His Own Words - Gandhi Quotes

The following are all direct quotes from Mohandas Gandhi, with the occasional commentary added only in order to inform the reader of the context. These are the stated and verified opinions of Gandhi.

On Truth

From his autobiography: “It is not my purpose to attempt a real autobiography. I simply want to tell the story of my experiments with truth…as my life consists of nothing but those experiments.”

On Non-Violence

During a prayer speech on June 16, 1947: “If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British.” ~ Gandhi’s “The Last Phase,” Vol. II, p. 326

Regarding Polish resistance to Hitler’s invasion: “Almost nonviolent.” ~ Richard Grenier’s “The Gandhi Nobody Knows,” March 1983

“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” ~ Gandhi’s “Autobiography,” Part V, Chapter XXVII

To the British during WWII: “This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist, it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man.” ~ G.D. Birla’s “In the Shadow of the Mahatma,” p. 276

“However, at about 12 o’clock we finished the day’s journey, with no Kaffirs to fight.” ~ The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol. V, p. 262

“I do believe that where there is a choice between cowardice and non-violence I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence.” ~ CWMG, Vol. XXI, p. 132.

“In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?” ~ The Indian Opinion, March 25, 1905

“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. ?” ~ The Indian Opinion, June 18, 1908

On The Holocaust

“Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.” ~ George Orwell’s “Reflections on Gandhi,” Partisan Review, Jan. 1949

As to whether the Jews should have committed “collective sucide” by offering themselves to Hitler: “Yes, that would have been heroism.” ~ George Orwell’s “Reflections on Gandhi,” Partisan Review, Jan. 1949

On Blacks and Race Relations

“Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.” ~ CWMG, Vol. II, p. 74

“A Kaffir is to be taxed because he does not work enough: an Indian is to be taxed because he works too much.” ~ CWMG, Vol. III, p. 337

“A general belief seems to prevail in the colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than the savages or natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, p. 150

Regarding forcible registration with the state of blacks: “One can understand the necessity for registration of Kaffirs who will not work.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, p. 105

“Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension. Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, pp. 244-245

Regarding the Hindu Theological Seminary: “I only wish that such institutions will crop up all over India and be the means of preserving the Aryan religion in its purity.” ~ CWMG, Vol. IV, p. 93

His description of black inmates: “Only a degree removed from the animal.” He also said, “Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized - the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.” ~ CWMG, Vol. VIII, pp. 135-136

Concerning South Africa's White League fears of mass Asiatic immigration: “We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, p. 105

“The petition dwells upon ‘the co-mingling of the coloured and white races’. May we inform the members of the conference that, so far as the British Indians are concerned, such a thing is practically unknown? If there is one thing, which the Indian cherishes, more than any other, it is the purity of type. Why bring such a question into the controversy at all?” ~ The Indian Opinion, December 24, 1903