CWG Vol. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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



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

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

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



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



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

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



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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

MR. GANDHI: Yes, Sir.

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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



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


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


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



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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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



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



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



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

Blessings from


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



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




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



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


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


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



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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

Ramsundar Pundit:


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


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

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

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

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

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



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


January 31, 1908]

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


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

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




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

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


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



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

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

47. JOHANNESBURG LETTER [Before January 10, 1908]

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

177. JOHANNESBURG LETTER [May 16, 1908]


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


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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

I remain your satyagrahi,


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


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

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




M. S. Maurice

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



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

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

Series”, 13-7-1907

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



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



May 14, 1908


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

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

Respects from


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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Misprint for “What”?



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

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