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