Thinking me dead, they stopped. I only remember having been beaten up. I have an impression that, as the blows started, I uttered the words ‘He Rama!’. Mr. Thambi Naidoo and Mr. Essop Mia intervened. Mr. Naidoo was hit as a result and injured on the ear. Mr. Essop Mia received a slight injury on a finger. As I came to, I got up with a smile. In my mind there was not the slightest anger or hatred for the assailants.

On reflection, I feel that we fear death needlessly….If I had not regained consciousness, I would not have felt the suffering that I went through later. We can thus see that there is suffering only as long as the soul is in intimate union with the body. I became aware of the suffering only when the soul’s union with the body was restored.


I do not blame anyone for the assault.1 Those who attacked me (p. 155) would have at one time greeted me and welcomed me enthusiastically. …When they assaulted me, it was in the belief that I had done them and the community harm. Some people thought I had sold the community by having agreed to [the system of] finger-impressions [in our compromise] with the Government. If that is what they thought, is it surprising that they attacked me? If they had had some education, they would, instead of assaulting me, have adopted other means of venting their dislike of me. In either case, they would have had the same reason. Experience tells me that some people know of only one way of expressing disapproval. For them physical strength is the one supreme thing. How then could I be angry? What point would there be in having them prosecuted? My real duty consists in disproving their charge against me. That will take time. Meanwhile, as is the way of the world, people will persist in the methods of violence. In this situation, the duty of the wise man is only to bear the suffering in patience. I think of myself as a wise person. I have therefore no choice but to endure the suffering inflicted on me. My religion teaches me to have no fear save of God….


… Mr. Doke,a clergyman, who did a great deal of work for us during the later stages [of our campaign], hurried to the spot on hearing news of the assault; he suggested that I should be taken to his place. After some deliberation, I agreed to his suggestion. Mr. Doke is a Baptist and nearly forty-six years old… He is not exactly a friend. I had met him barely three or four times before then, and that in connection with the campaign in order to explain the position to him. It was thus a stranger whom he took into his house….(p.156) …son himself slept on the floor in the library. While I was ill, Mr. Doke would not allow the slightest noise anywhere in the house. Even the children moved about very quietly….. He did more than attend on me and attend to all those who came to see me. He also did whatever he could about the difficulties of the community….it is small wonder that a nation which produces such men should march forward. And how can one say that a religion to which such gentle, kind-hearted and really noble persons belong is false in any way? His only object in doing all this was to please God. He also, as was his wont, prayed nightly sitting by my bed. In his daily life, too, he always said grace before and after a meal. His children were also made to take turns at reading from the Bible. I at any rate could see no selfish motive in him; in his conduct and in the education of the children, all that one could see was truth. I saw no touch of insincerity in anything that he did, neither did I feel that anything was done to Please others. It is not often we come across such single-mindedness and nobility in Hindu or Muslim priests and grihasthas. These are not common even in Englishmen. Some nations have more of these [qualities], others have less. Without entering into a discussion of that point, I would only pray that there might be hundreds of Indian families like Mr. Doke’s.


….Though I was under the care of a physician, the treatment consisted entirely of home-cure methods. For the first two days I had nothing to eat or drink. That had the effect of keeping the fever down. On the third day I had no temperature. I started on a diet of a quarter pound of milk, and gradually added to it grapes, pears and other fruit…. I am still on that diet. On account of an injury to three of the upper teeth, I shall not be able to eat anything hard for several days to come. Apart from the wounds, my mouth was swollen and so was my forehead. A poultice of clean earth was put on these, and the swelling has now subsided….

The doctor was afraid that the application of earthen poultice on wounds might cause sepsis. But I had them put on my own responsibility. The doctor is now, however, convinced that the earthen poultice has done much good. Normally wounds which have to be stitched up rarely escape becoming septic. I am emphatically of the view that with an earthen poultice wounds heal without becoming septic. And that is what has happened. I have used many remedies involving the use of earth. I think, if earth is judiciously used, it can be a useful remedy in many ailments. I hope later to be able to tell readers of Indian Opinion [more about] my experiences.


My object in writing this account is not merely to tell a story or to fill the pages of this journal, but only that my experience may be of use to others. The lesson that every servant of India is to draw from the assault is this: if anyone wants to serve the community, and always do the right by it, he must be prepared for physical assaults. If we do not take these things to heart, we shall have more peace of mind and happiness and, to that extent, more strength to serve the community. Such assaults should really be looked upon as rewards….[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 22-2-1908.]—pp.154-58

1 Gandhiji in fact wired to the Attorney-General to say that his assailants were not guilty; vide Satyagraha in South Africa, Ch. XXII. The telegram itself, however, is not available.



People who accuse me [thus] do not know me at all. If there was one person who enjoyed being in gaol, it was I. I did not find anyone else as content to be in gaol as I was. I should welcome gaol again if the occasion demanded it; so sure am I of myself….  [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 29-2-1908.]—pp.177 &180-81



… The gaol has a library which lends books to prisoners. I borrowed some of Carlyle’s works and the Bible. From a Chinese interpreter who used to visit the place I borrowed a copy of the Koran in English, Huxley’s lectures, Carlyle’s biographies of Burns, Johnson and Scott, and Bacon’s essays on civil and moral counsel. I also had some books of my own; these included an edition of the Gita…some Tamil books, an Urdu book presented by Maulvi Saheb, the writings of Tolstoy, Ruskin and Socrates3. Most of these books I either read [for the first time] or re-read during my stay in gaol. I used to study Tamil regularly. In the morning I read the Gita and in the afternoon portions of the Koran. In the evening I used to explain the Bible to Mr. Fortoen, a Chinese Christian. As he wished to learn (p.233) English, I taught it to him through the Bible. If I was going to serve my full term of two months in gaol, I had intended to complete the translation of one of Carlyle’s books and another1 of Ruskin. I believe these books would have kept me wholly occupied. If I had been awarded an even longer term, not only would I not have found it irksome, but I could have added usefully to my knowledge. I would have been quite contented. I believe that anyone who enjoys reading good books can easily bear to be alone anywhere…..[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-3-1908.]—pp.233-34



I have received your letter. You need not worry about me. I think I shall have to sacrifice myself. I do not believe that Smuts can play foul to the end. But it gives an opportunity to those who have reached the limits of their patience and are ready to strike at me. If that should happen, we need not be unhappy. If I have to give my life for a cause which I consider to be good, what better death can there be? If God found it fit to take away Gokaldas, why should the idea of death make us sorrowful? This world is transient. If, therefore, I leave this world, why should one be worried on that account? It should be enough to wish that nothing improper is done by me as long as I live. We should of course be careful that we do nothing improper even by mistake. True, I have not yet reached the stage when I can attain liberation but I do believe that if I leave this body while treading the path along which my thoughts are nowadays running, I shall be reborn and speedily attain to moksha at the end of that life.

Blessings from


From the Gujarati: Mahatma Gandhijina Patro, ed. D. M. Patel, Sevak Karyalaya, Ahmedabad; 1921.—p.333



It is known the world over that the Hindus cremate their dead. A request was made to the Government that cremation facilities similar to those available in Durban be provided for the Colony as a whole, and to this Mr. Diwan has received a very discouraging reply. The Government has said, without assigning any reasons, that the arrangements asked for cannot be made. Admittedly, there have been numerous instances of Hindus burying their dead, but we cannot put up with peremptory interference with a religious practice. We may argue that the Hindus themselves are to blame for not having always insisted on cremating their dead because of the inconvenience in (p. 443) doing so or for other reasons. But it was of their own volition that they earlier did not do so. Since it is the Government which now wants to stop the practice, it is imperative that we protest. A petition signed by all the Hindus should be submitted to the Government. If it is signed by thousands of persons, there is hope of its being looked into. Muslims, Christians, Parsis can all help in this matter. Today one of our religions is under attack; tomorrow it may be the turn of another. We hope therefore that not only will the Hindus take up this issue, but also that the other communities will help. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 11-7-1908].—pp.443-44




… We read in the book Arab Wisdom that he who enjoys no respect has no religion.1 It is by defending their honour over a long period of time that nations achieve greatness. Honour does not mean arrogance; real honour consists in a state of mind that does not countenance the loss of a right, and in action flowing from such a state of mind. He alone can attain to such honour who really trusts—depends on—God. I am convinced that it is impossible for a man without sincere faith to discern the truth in every situation and act on it. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-3-1908.]—p.236



…. The Government have shown their strength in having even at the eleventh hour recognized the necessity of consulting Indian sentiment. The much discussedfinger-prints remain, though in an elastic manner, and their acceptance by the Indian community shows not only its prudence, but it shows that the Indian objection has never centred round fingerprints. We must decline to call this compromise a victory for Indians. were an abuse of terms, but, if it be at all applicable in this…connection, the victory is for Truth. [Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.]—p.118


…There is no humiliation in polishing a friend’s shoes as a gesture or of our free will. But polishing shoes out of fear, when ordered to do so, would amount to demeaning ourselves as menials. In other words, whether a particular thing is good or bad depends on the context. We know that there are many Indians who have mistakenly assumed that our campaign is against the giving of ten finger-prints. But such Indians should realize that there is no humiliation in giving ten finger-prints when not compelled by the law. Doing so certainly does not amount to a violation of our pledge….(p. 122) [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908].—pp. 122


…To those who accepted the outrageous law, we would suggest that they admit their mistake in all humility and be reconciled with the community ….The suggestion about building a Federation Hall has been revived. If such a hall is built, these persons can offer much help. While the whole community has suffered hardships and heavy losses, those who submitted to the outrageous law have made money. In any case, they submitted to the law for the sake of money. It is therefore only proper that they should offer a large and adequate subscription towards the cost of the Federation Hall. This suggestion of ours is not to be forced on them. That will not bring about any sincere repentance. Their donation will have grace only if they offer it with sincere concern for the benefit of the community or the country….(p.123) [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.]—p.123



…However, we  think it worth while to make an attempt to give a partial answer to this question. After careful thought, we have come to the conclusion that, if the plague, starvation, etc., have become more widespread in India, it is because of the sinfulness of the people. If anyone wants to attribute it to the wickedness of the Government, we shall agree with him. It is a common experience that people suffer when the rulers are wicked. But it needs to be borne in mind that it is only a sinful people who have wicked rulers. Besides, it is as a rule more profitable to examine our own faults than to blame others. Disunity and enmity between Hindus and Muslims are sins. But they are not fundamental sins. If disunity disappears and the two communities live in peace and amity, foreign rule may go or the ways of the rulers may change. But there is no reason to believe that when that happens, the plague and famines will disappear as a matter of course.  The chief sin is the untruthfulness of the people of India.

During the plague, we deceive the Government and deceive ourselves. We make an outward show of cleanliness, but do not really observe it.

…Rules are given as to how cleanliness should be maintained. Whether they are such as should be observed or not is a different question. There can be a difference of opinion on that point. What we want to prove is that we base our conduct on falsehood. In most matters we only make an outward show. That has a debilitating effect on our nerves. Our blood becomes poisoned with the impurities of sinfulness and succumbs to germs of any kind. It is observed that certain castes or communities are not affected by the plague. The reason is that they do not make any false pretences with regard to cleanliness or any other matter. They do not show themselves better than they are. To that extent, we think they are superior to those who make a false show. We do not imply by this that all people behave in this manner. But by and large that is what happens….they {in the West} only seek means of surrounding themselves with material comforts and luxuries. By following them, the Indians, too, can in course of time win freedom from the plague, etc. But we do not think the evil tendencies of the West can have a foothold in India.  That means that India will either keep herself free from sinful ways of living, with her eyes fixed on God, and so win happiness, or will ever remain in a state of death-in-life, enduring never-ending slavery, cowardly and fearful of death, rotting with the plague or such other inflictions.  Some people will find these ideas strange, or ridiculous, or as born of ignorance. But we make bold to assert that every thoughtful Indian ought to give them his fullest consideration. Such as they are, these thoughts are the result of this writer’s deep experience of life. In any case, there will be no harm in putting them into practice. No one will lose anything by observing truth and celibacy. And it need not be asked what the people will gain if just a few persons follow this way of life. If anyone asks such a question, he will be taken for an ignorant person. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.]—pp.33-34


A reader from Durban writes to say that many of us are in the habit of referring to Indians from Calcutta or Madras, in public as well as in private, as “coolya” or “coolie”…. referring to persons from Calcutta or Madras who may not be labourers. The correspondent informs us that he once heard an Indian businessman refer to a person from Calcutta as a “coolie” in the presence of a lawyer. We hope that every Indian who has this habit will give it up, if only because such behaviour stands in the way of bringing all the Indians together. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 29-2-1908.]—p.169


… owing to the famine in Central India, five crores of people were faced with the prospect of starvation…Since the calamity is the result of a goddess’s wrath, they feel helpless. There must also be some who blame this on the British Government. We think that all these persons are wrong. It is a common habit to point to the faults of others and not to see one’s own. Others’ mistakes attract ready attention. Let us, however, go deeper into the question.  We are convinced that, though this condition is undoubtedly the result of divine will, the blame lies with us, our chief fault being that we have very little truth in us. It is generally from experience that the whites accuse us of untruthfulness Not all of them accuse us out of malice. We are annoyed by the charge. It instead of feeling  annoyed, we look at the matter in the right perspective and ponder over it, we may derive much profit. The Indians here are not very different from those at home….It is necessary that we fight ourselves. We must overcome this habit of deceitfulness. In our private lives we behave as we do with the Government. The result is that we become cowardly and, in order to cover up our cowardice, we resort to deception and hypocrisy at every turn.

In Natal, we spend any amount of money to obtain trading licences by underhand means, but we will not observe cleanniness, which is the thing necessary. There are very few Indians who deserve trading licences on merits. In the Transvaal everyone thinks only of self-interest…(p. 231)

Some readers may wonder what the connection is between fraudulent practice in relation to permits in the Transvaal and trading licences in Natal on the one hand and famine on the other. That we do not perceive this connection is in itself an error. Our examples are only symptoms of a chronic disease within us. We are sure that, as long as they remain addicted to cheating and deception, Indians will never be rid of their troubles. It would be a great and true help indeed it instead of sending money from here or being useful. in  some other way, a reformed ourselves and learnt to be truthful. If the Indians here observe  in word and deed and behave with courage, that cannot but have some effect in India. Pain in any part of the body is felt by the mind. The healthy condition of a part Was a benign effect [on the whole]. Similarly, good or bad actions of individuals have a corresponding effect on a whole people.  We believe this to be a divine law, and if our readers agree that it is so, we think the only real help the kind-hearted among the Indians can render to their country is to take the path of truthfulness immediately after reading the heart-rending account of starvation among five crores of Indians. This is admittedly a difficult step to take. But it is also a very effective one. After a little reflection, anyone will realize that this is the only solution. [From Gujrati, Indian Opinion, 28-3-1908.]—pp.231-32


…We find that in this world we generally get what we demand and deserve. If we really want to settle in diverse regions of the world and prosper, we shall find the necessary means. Three measures appear imperative: (1) that every Indian should faithfully follow his religion; (2) that Hindus and Muslims should remain united; and (3) that Indians should acquire the right kind of education.

If the first condition is realized, the remaining two will be fulfilled as a matter of course. We believe all the great religions of the world to be true. If, therefore, every community follows its religion diligently, it will come to have faith in and consequently to cherish nothing but truth. If we practise our own religion in its proper spirit, we shall not squabble among ourselves, but remain united. Further more, those who would follow the path of religion sincerely cannot choose to remain uneducated and ignorant. They will find it impossible to remain idle and, if there is no idleness, everyone, whether child or adult, will be busy learning. We invite the attention of every Indian to these thoughts. We are living through times which enjoin us to be alert and wide awake. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 4-4-1908.]—p.245


…Indians, however, must not think of accepting compensation and running away. Those Indians who have settled in Natal must learn to look upon the Colony as their second home and settle there. If anyone wants to drive them out of Natal, they must not oblige. Indians must learn to feel that Natal is as much their country as it is of the whites, and be proud of working for its prosperity. We should not therefore approve of the proposal to fix a time limit of ten years. On the other hand, it may not be possible for us to prevent such legislation. But during the period of ten years we can so enhance our power and status that the whites themselves will think in terms of retaining us rather than driving us out. It is within the power of Indians to bring this about. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 4-4-1908.]—p.246


…The Indian community has a moral to learn from this case. Without the right kind of education, the community will not only remain backward, but become increasingly so. Education in England, the study of English, world history and of the sciences-all these are essential in the world of today. Without them one is crippled. It is also necessary to learn how to put the knowledge thus acquired to proper use. In itself knowledge is only a means. It can be employed for good, for making money, and in the service of public causes. Knowledge is justified only when it is put to good use and employed in the public cause. Otherwise, as we pointed out once earlier and as everyone will readily admit, it is like poison.[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 4-4-1908.]—p.246


…We were weak but are not so any longer, and even if we are, we must resolve not to remain weak. Being strong, we shall fight for our rights and our honour. When we think in this vein, we must not imagine that strong means “physically strong” or that “fight” means “fight with swords and guns”. It is indeed necessary to be physically strong. If the Indians want to learn the use of fire-arms and swords, by all means let them do so. But they will always remain strong if they have the weapon of truth in their hands, and will succeed even against those who have guns at their command. The most important reason why we should not assume that it is because of our frail physique that we are (p.266) thought weak is that the Kaffirs are thought weak by the whites despite their superior physical strength. They are intellectually backward. They are unlettered and have no arts. We can say that, despite the whites’ physical strength, their arts, their industry and their education, we will be able to defeat them if we are truthful. Whatever education and other things are needful will come to us as a matter of course. We can find hundreds of instances of their having come in this manner [to a people].  But we shall soon find that, if we want to be accepted as strong by cultivating truth, we must concur in the Colony’s view that there is a large enough population of Indians here for the present. There should be no objection to the entry of those who have a legal right to come in. But we must put an end to the illicit immigration and welcome the prohibition on the immigration of indentured labour. If the Indians already settled here can win the respect and status due to them, other disabilities will disappear. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 18-4-1908].—pp.266-67


…But whites do not look on helplessly [when attacked by anyone]. They equip themselves with the means of self-defence. If anyone counters by saying that we are not allowed to keep arms or that we cannot have them when we need them, those excuses will not be valid. We can defend ourselves without weapons. It is a matter of training one’s body and of skill….

Many whites are able todefend themselves without so much as a revolver. Indians must learn to do likewise. This of course cannot happen in a day. ‘While a fire is raging, what is the use of advising one ever so wisely that one should start digging a well?’ This would be a well-deserved taunt. But we wish to suggest a measure that can be adopted immediately and will forestall this taunt. Primarily our duty is to search out the hidden causes and suggest permanent remedies. It is quackery to apply ointment on a boil; the infection should be traced to its source and effectively treated.

The immediate thing for the Indian community to do is to petition the Government asking for stricter police protection in localities where murders are frequent….(p.360) employ their own watchmen. Alternatively, the people in sparsely populated areas should shift to more thickly populated ones. Acting collectively in these matters is an essential characteristic of nationhood. We are about to become a nation. But Indians must bear in mind that they are not yet a nation in the modern sense of the term. We cannot become something by imagining we are that. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 6-6-1908].—pp.359-60


Following upon our article2 on the murders committed among the Natal Indians, a correspondent states that the growing prevalence of adultery among Indians is the cause of these murders. He observes that [the cause of] most of these murders can be traced to women. This is regrettable, if true….

If it is true that adultery is on the increase among the Indian youth, that is a sign of our degeneracy. We are in the habit of comparing our vices with those of the whites and if we have some in common, we take no further notice of them.  This attitude reveals how depraved we are. Following that line of thinking, we conclude that the whites are superior to us and that they have attained the acme of virtue. In fact, the whites are generally not superior to us. It is equally false that we cannot become more virtuous. There is no more fallacious argument than that we may indulge in adultery because the whites do so. Their adultery is a different sort of thing…(p. 381)

But the whites can afford to do what they are doing. We cannot. We have fallen very low indeed. We have to uplift ourselves. We therefore need an enterprising spirit. It is a fact of experience that the habit of adultery daily undermines the strength of people among whom it is widespread. The Indian youth, therefore, need to give this problem their earnest attention. If we observe [conditions among] whites for purposes of comparison, we shall find that Purity Societies are being set up among them. Their priests are working actively to prevent the young people from going astray….Let it be remembered that Rome, Greece and the other nations that fell were destroyed mainly because of the prevalence of adultery [in those societies]. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 20-6-1908.]—pp.381-82



….I also see that the objections some persons have to the compromise are only a pretext, their real intention being to set the Hindus and the Muslims at variance with each other. I believe I have equal regard for the two communities. In public service, Hindus and Muslims have stood together as a united people. It is not, I have noticed, the Hindus who have blamed me; they are presumably satisfied that the compromise is a reasonable one. The condemnatory letters that I have received are all from Muslims. It is necessary to go into the reason. I am reluctant even to write of this matter, but it would not be proper to keep back [from the readers] what is on the lips of many and has become a subject of talk. Not only that; it may prove positively harmful to suppress the incident. When the passive resistance movement was at its height, Mr. Ally2 could not continue to trust me fully because I was a Hindu.  (p. 161)

He therefore sent a telegram to Ameer Ali@. On this occasion, a few Muslims thought of sending a telegram to Mr. Jinnah, and the Pathans eventually sent one. I do not blame Mr. Ally for what he did. Again, I do not blame the Pathans for what they have done now. I have known Mr. Ameer Ali. I asked for his help on behalf of the community and it was given. I have also known Mr. Jinnah. I regard them both with respect. I do not therefore write to complain but only to point to these things as symptoms of our mental state. The symptom is this: I occasionally observe some lack of trust [in me] though I have worked hard to bring the two communities together. This is a sign of our weakness. It makes me unhappy. I have heard some Muslim brethren say in arguments about the compromise, “Gandhi has totally ruined the Muslims and has been doing so for the last fifteen years.” It is most regrettable that any Indian should utter these words. I am sure those who say this themselves know that I have never even dreamt of harming anyone.

…Also, had not a large number of Muslims worked hard for it, there would have been no victory. How can it be said then that I have brought utter ruin on the Muslims?

… I therefore wish to warn my Muslim brethren against those who are out to set people at variance with each other by saying these things; they ought to be treated as enemies of the community, and no one should take any notice of what they say.  (p.162)

…To the Hindu brethren I would say that all of us must live together as one people, regardless of the things a few Muslims who are enemies of the community may say. Looking at the matter in that light, they should give no thought to others’ mistakes. They must not answer back. There can be no quarrel unless both the sides are at fault. Let them be careful, therefore, not to be in the wrong even partly. In South Africa, I have only one duty: to bring the Hindus and the Muslims together and serve them as a single community…. I request every Indian to read this patiently several times over.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 22-2-1908.]—pp.161-63

1 This was published in Indian Opinion under the title “A Letter from Mr.  Gandhi”.

2 Haji Ojeer Ally; born in Mauritius in 1853 of Indian and Malay parents; spoke Dutch, English and Hindustani fluently (vide Satyagraha in South Africa, Ch. XIV); came to South Africa in 1884 and devoted himself whole-heartedly to the Indian cause; took notable part in the agitation against Cape Franchise Law Amendment Act; elected Chairman, Cape Coloured People’s Organization in 1892; founder-President, Hamidia Islamic Society and member, along with Gandhiji, of the Transvaal Indian Deputation to England in 1906 (vide Vol. VI). Unable to join satyagraha campaign and unwilling, at the same time, to submit to the Asiatic Registration Act, he left the Transvaal in 1907, leaving behind large interests; vide “Johannesburg Letter”, 31-8-1907

@1 Syed Ameer Ali ( 1849-1928); Member, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; Judge of Calcutta High Court, 1890-1904; author of Islam and books on Mahomedan Law, etc. In July 1907, H.O. Ally wrote a letter to Ameer Ali, a member also of the South Africa British Indian Committee, expressing his opposition to Gandhiji’s continued campaign against the Asiatic Registration Act, for, he said, that would ruin “thousands of my co-religionists who are all traders while the Hindus are mostly hawkers”. He sought the intervention of the Committee against the satyagraha movement. Vide “Ally’s Mistake”, 27-7-1907



To respect our own language, speak it well and use in it as few foreign words as possible—this is also a part of patriotism.  We have been using some English terms just as they are, since we cannot find exact Gujarati equivalents for them. Some of these terms are given below, which we place before our readers. We shall publish in this journal the name of the person who supplies Gujarati equivalents for them which may be found acceptable…Cartoon; Civil Disobedience. There are other words too, but we shall think of them some other time. It should be noted that we do not want translations of these English terms, but terms with equivalent connotations. There will be no objection if the words are derived from Sanskrit or Urdu. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.]—p.32



.…What is the point of being hasty when fighting for such big stakes? The end will come only after a large number of persons become seasoned in gaol, the others remaining unbending, meanwhile. …. No one should imagine that our struggle is not a battle because it involves no bloodshed or use of real ammunition. Ours also is a battle, with this difference, that in it, the right being on our side, there can be only one result. If we become impatient, that will mean that to that extent we are less in the right. Truth is to win, it can be only in the fulness of time. In fact it wins soon enough, but when we look at the matter superficially, we get an impression of long delay. Those who are prepared to defend their oath and honour at any cost as they would defend their life have nothing to lose if the result is slow in conning. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 21-12-1907.]—p.18

Ramsundar Pundit:


Punditji has been released. And he may have been also rearrested by the time this issue reaches the hands of our readers. His life is no longer his own, it belongs to the public. He has placed himself at the disposal of the community. It is not possible for him now to retreat. His spirit deserves admiration. There is a heavy responsibility on him. He is a priest and also a preacher. We hope to see in him the spirit of renunciation. Such men ought to be without any attachments, and naturally modest, gentle, truthful and free from greed. Till there is a large number of such men, it will not even be possible for India to be free. Punditji has taken a big step. We hope and pray that he will retain the honour that he has won. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 21-12-1907.]—p.18


Ram Sundar is no longer a “pundit”, and so we have had that part of his name set up in smaller type. “Pundit” was a title he himself had assumed. But now that he has lost the qualities of one, he should no longer be known by that name.  We apologize to our readers for earlier having showered praises on Ram Sundar in this journal, for having used grand epithets to describe him and held up his attitude to the law as an example.1 We are guiltless for we were misled; we were unaware of the facts. We have a saying that no one can divine what lies in the heart of a man or in the hollow of a drum. We could not peer into Ram Sundar’s heart. We believed his professions and thought him brave. We will continue to do so with others in future. That is the only way for man to live in society. It will be to claim omniscience to suspect one who is apparently sincere, or to shun his company. God alone knows the hearts of men. We can only know people through their actions. We admired Ram Sundar’s conduct, and it was our duty to hold it up before the people. Now that the hypocrite has been unmasked, we have no hesitation in exposing him to our readers. That is our way of atoning for an unwitting error. As far as the community is concerned, Ram Sundar is dead as from today. He lives to no purpose. He has poisoned himself by his own hand. Physical death is to be preferred to such social death. He would have enjoyed undying fame if he had beenkilled in an accident at Germiston before the critical moment when he entrained for Natal. But fate decreed otherwise. Having meanly betrayed the people of Germiston, his community, himself and his family, he has fled like a coward in fear of imprisonment. Even now we pray to God to show him the right path. We have used bitter words, but in our heart there is compassion for him. It would be cruel to hide his fault. There would have been no need to publicize his faults if we had not extolled his virtues. We still need to retain the image of Ram Sundar before our eyes. With that image before us, we should pray constantly,‘O Khuda-Ishwar, save us from Ram Sundar’s fate. Do not give us only the semblance of courage. Keep us on the right path till the end.’ Whenever anyone has unworthy thoughts, let the memory of Ram Sundar startle him into self-contempt and let him turn to God in prayer. We frighten children saying, “Look! Demon!” We should think of Ram  (p. 61) Sundar as a demon, and guard ourselves against being possessed by it. Indians have a long way to go yet. It has been given to us to witness the farce by Ram Sundar early in the campaign. We ought to be grateful to him for that. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 4-1-1908.—pp.61-62]

1Vide “Memons who have escaped”, 16-11-1907, “Punditji’s Patriotic

Service”, 23-11-1907 & “Ram Sundar Pandit”, 7-12-1907

46. RAM SUNDAR, [Before January 10, 1908]

We hear many things said about the honour once accorded to Ram Sundar. We have even received some letters on the subject. Some people say that he was an indentured labourer, others that he has cheated a number of people. There are those who argue that, because such respect was lavished on a person like him, the Indian community is unlikely to listen to any of its leaders again. It was, they argue, a great mistake to have closed their shops for a man of his type, and no one should now expect shops to be closed for any Indian, whoever he may be. There are yet others who have been eagerly waiting for an opportunity to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. We think all these people are in the wrong. If Ram Sundar was an indentured labourer and if, knowing this, the Indian community had eulogized him for his genuine courage, that would have been all the more creditable….The work that he did and the speeches that he made invited praise. It was not Ram Sundar who was honoured in royal fashion, but the person who suffered a month’s imprisonment. The shops were closed not for the sake of Ram Sundar, but tangibly to show that we were grieved at the wrongful imprisonment of an Indian and to bring home to the others the fact of our unity. The Indian community has already reaped the benefits of the closing’ of shops and of the homage [done to Ram Sundar]. What Ram Sundar gained, he has thrown away. The honour that we accorded was not to an individual, but to the qualities of truth and courage which we attributed to him. What happened in Ram Sundar’s case was only fit and proper. Now that we have seen through his duplicity, we pour scorn on him. That again is natural. Such has always been the way of the world….[From Gujarati;Indian Opinion, 11-1-1908.]—p. 80



Replying to questions on the larger issue, Mr. Gandhi remarked: The compromise arrived at is largely the same that was offered by the Asiatic communities before proceedings under the Registration Act were commenced. This compromise will give complete identification of every Asiatic over the age of 16 years in the Colony, and those who may be entitled to remain in or re-enter it. The main distinction between the Act and the identification under the offer will consist in the sting of compulsion being removed. The compromise puts Asiatics on their honour and responsibility, and if it is not carried out faithfully by my countrymen I have no doubt that our position will deservedly be worse than it would have been under the Act. But I do not anticipate any difficulty….[The Transvaal Leader, 31-1-1908.]—p.103


January 31, 1908]

…We will now register voluntarily for purposes of identification and the scrutiny [of our rights of domicile] and the Government has accepted this [offer]. That means that the obnoxious law will die altogether. The stigma that attached to us under the law will now disappear. Under the proposed arrangement, the Government will accept signatures by educated persons and by owners of property, but unlettered people have to give ten finger-prints on the application forms. Though I am against this myself and will strive with the Government to the best of my ability to have the requirement waived, I see nothing wrong in having to give finger-impressions if the Government does not come round. For after all we shall be giving them of our own free choice…. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908.]—p.105


 ..The Government has placed great confidence in the Indian community and an equally heavy measure of responsibility. The demand of the Indian community has been accepted, namely, that the law should not apply to them. The words, “the law should not apply to them”, need to be carefully understood. An oath was taken in September 1906 not to submit to the law. Submission to the law was the only issue at that time. The regulations made under it in July [1907] did (p.120) not then exist.1 The Government has now promised not to apply the law to Indians on the condition that the objective of the law should be secured by the Indians themselves acting of their free will, that is, without the compulsion of that law. This condition means voluntary registration. The Indian community has time and again offered to register on its own. The Government has now at last accepted the proposal and agreed not to apply the new law to those who register voluntarily. This means that the law will remain valid only for the blacklegs; alternatively there may be another law applicable to all…. (p.121)

…There is no humiliation in polishing a friend’s shoes as a gesture or of our free will. But polishing shoes out of fear, when ordered to do so, would amount to demeaning ourselves as menials. In other words, whether a particular thing is good or bad depends on the context. We know that there are many Indians who have mistakenly assumed that our campaign is against the giving of ten finger-prints. But such Indians should realize that there is no humiliation in giving ten finger-prints when not compelled by the law. Doing so certainly does not amount to a violation of our pledge….(p. 122) [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908].—pp. 12-22




…the Johannesburg Gaol has a chapel for Christians. But only white prisoners are allowed to worship (p.235) there. I asked for special permission for myself and Mr. Fortoen, but I was told by the Governor that the church was open only to white Christians….

The Jews have a rabbi to visit them. But there is no corresponding arrangement for Hindus or Muslims. But then, there are not many Indian prisoners. All the same, it is rather humiliating that the religious needs of the Indian community should be ignored in gaol. Leaders of the two communities should give thought to this matter and arrange for instruction in both religions even if there should be only one Indian [in gaol]. The Maulvis and Hindu priests chosen for this work should be sincere men, otherwise their instruction is likely to be something of an infliction.


… We read in the book Arab Wisdom that he who enjoys no respect has no religion.1 It is by defending their honour over a long period of time that nations achieve greatness. Honour does not mean arrogance; real honour consists in a state of mind that does not countenance the loss of a right, and in action flowing from such a state of mind. He alone can attain to such honour who really trusts—depends on—God. I am convinced that it is impossible for a man without sincere faith to discern the truth in every situation and act on it. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-3-1908.]—pp.233-36



…  We have repeatedly stated that, if anyone suffers monetary loss before he is imprisoned, he will have to bear the loss himself. The community can offer no help in such a case. But it will be cruel to remain indifferent when hundreds of people face starvation. We are told, besides, that starvation may drive a man to the meanest of jobs.… If therefore a large number of men are thrown out of employment, it will be necessary to provide aid to them. Every Indian must think of this problem and send whatever he can to the Association at Johannesburg. The next question to consider is what should be done after money has been collected. If doles or allowances are paid to people for days on end without taking any work from them, that will only encourage vice and harm the recipients. We are therefore of the view that the services of such people should be utilized for some public work project.

Mr. Gandhi has suggested the construction of a big hall. It is a difficult undertaking, but worth taking up, and will be very easy to carry out if there is a large number of Indians to help…. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.]—p.29

47. JOHANNESBURG LETTER [Before January 10, 1908]

The editor had invited [suggestions from readers for] a Gujarati equivalent for “passive resistance”. I have received one which is not bad, though it does not render the original in its full connotation. I shall, however, use it for the present. The word is sadagraha. I think satyagraha is better than sadagraha. “Resistance” means determined opposition to anything. The correspondent has rendered it as agraha. Agraha in a right cause is sat or satya4 agraha. The correspondent therefore has rendered “passive resistance” as firmness in a good cause. Though the phrase does not exhaust the connotation of the word “passive”, we shall use satyagraha till a word is available which deserves the prize.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 11-1-1908.]—p. 80


If this is a victory for truth, it is also a victory for satyagraha. Every Indian should by now be convinced that satyagraha, or passive resistance, is an infallible remedy. It can cure the most dangerous of ailments. Our success should lead at least to one result, namely, that we make full use of satyagraha. Only it should be used on proper occasions, and the people should remain united. It must also be realized that there are evils to which satyagraha cannot be applied. It can be effective only in situations where we are required to act positively. For instance, if the Government does not allow us to acquire land, satyagraha will be of no avail. If, however, it forbids us from walking along a certain foot-path, or asks us to shift to Locations, or seeks to prevent us from carrying on trade, we can resort to satyagraha. That is, if we are required to do anything which violates our religion or insults our manhood, we can administer the invaluable physic of satyagraha. There is one condition, however, to be observed, if the remedy is to be effective: we should be prepared collectively to accept hardships. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908].—pp. 121


Those who know the real meaning of satyagraha should not have the slightest doubt as to what the victory means. A satyagrahi enjoys a degree of freedom not possible for others, for he becomes a truly fearless person. Once his mind is rid of fear, he will never agree to be another’s slave. Having achieved this state of mind, he will never submit to any arbitrary action. Such satyagraha can be, ought to be, practised not only against a Government but against society as well [if need be]. It can Often happen that a society is as wrong as a government. It becomes one’s duty then to use satyagraha against society….(p.152)

…. But our satyagraha prompts us to become free and feel independent. We have therefore nothing to fear. ‘All this is idle talk. Whatever you do, you cannot start the campaign again. Once has been quite enough.’ There are persons who talk thus. If it is true that we cannot resume the struggle, it will have been in vain that we started it at all. Let us justify this view of ours. It is a matter of common observation that what we have won can be retained only by the same means through which it was got. What is won by force can be retained by force alone….

…Similarly what we have gained by satyagraha can be retained only through satyagraha. When satyagraha is given up, we may be sure that the gains will also be lost. Moreover, it is unlikely that one will succeed in retaining through physical force what one gained by  Ssatyagraha …(p.153) force the fruits of victory won through satyagraha. Even a child can see that, if Indians resort to force, they can be crushed within the minute. Likewise, if we abandon satyagraha and go on as we did before, what we have gained may be lost.  These examples serve to show that satyagraha is really an attitude of mind. He who has attained to the satyagrahic state of mind will remain ever victorious, at all times and places and under all conditions irrespective of whether it is a government or a people that he opposes, whether they be strangers, friends or relatives.

…Before concluding, let me refer to the latest instance. When the whites held an anti-Indian meeting in Pretoria Town Hall, there were only four whites to speak in our favour. They were thus four against a thousand. But the four were brave enough to express their views in the face of a chorus of abuse from the crowd. In the event, their satyagraha considerably detracted from the importance of the meeting and turned it into a menagerie….[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 22-2-1908.]—pp.152-54


… We have therefore only one word available to us for the present, and that is satyagraha. The person5 who suggested this word would not like his (p. 195) name published, neither does he want the prize. Not that he means any slight to the prize, but being in a way connected with this paper, he does not want it awarded to himself. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 7-3-1908.]—pp.195-96

5 This was Maganlal Gandhi; he had suggested Satyagraha as an equivalent for passive resistance, which Gandhiji changed into satyagraha. Vide Satyagraha in South Africa, Ch. XII.


…Moreover, the three Chinese were given  something else in place of the rice that we got and were thus the only ones to be refused rice. This caused some heart-burning. It appeared as though the Chinese were being discriminated against as a class inferior to us. I therefore wrote out a petition1 on their behalf to the Governor and to Mr. Playford. The order was finally passed that the Chinese should get the same food as the Indians.—p.219

…both Kaffirs and Europeans get food suited to their tastes. The poor Indians—nobody bothers about them! They cannot get the food they want. If they are given European diet, the whites will feel insulted. In any case, why should the gaol authorities bother to find out the normal Indian fare? There is nothing for it but to let ourselves be classed with the Kaffirs and starve. That this state of affairs has gone on till today points, in my view, to a deficiency in our satyagraha. Some Indian prisoners get extra food from without surreptitiously. They, therefore, suffer no inconvenience on this account. There are other Indian prisoners who make do with whatever they are given, and [afterwards] feel ashamed of mentioning their misfortunes or do not care enough for others [to take up the issue]. People outside remain in the dark [about  what happens in goal]. If we were all devoted to truth and remonstrated whenever there was injustice, we would never have to suffer these inconveniences. If we think more of others than of ourselves, it will be easy to find solutions for these problems.  If it is necessary to find remedies for these problems, it is also necessary to bear another consideration in mind. A prisoner must submit to certain hardships. If there were no hardships, what would be the point of being imprisoned? Those who can control their minds can find happiness even amidst hardships and enjoy being in gaol.

Such persons, however, will not forget the hardships [of gaol life], and, for the sake of others, they ought not to. Moreover, we should give up clinging so tenaciously to our customs and habits. Everyone has heard of the saying, “As the country, so the attire”. Since we live in South Africa we must accustom ourselves to whatever is wholesome in the food of the people here….

There are some habits of ours which we must not hesitate to give up in the interests of our country. The (p.220) nations which have progressed are those which have given in on inessential matters. The members of the Salvation Army win over the hearts of the people among whom they work by adopting their customs, dress, etc. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 21-3-1908.]—pp.219-221




…It should make us happy that we have found in South Africa an Indian who could write like that. Being an Indian Christian, it is natural that Mr. Maurice should draw most of his illustrations from Christian sources. We hope that a perusal of Mr. Maurice’s essay will stimulate greater interest in satyagraha among the people and make them more familiar with a campaign of this kind. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 18-4-1908.]—p. 272

1 Here follows the Gujarati translation of the essay. For the English text, vide Appendix III. {484-90}

177. JOHANNESBURG LETTER [May 16, 1908]


If, however, it is established that the Government has in fact played foul, one may ask what kind of a settlement this is. But those who understand the meaning of satyagraha have no call to ask such a question. In any settlement, whenever one of the parties proves untrue to its word, the fight has to be resumed. The Indian community may thus have to resume the campaign—with this difference that we have now had three months’ respite [before doing that]. I believe we can fight now with increased strength and [therefore] more effectively. The same satyagraha that yielded the settlement can also force its implementation.


If the struggle is revived, satyagraha will be put to the test [again]. It will be all the more impressive and, if the Indian community proves resolute, a wonderful spectacle to watch. This is no occasion for cowards, only for the brave. One must be prepared to stake one’s life on the campaign. One must not look only to self-interest, but should instead strive for the common good. What do we own? What did we bring with us [when we came into this world]? What will we take back with us? I, for one, wish to assert without reservation that we must look at the matter in this light, dedicate our all to truth and draw once again the sword that has been returned to the scabbard. Let us understand this and not blame the compromise. After all, men do repudiate the written word and fight one another. This is what has happened on this  occasion. There can be no guarantee against foul play. Nor on that account can it be argued that we must never trust anyone for fear of being betrayed….(p. 327)

I place all these thoughts before Indian Opinion readers to alert everyone. They will also know the difficulties that are being encountered and at the same time realize the value of voluntary registration. I do not believe it will be necessary to resume the campaign. [I believe] General Smuts will rectify his error and the Act will be repealed. But we must prepare to act in case it is not repealed. Let us note that the first warning has come from General Smuts himself.  [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 23-5-1908.]—pp.327-28

192. LETTER TO “INDIAN OPINION”{ This was published under the title “From A Correspondent: Mr. Gandhi’s Letter”.} [JOHANNESBURG]




Though everyone knows that I write a great deal for the Gujarati section of this journal, it is rarely that I do so under my signature. Here is another occasion for me to write under my name. { For an earlier letter in the same strain, vide “A Brief Explanation”, 22-2-1908} When I saw Mr. Cartwright last Saturday, he showed me Mr. Smuts’ letter in which he has said that the proposed Bill was intended only to legalize voluntary registration. The Bill will provide for Indians who have taken out registers voluntarily to be exempted from the penalties in the new law for breach of its provisions. For all the other purposes, they too will be subject to that law. This is double crossing, pure and simple. Though not dead yet, we are as good as dead. This need not be so, however, if our cause is just.

‘The law, it was said, was sure to be annulled. What has happened to all that talk? What has come of Mr. Gandhi’s words? What will he have to say for himself now? How will he face the Indians?’ I hear (p. 351) those questions echoing in my ears.

Even now I say that the law will be repealed, provided the Indian community carries through the satyagraha campaign. I stand by my words. There is no reason for me to feel so ashamed that I cannot face my brethren. I need be ashamed if I myself betray the cause. There is nothing that can be gained through deception. Neither will Mr. Smuts gain anything thereby. It is undoubtedly true, as I said earlier, that there exists a written document.{ Vide “Letter to Colonial Secretary”, 28-1-1908}1 If Mr. Smuts chooses to give a perverse reply about this letter, that does not prove that I was to blame [for having agreed to the compromise in the first instance].

I remember the warning given by a large number of Indians and whites. They told me not to trust General Smuts. I trusted him up to a point. There is nothing else one could have done. That is how political affairs always have been, and will be, conducted. When the two parties to a settlement know their strength, foul play can avail little. I believe the strength of the Indian community consists in its truth. General Smuts’ falsehood will prove unavailing in the face of that truth. To those who blame me, I have only this to say: ‘If you were sincere in your reproaches, you should join the satyagraha movement again. It was because I put my trust [in General Smuts] that I advised voluntary registration. We took a pledge to see to it that the law would be repealed; you and I have fought together to fulfil that pledge and let us now continue to do so. It will suffice if you do this. You deserve to be congratulated in that your suspicions have been justified. If, in the sequel, my trust turns out to have been ill-placed, I do not hold myself responsible, for I had no alternative then. Even if you think otherwise, the Indian community has lost nothing for having trusted [General Smuts]. For we shall gain more now if we stand together.’

To those who were pleased with me on account of the settlement, and who approved of it, I should say: ‘If General Smuts is bent on playing foul, it does not follow that the settlement itself deserves to be condemned. It has been nothing if not beneficial. If our strength is real, we will not retreat an inch. On the contrary, the more the other side attempts foul play, the better to advantage will our truth be set off. Diamonds shine the brighter for being strewn among stones. Learn to think of truth in this way.’ Whether or not those who have been angry with me or those who approved of my action join the (p.352) satyagraha campaign, my pledge stands. I will never submit to the obnoxious Act. I will fight it unto death, even if I should be the only one to do so. I hope Khuda-Ishwar will inspire the same thought in every Indian.

I remain your satyagrahi,


[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 30-5-1908.]—pp.352-53


…. Those who were angry with the leaders for having prematurely called off the campaign have now an opportunity to prove their sincerity. They must make common cause with the others and boldly declare that they are ready to lay down their lives for the sake of the honour and rights of Indians. If the Indian community evinces this spirit forthe last time—for the present at any rate—we have no doubt that we will win a resounding victory….

The sword of satyagraha is far superior to the steel sword. Truth and justice provide its point; divine help is the hilt that adorns it. One who has the use of this sword has no cause to fear defeat. Therefore, brave Indians, arise, and without ado, draw the sword of satyagraha and fight unto victory! When Japan’s brave heroes forced the Russians to bite the dust of the battle-field, the sun rose in the east. And it now shines on all the nations of Asia. The people of the East will never, never again submit to insult from the insolent whites. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 27-6-1908.]—p.406




M. S. Maurice

Nineteen centuries ago one of the greatest moralists of the world laid down his life in passive resistance to constituted authority in what was then a great centre of spiritual activity. The ground for the resistance was unquestionably valid, as it has continued down to this day a memorable and living example of loyal submission to human law, where such submission was not in direct conflict with the higher law of conscience. The resistance had reference to an injunction that a living faith in a superhuman or divine power was to be abjured, and a claim to spiritual kingship over a certain race of people was to be renounced in favour of the temporal power then existing. “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a King.” To Pilate’s question, after asking him whether he put the question of himself, Jesus said: “My Kingdom is not of this world: if My Kingdom were of this world then would My servants fight.” His death on the cross has ever been a unique episode in the world’s history—a magnificent example of what disobedience to the law really meant. There was no question as to the doubtful character of the authority which sought to enforce the decree of death by crucifixion. The illegal nature of the punishment was not in itself a matter of dispute. It was harsh; it was unjust; it was rigorous in the extreme; it was wholly unmerited. But he who found himself placed in subjection to the law as it then operated, and to the authority which asserted itself in carrying out that law, deemed it within his right, in obedience to his conscience, to resist both, but in a passive manner: there was no idea of resisting it by force. A combination of his servants and followers against the law would have been a direct condemnation of his faith. A concerted action to enforce his claim by physical means would have been derogatory to his moral character and to his high mission….(p.484) During the same epoch of Christian history, and but a few months after the consummation of Christ, a holy man met martyrdom at the hands of his adversaries. His offence was “speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God”. He, however, proved a passive resister. His detractors proceeded to open violence. He was dragged out of the city and stoned to death. Upon the removal of Stephen a general persecution was raised against the Church people at Jerusalem. Men and women were haled and committed to prison. Thus passive resistance obtained Divine sanction, and men had recourse to it as the only effective weapon against tyranny and injustice and oppression….



We discussed in previous issues some books in the series The Wisdom of the East1….It contains extracts from the holy Koran, and reproduces the sayings of Arab thinkers on different matters. For instance, with reference to nobility, it is said that “He who disregards his own honour gets no good from an honourable lineage . . . . Learning and high principles cover the shame of low origin.”2… The book is full of rich thoughts having a bearing on our struggle for honour. The poet says: “Men see no fault in one who respects himself.” Then again: “Be ashamed in your own sight more than in the sight of men.” Once more: “He who respects not himself can have no respect for others.” And elsewhere it is said: “Life has no worth and this world has no happiness for a man who has lost his self-respect and abandoned himself to shamelessness.” Under Character, we have: “A man is truly religious when he is truly good.” Under Knowledge, we have: “A man without education is like a brave man without arms.” “Kings govern men and learned men govern kings.” “A wise man is not he who considers how he may get out of an evil, but he who sees to it that he does not fall into it.” On Truthfulness, it is said: “No man’s religion can be right unless his heart becomes right, nor can his heart become right unless his tongue is right. . . . That man is a hypocrite who prays and fasts, but is untruthful in what he says, false to his word, and unfaithful in discharging a trust.” Such are the golden sayings contained in this little book. We advise everyone who can read English to buy this book. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.]—p.35

1Vide “The Wisdom of the East”, 15-6-1907 and “The Wisdom of the East

Series”, 13-7-1907

2 The extracts quoted here have been collated with an English review published in Indian Opinion.



There is another dreadful habit, born of this very sin, which has spread among all classes of people. And that is the sensuality—adultery —prevalent among us. This matter can be touched upon only (p. 33) in brief…Adultery does not consist merely in sexual intercourse with another man’s wife. We are taught by every religion that there can be adultery even in intercourse with one’s own wife.  Sexual intercourse is justified only when it is the result of a desire for offspring. Ordinarily, it is observed that sexual intercourse is the result of passion, the birth of a child following merely as a consequence. India, in our judgment, is in such a miserable state that it is necessary at present for births to be reduced to a minimum. Therefore, whatever sexual intercourse takes place will for the most part be in the nature of adultery.  If this view is correct, it is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry. In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife. All this is quite difficult to practise. But there is no escape from it.  Otherwise we shall find it necessary to imitate the people of the West. They adopt monstrous methods to control child-birth. They start wars and allow large numbers of people to be destroyed and, having abandoned their faith in God, they only seek means of surrounding themselves with material comforts and luxuries….[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.]—pp.33-34



May 14, 1908


…Out of a false sense of prestige or mistaken notions of affection, we think of marrying off our boys and girls at a very early age. We spend a lot of money doing so and then look on sadly at the young widows. I do not suggest that people should not marry at all. But surely we should observe some limits. We marry off little boys and  girls and make them miserable. They have children and get into difficulties. Sexual intercourse is allowed by our shastras only for the purpose of progeny. For the rest it is sheer indulgence.

I do not see that we follow this path in the least. If what I say is true, by marrying off our children as early as we ourselves were married, we only make them sensual; and thus the tree of lust flourishes. I do not think this is religion whatever others may say. I shall say no more….

Respects from


2 Gandhiji’s cousins, the former the son of a paternal aunt From the Gujarati: Mahatma Gandhijina Patro, ed. by D. M. Patel, Sevak Karyalaya, Ahmedabad; 1921, and from the Hindi: Prabhudas Gandhi: Jivan-Prabhat; Sasta Sahitya Mandal, New Delhi; 1954.—p.311



…We in India are much given nowadays to imitation of the West. We do grant that it is necessary to imitate the West in certain respects. At the same time there is no doubt that many western ideas are wrong. It will be admitted on all hands that what is bad must be eschewed. The condition of Indians in South Africa is pitiable. We go out to distant lands to make money.  We are so taken up with this that we become oblivious of morality and of God. We become engrossed in the pursuit of self-interest. In the sequel, we find that going abroad does us more harm than good, or does not profit us as much as it ought to. All religions presuppose the moral law, but even if we disregard religion as such, its observance is necessary on grounds of common sense also. Our happiness consists in observing it. This is what John Ruskin@ has established. He has opened the eyes of the western people to this, and today, we see a large number of Europeans modelling their conduct on his teaching. In order that Indians may profit by his ideas, we have decided to present extracts from his book, in a manner intelligible to Indians who do not know English…. (p.318) we offer here is not really a translation. If we translated it, the common reader might be unable to follow some of the Biblical allusions, etc. We present therefore only the substance of Ruskin’s work. We do not even explain what the title of the book means, for it be understood only by a person who has read the Bible in English.1 But since the object which the book works towards is the welfare of all—that is, the advancement of all and not merely of the greatest number we have entitled these articles “Sarvodaya”.  [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 16-5-1908].— pp.318-19 (& 335-37; 349-51; 361-63; 368-69; 383-86; 407-08; 456-60)



Our summary of the great Ruskin’s book is now concluded. Though some may have been bored by it, we advise those who have read the articles once to read them again. It will be too much to expect that all the readers of Indian Opinion will ponder over them and act on them. But even if a law readers make a careful study of the summary and grasp the central idea, we shall deem our labour to have been amply rewarded. Even if that does not happen, the reward [of labour], as Ruskin says in the last chapter, consists in having done one’s duty and that should satisfy one.

What Ruskin wrote for his countrymen, the British, is a thousand times more applicable to Indians. New ideas are spreading in India. The advent of a new spirit among the young who have received western education is of course to be welcomed. But the outcome will be beneficial only if that spirit is canalized properly; if it is not, it is bound to be harmful. From one side we hear the cry for swarajya; from another, for the quick accumulation of wealth by setting up factories like those in Britain. (p.458)

…If we observe happenings all over the world, we shall be able to see that what people call swarajya is not enough [to secure] the nation’s prosperity and happiness. We can perceive this by means of a simple example. All of us can visualize what would happen if a band of robbers were to enjoy swarajya. In the long run they would be happy only if they were placed under the control of men who were not themselves robbers. America, France and England are all great States. But there is no reason to think that they are really happy.

Real swarajya consists in restraint. He alone is capable of this who leads a moral life, does not cheat anyone, does not forsake truth and does his duty to his parents, his wife, his children, his servant and his neighbour. Such a man will enjoy swarajya wherever he may happen to live. A nation that has many such men always enjoys swarajya.

It is wrong normally for one nation to rule over another. British rule in India is an evil but we need not believe that any very great advantage would accrue to the Indians if the British were to leave India. The reason why they rule over us is to be found in ourselves; that reason is our disunity, our immorality and our ignorance. If these three things were to disappear, not only would the British leave India without the rustling of a leaf, but it would be real swarajya that we would enjoy. (p.459)

…Just as we cannot achieve real swarajya, by following the path of evil—that is by killing the British—so also will it not be possible for us to achieve it by establishing big factories in India. Accumulation of gold and silver will not bring swarajya. This has been convincingly proved by Ruskin. Let it be remembered that western civilization is only a hundred years old, or to be more precise, fifty. Within this short span the western people appear to have been reduced to a state of cultural anarchy. We pray that India may never be reduced to the same state as Europe. The western nations are impatient to fall upon one another, and are restrained only by the accumulation of armaments all round. When [the situation] flares up, we will witness a veritable hell let loose in Europe….

To conclude, the demand of swarajya is the demand of every Indian, and it is a just demand. But swarajya is to be achieved by righteous means. It must be real swarajya. It cannot be achieved by violent methods or by setting up factories. We must have industry, but of the right kind. India was once looked upon as a golden land, because Indians then were people of sterling worth. The land is still the same but the people have changed and that is why it has become arid. To transform it into a golden land again we must transmute ourselves into gold by leading a life of virtue. The philosophers’ stone which can bring this about consists of two syllables: satya. If, (p.460) therefore, every Indian makes it a point to follow truth always, India will achieve swarajya as a matter of course. This is the substance of Ruskin’s book. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 18-7-1908]

@ (1819-1900); a Scotsman and author of many books on architecture, painting, social and industrial problems, the place of women in society, etc; Slade Professor of Art in Oxford for some time; later became opposed to vivisection and usury and interested in workers’ education and co-operative industrial settlements. Together with Munera Pulveris, Unto This Last, which was published as a series of articles in Cornhill Magazine, expounds Ruskin’s social utopia. Gandhiji describes Ruskin as “one of the three moderns. . .who made a deep impress on me”. Unto This Last “brought about an instantaneous and practical transformation. . . .I arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice”. Polak commended this book to Gandhiji who read it on the train journey between Johannesburg and Durban. VideAutobiography, Part IV, Ch. XVIII.

176. SPEECH AT Y.M.C.A., [JOHANNESBURG. {“Are Asiatics and the Coloured races a menace to the Empire?”}

The following address was given by Mr. M. K. Gandhi, Bar-at-Law, before the Y.M.C.A., Johannesburg, in moving the negative in a debate on the question, “Are Asiatics and the Coloured races a menace to the Empire?”

It seems to me somewhat remarkable that a question of this description should arise at all, or that there should be any debate whatsoever as to whether Coloured races are a menace to the Empire. I think that a question of that description could arise only in the Colonies or, better still, only in some of the Colonies. In a well-ordered society industrious and intelligent men can never be a menace. If they have any defects, the very order of the society corrects them. At the same time, we, as practical men and women living in this very practical age, have to face facts as they are and, seeing that questions of this description arise in the Colonies, it is undoubtedly well that we should discuss them and debate upon them; and, to my mind, it is a very happy augury for the future that your humble servant can be called upon to give his views on the question before an audience like this, and I think it is also a happy augury that this hall is so well filled, showing the keen interest taken in the subject.

By the term “Coloured people” generally, I think we understand only offspring of mixed marriages, but in connection with the question before us this evening, the term “Coloured people” has been taken more comprehensively, and has been made to include the Coloured people proper—the Africans and the Asiatics. My own observations and experience, as you know, are confined very largely to British Indians, my own fellow-countrymen, but in studying the Indian question, I have endeavoured to study the question as it affects the Africans and the Chinese. It seems to me that both the Africans and the Asiatics have advanced the Empire as a whole; we can hardly think of South Africa without the African races. And who can think of the British Empire without India? South Africa would probably be a howling wilderness without the Africans. I do not think that the white (p.320) man would have come to South Africa at all if there had been no Native races.

This brings me to the White Man’s Burden as Kipling has called it. His writings, to my mind, have been very much misunderstood. We know now also that he himself has very considerably, with extended experience, revised his views, and he no longer thinks that the Coloured people are a menace to the Empire, or that the white man may not coexist with the Coloured man. Be that as it may, he has certainly shown in some of his writings that it was really a responsibility thrown on the white people, more particularly on the British people, to act as trustees for the Coloured races. But have the white people acted as trustees? Would you consider that your own wards were a menace to yourselves? The majority of people in South Africa, the majority of people in most of the Colonies, have become impatient of colour, and it behoves every right-minded man and woman to think twice before he or she jumps to the conclusion that the Coloured people are a menace and that, therefore, they ought to be got rid of with the greatest possible despatch. We hear nowadays a great deal of the segregation policy, as if it were possible to put people in water-tight compartments. Captain Cooke has written to the papers1 and has taken the trouble of discussing the same question with me, and has propounded a policy of segregation. I had no hesitation in telling him that, in my own opinion, based now on 14 years’ observation and study, such a scheme, if it was meant to people some portions of East Africa with Coloured people only or, better still, with Asiatics only, was not possible of fulfilment. How are you going to restrict Asiatics to some parts of the earth only? Will they be content to have those portions of the earth which may be apportioned to them and which are unfit for white occupation? I have certainly never been able to find any justification for the colourbarrier. In the words of Mr. Chamberlain, it is possible to make distinctions on the ground of want of education, on the ground of criminality, or some such ground. Then there will be no cry of segregation. But from the present civilisation, or, rather, from western civilization, there flow two propositions which have almost become maxims to live by—I call them fallacious  m maxims. They are “might is right” and “survival of the fittest”. Those who have propounded these two maxims have given a meaning to them. I am not going into the meaning that might be attached in our minds to them, but they have said undoubtedly, by [saying] “might is right”, that physical might is right, that physical strength is right and (p.321) supreme. Some of them have also combined intellectual strength with physical strength, but I would replace both these with heart-strength, and I say that nobody with merely physical might and intellectual might can everenjoy that strength that can proceed from the heart. It never can be that mere intellectual or mere physical strength can ever supersede the heart-strength or, as Ruskin would say, social affections. A quickening and quickened soul responds only to the springs of the heart.

That1 is the difference between western and eastern civilization? I know that I am treading on very dangerous and delicate ground. We had the distinction given to us by so great an authority as Lord Selborne only a short time ago, and I have very humbly and very respectfully to differ from His Excellency’s views. It appears that western civilization is destructive, eastern  civilisation is constructive. Western civilization is centrifugal, eastern civilization is centripetal. Western civilisation, therefore, is naturally disruptive, whereas eastern civilization combines. I believe also that western civilization is without a goal, eastern civilization has always had the goal before it. I do not mix up or confuse western civilization with Christian progress. I decline to believe that it is a symbol of Christian progress that we have covered a large part of the globe with the telegraph system, that we have got telephones and ocean greyhounds, and that we have trains running at a velocity of 50 or even 60 miles per hour. I refuse to believe that all this activity connotes Christian progress, but it does connote western civilization. I think western civilization also represents tremendous activity, eastern civilization represents contemplativeness, but it also sometimes represents lethargy. The people in India, the people in China—I leave Japan for the time being—having been sunk in their contemplative mood, have forgotten the essence of the thing, they have forgotten that, in transferring their activity from one sphere of life to another sphere of life, they had not to be idle, they had not to be lazy. The result is that immediately they find an obstacle in their way, they simply sit down. It is necessary that that civilization should come in contact with that of the West, it is necessary that that civilization should be quickened with the western spirit.

Immediately that fact is accomplished, I have no doubt also that the eastern civilization will become predominant, because it has a goal. I think you will see easily that a civilization or a condition in which all the forces fly away from the centre must necessarily be without a goal, whereas those which converge to a point have always a goal. It is then (p.322) necessary for these two civilizations to meet and we shall have a different force altogether, by no means a menacing force, by no means a force that disunites, but a force that unites. The two forces are undoubtedly opposing forces, but perhaps in the economy of nature both are necessary. Only we, as intelligent human beings with heart and soul, have to see what those forces are, and have to use them, not blindly but intelligently, not anyhow and haphazard, but with a goal in view. Immediately that is done, there is no difficulty whatsoever in [the] two civilizations meeting and meeting for a good purpose. I have said that the African races have undoubtedly served the Empire, and I believe so have the Asiatic races or, rather, British Indians. Have not the British Indians fought on many a battle-field? A people, moreover, who have religion as the basis of life, cannot be a menace. And how can the African races be a menace? They are still in the history of the world’s learners. Able-bodied and intelligent men as they are, they cannot but be an asset to the Empire. I believe with Mr. Creswell that they ought not to be protected. We do not want protection for them in any shape or form, but I do believe this—that they are entitled to justice, a fair field and no favour. Immediately you give that to them, you will find no difficulty. Whilst, therefore, Asiatics and other Coloured people cannot be a menace, Asiatics at least have been made a menace in some Colonies…. (p.323)

…Whether he should have political rights or not is another question. I am not here today to discuss the political question at all. But there should be no two opinions as to whether he may live freely without being restricted, move freely without being restricted, own land, or trade honestly.1 British Indians and Englishmen have come together by Divine Providence. I may add, and I believe it is true, that, when the British occupied India, it was not owing to humanitarian grounds, but that the act was selfish and often tinged with dishonesty.

But Nature’s ways are inscrutable. She often unmakes what man makes and produces good out of evil. Such is, in my opinion, the casewith the British connection with India. I believe that the two races, the British and the Indian, have been brought together, not only for their own mutual advantage, but to leave an impress on the history of the world. Believing that, I also believe that it is well for me to be a loyal subject of the Empire, but not I hope a member of a subject race. I trust it is the mission of the English race, even where there are subject races, to raise them to equality with themselves, to give them free institutions and make them absolutely free men. If that be the mission of the Empire, the mission of the British race, then is it not as well that the millions of human beings should be trained for (p.324) self-government? If we look into the future, is it not a heritage we have to leave to post-erity, that all the different races commingle and produce a civilization that perhaps the world has not yet seen? There are difficulties and misunderstandings, but I do believe, in the words of the sacred hymn, “We shall know each other better when the mists have rolled away.” [Indian Opinion, 6-6-1908].—pp.320-25

1 Misprint for “What”?



“With an even mind face happiness and unhappiness, gain and loss, victory and defeat, and so join battle, thou son of Prithu; thou shalt incur no sin thereby.” {1 Bhagavad Gita, Ch. II v. 38} (p.120)

….Truth is God, or God is nothing but Truth. We come across this idea in every religion. It is a divine law that he who serves that Truth—that God will never suffer defeat. Sometimes men of truth appear to have failed, but that is no more than a fleeting appearance. In reality they are not defeated. When the result is not as we wanted it to be, we tend to think we have failed. But that which appears a defeat to us is often but victory itself. There are thousands of such instances [in history]. If, with some measure of truth on our side, we strive for a certain result and fail, the blame does not lie with truth but with us. If a particular result does not serve our good, God will not grant it, however much we may desire it. That is why we quote above a verse from the Gita, which says that we must fight on, with an equal mind, through happiness and unhappiness, gain and loss. If we do so, we shall incur no sin. This is a time- honoured solution. With that key, we shall be able to open the most unyiel-(p.121) ding of locks. He who fights in this manner will fight only in the name of God. He will give no thought to success or failure. He is pledged only to the great task of serving Truth, doing his duty in the name of God. The outcome itself is in the hands of the Lord Almighty. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 8-2-1908].—pp. 120-22


CWG Vol. 7

Out of the seven volumes that I read so far, this one forced to me to read continuously to know the final result of Gandhiji (Indian’s) struggle against the Finger print law and issues related to it.

Gandhi wrote a lot encouraging and challenging Indians to fight against this Law by reminding them their moral responsibility to suffer for general good of all Indians and public cause(3).  And he often brings the religious sentiment of Indians on such issues. (63; ‘Hanuman’s tail-134-35), even giving the example of Jesus Christ, who according to Gandhiji, ‘Gentle Jesus, the greatest passive resister the world has seen, is their pattern.’ (p. 86.  See also the Appendix V below) Though Gandhiji might know the theological implication of Jesus’ death on the cross, yet Jesus symbolizes for him another satyagrahi (passive resister).  Such a trend is quite common in Hindu and Liberal world where religious and spiritual ideals (doctrines) are universalized at the cost of their immediate theological context.  This we could find in Gandhiji quoting the examples of Buddha, Prophet Mohammed, Prahalada, Harishchandra, Pandavas and Rama. (pp.89-90), all who, according to him, accepted suffering as per the divine law which is, that one has to suffer pain before enjoying pleasure and that one’s true self-interest consists in the good of all, which means that we should’ die—suffer—for others’. (89)  It is interesting to note the way Gandhiji often quotes verses or concepts from Bible that well fit with his principle of Satyagraha (PP. 120 &122).  He also mention the example of people from other places who withstood all kinds of hardship to fight for just cause (Russia’s example, p. 96; British women p. 98 &220; Thoreau’s writings pp. 189-90, 200-202;) and also quotes the writings of others to encourage and challenge Indians (127-28).  And warning not to follow the example of few Indians who might ditch the common cause, he said, ‘In this struggle it should be remembered that every Indian is to decide for himself independently of others. One need not look to others….’  (p.100)

However we read about the betrayal of several Indians taking the Registration which pained Gandhiji, he was forced to bring the issue openly even publishing the names of them, requesting Indians not to have any ill-feeling for them. (103-05; 124; 225).  At the same time we also read about the repentance by few (from Memon) community and urge other Indians not to follow their example (113; 176, 341) which according to him is an act of cowardice which, ‘infect others too with the contagion of their own fear.’(p.204).

Gandhiji’s repeated appeal to keep unity among Indians, not to quarrel among themselves and give up vices etc. raises more sympathy for his idealism against the human reality. (195).  It is interesting to note that though Gandhiji always promoted non-violence, yet he was never opposed to violence in self-defense (203-04)

In the same way, however friendly some white might be towards non-White, yet Gandhiji rejected their (Mr. Kosken’s) appeal for negotiation as they didn’t understand Indian standpoint, (120-21) and thanked those among the whites who supported the Indian cause (157). He also wrote and took step to take care of the family of those who went to goal (142).  At the same time Gandhiji does not want to take this Satyagraha only on emotional level but urged the Indians, particularly the readers of Indian Opinion both to re-read the issue and discuss it at home and also raise support back at India too by sending copies.  This, for me, distinguishes Gandhiji from the other Political Leaders (of present time particularly) who want blind followers than trained soldiers to fight for any common cause. (157-58). He also requested that ‘any individual or group that desires to take out the register is free to do so.  Only, they should not drag others along with them…. the individuals who want to take the registration do it without dragging the (Indian) community as a whole…’ (172)

Though this Satyagraha ended in its first phase with a compromise, yet again it renewed about which we read in volume 8 &9.  But Gandhiji and his team members were misunderstood (based on rumors p. 306) and attacked for the compromise.  To know all these development read the notes under the title ‘compromise’ in Satyagraha (pp. 156-57).  Gandhiji also linked the struggle of Indians in SA for their right with the national pride of Indian at home. (pp.160-61).  In this volume one can read lots of material written in Indian Opinion to encourage the Transvaal Indians not to do the registration by quoting several other civil disobedience movements in other parts of the world and in England.  As usual he appealed to the sense of British justice to protect the innocent against oppression (pp.186-87) and wrote to take the struggle to its logical end (p.316).  He also warned about ‘those who submit to the law come to be treated as criminals in every way’ as their papers will be maintained police who maintains the records of criminals (245. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, p.319) and points that ‘among those who had applied for the title-deed of slavery in Johannesburg, one Konkani and one Madrasi have already received notices to leave the country. (245. JOHANNESBURG LETTER p.325)’.

Now a days we hear about ‘doing politics’ on everything.  But when I read the birth day greeting sent to the King of England (p.340), I felt the same.  However considering the context of Indian’s fight against the law it was quite natural for Gandhiji or any other leader to use every opportunity to address the issue.   We also read about the brave resistant put by the Tailors against the pressure by a White (Mr. T. Albert) man to do the registration (264. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, BRAVE TAILORS AND WHITE MERCHANT347-48) and also the suicide of a Chinese who has done the registration but later regretted and commit suicide to save his face. (349)

I brought all these kinds of materials written by Gandhiji under Satyagraha.  While he accepted the, ‘The principle of registration’ yet, he wrote ‘the manner of it we bitterly resent. But the Government wish to impose (p. 53) studied humiliation.’ {This letter to the Editor of “The Star’ was signed by HAJEE HABIB, SECRETARY, BRITISH INDIAN COMMITTEE, PRETORIA, yet it was drafted by Gandhiji.  Except the speeches which appeared in Indian Opinion by others, almost all written materials in The Indian Opinion was drafted by Gandhiji and posted in others name}.

But the way volunteers were posted near the Register Office to persuade the Indians who go there to do the Registration looks strange to the very spirit of Satyagraha.  Though Gandhiji said that no violence was used against them or stopped them to do the registration, and if needed provided escort to them (pp. 101-02) yet stopping those who want to do it voluntarily for their own reasons, against the collective majority will of rest is questionable, (64) however he explained or justified the role of volunteers (231, 275).  It really surprises to read that sometimes Gandhiji also become very upset and expressed it publically. ‘As I summarize this reply, my blood boils,’ (70) says Gandhiji.  But this he wrote when the govt., looked down at Indians.

Gandhiji is first a man of ‘principle’ with which he was not ready to compromise.  This we see in his writings and life.  When Chhaganlal raised his reservation of the high price for the Gita to be sold in SA, Gandhi giving his reasons finally says, ‘The first thing is to lay down the principle. If we cannot enforce it, or if we have not sufficient courage to do it, then we cease to worry about it, and cease to think of enlarging the scope of our work…’ (62).

In the same we can read his religious sentiment intruding every act of him.  For example, in his response to Mr. Honsken’s effort to mediate between the Govt. and the Indians, he says, ‘No action of a human being is considered by the Eastern mind as a divine dispensation, unless it is intrinsically justifiable.’ (120)

This we see his opposition to Mr. Ally’s letter which tries to divide Indians as ‘merchant is a Muslim and every hawker a Hindu is, we believe, a poisonous comment.’ (91). Gandhiji’s long explanation giving the reason for not publishing the  life of Prophet Mahomed shows his sensitivity on this issue (pp. 173-74).  While giving ID greetings he reminds the Muslims the true meaning and purpose of Ramzan fast based on morality. (p. 315) At the same time he extends this need for morality to the followers of all religion, again insisting his view of the commonality of all religion (pp. 315-16).  I am not sure whether the New Year Greetings which he extends to the Hindus is for the Deevali or English/Western New Year.  Later we read in volume 9: ‘We were unhappy at the thought that we had to follow an alien calendar in making our calculations. No cause for unhappiness would remain if swadeshi were to replace everything foreign… (139. NEW YEAR, Vol. 9, p. 224).  But as the date of this greetings is 09-11-1907, we should assume that it should be a Diwali Greetings as most of the merchants were Gujarati as well the message was written in Gujarati in Indian Opinion.

However I have a feeling without any prejudice that leaders like Gandhiji who championed for Hindu-Muslim unity, sometime (or several time) went overboard by taking side with the Muslims beyond what they deserve naturally as (religious) minority in India.  Though I too agree with several of his principle that it is the duty of the majority to protect and also give a sense of belonging to the (religious) minority in the land in which they live, yet without insisting their part for this unity, some  (or several) of Gandhiji’s  writings  and actions look appeasement.  I don’t know how to express my view.  Those who read this may think that I too talk like the right wing Hindu extremists.  This is not true.  Fighting for the rights of minorities is one thing.   But going beyond any natural and legitimate limit will only spoil them than inducing a sense of their responsibility too.  This is what I felt when I read Gandhiji’s letter to Prof. G.K. GOKHALE (p.355, see under Islam).

In this volume also we read Gandhiji’s struggle against racialism based on faith (94, 126) or status (94-95), nationality (126, 248-49).  We also read about Gandhiji’s struggle in publishing Indian Opinion (p.251)

But the story of Ram Sundar Pundit who went to goal first then latter ditched the Indians is very interesting one.  Lot of space is given to glorifying him at first then in the same spirit later condemned by Gandhiji.  So I put all the materials related with Ram Sundar separately.

Gandhiji several times writes clearly giving all the reasons for opposing the bill and it is important to read them all (pp. 283-84; 379-82 etc.) to understand this struggle and Gandhiji’s writing about it in Indian Opinion of this time.  Even this law has been published in the form of a booklet (286. OBNOXIOUS LAW AND REGULATIONS MADE UNDER IT, pp. 383-89; 292. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THOSE WHO SUBMIT TO LAW? pp. 396-97)

We also read about Gandhiji’s appeal to the Indians go as volunteers to serve govt., when there was rebellion of Kaffirs in Zululand, as they have done before in spite of Indian’s fight against the govt. regarding the new law. (p.398)  However this service to the govt., has its other reason as well: to avoid tax ‘on those who do not enlist’ (p.398) about which Gandhiji writes, ‘There is a move at present to levy a tax on those who do not enlist. The burden of this levy will fall on Indians alone; even though paying the tax, they will get no credit. We are, therefore, convinced in our minds that the Indian community should repeat its offer….’ (294. VOLUNTEERS FOR NATAL, p.398).

This volume ends with a positive note of reaching some kind of compromise between the govt. and the Indians about which we will read in volume 8.  In the same way Ram Sundar Pundit story ends with some kind of triumph but soon will read about his great fall in next volume.  In Appendix V we read about the guidelines to write an essay on ‘The Ethics of Passive Resistance’ which are very interesting one.  And Appendix VII will give a sketch about the grievances of British Indians (BRITISH INDIANS AND THE TRANSVAAL, L. W. RITCH, pp. 433-448).

But the struggle by the Indians for their right as British Indians in SA will continue and we will read more about in other volumes.  However I found this volume more interesting and important one for me to understand Gandhiji’s avatara as a satyagrahi.

Dayanand. January 27, 2012.




This is a good question. The answer, too, is straight….We may respect their views. But when their views go against our rights, we are not bound by them. Suppose someone compels us to become Christians. We shall oppose him. If those whom we considered till now our well-wishers advise us to embrace Christianity, I am sure that every Hindu and every Muslim (p. 6) will agree with me that we should not accept the advice. This law too is much the same kind of thing. Clearly, it would make cowards of us. We can never follow the advice to be cowards. It is enough that we are in the right and God is on our side. In the end, truth alone will triumph. [Indian Opinion, 15-6-1907.]—pp.6-7




The lesson to be drawn from this assault seems to be that Indians will be able to hold their own in foreign countries only if they cultivate courage. If the whites kick us every day, no protection can be given by the Imperial Government or any other Government. God does not help those who live like cowards. Living amidst tigers and wolves, we can do only two things. True courage lies in absence of fear of wild animals. Tigers and wolves too have been created by God, and we should view them without any ill-will. This can be practiced only by saints or true devotees after a long period of devotion to God. There is a second type of courage which consists in facing tigers and wolves with weapons. This also involves risk to one’s person. Such is the plight of those living in the midst of whites. A saint will not go to distant lands seeking a livelihood. Ordinarily, therefore, we need courage of the second kind. To have that courage we need to be brave in facing physical dangers and to discipline the body. According to Mrs. Besant2, all Indians, high and low, should learn wrestling and other physical exercises to train all parts of the body. All this will 1 The actual proverb is, “The potter, unable to punish his wife, twists the ears of his donkey.”

2 (1847-1933), Theosophist leader, President of the Indian National Congress, 1917, author of The Religious Problem in India (1902) and other books. (p. 203) be possible only if we feel the urge of self-respect and cultivate a sense of manliness…. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 14-9-1907.]—pp.203-04



Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman has replied to Mr. Ritch that he will not receive the deputation of the South Africa British Indian Committee….the Prime Minister has stated that he has already written to the Transvaal Government to say that the new law is bad. But the Transvaal now enjoys self-government, and hence he cannot interfere in the implementation of the Act, nor is he in a position to exert much pressure on the Transvaal just now…The time for Sir Henry to intervene will come when the real struggle begins, and Indians, even when sent to gaol or deported, remain firm and do not submit to the law. If even at that time he does not intervene, we shall believe that the sun of the British Empire is about to set. For, if the Imperial Government does not protect innocent people when they are being oppressed, commonsense tells us that God will deprive it of its power. How can he be called a king who does not protect? But the struggle of the Indians has little to do with whether Sir Henry intervenes or not. The struggle this time is a test of our own strength….(p.186) Commenting on Sir Henry’s letter, an influential British journal called the Pall Mall Gazette has stated that Sir Henry has displayed cowardice and baseness in allowing the rights of Indians to be abrogated, and that the Home Government will have to pay for this cowardice. A cable to this effect is published in The Sunday Times of Johannesburg. We can assume from this that the struggle in England is not over.[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 7-9-1907.]—pp.186-87



…Mr. Gandhi has raised, in submitting his draft, one main issue, namely, whether the local Government will condescend to consult the wishes and sentiments of the Indian community in carrying out their (p.156) intention of identifying those Indians who are entitled to reside in the Transvaal. General Smuts says no. It is now for Indians to give their answer. It is open to them to lead a life of utter degradation in the Transvaal, or to make a supreme effort to be counted as human beings and citizens of the British Empire. [Indian Opinion, 24-8-1907.]—pp.156-57



…The term high, therefore, is merely relative. The Bhagavad-Gita3, which we would issue in India for one anna, we charge one shilling for, because the expenses were comparatively high. I am perfectly certain that whenever we think of having things done cheaply outside the country of our adoption, we bring into play the ordinary weakness, namely, to drive the hardest bargain possible, and it is for that reason that I have condemned in my mind the idea of having the South African book4 printed in Bombay, and I feel this so (p.61) keenly, that I have not yet summoned up sufficient zeal for writing out the book. I would ask you to reason this thing out for yourself.

Never mind whether we employ an extra hand or not and whether we publish the book or not; that is a matter of detail. The first thing is to lay down the principle. If we cannot enforce it, or if we have not sufficient courage to do it, then we cease to worry about it, and cease to think of enlarging the scope of our work…. From a photostat of the typewritten office copy: S. N. 4674.—pp.61-62



….Johannesburg some Indians are charged with robbing a poor Indian. There is no doubt that the Indian was robbed. It is positively asserted that the accused are innocent. Yet another Indian who has been arrested is charged with minting counterfeit coins. All these cases show that there are vices among some of us… And in case there are civil suits or disputes, they should be settled privately among the parties without filling the coffers of lawyers and the Government. I believe this suggestion deserves to be carefully considered and acted upon. If in consequence of our present struggle we forget the differences between Hindus and Muslims, give up internal quarrels and, in case they occur, settle them privately, and also give up other vices, the thirteen thousand Indians will earn the admiration of the entire world, and their names will be recorded for all time in God’s book. It is an act of no small meanness that one Indian should falsely accuse another through malice or blackmail him. That one man should assault another is not merely petty cruelty. It is no little shame that an Indian should take liquor. With a little effort, these evil habits can be eradicated. To smash the new law, I believe it is necessary also to stamp out these evils. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 7-9-1907.]—p.195



… published in Britain…. Persian Mystics, in which the author has assigned the first place to Jalaluddin Rumi. An informative account of Sufis is followed by a narrative of the life of Jalaluddin and translations of some of his poems. In the author’s view, a Sufi is a lover of God. Above everything else, the Sufis aspire after a pure heart and love of God. Jalaluddin was once observed dancing with joy at a funeral, and on being questioned what he meant thereby, the saint replied, “When the human spirit, after years of imprisonment in the cage and dungeon of the body, is at length set free and wings its flight to the source whence it came, is it not an occasion for rejoicing?” We can see that, in the olden days, even women freely participated in such [Sufi way of] life. Rabia Bibi was a Sufi herself. When asked if she hated the devil, she retorted that “her love of God left her no time to hate anyone”. According to the Sufi point of view, no religion based on morality can be considered to be false. In reply to a question Jalaluddin said, “The ways of God are as many as the number of souls of men.” Elsewhere he says, “God’s light is one but its rays are various in hue. . . . We can worship God along any path, provided it be with a true and sincere heart.”

Referring to the nature of true knowledge, Jalaluddin says that “a blood-stain can be washed away with water, but the stain of ignorance can be washed clean only with the water of God’s grace”. And then again, “True knowledge is the knowledge of God.” When asked where one could find God, the poet replied, “I saw the Cross and also Christians, but I did not find God on the Cross. I went to find Him in the temple, but in vain. I saw Him neither in Herat nor in Kandahar. He could be found neither on the hill nor in the cave. At last, I looked into my heart and found Him there, only there and nowhere else.” This is an excellent book to read….  1 (1207-73), Sufi poet of Persia. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 15-6-1907.]—p.5



In pursuance of our ideas, we commence this week a series of articles on the subject stated above. It will always be our aim to bring about and preserve unity between Hindus and Muslims. One of the ways of achieving this is to acquaint each with whatever is good in the other. Moreover, when occasion requires, Hindus and Muslims should serve each other without any reserve. The series that we are commencing is intended to serve both these aims.

It is also our object to spread education and culture among the Indian community ….Washington Irving’s account is considered excellent, and though he has not written ill of Islam like other European writers, it is likely that occasionally his ideas may be such as may not appeal to our readers. A wise man would make himself acquainted even with such ideas. We advise our readers to go through the chapters that follow,  bearing in mind that the purpose of reading is to accept knowledge from everything that we read and to draw the right lesson from it. (p.17)



 We feel sad in answering this question. In utter good faith and out of great regard [for Islam], we started publishing a translation [of Irving’s book], with a view to serving the Indian community and, in particular, the Muslim brethren. Among the biographies written by white men, Washington Irving’s work is regarded as excellent. On the whole, he has shown the wonderful greatness of the Prophet, and has presented the good teachings of Islam in shining colours. Whether this is so or not, we believe it is the duty of every Muslim to know what the whites write about Islam and its Founder. In translating the book, our object was to help them perform this duty. While the translation was being given, some of our readers were pained to read the account of the Prophet’s marriage in chapter V, and suggested that we should  stop publishing the life. Our aim is to show as far as possible that this journal belongs to the whole of the Indian community. We have no desire to injure needlessly the feelings of anyone in any way.

Therefore we have stopped publishing the “Life”1 and feel sorry that 1 Mahadev Desai, Gandhiji’s Secretary, records in his Diary, under July 29, 1932: “Bapu . . . described his own experience in South Africa. He read Washington Irving’s Life of the Prophet and began to publish a simple translation of it in lndian Opinion for the benefit of its Muslim readers. Hardly a chapter or two had appeared when the Muslims entered an emphatic protest against the publication. The offending chapters only dealt with the idol-worship, superstition and evil customs prevalent in Arabia before the Prophet was born. Even this was too much for them. Bapu tried to explain that this was only prefatory and intended to show the gigantic evils which the Prophet was born to combat and vanquish, but no one would listen. `We do not want any such life of the Prophet,’ said the Muslims. The later chapters had been written and set in type but had to be cancelled.” (The Diary of Mahadev Desai,  Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1953, Vol. “Letter to The Natal Mercury”, 30-9-1895.) Vide also “Prophet Mahomed and His Caliphs”,22-6-1907 (p. 173) we had to do so. For, we took great pains over the translation, and our readers will not have the opportunity of appreciating the excellent work of Irving. Moreover, we hear that many persons are displeased that we have discontinued the “Life”. To them we have only to say that those who want the translation of the biography may write to us. If many readers express the desire, we shall try to meet the wishes of such devout men by bringing it out separately in book-form when convenient to the Press. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 31-8-1907.]—pp.173-74


We offer Id greetings to our Muslim readers. Man hopes for many things, but he cannot get everything he wants. In like manner, though we wish a happy Id to all our Muslim brethren, so far as we know, it is the divine law that the Id will bring prosperity only to those who have observed the cannot be considered sufficient for a proper observance of the Ramzan. The fast is a discipline of the mind as well as of the body. That means that, if not all through the year, at least during the Ramzan month, all the rules of morality should be fully obeyed, truth practised and every trace of anger suppressed. We assume that our greetings will bear fruit particularly in the case of those who have done all this. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-11-1907.]—p.315

 270. LETTER TO G.K. GOKHALE, JOHANNESBURG, November 22, 1907


…the struggle we are undergoing here has resulted in making us feel that we are Indians first and Hindus, Mahomedans, Tamils, Parsees, etc. afterwards.

You will notice, too, that all our delegates are Mahomedans. I am personally glad of the fact. And it may also happen that there will be many Mahomedans, having South African connections, attending the Congress. May I ask you to interest yourself in them and make them feel perfectly at home? A Hindu-Mahomedan compact may even become a special feature of this Congress. The rest of the struggle you know from the papers.

Yours sincerely,


From a photostat of the type written original signed by Gandhiji: G.N. 4109.—p.355



…The journal has at present only 1,100 subscribers, though the number of readers is much larger. If all readers buy their copies, Indian Opinion can render three times better service than it does today. We hope it will not be considered unreasonable of us if we expect encouragement in proportion to the increase in the number of our pages. If those who fully realize the value of the service rendered by this paper secure even one additional subscriber each, we shall feel heartened thereby and get some help in meeting the increased expenditure consequent upon the increase in the number of pages. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 12-10-1907.]—p.251



Just as we wish a happy Id to out Muslim brethren, we also wish that the New Year may bring prosperity to our Hindu readers….Indians suffer many hardships…they have come to pay more attention to their country, and to some extent their thoughts are also running in the direction of religion.  The Hindu is seen to be more deeply absorbed in Hindu religion, and likewise the Muslim in Islam, and other Indians in their own religions, which is the only right thing. It is our firm belief that, if India is to prosper, it can only be along this path. If the people of different religions grasp the real significance of their own religion, they will never hate the people of any religion other than their own….(p.315) if we look to the aim, there is no difference among religions. We said above that the New Year might bring prosperity to the Hindus. But just as it is obvious that the Id will bring prosperity only if a certain condition is fulfilled, so also can the New Year benefit a man only when a particular condition is satisfied.  After saying all this, there is no need to point out what those conditions are. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-11-1907.]—pp.315-16



It is said that, before Shri Ramachandra began his war with Ravana, he despatched Angada on a peace mission to him. In those times it was believed that true strength lay in affording the enemy, before starting a war against him, every opportunity to set right the wrong he had done. By all means, bow to the enemy, for there is no dishonour in doing so. If still the enemy refuses to come round, one may bring one’s full strength into play and enforce one’s will. In olden times people everywhere in the world followed this practice. Today also this is considered the best thing to do. What Rama did with Ravana, the Indian community has done with the Transvaal Government…. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 29-6-1907.]—p.26



…Moreover, the white and the Coloured prisoners are given a towel each, while the Indian and the Kaffir are not given even this as if they do not need it at all. The Government have, in this manner, created classes even among prisoners. The Coloured prisoners include the Cape Boy, the American Negro, the Hottentot and the like. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 22-6-1907.]—p.12





….One of the religious preachers created a painful sensation when he produced a document from the Central South African Railways saying that the concession to religious preachers as to railway travelling was confined to Christian and Jewish preachers. Is this new distinction also a necessary precaution against an influx of Asiatics? [Rand Daily Mail, 2-7-1907]—p.31


The Town Council of Johannesburg intends to make a regulation that only a white can become the manager of an Asiatic eating-house. Does this mean that, at Hindu and Muslim eating-houses in the Transvaal, the whites will serve and the Indians merely watch? All this will apply to those who accept the title-deed of slavery. No one will be able to lay his hands on those who refuse to touch it. [From Gurajati; Indian Opinion, 13-7-1907.]—p. 57


…General Manager of the Natal Railway. He has stated that while railway tickets at concession rates are available to English or European priests, such concessions will not henceforth be available to Indian Christian priests. This means that Hindu, Muslim and Christian priests, if they are Indians, will not get tickets at concession rates….

Now Indian Christians, too, are being distinguished from European Christians. We take this to be a good sign. For, through such hardships and humiliation, we Indians shall gradually come closer together and cling to one another for survival…. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—p.94


Mr. Ross, the General Manager of the Natal Railways, has sent a blunt refusal to the Indian community. We congratulate the community on receiving such a letter. For, the more they insult our religions and the more they despise the colour of our skin, the stronger will be our fight, provided we are in the right. A letter such as Mr. Ross’s shows to what a miserable plight we have been reduced in South Africa. If we do not get our reasonable rights, we shall feel crushed by our own wealth. To a sensible man, money without honour is like a thorn. In the Sahara Desert, anyone with goldbars in his pocket will find them like poison if he can get no drop of water anywhere. Similarly, in this country money without self-respect is likely to be veritable poison….If we beg for them often enough, our Moulvis and Christian and Hindu priests may probably get concession tickets at half rates. However, it is not a material question whether concession tickets are available or not. The real point is that, in the eyes of the whites, we are persons of no consequence and it is precisely this that causes all the mischief. In order that we may count [in their eyes], the only course for the Transvaal Indians is to fight desperately to the last—even unto death—and win glory. We shall then be the equals of those who have votes, though actually we may have none. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—p.126


An Indian merchant contributing to our English section states that the Exhibition Committee has excluded Indians from participation in the Durban Exhibition. This is a very bad thing. We know that the whites are afraid of the industry of Indians. They seem to be afraid of Indian skill also. Thus they appear to be imitating the dog in the manger: they neither eat themselves nor let others do so. This behaviour of the Committee shows that we have only one duty now to win respect and dignity for ourselves. And that is, for the present at least, in the hands of the Transvaal Indians. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—p.126







Mr. Anthony Peters, a born Indian Christian, and an old civil servant of Natal, at present Interpreter at the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Pietermaritzburg, was on his way to Johannesburg on Sunday and was a passenger by the Johannesburg Mail….(p.248) Examining Constable put him through a searching cross-examination.  Mr. Peters produced his permit, which was issued to him at a time when the Indian community had not voluntarily given thumb impressions. This did not satisfy the Constable. Mr. Peters, therefore, produced the concession ticket referred to by me and offered to give his signature, but all to no avail, the Constable insulting him by saying that he might have got somebody else’s concession ticket. Mr. Peters, therefore, went so far as to produce his walking-stick, which bore his initials, and his shirt, which bore his full name. Even this was not satisfactory. He then offered to deposit money to ensure his return after three days, but the Constable ordered a Kaffir policeman to literally drag Mr. Peters out of the compartment. Sergeant Mansfield, before whom Mr. Peters was taken, realised the terrible mistake, apologised to Mr. Peters, and let him go….I need hardly comment upon this episode, beyond saying that this is a sample of what many a respectable Indian has to suffer in even visiting this country. Here there is no question of general legislation, no question of an Asiatic influx, but a question of simple courtesy and justice between man and man. Or is the wearing of a coloured skin to be…a crime against the white people of the Transvaal? M. K. GANDHI [Rand Daily Mail, 10-10-1907.]—pp.248-49

Ram Sundar:


All Indians must be eager to learn the history of the Indian who has raised such a storm. We publish his photograph in this issue. Ram Sundar Pundit is 30 years of age. His father’s name is Kalka Prasad.  He was a priest by profession. Punditji was born in Banaras. He studied Hindi and Sanskrit in the Banaras Sanskrit Pathshala. For the last nine years he has been working as a priest in South Africa. He has (p. 341) married in Natal. He has two children, a son, two-and-a-half years old,  and a daughter, one year old. His family lives in Grey Town. Punditji came to the Transvaal in the year 1905. A temple was built in Germiston as a result of his efforts and the Sanatan Dharma Sabha was established. Everyone knows about his work relating to the Asiatic Law. Finally, we only wish that Punditji may live for many years and continue to render uninterrupted service to the community. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 16-11-1907.]—pp.341-42



We have already reported in “Late News” last week that Ram Sundar Pundit was arrested on Friday, the 8th, for living in the (p. 343) Transvaal without a permit. That morning, he was standing near the court in Germiston when a detective inquired his name and asked for his permit. He said he had no permit. Thereupon the detective arrested him on the spot. As soon as Mr. Polak heard of this, he went to Germiston. He saw Mr. Pundit in gaol. On being asked, he replied that he did not at all want to be released on bail, and that he would prefer to remain in goal. In the gaol, the gaoler also urged Punditji to offer bail, but he refused to do so, saying that, for the sake of his community and religion, he would rather remain in gaol.


He was quite comfortable in gaol. He had all the facilities, such as a living-room, a bathroom, etc. As he himself says, he had fever when he went there. Now he is all right. Arrangements for his meals have been made by the community, and milk and fruits are being supplied to him every day. He did not wish to take anything else. (p.344 )


Punditji received an ovation as soon as he came out. There was a shower of flowers. All shook hands [with him]. It was then decided to hold a meeting in the Location and, accordingly, everybody went towards the building of the Sanatan Dharma Sabha.

Mr. Omarji quoted the following Gujarati verse:

A woman should give birth to three kinds of men only, one

who is generous in donations, one who is a devotee of God, and one

who is brave in battle; otherwise, she better remain barren rather than

have her light be dimmed.”

According to this, it was a matter of credit to his mother that

Punditji was a brave son. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 16-11-1907.]—pp.343-45


…The Congress President is right in saying that by going to gaol, Punditji has sanctified it. All innocent people who go to gaol make it holy. We think Punditji and his family are fortunate. His fame has spread throughout South Africa. It will spread in India too. This is the result of real service. It is a real service, we think, that Punditji has rendered by unhesitatingly offering himself as sacrifice for the sake of the country. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 23-11-1907.]—p.357


38. LETTER TO “THE STAR”, PRETORIA, July 7, 1907



…Your correspondent threatens that, if my countrymen do not change their attitude, the penal clauses will be rigorously enforced and they will be deported. This threat was unnecessary, for we have counted the consequence of non-submission. Gaol has no terrors for us compared to the enforced slavery of the Registration Act, which puts on the whole community a brand of  criminality. Deportation will be a welcome relief from the contemplation of a dog’s life in what we have been taught to consider our own home. If the Act bears as heavily on us as we represent it to do, no sacrifice will be too great for us. We are having a unique experience of Imperialism and the cosmopolitan nature of the Empire. The Imperial arm is presumed to cover the weak from the strong. Indians of the Transvaal are now waiting to see whether that arm is to protect the weak Indians from the strong whites—British and otherwise—or whether it is to be used to strengthen the hands of the tyrant to crush the weak and helpless. Pardon the use of the word, but is it not tyrannical to disregard every sentiment and our religions, for this is no question of regulating immigration? The principle of registration we have accepted; the manner of it we bitterly resent. But the Government wish to impose (p. 53) studied humiliation.  Are Indians to blame if, rather than suffer it, they are prepared to lose their earthly possessions? If the whole of the white Transvaal be against us, God is with us.


39. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, Monday, [July 8, 1907]


Pretoria has done exceedingly well.…These patriots go round the Permit Office by turns throughout the day, and if they find any Indian going there, they persuade him courteously and stop him. At present hey have given up their private business and plunged into the service of the motherland. They do not care for the dangers they may have to face. They are quite prepared to suffer what ever consequences may follow. It would not at all be surprising if such patriotism should lead to ultimate success. (p.54)

…Lengthy articles have begun appearing in the Rand Daily Mail and the Leader. They state that Indians in Pretoria are not getting themselves registered because of pressure from Johannesburg Indians. The papers add that, during the last days of July, everyone will go to the Permit Office to give the finger-prints. We want Pretoria Indians to remain firm and prove thereby that this report is a libel. If, ultimately, (p.55) people should invade the Pretoria Office like swarms of locusts, all the good work done will be undone.


The Indian community has now to exercise great caution. I hear from many places that, as soon as the leaders are arrested, the people will get themselves registered out of fear. If that is to happen, it will be, as the Indian proverb has it, like the case of a woman who went in search of a son and lost her husband. This is no time for depending upon leaders or anyone else. Everyone is to rely on his own courage. In this situation, neither lawyers nor anyone else can be of any help. When we are all involved in the conflagration, it is no use looking to one another for help. I hear that the Government will be soon laying its hands on Mr. Gandhi and, perhaps, on some other leaders also. If this happens, instead of being put out by their going to gaol, the people should welcome it and be inspired to greater courage. The truth is that we are not sheep, but free men, and we would not depend upon other people for help…


Many whites have been offering advice to Indians. When the former ask ‘What will you do?’, many Indians say in reply, ‘We shall do what our leaders do.’ Some answer, ‘We shall do what others do.’ These are words of cowards, and they will do harm. Everyone should give the reply: ‘I dislike the law and so I will never submit to it. Moreover, I will not submit to it also because I have taken an oath in the name of God. I would rather go to gaol than submit to the law which would make a slave of me.’ He who cannot give this answer will never reach the other shore. None can swim with another’s buoy. We are to swim with our own strength….In a similar spirit, everyone should answer, ‘I don’t care what others do, but I for my part will not submit to the law.’ All do not give such straightforward answers, and that is why the newspapers make this comment that, though we seem to be enthusiastic now, we shall in the end unhitch our waggons….(p. 56). [From Gurajati; Indian Opinion, 13-7-1907.]—pp.54-56


….All this shows that the Indian people would not be found wanting when weighed in the balance. Who can harm one whom God protects? The Indian people are religious-minded. They believe in God. He will easily bring success in any work we undertake with full faith in Him. It is said that, because of his faith in God,… The eyes of Indians everywhere are at present fixed on their countrymen in the Transvaal. They are all eager to know whether the community will succeed in the challenge that they have taken up. Pretoria’s answer is that the Indian community shall never turn back.  [From Gurajati, Indian Opinion, 13-7-1907]—p.63


…There are three ways of doing it. First, pickets should be posted at the Durban Office to prevent Indians from going there. Second, a watch should be kept on the Indians proceeding by train to the Transvaal, and if any such Indian is going there with a new permit, or with an old permit without at the same time being ready to go to gaol, he should be dissuaded from going further. Third, it should be seen that no Indian gives his finger-prints on board a steamer. By doing all this, Durban will have given very good help and brought our deliverance nearer. [From Gurajati, Indian Opinion, 13-7-1907].—p.64

48. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, Monday, [July 15, 1907]

…There should be no waiting for anybody’s leadership. It should be assumed that everyone was a leader. In the place of one Indian gaoled or deported, two should come out to take up leadership…(p.67)


As I summarize this reply, my blood boils. What is meant by saying that there would be no further restrictions if we behaved well? After reducing us to a living death under the obnoxious law, could there be a fresh amendment in order to kick at the dead?… IT IS ALSO GOOD

But it is also good that we have been given such a stunning blow with a stick wrapped in silk. Now the Indian community will become still more determined. Just as the Regulations under a cruel law were bound to be cruel, the reply had also to be cruel. The cruel Regulations have inflamed the Indians. This cruel reply will make them inflexible. With God as our witness, we have pledged opposition to the law. With the same God as witness, let us prove our courage.

(p.70)[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 20-7-1907.]—pp. 67 & 70


The late President Kruger  is said to have “staggered humanity” by engaging in an unequal struggle with a mighty empire. It is in his late country—though now nominally British—that history is to repeat itself through Indians in the Transvaal. But the parallel is not exact. (p.85) …the late President Kruger was ill-advised in hurling defiance at the British Government, everybody admires him for the courage of his convictions. It is enough that he fought for a cause he considered to be just. But the President fought under the inspiration of the old Testament and after the pattern of the heroes of that venerable book. Indians who migrated to this country in search of an honest livelihood, and who find themselves face to face with civic and social extinction, are fighting under the inspiration of the New Testament. Gentle Jesus, the greatest passive resister the world has seen, is their pattern. What matters it to them if the rulers of the Transvaal reject their advances, if their overlord King Edward declare himself, like Mahomed of Ghazni1, to be unable to protect them. Was not Jesus rejected and yet did He not resist the blasphemy that His persecutors would have Him utter on pain of suffering what was, in their estimation, an inglorious death, side by side with thieves and robbers? But the crown of thorns today sits better on that bleeding head than a crown bedecked with diamonds of the purest water on any sovereign. He died indeed, yet He lives in the memory of all true sons of God, and with Him live also the thieves who accepted the humble Nazarene and His teaching. So, too, will Indians of the Transvaal, if they remain true to their God, live in the memory of their children and their countrymen who will be able to say, after they have left this transient world, ‘Our forefathers did not betray us for a mess of pottage.’ [Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—pp. 85-86


…To submit to the unjust law will be a sin. Likewise, it will be a sin to violate the divine law. He who abides by the divine law will win bliss in this world, as also in the next. What is this divine law? It is that one has to suffer pain before enjoying pleasure and that one’s true self-interest consists in the good of all, which means that we should die—suffer—for others… Let us take a few examples.

…Lord Buddha, after wandering from forest to forest, braving the extremes of heat and cold and suffering many privations, attained self-realization and spread ideas of spiritual welfare among the people. Nineteen hundred years ago, Jesus Christ, according to the Christian belief, dedicated his life to the people and suffered many insults and hardships. The prophet Mahomed suffered much. People had prepared themselves for an attack on his life. He paid no heed to it. These great and holy men obeyed the law stated above and brought happiness to mankind. They did not think of their personal interest but found their own happiness in the happiness of others. (p.89)

… For the sake of honour, God’s devotee, Prahlad, boldly embraced the red-hot pillar, and the child Sudhanva threw himself into the frying pan without any hesitation. For the sake of truth, Harishchandra allowed himself to be sold to a low-caste man; he gave up his throne and suffered separation from his wife and son. For the sake of his father’s word, Ramachandra went into the forest. And for the sake of their right, the Pandavas left their kingdom and wandered in the forest for 14 years. Today it has fallen to the lot of the Indian community in the Transvaal to submit to this great divine law. So persuaded, we congratulate our countrymen. They have the opportunity now to see the Indian community throughout South Africa gaining its freedom through them. How could such great happiness come to us without our going through equally great suffering? Our petition is no longer addressed to man, but to God Himself. Day and night He listens to our plaints. We do not have to seek an appointment with Him for the hearing of our petition. He hears the petitions of all at the same time. With the purest heart therefore we pray to God that our brothers in the Transvaal may be prepared to suffer fearlessly anything that may befall them in August, placing their trust in Him alone, and with only His name on their lips. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—pp.89-90


The British Press has published a cable regarding the work of the deputation sent to the Cape by East London Indians. It states that the Indian community concedes that laws should be framed to control (p. 94) “coolie Indians”, but calls for regulations which grant special concessions to respectable Indians. It adds, moreover, that exemption certificates should be granted to some Indians on the lines of those granted to the Kaffirs.

We do not believe that East London Indians have made any such demand. Our enemies are only waiting for us to make such a mistake. For if we demand a law introducing such distinctions, we shall be striking at our feet with our own axe. There is and will always be the distinction between good men and bad men. But no law can lay down the dividing line between the good and the bad, or the high and the low, or the noble and the mean. One who is a hawker today may become a merchant tomorrow. A merchant may be rendered poor and be obliged to seek service. Such things have always been happening. Now, who is to be termed a “coolie”? How can there be any such distinction? Who can make such a distinction? Who will go to a white officer to receive at his hands a badge of “high” or “low”? We are sure the law cannot make any such distinction enabling a few Indians to get the exemption certificates. To ask for such a law is only to invite slavery. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—pp.94-95


Further, it should be remembered that a Russian prison is a veritable dungeon. No amenities are provided. Again, Russia is an extremely cold country. The gaolers are cruel. All these hardships are endured by these brave heroes for the good of the people. They are not deterred by the severities of weather. They do not bother whether their Emperor is pleased or displeased, but fearlessly go on doing what they consider to be in the country’s interests. They do not lose heart though the people of Russia are still not free, but continue to do their duty…..

We wish that, with the example of such staunch patriots before them, and with faces turned to God and His name inscribed forever in their hearts, the Transvaal Indians will swim across the current of the obnoxious law. [From Gujarati]Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—p.96


It must be distinctly remembered then that one is to go to gaol, not to pay the fine. I recommend that, on and from August l, no Indian whatever should carry any money with him and certainly not (p. 97) gold in any case. Temptation is a very bad thing. Not being used to the idea of gaol, on hearing the sentence of fine, the accused may find his hands unconsciously straying into his pocket or he may cast an imploring glance at his friends. When this happens, he should mentally ask for God’s forgiveness, remove his hand [from the pocket], stand erect and, clearing his throat, declare that he will not pay the fine but go to gaol. He should remember at the same time how in England women, both young and old, have refused to pay the fine of half a crown and preferred to go to gaol for the sake of their right.


But, if out of fear Indians apply for registers or pay the fine, or seek release on bail, the struggle waged so far will come to nought. It will be proved that we had no real courage. It will be  believed that it  was all mere incitement by the leaders. It will be said that the splendid  show made so far was only external glitter. The gilt will come off and we shall be shown up to be base copper rather than gold, and we shall indeed have proved ourselves worthless.


Persons with a large business need not have any fear. It is unlikely that all the men in an establishment will be simultaneously arrested. The shops are certainly not going to be looted. The utmost loss that may be caused is that the shops will remain closed for a few days. Nothing more than this is likely to happen. But it will be wise for all merchants to take stock, etc. The only object of doing so is that, in case the creditors become impatient, one may be able to settle accounts immediately.


Some Indians think that, if even a single Indian takes out the new register, it will be difficult for others to keep back. It can be said that those who think in this strain have not correctly  understood the nature of the struggle. If one of them jumps into a well or does something wrong, will the whole Indian community follow him and do likewise? If not, how can it do so in the case of the sinister and (p. 99) wicked law which is more dreadful than any well?… In this struggle it should be remembered that every Indian is to decide for himself independently of others. One need not look to others…. (p.100) [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—pp.97-100

74. LETTER TO COLONIAL SECRETARY { This was presumably drafted by Gandhiji.}


July 27, 1907

The volunteers, it will be admitted, have simply performed missionary work. My committee have publicly and emphatically informed British Indians that any member wishing to make his application will not only be left unharmed but that he will, if so desired by him, be escorted to the Registration Office. In the humble opinion of my Committee, those Indians who (p. 101) have applied secretly and at night time have done so in order to conceal from British Indians what they, too, in common with other members of the community, have believed to be an act  derogatory to their honour.

In the humble opinion of my Committee, secret registration after office hours and in private  stores, even if it be not illegal, can hardly be considered a dignified proceeding. In any event, my Committee beg respectfully to assure the Government that the Indian community in what is to it a life-and-death struggle has no intention to resort to intimidation or methods which may in any  way be considered even reprehensible.




Indian Opinion, 3-8-1907.—pp.101-02


[July 29, 1907]


None of my letters so far has been written, I think, with so much grief as this one. Whether I ought to publish this news at all is itself a difficult question to decide. However, I feel that I ought to take notice of the incident that took place among the Indian community at Pretoria, if we mean to be truthful and courageous. For the Indian community in South Africa the last week of July will prove memorable. Just when we were hoping with confidence that the hour of our victory was at hand, there was treachery in the community and our success became doubtful. The  conspiracy came to light by accident at the Pretoria Railway Station after 10 p. m. on Wednesday, July 24. Messrs Cachalia, Vyas, Beg and other Indians were present there to receive Mr. Gandhi. They learnt that something suspicious was going on in Mr. Khamisa’s shop. There were a few white men inside, and some detectives near the shop. On receipt of this information, these gentlemen thought that they would knock at the door of Mr. Khamisa’s shop, and if the door should be opened and some move to submit to the new law should be found afoot, they would dissuade the persons concerned. Mr Gandhi knocked at the door, and so did Mr. Vyas. A man came out and inquired who they were. Mr. Gandhi answered him, and asked his permission to go (p. 102) inside. No one opened the door. Meanwhile, a detective came and started asking questions. Mr. Beg gave a bold reply. Then Mr. Gandhi spoke to the detective. Thereupon the latter said, “You know the law, do what is proper”, and went away. A few minutes later he and two other officers came there. Meanwhile, Mr. Vyas had gone to call Mr. Hajee Habib. Taking each member of the above party by hand, the detective asked him to move away. They all left. Everyone thought that a conspiracy must have been in the hatching in Mr. Khamisa’s shop.

Many Indians kept awake the whole night. On the morning of Thursday, the entire Indian community became agitated. Letters and telegrams were despatched to all the towns. It is said that at Mr. Khamisa’s shop that night, at the stroke of twelve, some 20 men blackened their heads and faces, and brought a slur on the good name of the Indian community.


This question will arise in the mind of every Indian. I myself feel that we cannot absolve those who applied for registration. None could have blamed them if, convinced that the new law was good and that there was no humiliation in submitting to it, they had, in broad daylight, gone to the Permit Office to apply for their title-deed of slavery. But they believed it to be a shameful thing and that is why they decided to take out permits secretly at night. This proves that they knew their guilt and hence they should be considered to have committed an offence against the Indian community. The Permit Officers can be held to be as much at fault as the Indian culprits and even more. Going to people’s shops at night to receive in secret applications for new permits shows that they have been straining every nerve to make people submit to the new law. For they are afraid that their prestige will suffer if the people do not submit to it. If the Government stoops so low, what wonder is there that people are  tempted? :


For such secret registration the pretext is found to have been put forward that the Indian  community has held out threats that those who take out new registers will be made to suffer. This accusation is entirely false. Trying to hide his own shame in taking out the register, the traitor has leveled false charges against the whole community, and invented lies.(p103)


As it is impossible to tolerate such an accusation, Mr. Hajee Habib has addressed the following letter to the Colonial Secretary:1


The fight of the Indian community being righteous, the treachery appears to have led only to a good result. Among those secretly taking out permits was an innocent Indian, named Abdul Karim Jamal. Out of fear and temptation he applied for a permit, but, as he did not belong to the treacherous group, he was arrested on a charge of giving false information in the application. He has been released on a bail of £100 and awaits trial. This has shocked all Pretoria. For, the Indians have found that, in applying for a permit under the new law, the fear was not only that the permit might not be granted, but also that ‘one might have to suffer imprisonment like a criminal. Whether or not Mr. Abdul Karim Jamal is guilty is a separate question. It is obvious that even an innocent person might all of a sudden find himself dragged to the court, so dreadful is this law. Both one’s honour and safety lie in keeping away from the new law. This case should serve as a warning to all. There is no guarantee that even by seeking the title-deed of slavery one can have the right of settling in the Transvaal.


One should remember this famous line of verse [A couplet by the Hindi poet, Tulsidas.], and have compassion on those who have betrayed the Indian community. It is natural that we should feel angry. But we should suppress our anger and believe that it is out of ignorance that they sought disgrace. It should also be remembered that the entire struggle would suffer if, in the course of it, any Indian used violence against another Indian or did him other harm. In this connection I have regretfully to say that Mr. Khamisa sent word to each of his Indian customers that, if they did not apply for the new title-deed of slavery by Monday morning, they should pay up all his dues, failing which he would have summons taken out against them. This created a great stir. But Messrs Essop Mia, Aswat and Omarji persuaded Mr. Khamisa to withdraw the notice given by him.


Telegrams are being received continuously by the leaders in 1 Here follows in the original the text of the letter. Vide the preceding item. (p.104) Pretoria. Some of them strongly denounce the treachery. Congratulatory telegrams have been sent to each of the pickets by Mr. Parsee Rustomjee and the volunteers of Durban. Barbers have received telegrams from other barbers, advising them to remain firm. Telegrams have also been pouring in from several gentlemen and from such places as Blair, Tongaat, Delagoa Bay, Dundee, Ladysmith, Estcourt and Cape Town. Till this evening (Monday), not one Indian has taken out a permit from the Permit Office. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 3-8-1907.]—pp.103-05

81. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, [August 5, 1907]

But the Government has made a mistake in thinking that the Pietersburg Memon community will follow the example of Mr. Khamisa and Mr. Hajee Ibrahim. I believe that both these Indians are also repenting now. Their new registers have proved too much of a liability to them. Though no Indian has been avoiding these gentlemen or doing them any harm, they remain isolated and have to put up with bitter public criticism. No Indian, therefore, will make bold to do what they have done. Moreover, in public at least they have been saying that, though they had themselves soiled their hands and tarnished their faces, let no other Indian do like them.


Thanks to Karim Jamal’s case1, Indians have become more strongly confirmed in their opposition to the new law. To submit to it, they have seen, is to go in for a bad bargain. The case against Mr. Karim Jamal has been withdrawn. The public prosecutor admitted that there had been a mistake in instituting the case. How does this help Mr. Karim Jamal? He had to suffer inconvenience and incur monetary loss. Disgusted with the heavy loss and damage, he has withdrawn his application for a register. (See his letter to the Registrar on the subject printed elsewhere.)  This letter should be a warning to all Indians as to how this law can subject a poor man to hardship.  (p. 113)

…When two parties are engaged in a struggle, it is usual for each to maintain an extreme position to the very last. Of the two, the party which has right on its side and remains firm till the end will win. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Government should send a message to say that the law would in no case be amended and that (p.114) voluntary registration would not be accepted. No one listened to us hitherto, but now the Government is anxious to find out what we want. Let us regard this as the first step towards success.  [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—pp.113-15


Mr. Hosken is known all over South Africa to be the friend of the non-white races. He is one of the few men in South Africa who have the courage of their convictions. His exhortations to the historic Mass Meeting of Indians at Pretoria, therefore, deserve most careful attention.

Let us then analyse the doctrine he laid down, namely, that Indians as an Eastern people, should recognize and bow to the inevitable….…On his own showing, therefore, Mr. Hosken’s contention that the Act is in the nature of an act of God falls to the ground. We, however, go further. No action of a human being is considered by the Eastern mind as a divine dispensation, unless it is intrinsically justifiable. And when an Eastern submits to the apparently inevitable, there is always traceable behind such submission, not a recognition of the Divine hand, but of base selfishness. The spirit is then willing, but the flesh is weak….

And what is it that Mr. Hosken will have the Transvaal Indians to do? To accept the enslaving Act in order that they [may] be able to exist in that country! In other words, Mr. Hosken, a man of God, advises Indians, for their material good, to forswear their solemn oath and their honour. We answer, in the words of his Master, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything shall be added unto you.” We believe that, in resisting the wretched Act, Indians would be seeking the “Kingdom of God”. Mr. Hosken says the oath is not binding, because it was ill-taken. But the solemn declaration was made by Indians with due deliberation. And it was not only for their own self-respect, but for that of their dear ones and their country, that they resolved upon resisting the Act and facing  imprisonment or worse. We, therefore, trust that Mr. Hosken will, with his accustomed (p.120) zeal for forlorn causes, study the Asiatic question, and we promise that he will accept the whole contention of the Indian community. He went to the meeting as a messenger of peace from the Government. He will, we doubt not, fulfil the functions of a true mediator, if he will only understand carefully the Indian standpoint. [Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—pp.120-121


….There is no remission of sin without shedding of blood. This may be paraphrased for British Indians to mean that there is to be no freedom for British Indians without their suffering imprisonment, even banishment. They must prove themselves worthy of the relief they are fighting for, before they will get it.  [Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—p.122


In the current issue we publish two letters which mention the names of those who did not close their stores on July 31. We also publish the names we have received of those in Pretoria who have made applications for the title-deed of slavery. It is with exceeding regret that we publish these, but we hold that it is not proper for us to conceal the names of defaulters at a time when a great fight is being put up. We do not entertain any feeling of anger or ill-will against any one of them. However, we believe that by publishing the names in this manner we are rendering patriotic service. This is a time when Indians must cultivate the utmost strength and abjure all selfishness. Such being the case, we publish the names of weak persons, and hope that this will give strength to the others. We shall publish any statement that the persons concerned may have to make, provided it is briefly worded. We shall also publish letters of regret that those who realize their mistake may send us. We only wish them well, considering that they too are our countrymen. We expect that our readers also will have a similar feeling towards them. Anger, malice, arrogance, selfishness, violence—all these are not only useless in our fight—they are positively harmful. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—p.124


Mrs. Bhicaiji Rustomji K. R. Cama has written a letter in The Sociologist which is quoted by Jam-e-Jamshed We draw the attention of our readers in the Transvaal to the following powerful words reproduced from it: Men and women of India! Listen to what I am saying and oppose this wicked Act. There is an old proverb that those who lose their freedom lose half their virtues. Therefore, come forward to fight for freedom, justice and truth. People of India! Resolve in your mind that it will be far better for the whole nation to die rather than live in such slavery. Fearless Rajputs, Sikhs, Pathans, Gurkhas, patriotic Marathas and Bengalees, spirited Parsis and brave Mahomedans, and last, you mild Jains and patient Hindus, children of a great nation, why do you not live as befits your ancient history? Why do you live thus in slavery? March ahead! Mrs. Bhicaiji Cama has more than 20 years’ experience of (p.127) political life. At present she lives in Paris. She is full of patriotic fervour. Her words are addressed to India, but they also apply at present to Indians in the Transvaal. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 10-8-1907.]—pp.127-28


It is said that when Hanuman [the Monkey-God of the Ramayana,] desired to set Lanka on fire, his tail grew heavier in weight as he went further.1 Similarly, the Office for new registers, as it travels further, carries a greater and greater burden with it….(p. 134) But between the case of Hanuman and that of this Office there is a great difference. The more rags they wound round Hanuman’s tail and the more oil they poured on it, the greater was the fire in the city of Lanka, though Hanuman did not feel its heat. But the task of the Permit Office is to enforce the obnoxious law, and therefore, it will probably happen that both the law and the Office will be burnt to ashes by the travels of the Office. For, it will not be possible to destroy by fire the Lanka of the Indian community. The community is guiltless. The culprit is the incendiary law itself. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 17-8-1907.]—pp.134-35


After we had almost finished writing for this issue, we heard that the list of the Pretoria black sheep given by us was not complete. The names in the last issue included some Memons and one Hindu.  We have now come to know that some Konkanis are also among them. The following are their names: We have also heard that at Pietersburg the two Indians undergoing gaol sentences are not the only ones to have registered themselves; there are about four more. If true, this is very regrettable. There are, it appears, some men in the community who show misguided courage and blacken their faces. At Pretoria the Konkanis have emphatically declared that none of them has applied for the new permit. In Pietersburg, on the other hand, the four men referred to above are also among the signatories to the petition submitted to the Colonial Secretary Both these acts of treachery are very grave. That such traitors are very few is a matter for congratulation. However, the presence of such people in the community should serve as a serious warning to good men. All this reminds one of the story of the axe and its handle. The harm done by the obnoxious law or by the Government could not be so great as that done by such men. A person who openly takes out the new register may be credited with some sort of courage. But what simile shall we use to describe the man who takes out the register stealthily and then parades as respectable? [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 17-8-1907.]—p. 136


…The question has also been asked as to what will happen if all the 13,000 Indians are sent to gaol simultaneously, Who will then look after the children? This question results from sheer fear. Such a question will never occur to anyone with the slightest faith in God. How should it then be raised by the Indian, who always lives in fear of God? We shall not have the good fortune of 13,000 Indians being arrested simultaneously; and in case this happens, let us all remember that there is the Almighty to look after those that may be left behind. If such a question can be asked, one may as well ask who will look after the dependants if, with an earthquake, all the 13,000 Indians were to disappear. What great crime have the arrested persons committed that their children or their property alone should go uncared for? But supposing they have to suffer this, why should we not render that much patriotic service? If we do not, how shall we command respect and honour? How shall we be regarded as patriots? (p.142)[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 17-8-1907]—p.142


The Friend, of Bloemfontein, has performed a public service and has earned the sincere gratitude of British Indians by the warm-hearted way in which it has approved of the manner whereby our Transvaal brethren have shown their abhorrence of a measure repugnant to their self-respect. The Friend has demonstrated its courage and public spirit by devoting a series of leading articles to a consideration of the subject from which it concludes that British Indians are perfectly justified in protesting, by means of “passive resistance”, against a humiliating law. We commend The Friend’s remarks1, which appear elsewhere, to the notice of our Transvaal contemporaries. [Indian Opinion, 24-8-1907.]—p.157


In our opinion, the Gujarati section of Indian Opinion is at present rendering invaluable service…We therefore deem it to be the duty of every Indian to read every line of it pertaining to the struggle. Whatever is read is afterwards to be acted upon, and the issue, after being read, is to be preserved and not thrown away. We recommend that certain articles and translations should be read and re-read. Moreover, our cause needs to be discussed in every home in India. Our readers can do much to bring this about. They can send the required number of copies of Indian Opinion to their friends and, advising them to read them, seek all possible help from them. The present issue includes a letter addressed (p. 157) by the Hamidia Islamic Society to Indian Muslims.1 We think it necessary that hundreds of copies of this number should be sent out to India. [[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 24-8-1907.]—pp.157-58


We give a translation of an article in The Friend of Bloemfontein, …The name of the paper is The Friend, and it has acted like a friend of the Indian community…. The impression that has been made on the mind of its editor has also been made on the minds of thousands of white men. But they will not speak out yet. They will do it when we begin playing our true part. From the article in The Friend one should know that, if the Indian community now retraces its steps in the least, the Indian nation will be put to shame and its three hundred millions judged by what the (p.160) 13,000 do here. The question of paying compensation, which the Friend has raised, is likely to be raised still more forcefully. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 24-8-1907.]—pp.160-61


Moreover, if such a petition is sent to General Smuts on behalf of the Indians, the petition that has been submitted concerning the Immigration Bill will also receive a set-back. The fight that is (p. 171) being put up by the South Africa British Indian Committee will have been in vain, and the Indian community will have been robbed in broad daylight. It is our particular request, therefore, that any individual or group that desires to take out the register is free to do so. Only, they should not drag others along with them….[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 31-8-1907.]—pp.170-72


Henry David Thoreau….considered it a great sin that the Americans held many persons in the bonds of slavery. He did not rest content with saying this, but took all other necessary steps to put a stop to this trade. One of those steps consisted in not paying any taxes to the State in which the slave trade was being carried on. He was imprisoned when he stopped paying the taxes due from him. The thoughts which occurred to him during this imprisonment were boldly original and were published in the form of a book. The title of this article conveys the general sense of the English title of his book. Historians say that the chief cause of the abolition of slavery in America was Thoreau’s imprisonment and the publication by him of the above mentioned book after his  release. Both his example and writings are at present exactly applicable to the Indians in the Transvaal. We, therefore, give below a summary of these


I accept that that government is best which governs least. That is, government is a kind of disease and the greater the freedom the people enjoy from it, the more admirable is the government. Many persons say that it would be good if America had no [standing] army or had only a small one. What they say is quite right [as far as it goes], but those who hold such a view base it on a false premise. They say that the State is beneficial; it is only the army that is harmful. These eminent men do not realize that an army is but the arm of the Stateand without it the State cannot exist for a moment. But wecannot see this because we are ourselves intoxicated with the power of the State. Really speaking, it is we, the subjects, who are responsible for the existence of both the State and the army.

Thus we see that we are deceiving ourselves. It is not the government of America that keeps the people free, or educates them. The [achievements of] government that we observe are, in some small measure, the result of the inherent character of the American people. In other words, though we are educated and intelligent, we are somewhat less so than we could have been if it were not for the government.

But, I do not ask for no government at once, but at once for a better government. This is the duty of every citizen. It is a great error to believe that nothing but justice prevails in a country in which everything is decided by a majority vote. Much injustice continues to be perpetrated because this error is not recognized. It is a mere superstition to believe that what is done by a multitude is bound to be right. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not decide right and wrong, but conscience? Must the citizen always (p. 189) resign his conscience to the legislators? I would say that we are men first and subjects afterwards. It is not necessary to cultivate a respect for the law so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. Law never made man a whit more just. But I have seen and I do see  that even ordinarily well-disposed persons become, through their simplicity, the instruments of injustice. One result of an undue respect for law is that we may see people taking to soldiering and, like monkeys, mechanically carrying out the orders of their superiors unquestioningly. Many people thus take to it [soldiering] as their profession. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; yet they rush to join it. Are they men, or axes in the hands of butchers ? Such men are on a level with wood and earth and stones. How can that kind of men command any respect? How can they be valued better than dogs or cats? Then some others become advocates, ambassadors or lawyers. They imagine that they serve the State with their heads. But I find that, unintentionally and unconsciously, they also serve Satan. Those who obey their sense of justice while holding the reins of government are always found to be in conflict with the State.[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 7-9-1907.]—pp.189-90


We have already given some portion of Thoreau’s essay on this subject.1 The rest is given below. [The translation given here has been collated with the original in English.]

A wise person will only be useful as a man, and will not submit himself to be [treated as] clay. He who associates himself with the America of today is as good as a coward. I cannot recognize that government to be my government which is the slave’s government also. Mankind has the right to refuse allegiance to and resist the government when its tyranny becomes unendurable. Some  people say that such is not the case now. That is, the attack is not on them; if others are attacked, those who hold this opinion are unconcerned with it.

All machines have their friction, and the same is true of every State. Perhaps it may not be  necessary to oppose [the State] in order to free it of such friction. But when the friction comes to have its machine, when tyranny takes the form of law, such a State cannot be tolerated by true men.

One must do justice and maintain truth, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I should restore it to him though I may be drowned myself. In the same way, we must cease to hold slaves though it cost the existence of the American State. We are accustomed to say that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow because the few who desire it do not have enough courage. It is not so important that many should be as good as you as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who in opinion are opposed to slavery, but act contrary to their view. They, esteeming themselves children of Washington, sit down with their hands in their [Vide “Duty of Disobeying Laws[1]”, 7-9-1907] (p.200) pockets and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing. At the most they give lectures and send petitions.

There are nine hundred and ninety nine persons who profess virtue to one virtuous man. Yet he who acts virtuously, though he be the only one, is of far greater worth than those who only profess it. There may be many warders of a treasure, but none of them can give away a single farthing from it. The owner of the treasure may be only one, yet he can give away everything from it.

Voting for the right is not the same thing as doing the right. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because there is but little slavery left to be abolished. That is, the foundation for the [formal] abolition was [already] laid by the men who abolished it in practice.

I do not say that it is a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to eradicate a wrong wherever he finds it; but it is his duty, at least, not to give it practically his support. How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it ?

If someone steals my goods, I do not rest satisfied with saying that it was not a good thing that I was robbed, but I take effectual steps to recover what was stolen, and see that I am not robbed again. He who acts on his principles becomes a different kind of man. Such a man cares neither for his country nor for his relatives nor his friends. But, serving truth, he serves all of them.

We admit that unjust laws exist. Do we transgress them at once? Men generally say that these laws will be repealed when a majority of people disapprove them. They think that if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil, not of those who resist it.

I do not hesitate to say that even if there is only one man in Massachusetts who is opposed to slavery, he should effectually withdraw his support from the government, both in person and property, without waiting till there is a majority on his side. For, he is not alone. God is ever on his side. Any man more right than his neighbours constitutes a majority of one already. I meet the American government directly and face to face once a year in the person of its tax-gatherer. At that time, It must definitely refuse to pay the tax. I know this well that even if only one honest man in this State of Massachusetts refuses to pay taxes in order to oppose slavery, and is locked up in gaol therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. What is once well done is done for ever. But we love better (p. 201) to talk about it; that we say is our mission. There are many newspapers in the service of the movement for abolition of slavery, but not one man.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. Hence, the proper place today for good people in Massachusetts is in her prisons. In a slave State prison is the only house in which a free man can abide with honour. If they think that in that case their influence will be lost and none will be left to fight injustice, they do not know how to fight evil. They do not know how much stronger truth is than error. Those who are in gaol, suffering the tyranny of injustice, can combat injustice more effectively from there than from outside. So long as a minority conforms to the majority, it is not even a minority. They must throw in their whole weight in the opposite direction.

When talking with my neighbours, I find that they dread the consequences of disobedience to the government to their property and family. For my own part, I would find it depressing to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State.

I think it is disgraceful to submit to a tyrannical State. It is easy and good to oppose it. I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into gaol once on this account for one night. As I stood considering the walls of the prison and its iron gates, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of the State. For, those who had imprisoned me must have thought that I was made of flesh and bones only. Those fools did not know that though confined within walls, I was freer   than others. I did not feel that I was in a prison. Rather, I thought that those who were outside were the real prisoners. As they could not reach me, they punished my body. In consequence, I became more free, and my ideas in regard to the State became more dangerous. I have seen that, when small children can do nothing to a person, they abuse his dog. In the same way, the State hurts my body as it can do nothing to me. I also found that the State was afraid of hurting my body. So I lost all my remaining respect for it.1[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 14-9-1907].—pp. 200-202



There is a well-known lady2 connected with the Ethical Society of England who writes as follows:

I have just been reading Indian Opinion for July 27th and I can forbear no longer sending to you a few words to express sympathy with you, which I have felt over and over again when reading your paper—sympathy with the stress and strain of your struggle, sympathy with the holy nature of your cause, and, above all, sympathy with the spirit in which you are writing, speaking and acting all the time. I want to send you congratulations also in that you have been able to carry on the struggle so strenuously. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 21-9-1907.]—p.220


A watchman’s duty is to watch, not to assault. We have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if anyone in Johannesburg seeking registration is assaulted, our success will turn into failure just at the last moment, like a ship sinking when about to reach the harbour. Our whole struggle is based on our submitting ourselves to hardships, not inflicting them on anyone else, be he an Indian or European. This point must be borne in mind very carefully by every “watchman”.Our duty is to reason with those who are doing wrong, to entreat them, to beg of them. If in spite of this they wish to court slavery, they ought to have the freedom to do so. For, we do not see any gain in saving them from the yoke of the law in order to subject them to our own yoke. It is our duty to extend to others the same freedom that we want for ourselves. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-9-1907.]—p.231


…When any persons are accompanied by the police, the pickets should not interfere at all. Those who would be slaves need not be obstructed by anyone. It makes me feel ashamed that there are Indians who accuse the pickets of using threats; I feel that it is our misfortune. It has been made clear to every Indian that if he wishes to give his finger-prints, the pickets themselves will conduct him [to the Office]…. the pickets are to do their duty with patience. There is no need of pressure by pickets. What is required is their presence….If the Government should attack the pickets, they must not feel afraid. And it should be remembered that, if anyone is arrested while picketing, he is not to offer bail, and if convicted, he is to go to gaol instead of paying the fine. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 19-10-1907.]—p.275


We think it was proper that telegrams of birthday greetings were sent to His Majesty King Edward. We are an ancient people. Courtesy runs in our blood. If the telegrams had not been sent, we would have been found wanting in courtesy. We have not sent the greetings specially by way of flattery, or in the hope of gaining anything in connection with the question of the [new] law. We sent the greetings because we thought that it was our duty to do so. Even so, why should such a telegram be sent? We received three gifts on the birthday. Ram Sundar Pundit was arrested without any reason. This was an attack on religion. Though he is a Hindu, the whole community has felt shocked. Passports have been refused for pilgrimage to Mecca. Licences were refused in Johannesburg and other places. It is as if, while others are enjoying themselves, the Indian community is to be in mourning. Should we, even then, send the telegrams of greetings? This question occurred to three former Presidents of the Natal Indian Congress, and quite justifiably. They felt that if we did want to send a telegram, we should also mention our grievances. The objection that they raised is not to be set aside lightly. It indicates how much our feelings have been hurt. Even then, it is a sign of anger. It is not the fault of the Emperor that we suffer. The remedy lies in our hands. Since we feel the pinch, a remedy will be found. That remedy is in the hands of the Transvaal Indians. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 16-11-1907.]—p.340



…As for looking after oneself, even birds and beasts do this. The chief difference between man and beast is that man is a benevolent creature.  All live happily where one feels happy in the happiness of others. But where everyone looks after himself alone, all are lost…. A mother suffers discomfort to bring up her child.  In the end such a mother finds herself happy. Where the members of a family share one another’s burdens and give up individual interests, the whole family is well sustained. Members of a community individually suffer to save the group as a whole and are themselves saved too. Similarly, where men undergo suffering or die for their country’s sake, they truly live and bring credit to the country. Is there any Indian who seeks happiness for himself by breaking this fundamental law? These examples clearly prove that the Transvaal Indians will be victorious if, for the sake of the Indian community and for the sake of their personal honour, they endure all sufferings and face all hardships to accomplish the task they have undertaken. They will then break their bonds and win immortal fame in history. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 15-6-1907].— p.3




Mr. Ally, in our opinion, acted hastily in writing to Justice Ameer Ali….To say that every Indian merchant is a Muslim and every hawker a Hindu is, we believe, a poisonous comment. We take it as a disgrace to the Indian community that Mr. Ally should have penned such words. The Transvaal struggle affects Hindus and Muslims alike….The question of such distinctions as Hindus and Muslims therefore does not arise at all. Moreover, the relations between Indians in South Africa professing the two religions are not in the least strained. By and large, all live in peace and amity. That in these circumstances such a letter should have been addressed to the Committee portends, in our view, a very unfavourable issue for the Indian community. Hence, we publish this letter along with our comments on it, to warn all Indians that, when the time of our deliverance is at hand, no one should imagine that differences exist between Hindus and Muslims or dream of creating any.

We do not wish to hurt Mr. Ally in any way by discussing the matter in public. Those who disagree with him need not be angry with him; rather, they should pity him for his mistake. The main point to be learnt from this is that every person engaged in public work should take a vow that he would not, under any circumstances, act in a way that might harm public interests. We would advise Mr. Ally to correct his mistake. (p91)

We can also see from the above correspondence that, if Mr. Ally had not written the letter, the Committee perhaps would not have sent us a cable to dissuade us[from going to gaol]. However, it should be clearly borne in mind that the Committee’s advice is of no use to us at the present moment. Those rushing into the field of battle cannot listen to the advice of men who keep themselves at home. We have now to go on fighting, relying only on our own strength.  If we feel that submitting to the obnoxious law is sinful, we shall not commit the sin just because the Committee or someone else advises us to do so. We have to give an account to God, not to the Committee. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-7-1907.]—91-92



…Thus, if women in India are not employed as they should be, it can be said that the entire  country suffers from paralysis. How is it surprising then that India is not able to keep pace with other countries? All parents should think of this in regard to their daughters, and all Indians should do likewise with regard to the womenfolk of India. We badly need thousands of women who can compare with Mirabai and Rabia Bibi. [From Gurajati, Indian Opinion, 22-6-1907.]—p.13



For an Essay on “The Ethics of Passive Resistance”

As this journal has, in a humble way, led the battle of passive resistance now being offered by the Indians in the Transvaal against an Act which, in their opinion, does violence to their consciences and as the controllers of the policy of this journal are desirous of showing the general utility of the doctrine of passive resistance, the management have decided to offer, as they now do, a prize of ten guineas for the best essay on “The Ethics of Passive Resistance”. The doctrine, religiously construed, mean a fulfilment of Jesus’ famous saying, “Resist not evil”. As such, it is of eternal and universal application, and if it were practised largely, it would replace, to a great extent if not entirely, brute force and other kindred methods for securing redress of grievances or inauguration of reforms. The management, therefore, trust that the best men in South Africa, having leisure, will compete for the prize, not for its monetary value, but with a view to an elucidation of [a] principle of life which, although it has the sanction of the best minds of the world, is still little understood and less practised. The terms of competition are as follows:

(1) The essay should be written clearly, on side of the paper only, or preferably typed. The competitor’s name should not appear on the manuscript.

(2) It may be divided into four chapters and should not cover more than ten columns of Indian Opinion.

(3) It should contain an examination of Thoreau’s classic, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, Tolstoy’s works—more especially “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You”—and it should give Biblical and other religious authorities and (p.430) illustrations; and also the application of the “Apology of Socrates” to the question. The essay should give illustrations from modern history in support of the doctrine. (4) It should be addressed: The Editor, Indian Opinion, Phoenix, Natal, and should reach not later than the 30th instant.

(5) The management reserve to themselves the right to publish and translate any of the contributions received, and to reject all if none is considered suitable.[Indian Opinion, 9-11-1907]

CWG Vol. 6

Again we read Gandhiji’s mixed feeling towards British—appreciating for their justice at the same time demands also the same from them (p.362).  We also read his views on British rule in India, his appreciation of anti-British sentiment in India at the same time not entirely supporting them (400. UNREST IN INDIA, pp. 486-87.).  For me the highlight of this volume is Gandhiji’s summary of Ethical religion by William MacIntyre Salter, the founder of the Society for Ethical Culture, Chicago, to inspire the readers of Indian Opinion to take ethics seriously.  Gandhiji’s view on morality and publishing ‘Ethical Religion’ are not to give information to his readers but encourage them to emulate those principles in personal life.  However his views look idealistic and impractical for others, he was sincere to implement in his personal life at his best.


Again Gandhiji’s view of corruption among Indians is more reflects his wishful ideology than reality.  He says, ‘I know nothing about the habit of offering bribes among the people of the East, but I do know that even the lowest among the Indians knows that offering a bribe is bad.’ Another important high light in this volume is Gandhiji’s personal letter to his brother Lakshmidas Gandhi (pp. 394-400) explaining his position against the former’s accusation.  In this letter he poured down his heart, which is very important for us to know about his struggle on personal and public life.


In his ‘service of love’ to Indians at SA, (p.114) the way he respond to all kinds of false accusation against him, his extreme care in spending money (p.119, 383, 394), his sensitivity about public manners (by Indians, NAUSEA, pp. 259-60), his opposition against superstitions (p.401), view on education (‘improve oneself and to serve the country’. P. 316), importance of correspondence (p.412), his pledge against new law which demands the finger prints of Indians (417-18), his experiment with natural healing (452) reflects his personality again more clearly.


His writings on Indians are, as usual with full of challenges, rebukes, reminding their duty, honesty, appearance (pp. 102-03; 209; 242-44; 313-14; 314-15; 334), even helping a needy white (277-78).  We also read a lot about preparing the Indians for goal-going (also in volume 7) against the laws passed against Indians (326, 384-85; 389-90; 404, 408-11, 427-29); to be patriotic (405-06). The summary of Sir William Wedderburn which Gandhiji gives in this context is worth noting, where Wedderburn writes: ‘the relations between the two countries have to be placed on a foundation of justice. The idea that the British are the masters and the Indians the servants must go. If this happens, England and India can stay together, befriend the world and work for the good of mankind.’ (406)’. His views on Indian emigration to SA are important for us to understand the background for his fight for justice to Indians in SA (424-25).  Gandhiji’s views about the ‘the establishment of a society of servants of India’, as per the proposal by ‘An Indian savant’ who ‘has written in The Indian Sociologist’ (494) reflects his high noble ideals on such matters. (494-95)


In this volume we get some more information about Islam from Gandhi.  The information about, ‘Pan-Islamic Society, whose headquarters are in London, took place… the object of Pan-Islamism was to bring together under its fold the different sects of Mahomedans and carry on a peaceful propaganda of the faith of the Prophet with a view to promote universal brotherhood.’ (105); the visit of Amir of Afghanistan, the way he stopped the slaughtering of hundreds of cows not to offend Hindu sentiment (226-27), Amir’s speech at College at Aligarh about the factions in Islam (Sunni and Shiya), his instruction to Chhaganlal to find some Urdu poems to insert in his article on ‘Ethical Religion’ and his specific instruction not to ‘not insert any that applies to the Hindus alone’ (271), even giving the minute ritual information of ‘akiko … the ceremonial shaving of the head’ among the Muslims (415), as usual reflects his attitude towards Muslims.


We also read the way Gandhiji was annoyed when The Times (London) during his deputation managed to publish the speech of Lord Elgin, (pp. 65-66-148) against their wish, his interest further advance Indian Opinion and his decision to send Chhaganlal to London further to educate him to better serve it (252-53; 272-74), but later changing it (427), his reservation on publishing riddles as per the proposal of Chhanganlal (272), his interest to publish Ramayana and also bring about a book only after getting as assurance of the sale of 500 copes and announcement of prize for the finest poem in support of goal going.


In this volume we find Gandhiji’s firm resolve to fight for Truth and just cause, which later earned the famous name ‘Satyagraha’ (more about this word in vol. 7) and the way he wrote to encourage Indians for goal going (which will occupy more space in vol. 7).


However Gandhiji’s view about the regular break-down of tram at Johannesburg and his comment on it by saying, ‘There can be two reasons for this. The Indian community may persuade itself that it results from God’s wrath on the municipality which prohibits Coloured persons from travelling by these trams. Another reason may be that those entrusted with the installation of electric motors have, for the sake of money, cheated and not done their work according to the contract.(p. 411)’ under the heading DIVINE WRATH, bit surprised me as he always oppose superstition (see p. 401). 



We have often had to write about the oppression we suffer at the hands of Englishmen. We are very glad now to have an occasion for speaking well of them while thinking of the coming restoration of Dutch rule in the Transvaal. The defeat of the Dutch in the war proved English tenacity. The British, even when thrown flat on the ground, do not accept defeat, call it a virtue or a failing. Once the war started, they alone knew how to win it.


The British saw, during the war, that the Dutch were not a people to be easily beaten; they too would not accept defeat. In defeat, the Dutch had truly won. Had they not been just a handful,  they could never have been defeated. That was the impression they made on the British. Moreover, the British were shrewd enough to see that, in declaring war on the Dutch, they were themselves mainly at fault. The party which had declared and fought the war was defeated at the last election. The Liberals won and they decided to hand over the reins of Government to the Dutch….No matter what the Dutch have done to us, we ought to congratulate them, considering that they deserve what they have gained. This [attitude] is an outstanding illustration of English liberality. It is a matter of joy for us that we are associated with such a people. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-3-1907].— 286. ENGLISH LIBERALITY p.313.


…. We do not want to be always complaining to the Imperial Government.  We want to live honourably in goodwill and amity with the whites under the aegis of the local Government and thus to respect (p. 361) the wishes of the whites. But all that can be done only if they regard us as human beings, grant that we have the same feelings that they have; that we are fit to enjoy the same rights as they under the great British Empire. But if, unfortunately, this meeting cannot convince the Government of this unpalatable truth and of the justice of our demands, we shall have no alternative but to ask for the protection of the Imperial Government, which it is bound to give. Whenever the weak are oppressed by the strong, it is the duty of the Imperial Government to come to their help….(p.362)



…Would the British people lose their sense justice? If so, let the Proclamation of Queen  [Victoria] and King Edward’s message be withdrawn. If this Bill is passed, we shall be looked upon as criminals by the whole world. It is shameful that Mr. Smuts should call us coolies. When I was in England, I was made a member of the National Liberal Club. Even the lords respected me. If this Bill is passed, I will not stay in this land a moment longer. Rather than pass such laws, the Government had better drive us out of the Colony.(p.363)

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 6-4-1907]— 326. MASS MEETING OF TRANSVAAL INDIANS, {against ASIATIC LAW AMENDMENT BILL passed in NATAL Parliament}, pp. 357-363,.


Nowadays the British welcome ministers from the Colonies. …The Colonies are like the children of the British. It is nothing surprising if a father meets his children with warmth and enthusiasm, unmindful of their faults and perceptive only of their virtues. Where such a relationship obtains, the family prospers; a people, similarly, thrives on such relationships. This is one of the potent causes of the prosperity of the British. They do not envy the rise of their kith and kin.


Again the ministers who receive so much honour are brave persons. They are not the sort of persons to be overawed by others and they will take any risks for their country. That is why the  British welcome them with acclamation….(p. 385)


Knowing all this as we do, we must not envy them; on the contrary we should congratulate them. And, if we have any public spirit, we should, like them, engage in the work of public welfare and be prepared, like them, even to die for it.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 20-4-1907.]— 342. ENGLAND AND HER COLONIES, pp. 385-86


…Should the British be thrown out of India? Can it be done, even if we wish to do so? To these two questions we can reply that we stand to lose by ending British rule and that, even if we wanted to, India is not in a position to end it. By this we do not suggest that the British Raj is very  powerful and that India has had incalculable advantages from it, or that India could not, if it so willed, remove British rule. But we hold that, whatever the motives of the British in coming to India, we have much to learn from them. They are a brave and considerate people, and are on the whole honest. Blind where self-interest is concerned, they give unstinted admiration for bravery wherever found. They are a powerful nation, and India enjoys not a little protection under them. It is not, therefore, desirable that British rule in India should disappear.


Should we then repudiate such men as Lala Lajpat Rai? { Indian patriot and President, Indian National Congress, 1920, popularly known as “the Lion of the Punjab”. }That, too, is not possible. In our view, the men of the Punjab and the others who carry on the agitation are brave men. They are patriots and endure hardships for the sake of the country. To that extent they command our respect. However, they appear to be in error in so far as they want to eliminate British rule. In pursuit of this end, they appear determined to suffer any punishment the law may inflict on them. We have nothing to blame them for. For, their sufferings will lead to India’s happiness. They oppose British rule because of its drawbacks. Because of that rule, India is becoming poorer. To some extent, British rule is an important cause of even the plague in India. It adds to the ill-will between Hindus and Muslims. It is also because of that rule that we have been reduced to such a low state and live like

cowards. Exasperated by these evils, some Indian leaders find fault with the entire British nation. Their revolt will probably remove these draw-backs to some extent. Moreover, since they are our own fellow countrymen, we ought not to nurse ill feeling against them. Rather, we 1 (1865-1928), (p.486) ought to admire their heroism.


The fault, in fact, lies with us. If we remove the fault, British rule, which is a cause of misery today, can become a source of happiness. Public spirit is not likely to grow among us without western education and contacts with the West. If that spirit grows, the British may grant

our demands even without a fight, and may leave India if we want them to do so.

The British colonies are what they are, not because the people there are white, but because they are brave and would take offence if their rights were not granted. That is why they are regarded as members of one family. In short, we have no quarrel with British rule. We have to be proud of the courage of those who have been creating this unrest. Let us show the same courage ourselves, but instead of desiring the end of British rule, let us aspire to be as able and spirited as the Colonists are, and demand and secure the rights we want. And at the same time, let us learn and follow the good points of British rule, and so become more capable.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 1-6-1907.]— 400. UNREST IN INDIA, pp. 486-87





Let me comment on some matters mentioned in his {Lord Selborne,} communications which are published in the Blue book. His Lordship, on being given information about false permits, levelled an unworthy and painful charge against us. His Excellency said, ‘Those who have come in contact with the people of the East know that they do not look upon getting their work done through bribery as irreligious. Thanks to this state of affairs the permit inspector succumbs to

temptation for which he should never be given the opportunity. ‘I know nothing about the habit of offering bribes among the people of the East, but I do know that even the lowest among the Indians knows that offering a bribe is bad. I must remind His Lordship that, in 1903, officials in the Asiatic Office at Johannesburg did accept bribes and that it was through the efforts of the British Indian Association that they were caught and dismissed. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 6-4-1907]— 326. MASS MEETING OF TRANSVAAL INDIANS, {against ASIATIC LAW AMENDMENT BILL passed in NATAL Parliament}, p. 357




(p.305)…I have started the Habibia College in Afghanistan. There I have allowed western education to be imparted in order that the students may grow up to be whole Muslims. I found the students whom I examined today to be very well educated in religion.

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 2-3-1907].— 278. HIS MAJESTY AMIR HABIBULLAH AT ALIGARH

COLLEGE, pp.305-06


…Education is just a means. If it is not accompanied by truthfulness, firmness, patience and other virtues, it remains sterile, and sometimes does harm instead of good. The object of education is not to be able to earn money, but to improve oneself and to serve the country. If this object is not realized, it must be taken that the money spent on education has been wasted…[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-3-1907].— 290. JAMES GODFREY, p.316





…The petition of Messrs Godfrey and Pillay represents that I am a “professional political agitator”. As to that statement it can only (p.100) arise from ignorance or wilful misrepresentation, because my services to my fellow-countrymen in South Africa for the last thirteen years have been purely a labour of love, and a matter of the keenest

pleasure to me. [Indian Opinion, 23-11-1906].— 96. INTERVIEW TO “SOUTH AFRICA” November 16, 1906, pp. 100-101


…There is no rose without thorns. And these hopes have a thorn in the shape of Dr. Godfrey’s petition. I am not depressed on this account. Neither need it hurt our feelings. We should not be angry with Dr. Godfrey. He is a child and lacks understanding. Often he is unaware of his own folly. He deserves pity rather than scorn. Lord Elgin’s secretary showed us his petition, in which he states that the Indian community has given no authority to Messrs Gandhi and Ally. Mr. Gandhi was a paid agitator and had amassed money through that trade. The whites of Durban had beaten him up in 1892 and driven  him away. His activities had resulted in great harm and created differences between the whites and the Coloured people…[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 15-12-1906].— 109. DEPUTATION NOTES – II, LONDON,November 17, 1906, p. 114


…He tells me also that it was in your personal interest that you gave the new typewriter in order to advertise the machine. If therefore you think that you would much rather that I

used an old machine for 15/-, the new one may be removed and an old one sent instead. [From the typewritten office copy: S. N. 4601].— 115. LETTER TO EMPIRE TYPEWRITING COMPANY, LONDON, November 20, 1906 , p. 119


The following is a report of the interview between Mr. Morley, Secretary of State for India, and the deputation representing Brittish Indians in South Africa:

[LONDON, November 22, 1906]

SIR LEPEL GRIFFIN: I have the honour, sir, to head this deputation today in order

to present to you two Delegates from South Africa, Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Ally.

I would like to say with reference to Mr. Gandhi and a somewhat silly petition

which has been sent from South Africa against him and his mission that this was the

work of some mischievous schoolboy, and every one who knows Mr. Gandhi, or has

been associated with his work for many years, as I have been, knows his singlehearted

devotion to this particular cause and that without any personal motive or any

reward. His methods and his motives have been altogether disinterested—to this I can

pledge myself.— 41. DEPUTATION TO MORLEY, p.141


Generally speaking, every person has an aversion to something or the other. To some the sight of certain things. Of these aversions some are desirable, but others are carried too far. None the less, it is a fact that people do have these aversions. Trivial as some of these may seem, we should know what they are. It often happens that, starting from trifles, people go on to big quarrels. Because of trifles the whites sometimes cause havoc. We know of an instance in which a white man kicked an Indian simply because the latter happened to break wind. Once Mr. Miller, a Magistrate of the Amlazi Court, was so sickened at the sight of an Indian witness hiccuping that he could stand it no longer and asked the Indian to stop. Once an Indian and some Europeans were at dinner table. During the meal the Indian started belching. An English lady at the table almost fainted and could not eat at all that day. We can see from these instances how necessary it is for us always to show consideration for the feelings of others. Also, while we live in this country, we should so behave that the whites’ prejudices against us are weakened. With this end in view, we list below some of the causes of their prejudice and appeal to all Indians to overcome them.


1. Avoid, as far as possible, blowing your nose or spitting on swept or paved walks or in the presence of others.  On hygienic grounds also, this rule is worth observing. Doctors say that sometimes serious diseases are caused by contact with the nasal or oral discharge of another. Dr. Murison has said that we often spread tuberculosis through our habit of spitting anywhere. Both these things should be done into a spittoon while at home, and into a handkerchief while out, and, as far as possible, in privacy.

2. One should not belch, hiccup, break wind, or scratch oneself in the presence of others.

These [maxims] are useful for correct social behaviour. By practice one can learn to check one’s instinct to do any of these things.

3. If you want to cough, do so holding your handkerchief (p.259) against the mouth.  If one’s spittle gets blown on to others, it annoys them and if one has any disease, the spittle carries it to them.

4. Even after a bath, in many men, some dirt remains in the ears or under the nails. It is necessary to pare one’s nails and keep them as well as the ears clean.

5. Those who do not grow a regular beard should, if necessary, shave every day. An unshaven face is a sign of laziness or stinginess.

6. One should not let mucus accumulate in the corners of the eyes. One who allows this to happen is considered slothful and a sleepyhead.

7. Every act of cleaning the body should be done in privacy.

8. The turban or cap and the shoes should be clean. The life of the shoes is prolonged by cleaning and polishing.

9. Those who chew betel-leaf and nut should do so at fixed hours, as with other kinds of food so as to avoid giving the impression that we are eating all the time. Those who chew tobacco have a lot to think about. They disfigure every spot by spitting. Addicts to tobacco, as the Gujarati proverb goes, spoil the corner of the house where they chew tobacco, the whole house if they smoke and their clothes if they take snuff. These are rules for personal cleanliness. Later we shall write of those relating to the home and its environs.

[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 2-2-1907]— 243. NAUSEA, pp. 259-60  {this shows the sensitivity of Gandhiji about others manners, comforts, discomforts etc.}


…I have received last month’s account of the household expenses. Looking at it and the expenses of the current month I am afraid that, do what we will, we shall not be able to meet all the  expenses. You should send me details as to how all this expenditure was incurred so

that I can understand….[From copy of the Gujarati: C.W. 11160. Courtesy: Chhaganlal Gandhi.]— 340. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, Wednesday, [After April 19, 1907], p. 383


…I have now received the household account. They seem to have spent money lavishly, and, yet, there is very little in detail I can take exception to. I notice also that the piano has not yet been  debited to me, unless I have overlooked it in going through it hurriedly, so that the amount will be increased by another £10. Is that so? I am intensely dissatisfied with Gokaldas’ betrothal, for I understand that he has actually paid Rs. 2,000 in order to bring about the betrothal. I do not know whether I have understood the thing correctly. If it is in respect of jewellery, the matter is not so open to criticism. I have meagre details about it. If you know anything definite, I should like to know what has actually happened.[From a photostat of the typewritten original: S. N. 4734.]— 346. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, April 20, 1907, p.394



I have received your letter. I wish to answer it with the utmost calmness and as fully as possible. I shall first put my thoughts before you as they come to my mind, and then answer your questions. I am afraid our outlooks differ widely and I see no possibility, for the present, of their being reconciled. You seek peace and happiness through money. I don’t depend on money for my peace; and for the moment at any rate my mind is quite calm and able to stand any amount of suffering.


Like you, I too believe in the old traditions, but there is a difference in our beliefs. For you believe in age-old superstitions, while I not only do not but consider it sinful to believe in them.

You desire to attain moksha2, so do I. Nevertheless, your notion of that state seems to be widely different from mine. Though I have the highest regard for you, untainted by any mean or selfish thought, you harbour hatred for me in your mind. The reason for this, as I see it, is that you are overcome by attachment and maintain relationships for selfish ends. Though you do this uconsciously, the result is practically the same as I have indicated. If you have really got to the

stage of striving for moksha, you should remain calm and unperturbed and forget all about me, even if I am extremely sinful and may be deceiving you. But you are not able to do so because of your excessive attachment. This is what I believe; but if I am wrong in holding this belief, I prostrate myself at your feet and beg to be forgiven.


But whether or not you are overcome by greed and attachment, I am not worried. It does not affect my love for you. My regard for you does not decrease in the least, and I am ready to render you any service that I can and look upon it as my duty.


I fail to understand what you mean by the word “family”. To (p.395) me, the family includes not only the two brothers but the sister as well. It also includes our cousins. Indeed, if I could say so without arrogance, I would say that my family comprises all living beings: the only difference being that those who are more dependent on me, because of blood relationship or other crcumstances, get more help from me. Hence it was that I took out an insurance policy in my

wife’s favour. And this I did because of your bitter letters to me when I was in Bombay and in order to escape your imprecations in case the responsibility for [supporting] my wife and children fell on you, as I was at that time engaged in helping the plague-stricken. Though I am myself against insurance, I took out an insurance policy for these and other reasons. If by any chance you die before me, you may be sure that I shall myself [serve as] an insurance policy for your wife and children. I beseech you to feel secure on this account. I would cite the case of Raliatbehn in this context.


If Raliatbehn does not stay with you, I do not consider that to be due to any fault of mine, but hold your nature responsible. I would humbly remind you that mother was not happy with you, nor at any time were any of the other relatives.


If Gokuldas and Harilal have gone astray, I am not responsible. Gokuldas left me and was spoiled by the pernicious atmosphere there; the same thing happened with Harilal to some extent.  nevertheless, neither of them has become as corrupt as you think. They have better character than other boys. It is only when I judge them by a standard of my own that I find them lacking. Harilal has greatly profited by coming here and, if I mistake not, his character has improved. Since Harilal is already betrothed, I have nothing to say against it. At the same time I cannot say that I am pleased about it.


I consider it wrong too that Gokuldas is going to get married. That it has become necessary for the two brothers to get-married is due to the sensual atmosphere there. It is not any dislike for the

country but the grief I feel for its present sorry plight that prompts me to say this.


Fortunately, Manio1, Ramo2 and Devo3 are here, and are growing up in a healthy atmosphere. I do not therefore worry about their betrothal. To my way of thinking, it is necessary for many Indians to (p.396)

1 Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas, Sons of Gandhiji

observe brahmacharya, even if they get married. If, therefore, all the three boys were to die unmarried, I shouldn’t be sorry but should rejoice instead. However, if when they come of age they wish to marry, I am sure that they will find suitable brides. It would cause you great sorrow if I were to give my answer to the question, “What is to be done if no girl is to be had from our caste?”; so I would, with your permission, rather not answer this question. I repeat that it is the divine law that one gets fruits according to one’s faith and therefore this problem does not arise in my mind at all.


Chhaganlal, Maganlal and Anandlal are members of our family, hence service done to them is service done to the family. They have become better men after coming to Phoenix and I see their moral sense developed.


As to your demand for a hundred rupees a month, I must say that I see neither the means at present nor the need of meeting it. I run the Phoenix Press with borrowed money. Moreover, I may have to go to gaol in the course of the struggle here against the new Ordinance. In that case I may become poorer still. This will come about in a month or two. I am therefore unable at present to do anything to satisfy you. If, however, the condition here improves during the next few months and I am free from trouble, I shall try to send you the money you have asked for by money order with the sole intention of pleasing you.


I do agree that you and Karsandas have [the right to] a share in my earnings. But I spend much less on my personal enjoyment than you do [on yours]. My earnings are what remains after meeting all the charges here. My object in staying here was not to make money but to serve the people; hence I deem it my duty to use for the benefit of the people whatever is left over after meeting the expen-diture on the family here. So please don’t think that I am making money here. At this point I would remind you that between you two brothers I have already paid nearly Rs. 60,000. I cleared all the debts while I was there; and you told me that no more money was wanted. It was only after this that I began spending money here. I handed over all my savings in Natal to you; and I have not kept a penny for myself either from that amount or from my subsequent earnings. From this you will see that I have paid back much more than the Rs. 13,000 spent on me during my stay in England. In saying this I do not mean to suggest (p. 397) that I have done you a favour. I only state the bare facts to pacify your anger.


What Mr. Fitzgerald told you about me only shows that he does not know the facts. I shall now answer your questions 1. These I return herewith.

1. The object of sending me to England was that we, all the three of us, might thereby maintain the status of our father more or less, be well off and enjoy the good things of life.

2. The risk was indeed great as we had decided to stake whatever we had on my education.

3. As those who had promised to help us did not keep their word, you worked hard, and even at the cost of your health, ungrudgingly gave me as much money as I asked for. This shows your magnanimity and your affection for a younger brother.

4. When we were reduced to the condition described in this question, I did feel—I vaguely recollect—that I would earn enough to satisfy you. and make you forget the hardships you underwent for my sake.

5. This I do not recollect, as father himself had started selling the property and we did the same after him.

6. This is but natural.

7. I must say with deep sorrow that, on account of your extravagant and thoughtless way of life, you have squandered a lot of money on pleasures and on pomp and show. You kept a horse and

carriage, gave parties, and spent money on selfish friends; and some money was spent in what I consider immoral ways.

8. I remember to have sold them. I am not at all ashamed of it, neither do I regret it.

9. I do not remember to have sold them secretly without your knowledge; even if I had done so, I do not mind it.

10. Though I did not replace that jewellery, I have already paid its value in cash and much more besides. However, if I am required to do so [again], I shall certainly deposit the money in their names, that is, if I am able to save any. As for getting the jewellery made afresh, I will not do so, as I consider it a sin. When I refuse to get the jewellery

1 Lakshmidas’s letter containing the questions is not available.

(p.398) made, it means that my ideas about such things have substantially changed.

11. I do not consider that I have obliged you by doing this. Even if nothing was done for me, whatever I have to do for my bloodbrother I would do as a matter of duty. If then I do anything for one who spent a great deal on my account, it would be doubly my duty to do so.

12. I am not the master of my earnings, since I have dedicated my all to the people. I do not suffer from the illusion that it is I who earn; I simply believe that God gives me the money for making good use of it.

13. I do recognize your [right to a] share in all my earnings; but since there is no such thing as an income for me now, what can I send you?

14. I am not spending your share [on myself]; but I use all the money that God gives me for the public good. If anything is left over after what has been used for this purpose, I would like to send you all of it, not just your share of it.

15. I don’t have the faintest recollection of having robbed you or anyone else. If I regard all living beings as equal both from the practical and the moral points of view, it is in the fitness of things that those who are more dependent on me have a greater claim on me. That is to say, I should help my wife and sons first and then those who are helpless and have therefore a claim on me. If, on the other hand, my wife and sons find their means of living independently of me, they may be left alone and others who are helpless and depend on me will have precedence. This means that Goko1, if he were not earning, would have a prior claim to Hariyo’s2 if the latter were earning. If all of them are earning and you are not, yours will be the first claim. Moreover, if all of you were working, but Purshottam was not and he were still with us, his would be the first claim. This claim pertains only to maintenance and not to the illusory worldly pleasures. Whatever other questions of a subsidiary nature arise out of the above, you will be able to answer for yourself. All this is written without any bad motive whatever.

16. The answer to this question is contained in the previous one. (p.399)

1 Gokuldas

2 Harilal, Gandhiji’s eldest son

17. I have no objection whatever to your showing this letter or any portion of it to anyone you like. I do not know who should judge as between us. I am at your command. I am in no way your equal and no one therefore can compare us and pronounce judgement. However, I shall hear what those to whom you show this letter have to say and shall reply to them according to my lights. I revere you as you are my elder brother. Our religion bids us treat our elders with veneration. I implicitly believe in that injunction. But I have greater regard for truth. This too is taught by our religion. If you find anything objectionable in what I say, please accept my assurance that I have answered all your questions with the greatest regard for truth, and not in order to hurt you or be rude. Formerly, there was no difference of opinion or misunderstanding between us, hence you had affection for me. Now you have turned away from me because my views have changed, as I have said. Since you consider this change has been for the worse, I can quite understand that some of my answers will not be acceptable to you. But as the change in my ideas is due to my pursuit of truth, I am quite helpless. My devotion to you remains the same as before; it has simply assumed a new form. All this I shall explain to you most humbly and at length some day when we meet and if you want me to tell you about it. But I am unable to say when I can leave this country because of the peculiar circumstances and my several obligations here. Do please believe me when I say that I have written all this withthe best of intentions. If you do that, your displeasure will cease. Wherever you think that I am erring, please bear with me. I have shared your letter with Hariyo, because, after all, whatever you may think, we both belong to the older generation, and though you write with extreme indignation . . . it shows the true nature . . . to leave me. And I am getting him to copy this letter so that you may have no difficulty in reading it and he may know how I have answered your angry letter and may learn whatever he can from it according to his karma.[ From a photostat of the original Gujarati draft in Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 9524]—p. 347. LETTER TO LAKSHMIDAS GANDHI, [About April 20, 1907],pp. 394-400



…I would particularly advise you to see that the child’s bed and other linen are quite clean. Do not allow the useless and wicked superstitions about untouchability to come in your way. Use a cradle in preference to a hammock…[ From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S.N. 4737].— 348. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG], p.401



I have not heard from you at all for some time. Do wake up…. [From the typewritten office copy: S. N. 4736.]—







…I hereby declare my Pledge that, should the new law come into force, I will never take out a permit or register under the law but will go to goal; and even if I am the only one left who has not taken a permit, my pledge shall stand for the following reasons:

1. I consider it a humiliation to submit to this law, and I prefer to go to gaol rather than submit to such humiliation;

2. I believe that my country is dearer to me than my person;

3. if, after having announced the September Resolution to the world, the Indian community submits to the law, it will lose everything; (p.417)

6. if I now retract, I shall be deemed unfit to serve the Indian community;

7. I believe that Indians will rise in public esteem if all of them remain staunch in not submitting to the law, and that, moreover, it will evoke sympathy in India also for the cause of the Transvaal Indians. Many other reasons can be adduced. In the end I appeal to every Transvaal Indian not to miss this occasion and not to turn back. I beg the Indians of Natal, the Cape and Delagoa Bay to encourage us, the Transvaal people, and render help when the need arises.

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI, [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 4-5-1907.]— 358. MR. GANDHI’S PLEDGE,JOHANNESBURG,April 30, 1907, pp.417-18


… I think I threw off the headache on Thursday, but, though I am feeling much better, I do not want to give myself over much work yet. The treatment I gave myself was two local earth bandages and two abdominal bandages, and rest up to seven o’clock in the morning, instead of six. The real thing was as much rest at night as possible….[From a photostat of the typewritten original with a Gujarati postscript in

Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 4751.]— 381. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG,], p.452




…I was led to make this examination myself owing to what I felt were unsatisfactory replies given to me by a large number of our countrymen when leaving this land for home.  Invariably I put them the question: “What has England taught (P. 101) you or what improvements have you in mind to suggest to your people when you return?” And to such questions I received the painful and saddening reply to the effect that they had been too much occupied with their immediate studies and occupations to devote any

time to or concern themselves about the people or things surrounding them. As to improvements at home, that is a question which affects local interests and, therefore, must necessarily need local consideration, etc. Now gentlemen, I put it to you that such replies are anything but satisfactory. Whether this be the frame of mind of the majority

who go back, I will not take upon myself the responsibility of stating.  I hope I shall be told I am mistaken. Be that as it may, the knowledge of the fact of even one of us returning home in this mood of utter indifference and doubt, I feel, amply justifies a reference to the subject in a paper of this kind…We never seem to realize that we have come all the way from home in order to benefit ourselves and secure that experience and status which it is somewhat difficult for us to secure in our own land. We come, not with the intention of merely qualifying in some particular profession, but of simultaneously

gaining that wider experience of the world and its ways which can only be had by travelling in foreign countries. We defeat the very object of our visit to this country if we do not carry away with us some of the multifarious benefits derived by our sojourn here. We want, after our staying here, to go back with the very best that the place can give us… If we don’t, the loss is ours and we are not doing our duty to ourselves, much less to our country. (p. 102) Let us try and reckon up some of their good points only and see

if they are worth copying. The bad points we leave aside….[Indian Opinion, 29-12-1906]— 97. MEETING AT LONDON INDIAN SOCIETY1, [After November 16, 1906] pp. 101-03


…When the South Africa British Indian Committee was formed in England, Dr. Oldfield said that strength and justice were dear to the British people. Under British rule, justice is

often not to be had without some show of strength, whether of the pen, of the sword, or of money. For our part we are to use only the strength that comes from unity and truth. That is to say, our bondage in India can cease this day, if all the people unite in their demands and are ready to suffer any hardships that may befall them. These thoughts, which relate to India, will also be useful to us here. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 5-1-1907].— 201. INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, p. 209



We should be particular about our personal appearance also. A shopkeeper in rags cannot hold his own in Natal or South Africa. If you become a trader, you must dress according to local custom. It is not necessary to dress in the western fashion. But the dress, if in the Indian style, must be clean and decent. We would warn Indians that it (p.242) is not proper to wear a dhoti in this country. In Tongaat shopkeepers and their assistants are seen cleaning their teeth and washing their faces in the street outside their shops, just as they do in our own country. It is sheer stupidity to believe that all these things will not prejudice the Europeans. When we make our appearance outside the house, we should always be fully dressed. [Among us] little attention is given to the condition of the turban or cap and the shoes. We assume that, if the head-dress is dirty, it is quite in keeping with

custom. As a rule we do not polish our shoes, and some do not wear socks at all, or if at all they do, the socks are in tatters and double down over the shoes. All this must change. There is one key to all this.  Personal activities, such as eating and drinking, washing and toilet, should be in private. That is, we should always be in a presentable condition while we are out. Similarly, we cannot attend a court or go out in public, chewing tobacco, betel-leaves or nuts. (p.243)



Natal and South Africa are for brave Indians only. It is being proved every day that the coward and the miser are doomed. The answer, then, to the question is this: those merchants whose account books are in order, whose shops are clean and decent, whose dress is becoming and whose place of residence is clean and separate from the shop, will continue to run their shops even if they do not get the licence and lose the appeal. It will be possible to have their cases fought out in England and secure a favourable decision. It is certain that men of courage will be able to do all this.(p.244)[From Gujarati]

Indian Opinion, 26-1-1907]— 230. NATAL LICENSING ACT, pp.242-44


Writing in The Times of Natal, one Mr. F. A. Baker says that he once saw a Kaffir painting the front of an Indian shop and goes on to make the following comments:

…I have seen [White] Government servants, workers and others, entering Indian shops. But have these traders ever given them any work? Even when an Indian trader knows of a starving

White, he never helps him. Why should we show pity to such Indians? If our members of parliament do not pass an Act to drive out these Indians, we must replace them by others who will

carry out our wishes.


From these views expressed by a White we have a lesson to learn:

We must encourage the Whites too. It is a short-sighted policy to employ, through sheer niggardliness, a Kaffir for washing work…. patronize the Whites, whenever proper and necessary, then every such White will serve as an advertisement for the Indian trader. We do certain things to flatter or please the White merchants; if, instead of doing so, or over and above

that, we helped a White, not in order to humour him but for doing him a good turn, that will yield us better results. We believe that to help a needy White is much better in every way… It is in the belief that they (p. 277) will harm us that we have not hitherto helped poor whites. Even if they

do us harm, we shall have no occasion for regret, for we did not help them in the hope of a good turn in exchange.

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-2-1907].— 254. INDIAN TRADERS IN NATAL, pp.277-78




…Why do the Dutch and the British both hate us? We believe the root cause is not the colour of our skin, but our general cowardice, our unmanliness and our pusillanimity. They will begin to respect us the moment we impress upon them that we can stand up to them. There is no need actually to fight, but courage is necessary. If a man kicks us, we take it lying down. He therefore thinks that we deserve nothing better. This is the (p. 313) cowardice in us. There is a kind of courage in receiving a blow without returning it; but we are not speaking of that courage here. We receive kicks passively out of fear.


Making a false show of youthfulness, we waste our manhood in sensual pleasures and abuse our womenfolk. Without understanding the true significance of marriage, we remain blindly absorbed in carnal enjoyment. This is an example of our unmanliness. In the Cape, we give our photographs [for proving our identity] In Rustenburg and Boksburg, out of fear, we give our finger-prints. Instead of entering the Transvaal openly and boldly, some of us do so wrongfully and surreptitiously. This shows our pusillanimity. We are well aware that these comments do not apply to all of us. But the whole community has to suffer for such conduct on the part of a few. That is the state we are in, and, we believe, we shall get out of it soon if, instead of finding fault with the British, we realize our own faults. For the British who have today handed over the reins of Government to the Dutch will likewise give us our due.

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-3-1907].—pp.313-14


It is shameful of the Rustenburg Indians to have surrendered their freedom by giving their full hand-prints. As the Gujarati proverb says, so long as the axe does not have a wooden handle to it, it cannot cut wood. Rustenburg has served as the handle by starting the giving of finger-prints. If, as a result, the Indian community comes to harm, the blame will be with the Rustenburg Indians. We are glad to find that prompt action has been taken by the British Indian Association.  It is well that it has lodged a protest with the Government whose action appears to be totally illegal. It is also a good thing that the Association has addressed letters to the Indian committees in all the towns.  This instance shows that the Transvaal Indians have to act with great caution. Whatever steps are taken now should be taken in concert and in consultation with the Association. Nothing need be (p.314) done out of fear of the officials. Why, and of whom, should we be afraid? When brave women are fighting for their rights in England, it should not be too much for the Transvaal Indians to fight with common courage.

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 9-3-1907].— 287. WARNING TO TRANSVAAL INDIANS, pp.314-15


…We live on in the world as if we had come here with a charter of immortality; and as the Gujarati proverb goes, we go on killing buffaloes for shoe-laces. But if we reflect seriously and look at things calmly, we realize that all is done in vain which is not done for others’ good. If every minute, hour and day given to us is spent in good deeds, in patriotic service and in maintaining truth, we shall have nothing to fear even when death strikes us down. Only a person who risks his life can fetch pearls from the depths of the sea. Similarly, from the ocean of life we have to seek out tasks precious like pearls. He alone who does not care for his life can do this. If our actions are effeminate, we cannot remain manly. Lord Selborne has made a biting remark that we are base and in the face of the least danger we think of bribing the officials. We can refute this charge only if we have true spirit within us….[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 23-3-1907].— 307. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, p.334 {Gandhiji never hesitate to rebuke Indians when they have done wrong and accused by others.  And when he rebukes he will become philosophical too.—db}



…One does not mind it much if one’s feelings are hurt on rare occasions and in some trivial matter. In fact, such things we suffer daily at the hands of the whites. But when our feelings are hurt on important matters and we are made to look small all the time, it would be cowardice and betrayal of our country for us to endure it all silently. We praise the whites because they think in terms of the future; but if we are sincere in our praise, we must emulate them. When we think of our future, should they not congratulate us? It is only right that they are ever active in defending their rights. Can’t we then exert ourselves to preserve ours? [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 6-4-1907]— 326. MASS MEETING OF TRANSVAAL INDIANS, {against ASIATIC LAW AMENDMENT BILL passed in NATAL Parliament }, p.359


…The Transvaal Indians have to adhere steadfastly to the gaol-going Resolution for the sake of their own honour and that of the entire Indian community. (p.384) Mr. Tilak’s speech applies to us also. Our demand will not be accepted until we force them to do so. The unfailing remedy of gaol going is our [method of] boycott, our weapon. There can be no question of its failing. For how can there be defeat for one who has gone to gaol?


Once more we remind the Transvaal Indian community that it is because the Cape Coloureds opposed the Pass Act, refused to take out passes and went to gaol that the Cape Government does not any longer compel them to take out passes. Though the Pass Act applies to them, the Government is unable to enforce it. We should under no circumstances prove ourselves more timid than the Coloured persons…. If the Indian community remains firm in its resolution about gaol-going, we may as well take it that the new law has not been passed at all. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 20-4-1907.]— 341. DUTY OF TRANSVAAL INDIANS, pp. 384-85


…Now what is to be done? The present is a crucial moment. If we are imbued with the right spirit and care for our honour, we shall win. We should certainly not be cowed down by the Government’s threat, for what greater pain can they inflict on us than the law they have already passed? What greater harm can be done to a man than to divest him of his honour? On the one hand, we are being persuaded to help in enforcing the law and, on the other, they pass an act which proclaims that, in the whole Indian community, there is not a single person trustworthy enough to be exempted from holding a registration certificate, that is, a “thief pass”. We are first made out to be thieves and our help is then sought in enforcing the law! Nowhere is it stated [in Mr. Smuts’s reply] that even a single right will be granted to us. The land right has been flatly denied. Locations still loom before our eyes. What further humiliation can be inflicted on those who have been degraded to the lowest depths? In the present age and according to European standards, there can be no love without fear….(p. 389) those who lost their lives are not dead, but have become immortal. We shall win only if we do the same, but somewhat differently…. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 20-4-1907.]— 345. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, pp.389-90


…So long as the officials can persuade [the British people] that we shall put up with any amount of suffering, they will believe in the Colonies and the burden on the Indian people will increase. This is the way of the world. The rich grow richer, the poor poorer. The burden on those who carry it increases and those who do not carry any go unscathed. The moral is that we have to let the Government know that we in the Colony will not stand any more burden.


Lord Milner also adds that India is vital to the entire English nation as well as the Colonies. Its value is immeasurable. Why should it not be so? Her revenues total £44 million (a million = 10 lakhs). Out of this £22 million are spent on the military department, that is, a major portion of this amount is spent in paying the salaries of the British soldiers and buying British goods. A third part of the £44 million, that is, about£15 million goes straight to England. Only the balance remains in India. This means that in the partnership between the British and the Indians 83 per cent. of the profit goes to the British and 17 per cent. to the Indians, but the entire capital comes from the Indians. Such a partnership is evidently advantageous to the British.  Let us now turn to the Colonies. Here, all the capital is provided by the British but the profit is consumed by the Colonies. If anyone asks the reason of this one-sided justice, the only reply is that the Colonies

being strong have the lion’s share. They can stand up to England. If we become as strong as they, we too shall get justice. A closed mouth catches no flies; that is the policy of the British. But speaking does not mean mere shouting. It must be accompanied by kicking. The way we can kick in South Africa or in India is to go to gaol. If we do not help in the oppression that is being perpetrated on us, we shall be free. It is only when the axe is fitted with a wooden handle that it can cut wood.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-4-1907.]— 351. COLONIAL CONFERENCE AND INDIANS, p. 404



There is far too much of self-centredness or selfishness in India today. Instead we should have concern for the nation, that is to say, be patriotic. But since we are out to improve existing conditions, we should bear in mind that concern for national interest does not imply hatred of others. Before we can hate others, we should get to the stage of being able to safeguard our national interest. There is hardly any immediate fear therefore of our hating foreign countries. However, what Sir William Wedderburn has written on the subject is worth reading reflecting on. We give below a summary of his article in


The Indian Review.

There are some people in India today who believe that they should not approach the British Government for the redress of their grievances, for they fear that, if by any chance the British

do redress their grievances, it will tighten their hold over the country, which will endanger our patriotism. This is a mistaken idea. Those who offer such advice seek to take upon their heads

the sins of the Englishmen, who, priding themselves upon the colour of their skin, oppress Indians. This [idea] is moreover (p.405) opposed to the movement afoot all over the world for peace and amity among mankind. Even if one replaced self-interest by the national interest, one would violate the highest morality. If a man wants to become virtuous and remain so, he will keep the highest morality in mind. And though he may not be able to act up to it, he must always aim high. He whose aim is not true will never hit his target. We should always try to climb higher in spite of our shortcomings. And this applies as much to a group or a community as to an  individual Again, it applies with added force to India for, at present, she is considering what policy, what standard of conduct, she should adopt. To serve one’s own interest is low indeed; to serve the interest of the nation is to rise a step higher. He who gives up his life for his nation is

considered a great man; but when the interest of the world at large is made to suffer in the nation’s interest, then [serving] the latter must be considered mean and degrading. If we wish to see peace and goodwill established throughout the world, we should remember that our personal and national interests are served by the well-being of the whole world. The Indian people have

suffered a lot during the last few years because Englishmen who pride themselves on their patriotism pursued only their selfinterest. Do Indian leaders wish to imitate these selfish English

people? Do they hate the sinners but love the sin? They should not become the dupes of this temptation. The real enemies of freedom and prosperity are the autocratic and tyrannical powers; not the differences of race or colour. Though the Russians have their own government, it is oppressive and is as bad as that of India. The remedy for such a situation is the getting together of good and altruistic people, wherever they be in the world. It is therefore necessary to bring together the English reformers who are strong and Indian reformers who are weak. With the relations that prevail at present between England and India, such a meeting can easily be brought about. But the relations between the two countries have to be placed on a foundation of justice. The idea that the British are the masters and the Indians the servants must go. If this happens, England and India can stay together, befriend the world and work for the good of mankind. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-4-1907.]— 353. PURITY OF THOUGHT, pp.405-06


Our readers may be aware that at one time the French also tried to establish their rule in India….It is often said that the French have a very sympathetic attitude towards Indians. An example of this was seen recently when the Governor of Pondicherry addressed the following letter to the Indians there:


Citizens…A representative of the Republic is bound to regard all [citizens] as equals and there is only one thing between us, viz., the laws. I will give you whatever [relief] I can under those laws; and I shall explain their limitations to you quite clearly. Please do not ask me unnecessary or frivolous questions, for the time lost in answering them can be better used to solve more important problems.

You are engaged in your agricultural work. I have also many jobs to attend to. So we have no time to meet in a grand hall and receive garlands of roses and jasmines. Believe me when I say that I shall come to see you without pomp or show. And I shall be glad if I meet you in simplicity. If I meet you while you are at work, I shall get to know you the better and be able to see for myself and redress your grievances. How can a people which has such officials be unhappy? [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-4-1907.]— 354. FRENCH INDIA, p.407



… I hear, the gaolgoing resolution was once being discussed in the presence of a white

official, and he laughed and said, “I don’t at all believe, the Indian community will act up to such resolutions.” This remark should be taken very seriously. There is no doubt at all that the Indian

community has no reputation for bravery and that is why the whites dare to pass any laws they like with impunity. If the Bill becomes law and we give up the idea of gaol-going, the Indian comm-unity, we may take it, is doomed for ever. The white official’s derisive laugh shows that, if the whites had taken our gaol-going resolution seriously, they would never have introduced the Bill again. Now is the time to prove that we mean what we say….


6. Suppose, a poor Indian is arrested. If he holds a lawful permit, Mr. Gandhi, as he declared last September, will defend him in the court free of charge.  (p.409)…For hawkers there will be no difficulty at all. I know from experience that many of them have been living such a miserable life that they will be much better off in gaol. There is no disgrace attached to going to gaol on this occasion; on the contrary, it will positively add to one’s prestige. There is no need, therefore, for anyone to take fright or lose courage…. Meanwhile, I would appeal to all Indians to note that this

gaol-going is a great adventure, and that no Indian must retract. Else it will be like losing a battle already won. (p.410) …. We work day and night, do not rest even on Sundays, fail to keep promises and settle accounts by making only part-payments to creditors. There is no doubt we should effect improvements in these four matters….[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-4-1907.]— 355. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, pp.408-11



A strong communication appears in The Sunday Times on the subject of washing places at New Clare. The writer says that the wholeland at New Clare stinks with putrid air. Indian washermen,

according to him, have defiled the washing places; the water is dirty and stinks, so that clothes washed in it are as good as not washed at all. The writer is afraid that some day an epidemic is bound to break out because of clothes washed in that water. The Indian washermen have to be careful about this. The washing place should be drained each time and filled again with clean water. If this is not done, there is every fear of the washermen losing their livelihood, as the writer has suggested that the municipality should take effective measures.

[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 4-5-1907.]— 357. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, [April 28, 1907], p.415


Mr, Gandhi denied that there was any pressure of population in India leading to

the necessity of emigration, and pointed to the fact that the Indians who were brought

over as indentured labourers did not offer themselves, but had to be persuaded to come

—that, moreover, recruiting was becoming increasingly difficult. The same applied

to the recruiting for other places in which Indian labour was wanted, and he advanced

this to show that India had no real surplus population, and needed no outlet. The idea

of reserving any territory outside India at all for exclusive colonization by Indians

(p.424) was therefore a gratuitous and unnecessary one. He did not believe that the resources

of India had become too exhausted to support its people or the natural increase of its

population. There was room for what he called “internal” emigration within India

itself, but no need of any territorial provision outside.

He had often been asked, Mr. Gandhi proceeded, why, if this were so, Indians

were found emigrating in such numbers to South Africa. The explanation was that

South Africa had itself made the mischief by adopting the practice of indentured

immigration—a system which, Mr. Gandhi said, nearly every Indian in South Africa

would sign a petition against, and ask that it should cease.

[REPORTER:] But the trouble arises, Mr. Gandhi, not so much from the indentured Indian as from the free merchant class, and from whom the demand for equal trading rights mostly comes.

[GANDHIJI:] The Indian merchant follows the other Indians, to whom he looks for his business. If the indentured man was not here, the merchant would not be here. As it is, many of the better-class Indian merchants, who have large interests, remain in their own

country, where they have scope for their business, and where every Indian tradesman would have scope if he preferred to stay instead of coming to the Colonies. As long as there remain opportunities for business among his own countrymen, there the Indian merchant will be found. [The Natal Mercury, 8-5-1907].— 365. INTERVIEW TO “THE NATAL MERCURY”, [May 7, 1907] pp.424-25


The Transvaal Act has received [Royal] assent earlier than we expected…. The Imperial Government has chosen to take the first step of binding the Indian community with chains. It now remains to be seen whether the community will carry this yoke. We know of a young student from Japan who once went to a lawyer in Johannesburg for some personal work. As the lawyer could not see him immediately, the student waited outside. Meanwhile, an English official came to meet the lawyer. As he was about to enter the lawyer’s office after knocking, the young Japanese held him by the sleeve and said to him spiritedly: “You cannot go in just yet. I have a prior right.” Being a gentleman, the officer at once saw the point, and requested the young man’s permission to go in first, as he had urgent work. The student was as polite as he had been bold. For, when the official asked his leave, he readily allowed him to go in. This anecdote (p. 427)

should be engraved on the mind of every Indian, for it gives an exact idea of our bond of slavery. The young Japanese did not allow his self-respect to be flouted…. Having remained in bondage for a long time like a caged parrot, we cannot realize what honour and freedom are Furthermore, like the parrot which is pleased when bound with a golden string and made to perform, we too are elated and blush pink at the thought of our imagined happiness, when our masters, whether white or Coloured, feign affection for us only in order to bind us with the golden thread and make us forget our real condition….(p.428)… Now if, under any pretext, the Indian community should cancel the gaol-going resolution, what would be the result? Only that the South Africa British Indian Committee would have become futile. The Deputation’s labours would have been in vain. .All the fame that the Indian community has now gained would turn into disgrace. The Government would henceforth put no trust in the Indian community’s word. We would be classed with the lowest and meanest. If this should happen, the Imperial Government would give ready assent to all the laws directed against the Indians in South Africa. And in the end those who are not content to live a dog’s life or that of a crow will have to leave South Africa. Moreover, if things should come to such a pass, there would be repercussions in India too, and the whole country might look down upon us with well-deserved contempt. … Whether or not all of us are

agreed, those who realize how things stand must not fail in their duty. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 11-5-1907.]— 368. WILL INDIANS BE SLAVES? pp.427-29


An Indian savant has written in The Indian Sociologist proposing the establishment of a society of servants of India. We give here a summary of what he has said. That India should become united and independent is an idea that many Indians now understand and cherish. But the moral energy

needed to achieve this aim is wanting. Those who would serve their country should first realize that one’s life is not to be spent in pampering oneself with easy living, but that it is to be used in doing (p.494) one’s duty. The population of India comprises one-fifth of the world’s population. The task of promoting its uplift belongs to “the servants of India”. These servants are the trustees of the Indian people. They should give up the desire for wealth, status and physical comforts, and dedicate their lives to India. Fear of every kind must be overcome. Such service should be regarded as part of one’s religion. Men of such patriotism will be able to imbue the people with

enthusiasm by their actions rather than by their words. Besides ardour, knowledge and wisdom will also be required. Hence “the Servants of India” should know the history of India.

They should understand what India needs now. They should also study the history of other countries.

This enthusiasm and knowledge cannot remain fresh for long in a man burdened with the responsibilities of a family. A true servant will need to observe total celibacy. Those who are married but wish to render service to the country can train the members of their families to take up the same kind of work. Indian women are ignorant. It is very necessary to awaken patriotism in them. But those, who are not married and wish to render service as explained above will find it best not to marry. The great patriot Mazzini1 used to say that it was to his country that he was married. In conclusion, he who wants to be a servant of the people needs faith. He should not worry as to where he would get his next meal from. God will provide for all His creatures.

[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 1-6-1907.]—pp.494-95, 403. SERVANTS OF INDIA

1 (1805-72), Italian patriot; vide “Joseph Mazzini”, 22-7-1905.




A meeting of the Pan-Islamic Society, whose headquarters are in London, took place… the object of Pan-Islamism was to bring together under its fold the different sects of Mahomedans and carry on a peaceful propaganda of the faith of the Prophet with a view to promote universal brotherhood.This Society, which was originally called the Anjuman-e-Islam, was founded in 1886 in London. On the 23rd of June, 1903, it was renamed the Pan-Islamic Society….[Indian Opinion, 15-12-1906].— 98. THE PAN-ISLAMIC SOCIETY. [After November 16, 1906] p. 105


His Majesty the Amir of Afghanistan has shown his nobility within a few days of his arrival in India. This is shown by two Reuter messages received here. When he was inspecting a guard of honour in Delhi, he was offered an umbrella because it was raining. The Amir too preferred to get drenched and refused the umbrella because the 3 The immediate occasion for this article appears to have been ‘‘an otherwise appreciative character-sketch’’ of the Amir of Afghanistan by Angus Hamilton in the Review of Reviews, where the author described the Amir as ‘‘barbarous’’ and cruel.  (p.226)

soldiers were all exposed to the rain. The second cable says that the Muslims who wished to give a party in the Amir’s honour had arranged for a hundred cows to be slaughtered on the occasion. The Amir suggested that this would probably offend the Hindu sentiment and advised the gentlemen that they might slaughter goats instead. They accepted his advice. It is said that the whole of India was agreeably surprised by the Amir’s gesture. All the more so, as they did not expect His Majesty to show concern for others to the extent that he did.  These two incidents show that His Majesty the Amir has a considerate and sincere mind. On both the occasions he thought of the people[‘s wishes], thus setting an example for monarchs of the West to learn from. Though the news agencies cannot tell us of more instances of such thoughtful actions of his, one can easily imagine that Amir Habibullah has all the virtues that his name connotes.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 19-1-1907].—220. AMIR’S NOBILTIY, pp.226-27



…I have not yet been able to get an Urdu poem for “Ethical Religion”. If you come across any there, do insert it. I had hoped to get some Urdu poem today. If you don’t find any, let the thing go without it, but do not insert any that applies to the Hindus alone …. There is one song by Pritamdas in Kavyadohan beginning with the line, “O man, without caring to know the supreme ideal, you have hankered after your selfish ends only”. You may use it if you approve of it. If you can get Kabir’s bhajans, they will be quite unexceptionable….[From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 4696.]— 249. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, p.271

His Majesty the Amir visited Aligarh College on January 16, and he was welcomed with great honours. We give here a translation from The Times of India of his address to the students of that College on the occasion.


You are young. Please listen to me. Some people may have told you that I am a fanatic Sunni. But does it mean that because I am a Sunni I am a fanatic? I shall ask you a question: Will those of you who are Shiyas show greater regard to Hindus than to Sunnis? Never. Will you then believe that I, who am a Sunni, will prefer Hindus to Shiyas? Never. You must have read in the  newspapers that, on Bakr-Id, I prevented the killing of cows in Delhi lest it should hurt the feelings of Hindus. If such is my regard for the Hindus, do you believe that I shall have less for the Shiyas? I beg of you to give up from today the notion that I am a fanatic Sunni. In Afghanistan my subjects include sunnis, Shiyas, Hindus and Jews. I allow them all full religious

freedom. Do you call this fanaticism? But one thing I must say: I cannot allow Shiyas to show disrespect to the three Khalifas. If people think it fanatical of me to prevent Shiyas from showing such disrespect, well, I am a fanatic.



A son has been born to Sheth Hasanmian… Some [of our readers] may not know what akiko is. It is the ceremonial shaving of the head of the new-born child on the seventh day. According to their wealth and position, parents set aside gold, silver or copper equal in weight to the hair, and the value of the metal is spent on the feast. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 4-5-1907.]— 357. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, [April 28, 1907]. p.415




You may have seen The Times’ report of the interview. In my opinion whoever gave the information, it was a shameful thing. Sir Lepel was very much annoyed about it, when I saw him yesterday.  Three reporters carne to me on Thursday evening, and I replied

that I could not possibly give them any information, as Lord Elgin wanted the interview to be treated as strictly private. Mr. Adam of Reuter’s Agency has just come over to enquire whether any [member] of the deputation could have supplied The (p. 65) Times with the report. I have assured him that such a thing is not possible.  Sir Lepel is of opinion that the information must have been given by someone in the Colonial Office. Lord Elgin’s speech has been given practically word for word.  Mr. Adam suggests, and I entirely agree, that there should be a question in the House enquiring why it was that The Times was so favoured. [52. LETTER TO SIR HENRY COTTON, M. P. LONDON, November 10, 1906]–From a photostat of the typewritten office copy: S.N. 4536.—pp. 65-66







I have seen in The Times what purports to be a report of the proceedings of the deputation that waited on Mr. John Morley yesterday. Several pressmen came to me yesterday and I told them that the proceedings were private and such intimation had appeared in The Daily Mail and The Tribune. I do not know how The Times has been able to get the report. I shall be obliged if you will kindly let me know whether Mr. Morley proposes to enquire as to how The Times has been able to publish the report.[From a photostat of the typewritten office copy: S. N. 4633]—LETTER TO PRIVATE SECRETARY TO MORLEY, LONDON, November 23, 1906, p. 148



…The Press is growing day by day. Its work will increase as the purity of our objectives is progressively recognized and increases. If this purity is accompanied by skill and ability, we shall be able to do a great deal, provided of course that we do not succumb to greed and self-interest. For this we should lay down that no one among us could draw a monthly allowance of more than £10 or up to any other limit we decide upon. Whatever is left over after these charges have been met, we should use to promote education, health, etc. In order to do this we should ourselves be better educated. I have therefore decided to send a person to England, whom I consider the most steadfast of all. He should go there with the firm resolve that he would not make a single pie for himself from the education he receives, but would pass on all the benefit [of that education] to the Press and would accept and live on what the Press gave him. You appear to me to be the only Indian who has attained to this degree of fitness. I believe you understand the significance of the whole thing and you seem to be the only person who can be depended upon to carry forward the heritage of my thoughts and words. Messrs Polak and West know and understand a lot. There are things which they understand and you don’t. However, it seems on the whole that you understand more than (p.252) they do. Our ultimate capital is not the money we have, but our courage, our faith, our truthfulness and our ability. If therefore you go to England, your intellect remains  unspoiled and you return with your physical and mental powers strengthened, our capital will have appreciated to that extent. I cannot write more as people have again begun to drop in. [From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S.N. 4690.]— 235. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG,], January 28, 1907, pp.252-53



..I did understand your suggestion about the riddles. I do not think it proper to introduce the riddles feature so long as we are not in a position to have it regularly and offer prizes ourselves. What can be the object of the man who wants to spend money on this? How long can he be expected to do so? Moreover, we can hardly expect many to take part in the competition. However, you may inquire of your correspondent if he intends paying for the prizes indefinitely. It would be very strange indeed if he wanted to do so. On the other hand, it would not be proper for us to start this feature if he agrees to give prizes once in a while. You may, however, write to me if you have more to say….


About your going to England, I think it is desirable, if you can (p.273) go immediately. But your going depends mainly on your work there.

(I) When can you be conveniently free?

(2) Who will take care of your work in your absence?

(3) Will Harilal be able to look after the Gujarati columns?I think the proper time for you to leave for England is when you can get away from the Press. When you think you can do so conveniently, you will first have to discuss it with all your colleagues and then write to me….[From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 4697.]— 251. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG,]pp.272-74



As regards the article by “The Colonist” which I had asked you to translate, we might add in the Gujarati translation that the ideas expressed in the article are ‘ours’.

It is not necessary to rule the paper for me….[From a photostat of the typewritten original with a Gujarati postscript in Gandhiji’s hand: S.N. 4710].— 271. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, p. 299


…We hope that this increase in size will be appreciated. We must, however, point out that Indian Opinion is not yet in a position even to pay full wages to its workers. It is only because they have some patriotic fervour that the journal continues to come out. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 16-3-1907.]— 295. “INDIAN OPINION”, p.323



I am sending you today some sheets of the Ramayana…I shall send the rest of the Ramayana in small instalments. I think a thousand copies should be printed.[From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 4720.]— 297. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG, Before March 18,1907], p.324


Many persons have suggested to us that we should publish an account of the hardships we suffer in South Africa….It may perhaps run to a thousand pages and cannot be brought out at a low price; A copy will cost five shillings. We cannot venture on such a publication unless a sale of 500 copies is assured in advance. We shall be in a position to consider the matter further, if the gentlemen who wish to see the book in print write to us further about it. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 13-4-1907.]— 333. TALE OF WOE IN SOUTH AFRICA, p.376



…Your provisional figures reveal a profit of £ 20! If that is really the position, it seems your going to England will certainly have to be postponed. And now that Kalyandas is leaving, your going is out of the question….[From the Gujarati original: S.N. 4789.]— 367. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [Before May 11, 1907] p.427


… any Indian who sends us the finest poem in Gujarati or Hindustani (Urdu or Hindi) composed by him in support of the gaol resolution will be awarded a prize as above….[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 1-6-1907.]— 399. A PRIZE OF £1, p.484





…Hypocrisy has nowadays increased in the world. Whatever a man’s religion, he thinks

only of its outward form and fails in his real duty. In our crazy pursuit of wealth, we seldom think of the harm we cause, or are likely 2 In this and the subsequent seven articles of the same title, Gandhiji summarized, into Gujarati, Ethical religion by William MacIntyre Salter, the founder of the Society for Ethical Culture, Chicago.The book, one of a series issued by the Rationalist Press Association, was published in America in March 1889 and later in England in 1905. In the Gujarati series, Gandhiji summarized only eight of the fifteen chapters.  (p. 213) to cause, to others…It is known the world over how Mr. Rockefeller, said to be the richest man in the world, violated many rules of morality in amassing his fortune. It is because such conditions prevail around them that many people in Europe and America have turned against religion. They argue that, if any religion worth the name existed in the world, the inordinate wickedness that is rampant all round would not be there. This is a mistaken view. As it is common for a workman to quarrel with his tools and not try to look for his own faults, so, instead of thinking of the wickedness in themselves, men brand religion itself as humbug and go on acting and living as they please.

Observing this trend and fearing that, if all religions are destroyed, a great calamity may befall the world and people may forsake the moral path altogether, many Americans anal Europeans have come forward to try, in a variety of ways, to bring the people back to that path. A Society1 has been founded which has shown, after an investigation of all religions, that not only do all of them teach morality but they are based for the most part on; ethical principles; that it is one’s duty to obey the laws of ethics whether or not one

professes a religion; and that men who would not obey them could do no good either to themselves or to others, in this world or the next.

The object of these societies is to influence those who have led to look down upon all religions because of the prevailing hypocrisy. They find out the fundamentals of all religions, discuss and write about the ethical principles common to them and live up to them. This creed they call Ethical Religion. It is not among the aims of these societies to criticize any religion. Men professing all religions can, and do, join these societies. The advantage of such a society is that members adhere to their own faith more strictly and pay greater attention to its moral teaching. They firmly believe that man ought to abide by the laws of morality and that if he does not, it mean an end to all order in the world and ultimate destruction. Mr Salter, a learned American, has published a book [ The Society for Ethical Culture] on the subject, which is excellent. Though it does not deal with any religion Chicago (p. 214) as such, it contains teachings of universal application. We shall publish the substance of these teachings every week. All that needs to be said about the author is that he practises whatever he advises others to do.


It is the moral nature of man by which he rises to good and noble thoughts. The different sciences show us the world as it is.  Ethics tells us what it ought to be. It enables man to know how he should act. Man has two windows to his mind: through one he can see his own self as it is; through the other, he can see what it ought to be. It is our task to analyse and explore the body, the brain and the mind of man separately; but if we stop here, we derive no benefit despite our scientific knowledge. It is necessary to know about the evil effects of injustice, wickedness, vanity and the like, and the disaster they spell where the three are found together. And mere knowledge is not enough, it should be followed by appropriate action. An ethical idea is like an architect’s plan. The plan shows how the building should be constructed; but it becomes useless if the building is not raised accordingly. Similarly, an ethical idea is useless so long as it is not followed by suitable action…. God is omnipotent, He is perfect. There are no limits to His mercy, to His goodness and to His justice. If this is so, how can we, His bond slaves, stray at all from the moral path? It is no fault of the (p.215) ethical principles if one following them should fail. However, those committing a breach of morality have only themselves to blame. In the path of morality there is no such thing as reward for moral behaviour. If a man does some good deed, he does not do it to win applause, he does it because he must. For him doing good is but a higher kind of food, if one may compare food and goodness. And if someone should give him an opportunity to do a good deed, he would feel grateful just as a starving man would be grateful to the giver of food and bless him.

This ethical religion, of which we have spoken, does not mean the cultivation of gentlemanliness. It does mean that we should become a little more diligent, a little better educated, a little cleaner and neater, etc. All this is no doubt included in it, but it touches only the fringe of ethical religion. Many more things have to be done by man if he would walk along this path; and he has to do them as a matter of duty, knowing them to be a part of his nature, not for gaining any worldly benefit. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 5-1-1907].— 208. ETHICAL RELIGION-I, pp. 213-216



…Some believe that morality is not something quite essential. Others think that there is no relation between religion and morality. But an examination of the world’s religions shows that, without morality, religion cannot subsist. True morality covers religion for the most part. Anyone who observes the laws of morality for their own sake and not for any selfish end can be regarded as religious…Besides, it is a rule of ideal morality that it is not enough to (p. 222) follow the trodden path. We ought to follow the path which we know to be true, whether it is familiar or unfamiliar to us. In other words, when we know a particular path to be the right one, we should set out on it without fear. We can progress only if we observe the laws of morality in this way. That is why true morality, true civilization and true progress are always to be found together.  If we examine our desires, we shall see that we do not wish for what we have already. We always value more that which we do not have. But desires are of two kinds: one is the pursuit of mere selfinterest. To attempt to fulfil this kind of desire is immoral. The other impels us constantly to improve ourselves and to do good to others. We should never become overweening with any amount of good that we may do. It is not for us to evaluate it, but rather should we have perpetual longing to become better and do more good. True  morality consists in our effort to realize such longing.


If we have no home or family of our own, that is nothing to be ashamed of. But if we have a home and abuse it, or own a business and practise fraud, we stray from the path of morality. Morality consists in doing what we ought to do. We can prove the need of morality through a few illustrations. Destruction has been the lot of peoples or families in which the seeds of immorality, such as disunity and untruth, were found. To take an example from trade and business, we do not come across a single person who will say that truth should not be followed. The effect of justice and goodness is not felt from outside; these qualities in here in us. Four hundred years ago, much injustice and untruth prevailed in Europe, so that people could not rest in peace even for a moment. The cause of this state of affairs was that people had no morality. If we take out the essence of all moral laws, we shall find that the attempt to do good to mankind is the highest morality. If we open the treasure-house of morality with this key, we shall find in it all the other principles. At the end of each of these articles, we print select poems bearing on morality from Gujarati or Urdu poets in the hope that all our readers will benefit from them and will also commit them to memory….[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 12-1-1907].— 216. ETHICAL RELIGION- II, pp.222-223



When can it be said that a particular action is moral? In asking this question, the intention is not to contrast moral with immoral actions, but to consider many of our everyday actions against which nothing can be said from the conventional standpoint and which some (p.229) regard as moral. Most of our actions are probably non-moral; they do not necessarily involve morality. For the most part we act according to the prevailing conventions. Such conventional behaviour is often necessary. If no such rules are observed, anarchy would be the result, and society—social intercourse—would come to an end. Still the mere observance of custom and usage cannot properly be called morality.

A moral act must be our own act: it must spring from our own will. If we act mechanically, there is no moral content in our act. Such action would be moral, if we think it proper to act like a machine and do so. For in doing so, we use our discrimination. We should bear in mind the distinction between acting mechanically and acting intentionally. It may be moral of a king to pardon a culprit. But the messenger bearing the order of pardon plays only a mechanical part in the king’s moral act. But if the messenger were to bear the king’s order, considering it to be his duty, his action would be a moral one. How can a man understand morality who does not use his own

intelligence and power of thought, but lets himself be swept along like a log of wood by a current? Sometimes a man defies convention and acts on his own with a view to [doing] absolute good.  Such a great hero was Wendell Phillips1. Addressing an assembly of people, he once said, “Till you learn to form your own opinions and express them, I do not care much what you think of me.” Thus when we all care only for what our conscience says, then alone can we be regarded to have stepped on to the moral road. We shall not reach this stage, as long as we do not believe—and experience the belief—that God within us, the God of all, is the ever present witness to all our acts.  It is not enough that an act done by us is in itself good; it should have been done with the intention to do good. That is to say, whether an act is moral or otherwise depends upon the intention of the doer.

Two men may have done exactly the same thing; but the act of one may be moral, and that of the other the contrary. Take, for instance, a man who out of great pity feeds the poor and another who does the same, but with the motive of winning prestige or with some such selfish end. Though the action is the same, the act of the one is moral and that of the other non-moral. The reader here ought to remember the distinction between the two words, non-moral and immoral. It may be that we do not always see good results flowing from a moral act. While thinking of morality, all that we need to see is that the act is 1 (1811-84); American orator, social reformer and abolitionist (p.230) good and is done with a good intention. The result of an action is not within our control. God alone is the giver of fruit. Historians have called Emperor Alexander “great”. Wherever he went [in the course of his conquests,] he took the Greek language and Greek culture, arts

and manners, and today we enjoy the benefits of Greek civilization. But the intention of Alexander behind all this was only conquest and renown. Who can therefore say that his actions were moral? It was all right that he was termed “great”, but moral he cannot be called. These reflections prove that it is not enough for a moral act to have been done with a good intention, but it should have been done without compulsion. There is no morality whatever in my act, if I rise early out of the fear that, if I am late for my office, I may lose my situation. Similarly there is no morality in my living a simple and

unpretentious life if I have not the means to live otherwise. But plain, simple living would be moral if, though wealthy, I think of all the want and misery in the world about me—and feel that I ought to live a plain, simple life and not one of ease and luxury. Like wise it is only selfish, and not moral, of an employer to sympathize with his employees or to pay them higher wages lest they leave him. It would be moral if the employer wished well of them and treated them kindly realizing how he owed his prosperity to them. This means that for an act to be moral it has to be free from fear and compulsion… Just as a moral action should be free from fear or compulsion so should there be no self-interest behind it. This is not to say that actions prompted by self-interest are all worthless, but only that to call them moral would detract from the [dignity of the] moral idea. That honesty cannot long endure which is practised in the belief that it is the best policy. As Shakespeare says, love born out of the profit motive is no love.1

1 “Love is not love, When it is mingled with respects that stand Aloof from the entire point.” (p.231)

Just as an action prompted by the motive of material gain here on earth is non-moral, so also another done for considerations of comfort and personal happiness in another world is non-moral. That action is moral which is done only for the sake of doing good. A great Christian, St. Francis Xavier, passionately prayed that his mind might always remain pure.1 For him devotion to God was not for enjoying a higher seat after death. He prayed because it was man’s duty to pray… The great Saint Theresa wished to have a torch in her right hand and a vessel of water in her left, so that with the one she might burn the glories of heaven and with the other extinguish the fires of hell, and men might learn to serve God from love alone—without fear of hell and without temptation of heavenly bliss. To preserve morality thus demands a brave man prepared to face even death. It is cowardice to be true to friends and to break faith with enemies. Those who do good out of fear and haltingly have no moral virtue… Henry Clay, known for his kindliness, sacrificed his convictions to his ambition. Daniel Webster2, for all his great intellect and his sense of the heroic and the sublime, once sold his intellectual integrity for a price. By a single mean act he wiped out all his good deeds. This shows how difficult it is to judge the morality of a man’s action because we cannot penetrate the depths of his mind. We have also the answer to the question raised at the outset in this chapter: what is a moral action? Incidentally, we also saw which kind of men could live up to that morality.3

[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 19-1-1907] 224. ETHICAL RELIGION-III, pp.229-32

1 “Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,

Shall I not love thee well?

Not for the sake of winning heaven,

Or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,

Not seeking a reward–

But as thyself hast loved me,

O everlasting lord !”

2 (1782-1852); American statesman and lawyer; his ‘‘biographers insist that he was never personally dishonest’’ —Encyclopaedia Britannica

3 Here follows a poem from Kavyadohan, an anthology of Gujarati verse, but

it is not reproduced in this volume.



We constantly pronounce judgements upon the value of actions.  Some actions satisfy us and others do not. Whether a certain act is good or bad does not depend upon whether it is beneficial or harmful to us. In judging it, we adopt quite a different standard. We have in our minds certain ideas and on the basis of those we judge the acts of others. Whether any wrong done by one to another affects us or not, we do feel it to be wrong. Sometimes we have a trace of sympathy for the wrongdoer; but despite that sympathy, we feel no hesitation at all in pronouncing his act to be wrong. It may be that at times our judgement is found to be mistaken. We cannot always fathom a man’s motives, and may thus judge him wrongly. Nevertheless, we find no difficulty in judging an act in so far as the intention is known. Even if our personal interests are sometimes served by wrong actions, we do feel inwardly that they are wrong.


Thus it is established that the rightness or wrongness of an act does not depend upon a man’s self-interest. Nor does it depend upon his wishes. There is a difference between morality and sympathy. Out of sympathy for the child we wish to give it a certain thing, but if the thing is harmful to the child, we hold it immoral to give it. It is doubtless good to show sympathy but, unrestricted by moral considerations, it turns into poison.


We see also that moral laws are immutable. Opinions change, but not morality. When our eyes are open, we see the sun; when they are closed, it is not seen. The change here has been in our sense of sight, not in the fact of the sun’s existence. The same holds true of moral laws. It is probable that in a state of ignorance we do not know what is moral; but once the eye of knowledge is opened, there is no difficulty in knowing it. Men rarely care to see single-mindedly the right or wrong of things; often prompted by personal considerations, they mistakenly describe the immoral as moral. The time is yet to come

when men, freeing themselves from self-regarding considerations, will concentrate their attention on the ideas of morality alone. Moral culture is still in its mere infancy; it is as science was before the birth of a Bacon or a Darwin. Men were eager to know what the truth was.  Instead of inquiring into morality, they have been hitherto engaged in (p.248)

discovering laws of nature—the laws of the earth’s motion, etc. Where do we find the disinterested student of morality, patient and painstaking, who, setting aside his earlier superstitious notions, devotes his life to seeking only the ideal good? When men become as eager to explore the world of moral ideas as they are now to explore the realms of nature, we shall be able to bring together the various conceptions of morality. It is unlikely that, on ideas of morality, there will be the same divergence of opinion as exists among men on matters of science. However, we may not for a time arrive at unanimity of

opinion regarding moral laws. This does not, however, mean that it is impossible to distinguish between right and wrong.


We thus see that, independent of and apart from men’s wishes and opinions, there is something like a moral standard which we may call moral law. If there are laws of the state, why may not there be a moral law too? It does not matter if that law is not committed to writing by man, and indeed it need not be. If we grant or hold that the

moral law exists, it is incumbent on us to obey it, just as we ought to obey the law of the state. A moral law is distinct from and better than the laws of the state or those of business. One may ask, “How does it matter if I do not obey the laws of business and remain poor? Or if I disobey the laws of the state and incur the ruler’s displeasure?” But

it will never do —either for me or anyone else — to say, “What does it matter whether I tell a lie or tell the truth?”


There is thus a great difference between moral laws and temporal laws. For morality dwells in our hearts. Even a man practising immorality would admit that he has been immoral. A wrong can never become right. Even where a people is vile, though men may

not observe the moral law, they would make a pretence of doing so; they thus are obliged to admit that moral laws ought to be observed. Such is the greatness of morality. It cares not for custom nor for public opinion. To a moral man, public opinion or custom is binding only so long as it is in harmony with the moral law. Where does this moral law come from? This law is not laid down by the state, for different laws are found in different states. Many men were opposed to the morality which Socrates observed in his day.  Even so the world admits that the morality he observed has remained, and shall remain, morality for ever. Robert Browning says, ‘If ever Satan proclaimed the law of hatred and untruth in the world, even then (p.249) justice, goodness and truth will continue to be divine.”1 One may conclude from this that the moral law is supreme and divine.  Such a law no people or individual can violate to the end of time. As has been said, even as the dangerous storm ultimately passes, immoral men must meet their destruction.2 No sooner did the cup of sin in Assyria and Babylon become full than it broke. When Rome trod the path of immorality, none of her great men could save her. The ancient Greeks were an accomplished people, still all their art and philosophy could not continue in their immorality for long. The French Revolution was but an insurrection

against immorality. The same was the case with America. The good Wendell Phillips used to say that immorality even if enthroned will not endure. This mysterious moral law brings prosperity to the man who observes it: it sustains the family that obeys it, and the

community which lives by it ever flourishes. Freedom, peace and happiness are the lot of the nation that lets itself be ruled by this highest law.3 [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 26-1-1907].— 233. ETHICAL RELIGION- IV, pp.248-50

1 …justice, good, and truth were still

Divine, if, by some demon’s will,

Hatred and wrong had been proclaimed

Law through the worlds, and right misnamed.

Christmas Eve, XVII

2 As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation. Proverbs, X.25.

3 Here follows a poem from Kavyadohan.




The subject of this chapter may strike one as strange. The common idea is that morality and religion are distinct things; still this chapter seeks to consider morality as a religion. Some readers may think the writer guilty of confusion. That reproach may come from two sides— from those who regard religion as more than morality, and from others who think that, where there is morality, there is no need for religion. Yet the author’s intention is to show their close relationship. The societies spreading ethical religion or religious ethics believe in religion through morality. The common idea, it may be admitted, is that there may be morality without religion and religion without morality. One comes across many men of immoral conduct who claim to be religious in (p.263) spite of the sinful acts they commit. On the other hand, there are moral men like the late Mr. Bradlaugh, who are proud to call themselves atheists and would run away from the name of religion. Those who hold either of these views are mistaken. Those who hold the first view are not only mistaken, but also dangerous as they practise immorality under the guise of religion. In this chapter, there fore, we shall show that, considered intellectually and scientifically,

religion and morality are united and should be so united. Morality was in the beginning simply the customary conduct of a community, settled ways of acting that men living together naturally fell into. By a natural process the good customs tended to survive and the bad ones to die out, since, if the bad ones did not die out, they would weaken the community and lead to its  extinction. Even today we see this process at work. It is neither morality nor religion if people observe good customs more or less unthinkingly. However, most of what passes for morality in the world today consists, as pointed out above, of good customs.  Moreover, men often have a merely superficial idea of religion. Sometimes men believe in religion only as a means to ward off dangers that threaten them. It would be a mistake to dignify actions as religious where they are performed out of a love that springs from fear.


But at long last a time does come when men begin to tread the path of morality consciously, deliberately with a determined will, regardless of gain or loss, of life or death, without turning to look back, ready to sacrifice themselves. Then can they be said to have been permeated with true morality.


How can such morality subsist except with the support of religion? One tells oneself, “If by doing a little harm to another, I can secure my personal interest, why should I not do that little harm?” The profit derived from doing harm is no profit, but a positive loss [to the doer]. How shall this unpalatable dose go down one’s throat?… So long as the seed of morality is not watered by religion, it cannot (p.264) sprout. Without water it withers and ultimately perishes. Thus it will be seen that true or ideal morality ought to include true religion. To put the same thought differently, morality cannot be observed without religion. That is to say, morality should be observed as a religion. Furthermore, it is seen that the rules of morality, laid down in the world’s great religions, are largely the same. The founders of the religions have also explained that morality is the basis of religion. If a foundation is removed, the superstructure falls to the ground; similarly if morality is destroyed, religion which is built on it comes crashing down.


The author adds that there is nothing wrong in calling morality a religion. Dr. Coit in his prayer says, “I shall have no other God except righteousness.” On reflection, we shall realize that God will not help us and answer our impassioned prayer for help, if we utter His name, while having a dagger concealed under our arm. Let us take two men, one who believes in the existence of God, yet breaks all His Commandments; and another who, though not acknowledging God by name, worships Him through his deeds and obeys His laws, recognizing in the divine laws, their Maker. Which of the two men shall we call a man of religion and morality? Without a moment’s thought, one would emphatically reply that the second man alone is to be considered religious and moral.

[From Gujarati]

Indian Opinion, 2-2-1907



[Before February 5, 1907]



Before summarizing this chapter, it is necessary to give an account first of Darwin  himself… Whether this conclusion is correct or not has not much to do with ethics. Besides this, Darwin has also shown how ideas of morality affect mankind. And as many scholars have faith in Darwin’s writings, our author has dealt with his views in Chapter VI.


It is noble voluntarily to do what is good and right. The true sign of man’s nobility is the fact that, instead of being driven about like a cloud before the wind, he stands firm and can do, and in fact

does, what he deems proper. Nevertheless, we ought to know the direction in which our environment disposes our instincts. We know that we are not in every way masters of our own life; there are conditions outside of us to which we have to adjust ourselves. For instance, in a country where Himalayan cold prevails, we have to put on adequate clothing, whether we like it or not, in order to keep the body warm. That is, we have to act with prudence. The question now arises: does the influence of environment lead us to be moral? Or can it be that the forces that surround us are indifferent to morality?


At this point it becomes necessary to consider Darwin’s views. Though Darwin did not write as a moral philosopher, he has shown  (p.268) how close the connection is between morality and environment. Those who think that morality is unimportant and that physical strength and mental capacity are the only things that matter should read Darwin.  According to him, there is an instinct of self-preservation in men as in other creatures. He also says that those who survive the struggle for existence may be regarded as successful, that is, those who are unfit tend to extinction, but that the issue of the struggle does not depend on mere physical force.


Comparing man with the bear or the buffalo, we find that, in physical strength, the bear and the buffalo are superior to him; in a tussle he will surely be worsted. Nonetheless he is their superior by virtue of his intelligence. Similarly we can compare different races of men. In war it is not the side with the largest numbers or with the hardiest soldiers that wins, but the side with the ablest generals and the best strategy, though its soldiers may be fewer or less hardy. In these examples we see the superiority of intelligence.


But Darwin shows further that moral strength is even superior to physical and intellectual strength; and we can see in various ways that a man who has moral qualities lasts longer than one who is devoid of them. Some hold that Darwin taught that strength is enough; that is, those who are physically strong ultimately survive. Superficial thinkers may believe that morality is of no use. But this is not Darwin’s view at all. We find from the evidence of the early history of man that races without morality have completely disappeared. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were extremely immoral and they are now therefore completely extinct. We can see even today how races without morality are steadily declining.


Let us now take some simple illustrations and see how at least common morality is necessary for sustaining the human race. A peaceful disposition is one element of morality. At first sight it may

appear that people with a violent disposition rise in life; but a little reflection will show that, when the sword of violence falls, it may be on one’s own neck. Freedom from bad habits forms another element of morality. Statistics have proved that, at the age of thirty, intemperate persons in England are not likely to live beyond another thirteen or fourteen years, while the teetotaller’s expectation of life is seventy years. Yet another element of morality is chastity. Darwin has  shown that profligate persons die early. They have no children, or if they have any, they are weak. The profligate become feeble of mind, and (p.269) in course of time look like idiots.


If we consider the morals of various communities, we find the same state of affairs. Among the Andaman islanders the husband looks after his wife only until their child is weaned and begins to move about, and he then abandons her. That is, they do not have the quality of altruism, and utter selfishness prevails. The result is that the race is gradually dying out. Darwin shows that the altruistic instinct is present, to some extent, even in animals: timid birds display strength

in defending their young. This shows that, if there had been no selflessness among animals, we should have in the world scarcely any life other than grass and poisonous flora. The main distinction between man and other animals is that man is more selfless than the animals. He has sacrificed his life for others in proportion to his strength, that is, for his offspring, for his family, his community and his country.


Darwin clearly shows that moral strength is supreme. The ancient Greeks had greater intelligence than the Europeans of today, but when the former gave up morality, their intelligence became their enemy, and no trace of them remains today. Nations are sustained neither by wealth nor by armies, but by righteousness alone. It is the duty of man to bear this truth in mind and practise altruism, which is the highest form of morality.

[From Gujarati]

Indian Opinion, 9-2-1907




It is sometimes said that all morality involves social relations. This is well said; for instance, if the judge has a proper sense of justice, men who go to court obtain satisfaction. Similarly love, kindness, generosity and other qualities can be manifested only in relation to others. The force of loyalty can be demonstrated only in our relations with one another. Of patriotism, nothing need be said. Truly speaking, there is no aspect of morality the benefit of which accrues to the practitioner alone. Sometimes it is said that truthfulness and other virtues have nothing to do with the other person and are entirely personal. But we must admit that by telling the truth we prevent harm to another, just as by telling a lie and deceiving a person we do him an injury.


In the same way, when a man disapproves of certain laws or customs and withdraws from society, even then his acts affect society. Such a man lives in a world of ideals. He does not worry that the

world of his ideals is not yet born. For him the mere thought that the prevailing standard is not good enough is sufficient to impel him to resist it. He will constantly try to change other people’s way of life to his own. This is how prophets have caused the world’s wheels to change their course.


So long as man remains selfish and does not care for the happiness of others, he is no better than an animal and perhaps worse. His superiority to the animal is seen only when we find him caring for his family. He is still more human, that is, much higher than the animal, when he extends his concept of the family to include his country or community as well. He climbs still higher in the scale when he comes to regard the human race as his family. A man is an animal or imperfect [as a human being] to the extent that he falls behind in his service to humanity. If I feel my wife’s injury or that of my community, yet have no sympathy for anyone outside the circle, it is clear that I do not have any feeling for humanity as such; but I have, simply out of selfishness or a sense of discrimination, a certain feeling for my wife, my children or the community which I hold as my own. That is to say, we have neither practised nor known ethical religion so long as we do not feel sympathy for every human being. Now we know that the higher morality must be comprehensive; it must embrace all men. Considering our relation to mankind, every man has a claim over us, as it is our duty always to serve him. We should act on (p.284) the assumption that we have no claim on others. He is merely ignorant who would here argue that the man acting in this manner will be trampled in the world’s scramble. For it is a universal experience that

God always saves the man who whole-heartedly devotes himself to the service of others.


According to this moral standard all men are equal. This is not to be interpreted to mean equality of position and function for all. It only means that, if I hold a high place, I also have the ability to

shoulder its duties and responsibilities. I should not therefore lose my head and believe that men with smaller responsibilities are my inferiors. Equality depends on the state of our mind, and until our mind reaches that state, we shall remain backward. According to this moral standard no nation can rule another for selfish ends. It is immoral of the American people to reduce the aborigines to an inferior status and run the government. A civilized race coming into contact with a savage one owes it to the latter to raise it to its own level. The same standard rules that the king is the servant and not the master of his people and that the officers are not there to enjoy power but to make the people happy. If the people in a democratic state are selfish, that state comes to no good. Moreover, according to this law, the stronger members of a state or community have to protect, not oppress, the weaker ones. Under such a government there can be no starvation; nor can there be excessive accumulation of riches; for we can never be happy while we see our neighbours languishing in misery. The man following this high moral standard will never amass wealth. He who would be moral need not be scared away by the thought that few follow this ideal morality; for he is master of his morality, not of its results. He will be considered guilty if he does not practise morality; but nobody will find fault with him if his immoral behaviour has no consequences for society.

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 16-2-1907].—pp.284-85




‘I am responsible for this,’ or ‘This is my duty’: this is a moving and wonderful thought. A mysterious, resounding voice seems to say, ‘To thee, individually, O man, is given this task. Whether defeat or victory, both belong to thee. Thou art what no one else in the world is, for nowhere has nature created two similar objects. Thou hast a duty which no one else in the world can do, and if thou dost not do it that loss will stand debited to thee in the world’s balance-sheet.’

‘What is that duty I owe to myself?’ Someone may quote the verse:

Call not man God, for man is not God,

Yet man is not distinct from God’s glory,


And answer, ‘My duty is to rest secure in the belief that I am a ray of God’s light.’ Another may answer that the duty is to have sympathy and fraternal regard for others. A third may answer that it is to revere parents, care for one’s wife and children, and acquit oneself well with brother, sister or friend. Alongside of all these virtues, it is also a part of my duty to respect myself even as I respect others. As long as I do not understand myself, how shall I understand others? And how shall I respect one whom I do not know? Many hold the view that the obligation of proper conduct arises [only] in relation to others and that, in the absence of contact with others, one may do just as one pleases. He who holds this view does not know what he says. In this world none can, with impunity, act as he pleases. Let us now see what our duty is to ourselves. Let us take, first, our private habits which are unknown to all but ourselves. We are responsible for them since they affect our character; but this is not all. We are responsible for them also because they affect others. Every person ought to control his own impulses, and keep his soul as well as body clean. ‘Tell me,’ says a great man, ‘what a man’s private habits are and I shall tell you what he is or will be’. We should therefore control all our appetites, so that we do not drink or eat to excess. Else we shall lose our strength and our good name. Worldly success never comes to him who does not abstain from sensual pleasures and does (p.294) not thus save his body, mind, intellect and soul.

Arguing along these lines and keeping one’s instincts pure, one should further consider how to put them to use. One ought to have a fixed aim in life. If we do not discover our life’s purpose, and keep steadily to the course, we shall be swept along like a rudderless ship on the high seas; we shall falter on the [moral] path. Man’s highest duty in life is to serve mankind and take his share in bettering its condition. This is true worship—true prayer. He is a godly man who does God’s work. Hypocrites and cheats going about invoking God’s name are legion. Because a parrot utters the name of God, no one would call it godly. Contribution to an ideal order of human life is something everyone can aim at. With this aim in view the mother may legitimately rear her child, the lawyer may pursue his profession, the merchant may carry-on his business or trade and the working man may labour. A person with that fixed aim would never deviate from the path of

morality, for if he did, he could not fulfil his aim of uplifting mankind.


Let us consider the matter in some detail. We ought constantly to examine whether our way of life tends to improve human life or to worsen it. Thus the merchant should ask himself whether, in transacting a business, he is cheating himself or another. The lawyer and the physician, acting according to this standard, will give more thought to their client or patient than to their fees. The mother in rearing her child would proceed very cautiously lest she should spoil the child out of misguided love or some selfish interest. The worker too would be guided by these considerations and do his duty. The result of all this would be that, if the worker fulfils his function in conformity with the moral ideal, he would be deemed better and higher than the wealthy merchant, physician or lawyer who lives without any discipline. The worker would be the true coin and those selfish men, even though more intelligent or wealthy, would be counterfeit. This further shows that any man, whatever his place in life, has the power to fulfil this aim. A man’s value depends upon his way of life, not his status. One’s way of life is not to be judged by one’s

visible outward actions, but by one’s inner leanings. For instance, if of two men, one gives a dollar to a poor person to rid himself of his presence and the other half a dollar but with love and out of compassion for the man, obviously, the one who gave half a dollar is (p. 295) truly moral, while the other who gave a dollar, the sinner. To sum up, he alone is religious, he alone is happy and he alone is wealthy, who is sincere in himself, bears no malice, exploits no one and always acts with a pure mind. Such men alone can serve mankind. How can a damp matchstick kindle a log of wood? How can a man who does rot practise morality teach it to another? How can a sinking man save another from drowning? The man who lives a moral life never raises the question as to how to serve the world, for he is never in doubt. Mathew Arnold says of a friend:

I saw him sensitive in frame,

I knew his spirits low,

And wished him health, success, and fame—

I do not wish it now.

For these are all their own reward,

And leave no good behind:

They try us—oftenest make us hard,

Less modest, pure, and kind.


Time was when Arnold wished his friend health, success and fame. But he did not so wish now, because his friend’s happiness or misery did not depend on their presence or absence; he  therefore only wished that his morality might ever endure. Emerson says, “Adversity is the prosperity of the great.” Both the money and the fame belonging to the base are a misery to them and to the world

[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 23-2-1907].—pp.294-96




…Many bavas and fakirs maintain themselves by begging, but serve neither themselves nor the country. For going about begging in this manner, they will not be regarded as having attained true renunciation….–413. WHAT CAN HINDU WIDOWS DO?




….But who can harm one whom Rama protects?

I see signs that the Indian community will adhere to its gaol-going resolution, and the sight fills my heart with joy….

….The difference between slavery and freedom consists in the manner in which others deal with us. If, for the sake of a friend, master or father, I willingly perform the meanest job, I shall win

greater respect, my master will think of me as a very loyal servant, and my father will regard me with affection. But if I do the same thing under compulsion, men will spit at me, think me a coward and ask why I did not kill myself instead of submitting to such slavery…. (p.441)….When the Pope sent a similar order to the great Luther of Germany through an envoy, he consigned it to the flames in the presence of the envoy and said, “Go, tell the Pope that Luther is free from now on. Tell him of the fate of his bull.” Since that day Luther has remained immortal. Millions may want to do what Luther did, but not every one can succeed.[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 11-5-1907.]— 374. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, pp.441-42


Forward ye all to battle, the bugles sound Raise the cry and take the plunge, for victory’s around.

There are deeds that may not be tarried, Doubts, fears ever abound, and courage is harried; They waste the days saying the time is not yet—No such excuse ever did bring profit. By plunging in and savouring success is strength found. Raise the cry and take the plunge, for victory’s around.

Through adventure did Columbus to the New World make his trip;

Through adventure did Napoleon have enemies in his grip;

Through adventure Martin Luther did the Pope defy;

Through adventure did Scott his debts re-pay;

Through adventure did Alexander have his name resound.

Raise the cry and take the plunge, for victory’s around.

Thus sang the poet{ Narmadashankar }. The song deserves to be learnt off by heart by every Indian, especially in the Transvaal. Let him grasp its meaning in full, and then plunge into the fight, regardless of consequences…. The more we think about the Transvaal Act, the more we feel that it is to be shunned like a viper. The spirit of enterprise is essential for this….As the Gujarati saying has it, doubt is like a ghost and selfishness like a witch. Accordingly, if we go on having doubts, there will be no end to them. (p.454) Once free from doubt, we shall win resounding success in the end. Whatever the excuse offered by anyone, believe it to arise from fear. Let every Indian expel the witch of fear and resolve that, whatever others might do, he for his part would go to gaol rather than submit to the new Act….[[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 18-5-1907.]— 383. THE TRANSVAAL STRUGGLE, pp.454-55


…The main aim of Mr. Gandhi’s presence is to keep up the courage of the accused. People will have nothing to fear if, fortunately for the community and for Mr. Gandhi, he is sent to gaol first. Even while in gaol, Mr. Gandhi can put up a defence, that is, he can pray to God to give courage to all Indians. At this stage, I should also add that it is mainly because the new law is humiliating that all Indians accept the gaol resolution. Thus, the only conclusion is that every Indian must maintain his self-respect. (p.490)



Mr. Gandhi also attended by invitation. Explaining the position, he said that the Chinese and the Indians had been classed together under the new law. The law humiliated the Asiatics and it should not therefore be accepted by the Chinese….In the end, it was decided that every Chinese

should declare on oath, in accordance with his religion, that in no case would he take out a new permit and that, if necessary, he would be prepared to face imprisonment. (p.493)[From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 1-6-1907.]— 402. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, pp. 490 &93





These days the tram service in Johannesburg often becomes dislocated. Hardly a day passes without a break-down. There can be two reasons for this. The Indian community may persuade itself that it results from God’s wrath on the municipality which prohibits Coloured persons from travelling by these trams. Another reason may be that those entrusted with the installation of electric motors have, for the sake of money, cheated and not done their work according to the contract.(p. 411)  [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 27-4-1907.]— 355. JOHANNESBURG LETTER, p.411








CWG Vol. 5

The high light in this volume is the case studies about several leading personalities to challenge the Indians to imitate their life and sense of duty.  JOSEPH MAZZINI of Italy who fought to united it as one nation; ELIZABETH FRY1 who worked tirdlessly for Prison reform in England and Austrelia; FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE {1820-1910}, the famous nurse and pioneer of hospital reform; LORD CHARLES THEOPHILUS METCALFE LIBERATOR OF THE INDIAN PRESS, who said to his English opponents, ‘If British rule can be preserved only by keeping the people in ignorance, our rule then would be a curse on the country and ought to come to an end.’ (p.125)

In the same way he also wrote highly about British so that Indians can ‘emulate them in their deeds so that our aspirations may be fulfilled.’(p.118). He also wrote about their sense of duty and commitment to the work that ,’ without looking at their faults or envying them, that they deserve all they have, and for the most part it is necessary to behave as they do.’ (p.396):   At the same time he didn’t hesitate their police of divide and rule (pp.121-22) hitting the Indian with the same spirit for the need of unity among them.  When it comes to the unity, Gandhi is of the view that, ‘the Hindus, being the majority community, should act with greater humility…’ (p.166).  As usual we find his views on duty, hygiene and promotion of Hindi as the common national language in India to make it as a true ‘nation’.  His views on Indians, justice, the role of mass meeting, religion,  perseverance, Satyagraha, seva, suffering, shortcoming, the importance of education and respecting the view of opponents and publishing it in Indian Opinion., again marks the quality of a born leader.  But one thing that still remain curious to me is his letter to Mr. Polak about his sisters after his visit to their house during his visit to London this time: ‘Both the sisters are really most lovable, and if I was unmarried, or young, or believed in mixed marriage, you know what I would have done! As it is, I told them that if I had made their acquaintance in 1888 (for not doing which they took me severely to task) I should have adopted them as daughters…,’

Db. 11-11-2011. Gurukulam


We should not envy the nation, but emulate its example. Those who have faith in God recognize that the British do not rule over Indiawithout His will. This too is a divine law that those who rule do so because of the good deeds they have done before. Let us therefore (p.117) emulate them in their deeds so that our aspirations may be fulfilled. [From Gujarati] Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905.— 135. HOW ENGLAND WON, p.117-18


…The British prefer a harsh but self-governing political system to a mild alien rule…. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 16-6-1906].— 380. LORD SELBORNE, p.357



Writing about the voyage, we have reflected why the English prosper. I am aware that, as every shield has two sides, so has the Englishman’s way of life. It should not be our business to examine the reverse side. Just as a swan, as the saying goes, separates milk from water and drinks only the former, so must we learn to recognize our rulers’ virtues, which alone we should follow. Continuing this train of thought, we noticed that people on the boat did not merely enjoy themselves all day long. Those who had work to do did it as if it was the most natural thing to do, without fuss. On this steamer there are passengers who are always reading. They read not for pleasure, but because it is necessary. As soon as their reading is over, they join others in sport and merriment. The crew discharge their duties punctually to the minute. Looking at the vanities around them, they do not forget their station in life. Envying none, they remain absorbed in their work. We Indians, too, behave in much the same way, and in certain respects excel them. But if we take an overall view, the balance-sheet will show more to the Englishman’s credit. We do not possess the ability to build steamers like the one we are sailing in. Even if we can build one, we have not the ability to operate it. We cannot match their record in public sanitation. We rarely present the spectacle of a number of men working together without noise. Their (P.395)mode of life is such that they can save much time, and in the modern age to save time is to gain money….Viewing things in this manner we should conclude, without looking at their faults or envying them, that they deserve all they have, and for the most part it is necessary to behave as they do. This is not the place to consider how we can set about doing this. Here I have put my thoughts before the reader as they occurred to me during the voyage.[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 24-11-1906.]— 484. THE DEPUTATION’S VOYAGE—III; [S. S. ARMADALE CASTLE, Before October 20, 1906] p.471

Case studies




Italyas a nation came into existence recently. Before 1870Italycomprised a number of small principalities, each with its petty chief. Before 1870, she was like theIndiaor Kathiawad of today. Though the people spoke the same language and had the same character, they all owed allegiance to different petty states. TodayItalyis an independent European country and her people are regarded as a distinct nation. All this can be said to be the achievement of one man. And his name—Joseph Mazzini. Joseph Mazzini was born inGenoaonJune 22, 1805. He was a man of such sterling character, so good-natured and so patriotic, that great preparations are being made throughoutEuropeto commemorate the centenary of his birth. For, although he dedicated his whole life to the service of Italy, he was so broadminded that he could be regarded a citizen of every country. It was his constant yearning that every nation should become great and live in unity.

1 The original has “What is wrought by the hand hits the heart”,

Even at the early age of thirteen, Mazzini showed great intelligence In spite of great scholarship that he evidenced, he gave up his books out of patriotism and undertook the study of law, and began using his legal knowledge gratuitously to help the poor. Then he joined a secret organization which was working for the unification of Italy. When the (p.27) Italian chiefs learnt of this, they put him into prison. While still in prison, he continued to advance his plans for freeing his country. At last he had to leave Italy. He went to Marseillesand lived there. The Italian princes, however, using their influence, had him banished from that city. Though obliged to fly from place to place, he did not lose heart and kept on sending his writings secretly to Italy, which gradually influenced the minds of the people. He suffered a lot in the process. He had to run about in disguise to evade spies. Even his life was frequently in danger, but he did not care. At last he went to Englandin 1837. He did not suffer so much there but had to live in extreme poverty. In Englandhe came into contact with the great leaders of that country and sought their aid.

In 1848 Mazzini returned with Garibaldi to Italy, and set up the self-governing State of Italy. But it did not last long, thanks to the activities of crafty persons and though Mazzini had to flee the country once again, his influence did not fade. The seed of unity that he  had sown endured and, though Mazzini remained in banishment,Italy became a single united kingdom in 1870. Victor Emmanuel became its king. Mazzini was gratified to see his country thus united. But as he was not permitted to enter the country, he used to go there in disguise. Once when the police went to arrest him, he opened the door for them as if he were an usher and gave them the slip.

This great man died on March, 1873. His foes had now become his friends. People had come to recognise his true worth. Eighty thousand people joined his funeral procession. He was buried at the highest spot in Genoa. Today Italy and the whole of Europe worship this man. In Italy he is considered one of the greatest of men. He was a pious and religious man, ever free from selfishness and pride. Poverty was for him an ornament. The sufferings of others he regarded as his own. There are very few instances in the world where a single man has brought about the uplift of his country by his strength of mind and his extreme devotion during his own lifetime. Such was the unique Mazzini. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 22-7-l905.pp.27-28]

65. ELIZABETH FRY1 {1Elizabeth Fry, (1780-1845), belonged to the Society of Friends. She was a pioneer of prison reform.}

There are many reasons why the British should be ruling over us and why we are in such a deplorable condition. One of the reasons is that in modern times the British seem to have produced a larger number than we of brave and pious men and women of high principles. Nevertheless we believe that we are bound to benefit from a knowledge and constant contemplation of the lives of such devout men and women, and we therefore propose to give the stories of their lives from time to time. We hope that the readers of this journal will read their lives and follow them in practice and thus encourage us. We have suggested earlier that each one of our subscribers should maintain a file of Indian Opinion. We remind them of it on this occasion.

Mrs. Elizabeth Fry lived in England a century ago. She was a very religious-minded lady and it was her constant concern to help mitigate the sufferings of man. Though herself a chronic invalid she did not care; she was not to be daunted by personal suffering. There is a prison called the Newgate Prison inEnglandwhere, a hundred years ago, men and women prisoners were huddled together somehow and lived quite uncared for. They were in an extremely bad state. Crime among them, instead of diminishing, was on the increase. Their life was more like that of cattle. Consequently, the condition of Newgate prisoners who were released after their sentences became very pitiable. This misery, the (p.45) good Elizabeth could not bear to see.  Her heart was deeply grieved, and she dedicated her life to the amelioration of their condition. Having obtained permission of the authorities, she began helping, in particular, the women prisoners, whom she used to comfort. But she did not stop here. By her writings and personal effort she got a number of reforms introduced through the authorities. As a result of her efforts the condition of prisoners improved much. But this she considered quite inadequate. In those days, prisoners used to be deported to Australia. They were subjected to great harassment while on board ships. Even the honour of women prisoners was not safe. Elizabeth saw that all her good work was being undone on board the ships while the prisoners were being thus transported. To remedy this evil, she visited the ships at great personal inconvenience. At last she succeeded in putting an end to the sufferings of prisoners on the ships. Further, she effected some improvement in the miserable condition of the prisoners in Australia; and a law was accordingly passed to the effect that prisoners, on reaching Australia, were to be passed on to others for service after being trained there for six months. While thus sharing in the sufferings of many unfortunate persons, this good lady forgot her own suffering, and breathed her last, praying to God. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 19-8-1905.]—pp.45-46

80. FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE {1820-1910}, famous nurse and pioneer of hospital reform}

This lady remained single all her life, which she spent in such good work. It is said that, when she died, thousands of soldiers wept bitterly like little children, as though they had lost their own mother. No wonder that a country where such women are born is prosperous. That England rules over a wide empire is due not to the country’s military  strength, but to the meritorious deeds of such men and women. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 9-9-1905].—p.62

“The right to rule belongs to the ruler only if he works for the happiness of the ruled.” Charles Theophilus Metcalfe,… This is what he wrote about it:

…The kingdom of man is controlled by the kingdomof God. The Almighty can bestow a kingdom in a moment and take it back in another. Man’s ingenuity avails not before His command. The duty of the rulers, therefore, is only to advance the well-being of their subjects. If we but discharge this duty, our Indian subjects will be grateful to us, and the world will for ever sing our praises. What if in future a rebellion should break out as a result of such a policy? Well, if out of the base fear of a future danger we should oppress the subjects, we shall deserve the attacks that may be made against us. And, when we are driven to such a position, the world will scorn us, will spit upon us and call us all sorts of names.(p.124)

Sympathizing with the ryots in their woes, young Metcalfe wrote such noble words. Metcalfe was later appointed Resident at the Nizam’s Court. The Nizam’s Government was at that time in great financial difficulty. Some crafty but powerful Englishmen had lent him large sums on interest. Metcalfe was much pained to learn of this. Without caring for what the Governor-General might think, he did his duty and got rid of the crafty men. In 1827 Metcalfe became a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council atCalcutta. The good Lord William Bentinck was the Viceroy then. When Bentinck was obliged for reasons of health to proceed suddenly toEngland, Metcalfe was appointed in his place as Acting Governor-General. At this time he did the greatest deed of his life. He enacted the famous law giving freedom to the Indian Press, which displeased his masters—the Board of Directors. But Metcalfe did not care. When prominent Englishmen opposed him, he made the following reply:

If the argument of my opponents be that the spread of knowledge may be harmful to our rule in India, I say that, whatever be the consequences, it is our duty to educate the people. If British rule can be preserved only by keeping the people in ignorance, our rule then would be a curse on the country and ought to come to an end. But I personally think that we have much more to fear if the people remain ignorant. The spread of knowledge, I hope, will remove their superstitions, will enable them to appreciate the benefits of our government, will promote the goodwill between the rulers and the ruled and will eliminate the differences and disunity amongst the Indians themselves. We, however, do not know what the will of the Almighty is in respect of the future of India. Our duty clearly is to execute the work entrusted to us for the good of the people.

Metcalfe, thereafter, was appointed Governor-General of Canada. There he fell seriously ill, but disregarding his illness went on doing his duty till the last. He was a deeply religious man. Having served the Queen loyally and won the love of the people, he died in 1840. [From Gujarati] Indian Opinion, 4-11-1905.— 141. LORD METCALFE LIBERATOR OF THE INDIAN PRESS, pp.124-25:


…We have never cherished, nor do we do so now, the idea of doing anything simply to please others. It is our duty to administer the bitter pill…. (p.114)

We have been repeatedly telling people to stick to their resolve, to remain courteous under all circumstances, and to discharge their duties courageously. We are publishing the biographical sketches of brave men and women like Sir Henry Lawrence and Elizabeth Fry and exhorting our readers to follow the examples of those heroic souls. In the end, we appeal to all our readers to take our writings in the spirit in which they are written. It is possible that we might unwittingly commit mistakes in the  course of our public service. We shall be grateful if those who notice any such draw our attention to them.[From Gujarati] Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905.]— 132. OUR DUTY, pp.114-15

…Self-government means self-control; if privileges are granted, responsibilities must be assumed also, and… to see to it that those responsibilities are properly discharged.[Indian Opinion, 14-4-1906.]— 295. A LICENSING PETITION, p.280

…We give ourselves over to physical pleasures and cannot give them up. It is our duty to make some sacrifice for the sake of others. We do not realize that there is real beauty in this: that it is thus that we please God and do our true duty…..[[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 8-9-1906.]— 433. RUSSIA AND INDIA, p.414





October 26, 1906


…I passed last Sunday with your people. Nothing surprised me, as you had prepared me for everything; otherwise to meet your sisters and your brilliant father would have been a most agreeable surprise. Both the sisters are really most lovable, and if I was unmarried, or young, or believed in mixed marriage, you know what I would have done! As it is, I told them that if I had made their acquaintance in 1888 (for not doing which they took me severely to task) I should have adopted them as daughters,from which proposition your father violently dissented. Your mother was very hospitable….(p. 421) Your mother is suffering from a very severe attack of indigestion. I mildly proposed an extended Jewish fast. I am afraid the proposal won’t wash, however it has gone in for what it is worth. I pushed in the claim for earth-bandages also, and by the time I have done with them, I might be able to make some impression. Anyhow she said she was quite open to conviction….[From a photostat of the typewritten office copy: S. N. 4406.]—pp.421-22

{This is from volume five from website.  But they will be in volume six in Govt. serials.  However from volume six onwards I read from website.  So, though I put these notes in volume five notes from Govt. ones,  these are from website ones.  So there will change in page numbers.–db }


…One language remains, namely, Hindustani, which is spoken by North Indians. Derived as it is from Sanskrit and Persian, it suits Hindus and Muslims alike. Moreover, since the fakirs and the sanyasis both speak it, they help to propagate it throughout the land. Many Englishmen too study it. It is thus spoken over an extensive area. The language itself is very sweet, polite and spirited. Many books have been, and are still being, written in it. The editor of the Indian World therefore suggests that it should be taught in every school in India in addition to the mother tongue. Parents too should inculcate the habit of  speaking Hindustani to their children from their formative years. Only then can India truly become a nation. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 18-8-1906.]— 414. INDIA FOR INDIANS. pp.397



…the saying about tobacco, that it spoils “a corder [in the house] of one who chews it, the whole house of one who smokes it, and the clothes of one who sniffs it”….[From Gujarati]. Indian Opinion, 21-10-1905.— 124. The Evils of Smoking. p.105

Among us the custom of taking tea is of recent origin. In India, there is no need for it, but if, in imitation of the whites, people do want to have some drink, they should instead drink coffee or cocoa which are less harmful. [From Gujarati]Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905.— 136. THE EVILS OF TEA, p.118



1 An Indian barber. in Dundee, while shaving an Indian merchant, left off in the middle to attend to a European customer. The Indian community thereupon decided to boycott the barber.—foot notes. p. 197

…Congratulations to Sir George! It is thanks to such Anglo-Indians that Indians have tolerated British rule. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 31-3-1906.]— 275. SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD’S COURAGE AND THE MEANNESS OF A CLUB, p.256

…there is no unity among the Indians and that they will not succeed in securing their rights as long as it is not achieved. There are many factions amongst them. If the Commissioner wants any information about the whites, he can immediately find a white person to speak for all of them; but when the Commissioner desires to know anything about Indians, he has to invite half a dozen men of different communities. This is indeed unfortunate, if true. As we all come from the same country, we should forget that we belong to different communities. So long as we do not bear this in mind, we can never be rid of our hardships. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 5-5-1906.]— 327. THE EXAMPLE OF MOMBASA, p. 303



…Mr. John Morley has not hitherto worked half-heartedly in anything he has taken up. His sympathies for the weaker party are well known…. No matter how sacred may be the independence of self-governing colonies, he is not without remedy against oppression by the stronger over the weaker party….[Indian Opinion, 6-1-1906.]— 190. THE OUTLOOK, p.175



… (1) we should as a rule publish all letters against us, for instance, those of Habib Motan and Haji Habib…[ From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S. N. 4311.]— 212. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, February 19, 1906, p.197



….A mass meeting can only give strength to a movement which is based on facts, (p. 143) but it never sifts and finds true facts. It is guided often by invective and appeals to passions. Mass meetings, therefore, become dangerous when they are called upon to deal with a situation which has not been ascertained…. [Indian Opinion, 31-3-1906].— 265. THE EARLY CLOSING ACT, pp.249



…Even a mother does not give without being asked. They will, if you ask them….

[From a photostat of the Gujarati original in Gandhiji’s hand: S.N. 4783.]— 210. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG,], Sunday, February 18, 1906, p. 196


I have expressed appreciation of every religion and pointed out the distinctive merit of each.  There was not the least intention even in my dream of hurting anybody….[From the Gujarati in Gandhiji’s hand: Letter Book (1905): No. 950.]—60. Letter to Haji Habib. [Johannesburg] August 14, 1905. p.42

How marvellous, too, in this connection, is that ancient cult of Mithras in Persia, where, as M. Cumont says: ‘Like the Christians, the followers of Mithras lived in closely united societies, calling one another father and brother; like the Christians, they practiced baptism, communion and confirmation; taught an authoritative morality, preached  continence, chastity and self-denial, believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead’. [An article appeared recently in the columns of The Christian World, a London religious weekly, over the signature of “J.B.”, [Indian Opinion, 26-8-1905].— 69. THE WORLD’S RELIGION, p.49


…If having taken such an oath we violate our pledge we are guilty before God and man. Personally I hold that a man, who deliberately and intelligently takes a pledge and then breaks it, forfeits his manhood….(p.420)

…It is possible that a majority of those present here might take the pledge in a fit of enthusiasm or indignation but might weaken under the ordeal, and only a handful might be left to face the final test. Even then there is only one course open to the like of me, to die but not to submit to the law. It is quite unlikely but even if every one else flinched leaving me alone to face the music, I am confident that I would never violate my pledge….[Indian Opinion, 15-9-1906.]— 441. THE MASS MEETING, pp.420-21

…What if a hundred or more lose their all and become paupers in serving the community or the country? The English honour only those who make such sacrifice. Their shining glory has spread just because great heroes have been and are still born among them. Such were Wat Tyler, John Hampden, John Bunyan and others. They laid the foundations of England’s political supremacy. Who they were and what they did we shall tell some other time.1 But we shall continue to be in our present abject condition till we follow their example. The Indian community has a good (p.462) opportunity today of proving its mettle. We hope that it will not let it slip, but will rush to the field, plunge in whole-heartedly and fight to the last. There was a time inIndiawhen the mother refused to look at the face of a son who returned vanquished from the battle-field. We pray to God that every Indian in the Transvaal will remember that time. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 6-10-1906.]— 475. THE DUTY OF TRANSVAAL INDIANS , pp.462-63


….We have to be satisfied if, by putting ourselves out, others can be made happy or can benefit….[From a photostat of the original Gujarati: S.N. 4262]— 142. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, [JOHANNESBURG,], November 6, 1905 p.126


Short coming

It is characteristic of human nature to discover in others the faults which are in oneself, and thus to feel complacent in the belief that (p.320) others share one’s defects. Men of discernment who are patriotic, and who are moved by the valour of others, should entertain good thoughts, should consider the merits and not the demerits of others, and should try to follow their example and persuade others to do likewise. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 19-5-1906.]— 344. OUR SHORTCOMINGS, pp.320-21


…a man once bitten by a serpent dreads even a length of rope….[[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 7-4-1906.]— 285. POLITICAL TURMOIL IN NATAL, p.267



…Though co-operation and riches will always be of very great assistance, teaching is a department of work in which one teacher alone can be a host in himself. None need,  therefore, wait for others to take up the work. And there is no calling so sacred. As a Sanskrit verse says:

Kingship and learning are never equal:

A King is worshipped in his own kingdom,

But a learned man throughout the world.


Riches are spent by use; but learning is increased by its rich and plentiful.

[Indian Opinion, 23-12-1905.]— 178. THE HARVEST, p.164


…brings the aphorism vividly home to us. It is said that twenty thousand Mahomedans at Dacca, the capital of the new province partitioned from Bengal, assembled together and offered prayers of thanksgiving to the Almighty for the partition, and their consequent deliverance from Hindu oppression…. Assuming that there was any oppression on the part of the Hindus, relief could be obtained without partition, because the might of the British power was there to protect one community against another. (p.121)

But, if the rulers of India will not see the reasonableness of the movement, why should not the Indians ? It is true that, to a certain extent, the introduction of British rule was possible by reason of internal dissensions but it is the peculiar province, as also the privilege, of Great Britain to bring together the two great communities in India, and to leave to them an heritage for which she would receive not only the gratitude of the millions in India, but the unstinted admiration of the whole world. It behoves, then, both communities to seize the opportunity offered to them, and to sink material jealousies and dissensions for their common good. Better far, that two brothers should suffer at the hands of each other, than that a third party should step into the breach and gain an advantage over them. We would ask those who see these lines, no matter who they be, to join with us in the prayer that the present agitation in Bengal, which has in it the germs of the unification of the different communities, may grow in strength, and that the people of Dacca or elsewhere, whether Hindus or Mahomedans, may have the good sense to refrain from doing anything that may mar the glorious possibilities that are opened up to the people of India [Indian Opinion, 4-11-1905.]— 139. DIVIDE AND RULE, pp.121-22

… We, also, hold that the Hindus, being the majority community, should act with greater humility…  .[From Gujarati]Indian Opinion, 23-12-1905.— 181. AGREEMENT BETWEEN HINDUS AND MUSLIMS, p.166



Every country depends a great deal on its young men and women. Old men with their set habits of thought cannot readjust their opinions as necessary. They cling to old ideas. Every community, however, has undoubtedly need of such men, for they help to contain the restless enthusiasm of youth within limits. While they have their uses, they have their disadvantages also, since they often hesitate to do things which needs must be done. This may be thought becoming in them; but it is (p.295) helpful to have good young men coming forward, for it is they alone who can venture to experiment. It is therefore as necessary for us to encourage these associations as to caution them against over-enthusiasm…. [From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-4-1906.]— 315. APPEAL TO YOUNG INDIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA, pp. 295-96

CWG Vol. 4

From this volume I selected few points which will help us  to understand the Personality of Gandhiji in this period. In his comments on Christianity while appreciating its influence do not fail to criticize with the same spirit.  When we talk about corruption now (2011 the year of corruption and scams) we read its universal nature even in the past from the accounts given by Gandhiji.  We also get information about the origin of Indian Congress; while rebuking Indians for the lack of the sense of duty among them, yet he encourage them to follow the example of Khan Bahadur Mohiuddin.  He also points about the need of ‘Unity’ among in spite of various difference to achieve common goal for all Indians. We read some interesting information about the personal life of Gandhi: his interest to learn Tamil, cooking and simple life style.  His talks and writing on Hinduism that too comparing with Islam and Christianity is the repetition of his view on religion in general and Hinduism in particular, which we have seen in previous volumes and will see in future volumes too.  His attitude and approach to various branches of Hinduism (Teosophical Society and Arya Samaj here) strikes a balance.  According to Gandhiji all the religions are same.  Same is his view on Indians and India.  While highly exalting India on several points, particular about its culture, tradition, spirituality (by often quoting from European scholars) he equally hits the Indians by pointing their shot comings.  Gandiji’s talk on Islam and the misunderstanding that it created and the clarification that he gave are some important points in this volume.  Gandhi’s role in Indian Opinion (A weekly? News Paper) is very crucial for us to understand all his life and mission in South Africa.  And his cousin’s role and the way Gandhiji directed and handled him are important for us to understand the personality of Gandhiji and we find some interesting information about this in this volume.

Gurukulam. November 2, 2011.


…On July 2, 1857, he was struck by a splinter from a cannon shot. The doctors told him that the wound was fatal and that he would not live more than forty-eight hours. In spite of the unbearable pain, he kept on giving orders. He breathed his last on July 4, praying: “Oh God! keep my heart pure. Thou alone art great. This world of Thine will certainly be pure some day. I am but a child, but it is through Thy strength that I can become strong. Always teach me meekness, justice, good-will and peace. I seek not the thoughts of men. Thou art my Judge; do Thou teach me Thy thoughts, for I fear Thee.” He loved Indians greatly. He condemned the atrocities that were perpetrated at the time of the Mutiny and believed that every Englishman was a trustee forIndia. As trustees, the English were not to lootIndia, but to make the people prosperous, to teach them self-government and to make over the country to the Indian people in a prosperous state. The English people have progressed because men likeLawrenceare born amongst them.[From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 14-10-1905].— 409. SIR HENRY LAWRENCE p.457


“The right to rule belongs to the ruler only if he works for the happiness of the ruled.” Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, who uttered these words and acted up to them, was born inCalcuttaonJanuary 30, 1785…. He placed the landholders’ rights on a firm basis. This is what he wrote about it: (p.481)

…how can we deprive the ryots of their rights? How can liberal rulers attach any weight to such an argument? The kingdom of man is controlled by thekingdomofGod. The Almighty can bestow a kingdom in a moment and take it back in another. Man’s ingenuity avails not before His command. The duty of the rulers, therefore, is only to advance the well-being of their subjects. If we but discharge this duty, our Indian subjects will be grateful to us, and the world will for ever sing our praises. What if in future a rebellion should break out as a result of such a policy? Well, if out of the base fear of a future danger we should oppress the subjects, we shall deserve the attacks that may be made against us. And, when we are driven to such a position, the world will scorn us, will spit upon us and call us all sorts of names.

Sympathizing with the ryots in their woes, young Metcalfe wrote such noble words….In 1827 Metcalfe became a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council atCalcutta. The good Lord William Bentinck was the Viceroy then. When Bentinck was obliged for reasons of health to proceed suddenly toEngland, Metcalfe was appointed in his place as Acting Governor-General. At this time he did the greatest deed of his life. He enacted the famous law giving freedom to the Indian Press, which displeased his masters—the Board of Directors. But Metcalfe did not care. When prominent Englishmen opposed him, he made the following reply:

If the argument of my opponents be that the spread of knowledge may be harmful to our rule in India, I say that, whatever be the consequences, it is our duty to educate the people. If British rule can be preserved only by keeping the people in ignorance, our rule then would be a curse on the country and ought to come to an end. But I personally think that we have much more to fear if the people remain ignorant. The spread of knowledge, I hope, will remove their superstitions, will enable them to appreciate the benefits of our government, will promote the goodwill between the rulers and the ruled and will eliminate the differences and disunity amongst the Indians themselves. We, however, do not know what the will of the Almighty is in respect of the future of India. Our duty clearly is to execute the work entrusted to us for the good of the people. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 4-11-1905]— 429. LORD METCALFE, LIBERATOR OF THE INDIAN PRESS, pp.481-82


But later, when Christianity and Western civilisation came to be associated, the Hindus began to look upon the religion with disfavour. And today, we see few Hindus embracing Christianity inspite of the fact that the Christians are ruling over a vast kingdom.  Nevertheless, Christianity has had a very considerable influence on Hinduism. Christian priests imparted education of a high (p.246) order and pointed out some of the glaring defects in Hinduism, with the result that there arose among the Hindus other great teachers who, like Kabir, began to teach the Hindus what was good in Christianity and appealed to them to remove these defects. To this category belonged Raja Ram Mohan Rai1,  Devendranath Tagore,2 and Keshab Chandra Sen.3 In Western India we had Dayanand Saraswati.4 And the numerous reformist associations like the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj that have sprung up in India today are doubtless the result of Christian influence.5 Again, Madame Blavatsky6 came to India, told both Hindus and the Muslims of the evils of Western civilisation and asked them to beware of becoming enamoured of it. (p.247) [Indian Opinion, 15-4-1905].—188. LECTURES ON RELIGION.—pp.246-47

1 Founder of the Brahmo Samaj.

2 & 3 Raja Ram Mohan Rai’s work was continued by Devendranath Tagore and

Keshab Chandra Sen, the former on the lines of pure Hinduism and the latter along those of Christianity.

4 Founder of the Arya Samaj.

5 The Brahmo Samaj was to some extent the result of Christian influence, but the Arya Samaj, which was based on ancient Vedic principles, was an attempt to meet the challenge of Christianity.

6 Founder of the Theosophical Society.

The time has now passed when the followers of one religion can stand and say, ours is the only true religion and all others are false. The growing spirit of toleration towards all religions is a happy augury of the future. An article appeared recently in the columns of The Christian World, aLondon religious weekly, over the signature of “J.B.”, one of that journal’s regular contributors, on this question, extracts from which I intend to quote.

The writer, in a most liberal and generous spirit, reviews the question from the Christian standpoint, and shews how the world’s religions are linked one with the other, each having characteristics common to all others. The appearance of such an article in the Christian Press is worth noting, and shews that it is moving with the times. A few years back, such an article would have been classed as heretical teaching, and its author denounced as a traitor to the cause. After remarking upon the new spirit which was changing the attitude of Christians to other religions, and pointing out how, a few years ago, the idea prevailed of the Christian religion standing out [as] the only true religion amongst a multitude of false ones, he goes on to say:

There has been an immense revulsion, and one of the features of it is the discovery, so vastly surprising to the average man, that the doctrine he was brought up on was not the earlier Christian teaching at all. The noblest of the old apologists thought very differently, he finds, of the outside races and faiths, from what he had been led to imagine. He hears of Justin Martyr, standing so close to the apostolic age, who regards the wisdom of  Socrates as inspired by the ‘Word’; of Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa, whose teaching is of (p. 392) the entire race of man as under the Divine tutorship; of Lactantius maintaining that belief inProvidencewas the common property of all religions……The finer Christian minds have, in fact, in every age gone more or less along this line. It needed only that men should come into contact with these outside races, whether in their literature or face to face, to realise at once that the ‘impassable gulf’ theory between one religion and another was false to life and to the soul…

…Religion, by a hundred different names and forms, has been dropping the one seed into the human heart, opening the one truth as the mind was able to receive it.

“J.B.” points out that many of the Christian institutions and doctrines were born of the knowledge of other religions. Many of the symbols are relics of ancient days.

How marvellous, too, in this connection, is that ancient cult of Mithras inPersia, where, as M. Cumont says: ‘Like the Christians, the followers of Mithras lived in closely united societies, calling one another father and brother; like the Christians, they practised baptism, communion and confirmation; taught an authoritative morality, preached continence, chastity and self-denial, believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead’.

It is not surprising that the writer should claim for the Christian religion the premier position, but it is gratifying to find such a broadminded attitude taken up by Christian writers and the Christian Press. [Indian Opinion, 26-8-1905].— 355. THE WORLD’S RELIGION, pp.392-93


…It is particularly necessary to remember this origin of the Congress.  Lore Dufferin believed that such body should be founded.  He talked about it to Mr. Hume; the idea was very much to the latter’s liking and, as a result of his consultations with prominent public men in India, the Congress was ultimately founded. [Indian Opinion,14/01/1905]— 131.  INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS AND RUSSIAN ZEMSTVOS—A COMPARISON:1. p. 164


…For it is said that it is during a crisis that a man’s character is put to the test. It cannot  be claimed that he has been put to the test until he has had the chance successfully of committing a crime but remains steadfast in spite of the opportunity. Such steadfastness at a critical time may be found in a handful of men. It is indeed all too rare.

…The bigger the war, the bigger the extent of chaos. The fraud and trickery, that were exposed during the Crimean War1, and other sundry happenings that have later come to light, are most distressing. During that war, a large stock of boots was purchased and dispatched to the front for the use of soldiers, but they all were found to be for the left foot! A large quantity of foodstuff for the army was sent fromEngland; but when it was consumed, instead of helping to feed the army, it proved deleterious being very rotten meat. It was not only merchants who wanted to become millionaires, but even the generals on the front, the politicians who were out to sacrifice a large number of precious lives, and leaders who called themselves benefactors of the state, committed fraud. Large stock of useful medicines sent out for soldiers and officers on their deathbed disappeared mysteriously before reaching the hospitals for which they were bound, and not a trace of them was found. Merchants, the so-called patriotic generals and high Government officials thus went on misappropriating hundreds of useful and valuable articles to fill their pockets at the expense of hundreds of poor soldiers who had gone to the front to fight for their country, leaving their homes and hearths…Contracts were blindly given by the departments concerned to contractors who were their favourites or were known to them and who made a profit of 50 to 500 per cent on some of the goods (p.325) supplied. Such corruption was not confined toGreat Britainalone. The defeatFrancesustained in 1879 was due to its officers who had become slaves of mammon…The reports of the present Russo-Japanese War, too, are astounding.

Last April, a million roubles were given to Duke of Sergius to be spent on feeding and clothing the army inManchuria…instead of reaching there, it got transported directly fromMoscowtoDanzig, and from thence, goods worth thousands of pounds were sold for a song inGermany… Large sums of money were raised through subscriptions for the benefit of the widows of men and officers killed in the war; but not a farthing of that money reached the poor widows. The bags of suger despatched to the battle-field were found to contain sand instead of sugar! No trace could be found of millions of roubles that disappeared during the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. But this is not all. Innumerable examples have been recorded of the corruption and bribery practised in Russia.

The conduct of the Japanese affords a marked contrast to all this. No merchant or officer inJapanhas entertained any thought of exploiting the war situation, with the result that the Japanese army can secure its needs at a very small cost…. The report of the Butler Commission on the war in South Africa, which has been published, tells us that the irregularities and corruption that prevailed during that war were in no way less [considerable] than in Russia. The way public money has been spent is very much to be deplored.…This has cast a slur on the British administration, which has so for enjoyed a reputation for justice and integrity in public affairs. (p.326) [From Gujarati] Indian Opinion, 24-6-1905.— 276 CORRUPTION DURING WAR TIME, pp. 325-26


It has come to our knowledge that some Indians are offended by our article on the plague. We are sorry, but not surprised. We should rather be complimented on drawing attention to the subject, but we are being blamed because we do not hesitate to mention others’ faults…What is the duty of the Press, that is, our duty, on such an occasion ? We could easily win the applause of the people by suppressing their faults. But we would fail utterly in our duty if we did so. Our duty is to serve the people. While championing their rights, if we happen to observe any of their shortcomings, we must bring these to their notice. If instead of doing so we went on flattering them, we would be playing the part of an enemy. As we said at the very outset, we shall boldly defend our people if our opponents speak ill of them; but at the same time, if we notice any shortcomings in our people, we shall fearlessly expose them to the public gaze and urge their removal. Who will do this if we don’t ? We have never cherished, nor do we do so now, the idea of doing anything simply to please others. It is our duty to administer the bitter pill…. It is quite obvious that, when plague breaks out amongst us, it clearly leads to loss of life; more than that, it means a blow to the whole community….(p. 470) If, living in this country, we do not learn how to deal with this contagious disease, we have only our obstinacy to thank. It is, we believe, the supreme duty of those who are in a position to offer guidance in such matters to enlighten people and lead them along the right path. We say this without the least fear; for whatever we have written so far will have been in vain if we try to flatter our readers out of fear. We have been repeatedly telling people to stick to their resolve, to remain courteous under all circumstances, and to discharge their duties courageously. We are publishing the biographical sketches of brave men and women like Sir Henry Lawrence and Elizabeth Fry and exhorting our readers to follow the examples of those heroic souls. In the end, we appeal to all our readers to take our writings in the spirit in which they are written. It is possible that we might unwittingly commit mistakes in the course of our public service. We shall be grateful if those who notice any such draw our attention to them. [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905]— 420. OUR DUTY, pp. 470-71


 The Daily Mail, a well-known English paper, has narrated a story of great loyalty shown by an Indian in India. He was a surveyor named Khan Bahadur Mohiuddin. It fell to his lot in 1903 to survey arid waste land in Rajputana. He had with him four messengers, four assistant surveyors and two camels. Once, travelling at night, they found their water-bag burst and all the water drained. The messengers advised return, but brave Mohiuddin was not the man to turn back. He sent one of the messengers in search of water, which was fetched but was found to be exceedingly brackish. Marching on they came upon some water which, however, soon gave out. The Khan Bahadur had by then become absorbed in deep thought. The camel-drivers were tied to the camels, and the animals allowed to go as they pleased, for meanwhile the men had fainted, owing to thirst. At last they came to a watering-place and regained consciousness. When in search of water thus, Mohiuddin strayed from his men, and ultimately, lost his life while doing his duty. However, infected with his enthusiasm, the men bravely completed the task. We rarely come across examples of such bravery and devotion to duty. The Khan Bahadur’s body was given an honourable burial and his companions, who survived him, were handsomely rewarded by the Government. [From Gujarati]Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905—422. AN ABLE INDIAN p.?



…I am studying Tamil very diligently and, if all is well, I may be able to fairly understand the Tamil articles within two months at the outside. I am rather anxious to get the Tamil books….—189. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, April 17, 1905. p. 248


..If you cannot make the cake properly, it must be the fault of the oven, or you do not add sufficient ghee. You will remember that the meal must be kept soaked in cold water for nearly three hours. When you make your cake the ghee should be added first and thoroughly mixed with flour before you pour water over it, and it should be well kneaded. .— 190. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI. JOHANNESBURG, April 19, 1905. p .250


…Did you send the sweets from Durban? If so, please do not repeat the experiment. It is totally unnecessary, and I am anxious not to introduce complex dishes in the house….

[PS.] I see [the] sweets were brought by Desai.– 202. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, May 1, 1905, p.261


…The key-note of Hinduism on the spiritual side was moksha, or salvation; that is, the final absorption of the Soul in the Infinite Soul that pervades all things.  In regard to religion, pantheism was the chief characteristic, whilst, on the ethical plane, self-abnegation was the most notable quality, with its corollary, toleration.  In social matters, the characteristic of caste was predominant, whilst the ceremonial characteristic was the sacrificing of animals….Hinduism had never, as a religion,  been missionary… [The Star, 10-3-1905]  {This was the summary of Gandhiji’s lecture by The Star}.—157. HINDUISM [Johannesburg, March 4, 1905] p. 201

…The lecturer {Gandhiji} was not one these who believed that the religion of Islam was a religion of sword…The key-note of Islam was, however, its levelling spirit.  It offered equality to all that came within its pale, in the manner that no other religion in the world did…(p.208) The fanatical raiders who, from time to time, found their way into India, did not hesitate to convert by the sword if they could not do so by persuasion….When there was no political influences at work, there was no difficulty about the Hindus and the Mahomedans living side by side in perfect peace and amity, each respecting the prejudices of the other, and each following his own faith without let or hindrance.  It was Hinduism that gave Mahomedanism its Akbar…Hinduism arose out of the struggle braced, as we would rise out of a cold bath, with warm glow…[The Star, 18-3-1905]— 163 HINDUISM. [Johannesburg, March, 11, 1905].—pp. 208-09

Gandhiji said he had come to the conclusion that Theosophy was Hinduism in theory, and that Hinduism was Theosophy in practice. There were many admirable works in Theosophical literature which one might read with the greatest profit, but it appeared to him that too much stress had been laid upon mental and intellectual studies, upon argument, upon the development of occult powers, and that the central idea of Theosophy, the brotherhood of mankind and the moral growth of man, had been lost sight of in these. He did not wish to suggest that such studies had no place in a man’s life, but he thought that they should follow, not precede, the absolutely certain course which was necessary for every life. There were certain maxims of life, which they had not only to get an intellectual grasp of, but which they had to weave into their very being, before they could at all follow the great scriptures of the world.  When a man desired to qualify in any science, he had first of all to pass an entrance examination, but they seemed to think that when they took up a religious book, no previous preparation in any other direction was necessary, but that they could read these scriptures untaught and interpret them for themselves; and that attitude of mind was considered to be real independence of spirit. In his opinion it was nothing but sheer licence taken with things of which they had not the slightest knowledge. They were told in all the Hindu scriptures that, before they could even handle these books, they must cultivate absolutely pure and truthful lives, they must learn to control their passions, which took them away from the central point.  The mind had been likened to an intoxicated monkey, and so it was. If they were to analyse their minds, they would find that they had very little reason to think ill of others, and would begin to think ill of themselves, for they would find that they harboured within themselves robbers and murderers—terms used by them so glibly in connection with others. He wished that they would recognize a limitation in regard to their studies, and that such limitation, instead of hampering their activity, would further their strength and enable them to soar higher.  He did not think it at all a part of their lives to extend their scope, but thought it their duty to intensify it both with reference to their studies and to their activities; for, if a man concentrated his attention on a particular thing or idea in life, he was likely to make much better use of himself and of his opportunities than if he divided his attention between this, that, and the next thing.  Hindu sages told them that to live life, no matter how hampered it might be, no matter with what limitations, was infinitely superior to having a mental grasp of things divine. They had taught them that, until, one by one and step by step, they had woven these things into their lives, they would not be able to have a grasp of the whole of the divine teaching; and so he urged them that, if they wanted to live the real life, it was not to be lived in that hall, it was not to be lived in Theosophical libraries, but it was to be lived in the world around them, in the real practice of the little teaching that they might have been able to grasp. (From a copy: C. W. 11295. Courtesy: Chhaganlal Gandhi; also Mahatma, Vol. I,pp. 86-7 )— 174. SPEECH AT THEOSOPHICAL LODGE, JOHANNESBURG, [March 25, 1905] pp. 224-25

….To my mind, there is no distinction between a Hindu and a Muslim or Christian. I have frequently said so and, I believe, I have been acting accordingly. I maintain that Hindu religion teaches us to look upon all with an equal eye without making distinctions between Hindu and Muslim, Brahmin and bhangi, and that is the religion I follow. Indian Opinion, 20-5-1905. —215. MR. GANDHI’S CLARIFICATION, May 13, 1905, p. 275


‘If you want, he says, to save your colony of Natal from being overrun by a formidable enemy, you ask Indian for help, and she gives it; if you want to rescue the white men’s legislation from massacre at Peaking and the need is (p.52) urgent, you ask the Government of India to dispatch an expedition, and they dispatch it.  If you are fighting the Mad Mullah inSomaliland, you soon discover that Indian troops and an Indian General are best qualified for the task, and you ask the Government of India to send them.  If you desire to defend and of the extreme outposts or coaling station of the Empire, Aden, Mauritius, Singapore, Hong Kong, even Tientsin or Shan-hai-Kawn, it is to the Indian Army that you turn.  If you want to build a railway inUgandaor in the Soudan, you apply toIndiafor labour’(Lord Courzon.London,July 20, 1904.) [Indian Opinion, 20-08-1904]— 45. India Makes the Empire. pp. 52-53. Vol. IV

…We respectfully draw His Lordship’s attention to the fact that the very wearing of the turban or the Indian cap implies a mark of respect, for just as on entering a place the European custom requires the taking off the hat, Indian custom requires that the turban and the cap, as the case may be, should be kept on.  Want of respect is not an Indian characteristic, and we venture to assure His Lordship that in the omission to salaam there can be no disrespect meant.  The salaaming presupposes the meeting of the eyes of the  person salaamed and the person salaaming, which is hardly possible in a Court-house where the judge is absorbed in the case before him.  The only feasible course, in our opinion, is that, on entering the witness-box, the Indian should certainly be made to salaam, but we think that such a caution is hardly necessary, as every Indian on entering the witness-box almost instinctively offers the respect due to the Court….[Indian Opinion, 19-11-1904].— 98. CHIEF JUSTICE AND BRITISH INDINAS.  p?

To Europeans and Indians working together for the common good, this has a special significance.India, with its ancient religions, has much to give, and the bond of unity between us can best be fostered by a wholehearted sympathy and appreciation of each other’s form of religion. A greater toleration on this important question would mean a wider charity in our everyday relations, and the existing misunderstandings would be swept away. Is it not also a fact that between Mahomedan and Hindu there is a great need for this toleration? Sometimes one is inclined to think it is even greater than between East and West. Let not strife and tumult destroy the harmony between Indians themselves. A house divided against itself must fall, so let me urge the necessity for perfect unity and brotherliness between all sections of the Indian community. [Indian Opinion, 26-8-1905].— 355. THE WORLD’S RELIGION, pp.392-93

…Max Müller has acknowledged in his writings that in Indian philosophy the meaning of life is summed up in four letters spelt—DUTY. Probably at the present day such a meaning of life is not apparent in the conduct of the average Indian…. [ Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905]— 417. THE NELSON CENTENARY : A LESSON, p. 467


…The lecturer {Gandhiji} was not one these who believed that the religion of Islam was a religion of sword…The key-note of Islam was, however, its levelling spirit.  It offered equality to all that came within its pale, in the manner that no other religion in the world did…(p.208) The fanatical raiders who, from time to time, found their way into India, did not hesitate to convert by the sword if they could not do so by persuasion….When there was no political influences at work, there was no difficulty about the Hindus and the Mahomedans living side by side in perfect peace and amity, each respecting the prejudices of the other, and each following his own faith without let or hindrance.  It was Hinduism that gave Mahomedanism its Akbar…Hinduism arose out of the struggle braced, as we would rise out of a cold bath, with warm glow…[The Star, 18-3-1905]— 163 HINDUISM. [Johannesburg, March, 11, 1905].—pp. 208-09

I am grieved to read the above letter. I wrote what I believe to be true. However, I find that some persons have taken offence at what I said, for which I am sorry and I apologise to them. As I do not wish to prolong the controversy, I do not think it advisable to reply to the letter at any length. I have not sought to lower Islam, nor do I hold it to be lowly. I do not think that such an impression was created on anyone’s mind when I made the speech. [ Indian Opinion, 3-6-1905] [From Gujarati]— 254. MR. GANDHI’S COMMENTS1, p. 305

1 Subsequent to Gandhiji’s reply, vide “Mr. Gandhi’s Clarification”, May 13, 1905, two letters of protest were received by the Editor, Indian Opinion. The one signed by “A Muslim” asserted that “. . . The ancestors of over a lakh of Bohras, who are highly placed, had been the Brahmin priests of Sidhpur. Besides, the forefathers of Sunni Bohras from Central Gujarat had been Banias . . . Thus it can be proved that some people even from the higher classes were converted to Islam,” to which Gandhiji replied as above.


…I have already shown you conclusively as in a mathematical problem that the press won’t break down. You had agreed with me in that, and now you write that the circumstances are unbearable and precarious. This is exactly what I consider a sign of weakness. You have not been able to consider—nor did you have the time to do so—what our duty is in regard to the press, what your own duty is or how to deal with the workers; and your weakness is brought out by the adverse circumstances. I consider it a good thing that this has happened; but it can be so considered only if you understand the purport of it….however bitter a man might be, he is sure to come round if we bestow upon him pure love in thought, word and deed; (4) but, whether he comes round or not, our duty is to follow the same course without misgivings….[ From a photostat of the original Gujarati: S.N. 4252]— 381. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, September 27, 1905, p. 427


…Patchwork was useless Palliatives were dangerous…The object of Indian Opinion was to bring the European and Indian subjects of King Edward closer together.  It was to educate public opinion, to remove causes for misunderstanding; to put before the Indians their own blemishes; and to show them the path of duty while they insisted they securing their rights.  This was an Imperial and pure ideal, towards the fruition of which any one could work unselfishly.  So it appealed to some of the workers. [Indian Opinion,24-12-1904]— 118. OURSELVES. p. 145


…Unwearied reiteration is, as the late Prof. Max Muller used to say, the only remedy for (p.112) for deriving a new truth at home, and for enabling people to remove preconceived notion….[Indian Opinion, 5-11-1904]— 87. A RIFT IN THE LUTE pp. 112-13


Orchard writes to me saying that you gave Ram directly an order for binding a book, and he complains that, if he is the foreman, this was irregular. He also states the book is not well bound. I have written to him saying that if you have done so, the giving of the order directly is irregular, but that you could not possibly have meant any offence to him or to break the rules, and I have also asked him to have a man-to-man conversation with you. I should, therefore, like you to have a chat with him and let me know also what this is about. It is quite true that all the orders should be delivered to him and not to the different men directly….[From a photostat of the original: S. N. 4253]— 382. LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL GANDHI, JOHANNESBURG, September 29, 1905, p. 428


… I am to speak to you no doubt about the [Hindus1]; but the ways and manners of the Hindus and other Indians are all but identical. All Indians have similar virtues and vices and are descended from the same stock. The other consideration was that there was, among the objects of the Teosophical Society, this one, viz., to compare the various religions, find out the truth underlying these and show the people how those religions were only so many roads leading to the realisation of God, and how one ought to hesitate to dub any of them false….[Indian Opinion, 15-4-1905].—188. LECTURES ON RELIGION.—p.244

…I should very much like you not to give the reception a religious aspect. You may be aware that there are differences between the Samajic teaching and the orthodox (p.361) Hindu teaching, and a complaint has been forwarded to me from the latter. We owe respect to any cultured Indian who may arrive from India, and I would rather you gave a suitable reception from Indians representing all classes, but that can only be done if it is bereft of the religious element, and then those who are interested in the Arya Samaj teaching will have to see specially to it. Yours faithfully, [Letter Book (1905): No. 730]— 316. LETTER TO MAGHRAJ & MOODLEY, [JOHANNESBURG,], July 21, 1905, pp. 361-62


.Those who have faith in God recognize that the British do not rule over India without His will. This too is a divine law that those who rule do so because of the good deeds they have done before. Let us therefore emulate them in their deeds so that our aspirations may be fulfilled.

Let us be as courageous as Nelson and like him know what our duty is. Let us also be patriotic like the nation to which Nelson belonged. Let us forget all thoughts of ‘I a Hindu, you a Muslim;’ or ‘I a Gujarati, you a Madrasi.’ Let us sink “I” and “mine” in a common Indian nationality. We shall be free only when a large number of our people are determined to swim or sink together. How can we walk without a staff so long as we are lame? [From Gujarati, Indian Opinion, 28-10-1905].— 423. HOW ENGLAND WON, p. 474


The title of this article is a maxim as old as the hills, and the policy underlying the maxim was enunciated by a British statesman in connection with British rule in India. The cablegram fromIndiathat has appeared lately in the newspapers brings the aphorism vividly home to us. It is said that twenty thousand Mahomedans atDacca, the capital of the new province partitioned fromBengal, assembled together and offered prayers of thanksgiving to the Almighty for the partition, and their consequent deliverance from Hindu oppression.

We cannot bring ourselves to believe that the movement could possibly be spontaneous. It is absurd on the face of it. Assuming that there was any oppression on the part of the Hindus, relief could be obtained without partition, because the might of the British power was there to protect one community against another…It is short-sighted statesmanship to contemplate the government of millions of human beings on the principle of setting one class against another. We know that such a suggestion would be vehemently repudiated, and we know also that pure British statesmanship would revolt against the idea. At the same time, the policy itself is deep rooted, has been followed before with (p. 478) temporary effect, and the tamasha  in Dacca is but a continuation of it. If the Anglo-Indian administrators, who have really built up the Indian Empire, and who depended for its continuance on the goodwill of the people, were to rise from their graves today, they, in our opinion, would be the first to encourage the boycott agitation, at the same time, conciliating public opinion, which has become so excited. What can be more natural than for the people to wish to clothe themselves, to feed themselves, and to supply their luxuries out of home-grown products and home manufactures ? We see such movements worked out more extensively in many Colonies. It is a legitimate and healthy growth amongst the people, not in the slightest degree inconsistent with a feeling of loyalty to the British Crown. It is only a fulfilment of the prophecy uttered by Macaulay in connection with India.

But, if the rulers ofIndiawill not see the reasonableness of the movement, why should not the Indians ? It is true that, to a certain extent, the introduction of British rule was possible by reason of internal dissensions but it is the peculiar province, as also the privilege, of Great Britain to bring together the two great communities in India, and to leave to them an heritage for which she would receive not only the gratitude of the millions in India, but the unstinted admiration of the whole world. It behoves, then, both communities to seize the opportunity offered to them, and to sink material  jealousies and dissensions for their common good. Better far, that two brothers should suffer at the hands of each other, than that a third party should step into the breach and gain an advantage over them. We would ask those who see these lines, no matter who they be, to join with us in the prayer that the present agitation in Bengal, which has in it the germs of the unification of the different communities, may grow in strength, and that the people of Dacca or elsewhere, whether Hindus or Mahomedans, may have the good sense to refrain from doing anything that may mar the glorious possibilities that are opened up to the people of India. [Indian Opinion, 4-11-1905].— 427. DIVIDE AND RULE, pp. 478-79


CWG vol. 3

CWG Vol. 3

The Preface by the publishers summarizes precisely the entire material in this volume.


…As in his earlier sojourn in South Africa it was the Christian influence, now it was the Theosophical influence that stimulated his religious quest and led him again to a serious study of Hindu religious literature.  He memorized the Gita, which had become for him an “infallible guide of conduct”, “a dictionary of daily reference”.  His appreciation of  aparigraha made him cancel the only insurance policy he ever took out in life, an act of rare faith.  His resolve that thenceforth his savings would only be utilized for public work brought about a serious misunderstanding between him and his elder brother, Lakshmidas{see vol. 6, 347. LETTER TO LAKSHMIDAS GANDHI, pp. 395-400 for a long letter written by Gandhi to his brother}, which was cleared only before the latter’s death.—p. vi.

The outstanding characteristic of Gandhiji’s utterances and writings during this period [1898-1903], whether public or private, was his continuing faith in the British Constitution, his appreciation of the privileges of British citizenship and his trust in the Empire as a family of nations{…Fair play is the great (p.316) characteristic of the British race….[Indian Opinion, 4-6-1903]— 242VIRTUOUS INCONSISTENCY pp. 316-17}.  The congratulations he sent to the Queen on her successive birthdays, the memorial meetings he organized on her passing away, the repeated references in his letters and petitions to the personal liberty and equal citizenship rights of British subjects, the frequent invocations of the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858, the offer and role of the Indian Ambulance Corps in the Boer War—all these were inspired by the Empire sentiment, “What was wanted in South Africa was not a white man’s country”, he said in his farewell speech in October 1901, “not a white brotherhood, but an Imperial brotherhood”.—p. ix.

The following points under various heading (in alphabetical order) are some important points for me to understand Gahdhiji’s life in SA and developing a great leader gradually:


…Strange as it may appear, a cablegram to-day announces that, in reply to repeated representations from Natal, the Imperial Government have ordered the dispatch of 10,000 troops from India for the protection of Natal which refuses to give temporary shelter to the Indians from the Transvaal, to guard against which, the above troops are intended….—53. RELIEF TO INAIDN REFUGEES.        Durban, October 14, 1899. p. 112


At a protest meeting of the English-speaking and other Indians which was held in the Congress Hall on the 2nd inst;, Mr. J. L. Roberts, the convener, proposed, and Mr. D. C. Andrews seconded, the following resolutions, which were carried unanimously.  Mr M. K. Gandhi occupied the chair.

  1. That this meeting strongly disapproves of the manner in which the Indian representatives were chosen for the presentation of the address to their Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, inasmuch as only the Mohammedans were apprised of the meeting, thus depriving the other Indians from participating in it.— 151. INDIANS AND THE DUKE. Durban, August 21, 1901. p. 201

…Supreme the English are, and must remain, in the Colony.  Nor do we want them to practice altruism in our favour.  But we do request them not to use the supremacy in order to do us injustice, to degrade and insult us.  “Fair field and no favour” is the just and reasonable demand of the Indian community….Well, there is no convincing a man against his will.  Otherwise, we might put it to our contemporary whether restraint on the personal liberty of a body of people who have committed no crime is not an injustice—as the term is understood under the British Constitution….[Indian Opinion, 9-7-1903]—p. 363

…We may state, parenthetically, that we do not import into consideration the fact often flung in the faces of the Indian races, namely, that, after all is said and done, they are conquered, and therefore, not entitled to the same rights as real Britishers.  We dismiss this from our consideration for two very sound reasons, the one given by Professor Seely in his Expansion of Great Britain, namely, that in the real sense of the term India is not a conquered country, but that it is British because the vast majority of its people have, perhaps for selfish reasons, accepted British rule; the second reason is, that British statesmen have times without number disavowed any connection whatsoever with the idea of inequality necessarily existing between the conquerors and the conquered, other things being equal, and they have done this more especially with regard to the British Indians. [Indian Opinion, 30-7-1903]— 290. THE CINDERELLA OF THE EMPIRE p. 383

…Lord Macaulay’s remark in one of his essays, wherein he says: “We are free, we are civilized to little purpose if we grudge to any portion of the human race an equal measure of freedom and civilization. [Indian Opinion, 24-9-1903]— 342.. The labour question in the Transvaal. sp. 453


The dissatisfaction that the latest move on the part of the Natal Government in the matter of education has caused amongst the Indian converts to Christianity, of whom there is a large number, is indeed very intense.  They, of all others, know fully, and have been taught to understand, the advantages of Western culture.  They are taught by their religious teachers the doctrine of equality.  They are told, Sunday after Sunday, that their Great Master knew no distinction between a Jew and a Gentile, a European or an Asiatic.  Small wonder, then, if they feel keenly the disabilities that are sought to be imposed upon them in the educational line….—45. THE INDIAN QUESTION IN SOUTH AFRICA. Durban, July 12, [1899], p. 85

…We are told that the members open their proceedings with a prayer, and that the bible occupies a conspicuous place on the Speaker’s or the President’s table.  We wonder if the followers of the Prophet of Nazareth ever saw a little verse from the lips of their Master: viz., ‘Do unto others as you would be done by’, or is it that the printers have made a mistake and omitted a little ‘not’ after ‘do’?  Let us see how Mr. Chamberlain the Imperialist treats the petition. [Indian Opinion, 6-8-1903]— 299. IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION BILL. p. 397

Lord Salisbury, again, it was who, at the risk of losing popularity, did not hesitate, on the very platform of the Propagation of the Gospel Society at the time of the Chinese expedition, to utter some disagreeable though wholesome truths.  Before his distinguished audience, with reference to the missionary work in China, His Lordship, true Christian gentleman that he was, reminded the missionaries that, as they had fallen from the advice of Christ, and instead of meekly suffering hardships, and even death if necessary, in pursuit of their calling, asked for the assistance of temporal power in carrying on their work, it was their duty to temper their zeal with prudence, so as not to compromise or place in a false position countries they represented. [Indian Opinion, 3-9-1903]— 323. LORD SALISBURY [twice prime Minister of Britain. 1830-1903] p. 429


…if we appear to have used strong language, we have done so because we feel strongly. [Indian Opinion, 1-10-1903]— 351.. POLITICAL MORALITY. p. 463

Doing Good:

…A great crime committed by a man has been known to changer his face in such a way as to stamps the crime on it. Similarly, a great good act done by a man has produced the opposite effect on his features, and he has been known, as the case may be, either to attract to, or to repulse from, himself people by his very act.  We then hold it to be our paramount duty not to think evil of those who we may consider are dealing unjustly by us.  There is hardly any virtue in the ability to do a good turn to those that have done similarly by us.  That even the criminals do.  But it would be some credit if a good turn could be done to an opponent.  If this very simple thing be always borne in mind, we do think that success will come to us far more quickly than we are likely to imagine…. [Indian Opinion, 20-8-1903]— 311. THE USES OF ADVERSITY p. 413


…One should content oneself with doing one’s duty as one understands it, facing insults, obstacles, etc., courageously and behaving politely in every respect….—173. LETTTER TO PARSEE RUSTOMJEE. Rajkot, March 1, 1902. p. 227

…Never mind reward for your services. It always comes without the slightest doubt when we do not pine for it.  It may not come in the manner we may expect it.  But that matters very little.  Really speaking, a consciousness that we are doing what we consider to be our duty to the best of our ability is the highest reward….—197. LETTER TO JAMES GODFREY. Rajkot, [prior to June 3, 1902.] p. 254


…among the officers mentioned is included my name, described as “Mr. Gandhi, Asst. Supt. Indian Ambulance Corps.”  If the extract is complete, according to my correspondent, no more officers of that Corps are thus mentioned.  It that be so, and if the credit given is to the Assistant Superintendent as such, it belongs to Mr. Shire, who was the only Gentleman in the Corps recognized as such….if I am entitled to any credit for having done my duty, it is due in a greater measure to Dr. Booth, now Dean of St. John’s, and to Mr. Shire, who spared no pains in making the Corps the success it proved to be…..—124. LETTER TO COLONIAL SECRETARY. Durban, March 30, 1901 p.181

I have taken the above step deliberately and prayerfully.  I feel that neither I nor my family can make any personal use of the costly presents.  They are too sacred to be sold my me or my heirs, and, seeing that there can be no guarantee against the last contingency, in my opinion, the only way I can return the love of our people is to dedicate them all to a sacred object.  And since they are in reality a tribute to the Congress principles, to the Congress I return them.— 159. LETTER TO PARSEE RUSTOMJEE. Durban, October 18, 1901. p. 208

[Schedule of jewellery]

Gold medal presented in 1896.

God coin presented in 1896 by the Tamil Indians.

Gold chain presented by the Johannesburg Committee in 1899.

Gold chain, sovereign purse and seven gold coins presented by Mr. Parsee Rustomjee.

Gold watch presented by Mr. Joosub of Messrs Dada Abdoola & Co.

Diamond ring presented by the Community.

Gold necklace presented by the Gujarati Hindoos.

Diamond pin presented by Mr. Abdul Cadir and a Silver cup and plate presented by the Katiawar Hindoos, Stanger.—ibid. p. 209

265.     LETTER TO H. V. VORA [a leading layer of Kathiawar who pleaded against Gandhiji’s excommunication after return from England in 1891 and later helped him in his early practice at Rajkot]..     Johannesburg. June 30, 1903.

…I do think, however, that if she [Mrs. Gandhi] would consent to remain there, for the time being at any rate, it would enable me to give undivided attention to public work.  As she knows, she had very little of my company in Natal; probably, she would have less in Johannesburg.  However, I wish to be guided entirely by her sentiments and I place myself absolutely in her hands….—p. 353


…we have every reason to be hopeful as to the future, and to think that, as the European community grows older, the awkward corners would be rubbed out, and that the different members of the Imperial family in South Africa would be able to live in perfect peace in the near future.  That time many not come within the present generation; we may not live to see it, but that it will come no sane man can deny; and that being so, let us all strain our every nerve to hasten its coming, and that can only be done by calmness in discussion and strict adherence to facts and high ideals, and last, though not least, by trying to step into the shoes of our opponents and endeavouring to find out what may be running in their minds—to find out, that is to say, not merely the points of difference, but also points of agreement. [Indian Opinion, 25-6-1903]. — 260.THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE PICTURE. p. 348

Indian Congress in SA:

…The fiery enthusiasm seems to have died out… While, at one time, the number of members reached the respectable total of nearly 300, strictly speaking, the number now is only 37!  That is to say, that there are only 37 who have paid up their subscriptions up to date.  It is time the members woke up from their long sleep, or else it might be too late.— 52. THE SECOND REPORT OF THE NATAL INDIAN CONGRESS. [Post October 11, 1899] p. 98

…the institution of fines for late attendance at the Congress meetings was founded.  Many members paid five shillings for each late attendance.  It has now fallen into disuse, and so much have we fallen back from our first love that now it is difficult to form even a quorum at the Congress meetings before 9 p.m., that is, one and a half hours after the appointed time….—ibid. p. 109

The outlook at present is gloomy so far as the internal work of the Congress is concerned.  Members do not possess half the enthusiasm that was displayed in 1895 and 1896….—ibid. p. 110

…So far, those that have not paid up their subscriptions have been allowed to be considered as members and to have a say in Congress matters.  This practice is very undesirable….—ibid. p. 110


… Mr. Justice Wragg: …Looking at the preamble of that and the later Laws, we find that the term “Coolie’ means person who, under these Laws, have been introduced from India into this Colony at the public expense, or by private individuals at their own expense, for a particular class of service….—7. NOTES ON THE TEST CASE, Appendix. –p. 9

…the traditions of the country of our birth, our unswerving and proved loyalty to the Throne, and our acknowledged law-abiding instincts?….— 161. ADDRESS TO LORD MILNER. Durban, October 18, 1901. p. 210

…The cap Act was drafted so as to include Indian languages but it was amended in Committee.  The legislation here is against Indians (described as the “aboriginal races of Asia)….— 232. LETTER TO G. K.Gokhale.  Johannesburg. May 10, 1903. p. 300

…A large Indian population settled in Zanzibar before the Englishman put his foot there.  But the Indian settlers, though in many instances they have built substantial structures, have certainly not made it an elegant town.  The reason is obvious.  We lack the spirit of unity, co-operation, and a full measure of the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of the general good.

We look upon our troubles as a divine chastisement.  If we should but learn the lessons that have to be learnt from our adversity, it will not have been lost upon us.  We would emerge from the trial a community richer in social virtues, stronger in the justness of our cause, and, to take up the analogy we have used at the outset, with a far larger credit balance in our favour than we started with.  We submit this before the thoughtful members of the Indian community all over South Africa. [Indian Opinion, 2-7-1903]—267.  THE BALANCE-SHEET, p. 355

…With [Mr. Booker T. Washington] himself he has raised his own countrymen also immeasurably, and set to them, as indeed to all of us who care to study his life, an example worthy to be followed.  One word to our own countrymen, and we have done. We have in our midst in India men who have devoted their lives to the service of their country, but we make bold to say that the life of our hero would perhaps rank higher than that of any British Indian, for the simple reason that we have a very great past and an ancient civilization. What, therefore, may be and is undoubtedly natural in us, is a very great merit in Booker Washington.  Be that, however, as it may, a contemplation of lives like this cannot fail to do good. [Indian Opinion, 10-9-1903]— 331. FROM SLAVE TO COLLEGE PRESIDENT. p. 440 [boasting or real credit to Indians?  Sometimes Gandhiji has gone overboard in his view aboutIndia and Indians, particularly about our civilization morality.—db]


It has often been said that people on the spot, being unable to take a correct focus, are often unfit to pass an unbiased judgment, especially when it is their own conduct which is the subject for decision….[Indian Opinion, 23-7-1903]— 284. THE LONDON MEETING: I p. 375

…It is well known that, after all, men, being creatures of circumstances, would do things which are unjustifiable quite unconsciously, owning to the control exercised over them by the circumstances in which they are placed.  Is it not, then, necessary for us to be charitable in our judgments?…. [Indian Opinion, 20-8-1903]— 311. THE USES OF ADVERSITY p. 413


…Above all, the one quality that is needed in the holder of that post more than any other, namely, calmness of mind under all the irritation from within and without and the ability to put up with the different disposition of the members, he [Mr. Adamji Miankhan] displayed in abundance….—52. THE SECOND REPORT OF THE NATAL INDIAN CONGRESS. [Post October 11, 1899], p. 107


The catastrophe at Paris must have filled all the portions of the globe where the news reached with gloom….To us, these untoward happenings are not merely accidents but we look upon them as divine visitations from which we, if we chose, may learn rich lessons.  To us, they show a grim tragedy behind all the tinsel splendour of the modern civilization…. (p. 414) Those, however, who will give the accident, if so it may be called, more than a passing thought, cannot fail to realize that behind al the splendour and behind all the glittering appearances there is something very real which is missed altogether.  To us, the meaning is quite clear, namely, that all of us have to live the present life merely as a preparation for a future, far more certain and far more real.  Nothing that the modern civilization can offer in the way of stability can ever make any more certain that which is inherently uncertain; that, when we come to think of it, the boast about the wonderful discoveries and the marvelous inventions of science, good as they undoubtedly are in themselves, is, after all, an empty boast.  They offer nothing substantial to the struggling humanity, and the only consolation that one can derive from such visitations has to come from a firm faith not in the theory, but in the fact, of the existence of a future life and real Godhead.  And that alone is worth having or worth cultivating which would enable us to realize our Maker and to feel that, after all, on this earth we are merely sojourners. [Indian Opinion, 20-8-1903]— 313. ACCIDENT? pp. 414-15


…As long as a man carries out with care the work entrusted to him, it is not necessary to pay attention to his ways.— 173. LETTTER TO PARSEE RUSTOMJEE. Rajkot, March 1, 1902. p. 227

…One should content oneself with doing one’s duty as one understands it, facing insults, obstacles, etc., courageously and behaving politely in every respect….—ibid. p. 227


Socially and popularly, the Indian is a pariah—in some places less so than in others.  He is nicknamed “coolie”.  In fact, popular prejudice has portrayed him as a “filthy being”, without any virtue.  The prejudice, it must be confessed, has become much toned down in Natal.  And though the differences between the two communities undoubtedly still exist, they are perhaps more based on the fact that each looks at the problem from a different standpoint from the other than on colour prejudice, pure and simple…. [Indian Opinion, 4-6-1903.]— 240. THE BRITISH INDIAN IN SOUTH AFRICA p. 315

If a European commits a crime or a moral delinquency, it is the individual: if it is an Indian, it is the nation….[Indian Opinion, 4-6-1903]— 241. IS IT FAIR?p. 316


Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, said Emerson….[Indian Opinion, 4-6-1903]— 242VIRTUOUS INCONSISTENCY p. 316

Courage and patience are qualities which one needs very badly when one is placed in difficult circumstances….[Indian Opinion, 20-8-1903]— 311. THE USES OF ADVERSITY p. 412

…We should not forget that “Calamity is man’s true touchstone,” and that “none can cure their harms by bewailing them”. [Indian Opinion, 20-8-1903]—ibid. p. 412