Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some more quotes from Gandhi

"I am a Hindu and therefore a true Indian" - you will find a lot of Pakistani writing that attributes this quote to Mahatma Gandhi. The purpose is to show that to Gandhi, being Indian was synonymous with being Hindu, and thus Gandhi sought to exclude Muslims from the national life. This kind of bigotry is what forced reluctant Muslims to seek to partition India and have a country of their own. Partition and the sorry mess that is Pakistan becomes the responsibility of Gandhi rather than of Pakistanis.

I'm aware that a false quote repeated often enough takes on a life of its own. There are other false Gandhi quotes out there, including of the type "first they laugh at you, then they arrest you and then you win". But as long as this blog is up and someone searches they will find all the quotes of Gandhi with "true India/Indian" and "I am a Hindu" that are extant. This particular post will deal with all the "true India/Indian" quotes.

  • From an article in Indian Opinion Jan 30, 1909, translated from Gujarati

    There is no point in writing to another in English when that other person knows as little English as one does oneself. It would only lead to a total mis-understanding, apart from encouraging a bad habit. The right approach would be to use English [only] when the other person does not know our mother tongue. English may be learnt, but one’s mother tongue must not be ignored. The learning of English must come second to learning one’s mother tongue. Or, one may learn
    both the languages simultaneously, remembering, however, the general rule mentioned above. We do not believe that those who are not proud of their own language, who are not proficient in it, can have the true spirit of swadeshi. Gujarati, among the Indian languages, is a poorly-developed language, and we also observe that Gujaratis lag behind all the others [in India] in respect of the swadeshi spirit. It is for the Gujaratis to strive for the development of Gujarati. It is in that way that all of us can make ourselves true Indians.

  • From a letter to The Bombay Chronicle July 29, 1918, on the demise of Sorabji Shapurji Adajania.

    In all I have said above, I have hardly described the man in Sorabji. He was faithful to a degree. He was a true Parsee, because he was a true Indian. He knew no distinctions of creed or caste. Love of India was a passion with him, her service an article of faith. He was indeed a rare man. He leaves a young widow to mourn his death. I am sure there are many friends of Sorabji to share her grief.

  • From a letter to Lala Lajpat Rai, Aug 20, 1919

    It is to me intolerable that one like you should have to remain outside India at the present moment. In my opinion, the place of every true Indian is in India.

  • From an article in Navjivan, Feb 1, 1920, translated from Gujarati

    The Ali Brothers embraced Hastrat Mohani, introducing him as “our mad Mullah”. This man does not want honour nor does he mind insults. He remains engrossed in his work, indifferent to heat and cold and making no difference between day and night. These are three jewels of the Muslim community and I feel that Hasrat Mohani is the brightest of the three. There are not many even among Hindus who could rival him in his single-minded devotion it is doubtful if there is any. And just as they are true Muslims, they are true Indians. The fate of the Khilafat case and the future peace of India depend largely on the wisdom of these three. I can see that none of them will be afraid to follow the path they think is right.

  • From Young India, Nov 20, 1924

    A cable received from Durban from his son gives me the sad news of the death of Rustomjee Jiwanjee Ghorkhodoo. For me it is a personal loss. He was a valued client, dear friend and faithful coworker. He was as true a Parsi as he was a true Indian. He was an equally true man. He was an orthodox Parsi, but his Zoroastrianism was as broad as humanity itself. He befriended all without distinction.

  • From a speech at Guntur, April 17, 1929

    Of course I ask you all, I request you earnestly, on behalf of the poor and starving millions of our land, to use khaddar and promote its production. If you think of their hunger, and the hunger of their helpless women and children, you will, as true Indians, come out to help them and then you will not mind untouchability or caste.

  • From a speech at Ramgarh, March 14, 1940

    The true Indian civilization is in the Indian villages. The modern city civilization you find in Europe and America, and in a handful of our cities which are copies of the Western cities and which were built for the foreigner, and by him. But they cannot last. It is only the handicraft civilization that will endure and stand the test of time. But it
    can do so only if we can correlate the intellect with the hand.

  • From a letter to Raihana Tyabji, Aug 1, 1945, translated from Gujarati

    Today I got your letter. I also read Salehbhai’s article. Some of the things he says are true but neither Burma nor India has any power. Nobody would listen to a true Indian or Burmese and he cannot do much. The true dharma of India is to achieve independence and help Burma and other countries to attain it. All this enmity would disappear
    after both are free. At present no one will pay heed to what Salehbhai says. He would be regarded as merely an official. My advice is that he should silently serve [the cause] as much as he can. An official’s dharma is not to speak but act.

    Pass this on to Salehbhai.

  • From a speech at a prayer meeting, Oct 27, 1946

    Let us all still pray and hope that all the Ministers will be able to work as a team. If India can speak with one voice, she will be the greatest country in the world and every true Indian must wish her to attain that status.

    (Gandhi is speaking of the ministers of the Interim Government. He referred to the ugly demonstration before the Viceroy’s House on the day before when Jawaharlal Nehru and some of his colleagues in the Interim Government were abused and insulted.)

    Yes, that is about it - nine instances of "true India(n)" in the Collected Works of Gandhi.

    pennathur said...


    Thanks for taking the trouble to go thru Gandhi's writings with a fine toothed comb for references to the the phrase "true Indian". But in terms of slander and calumny quotemining Gandhi's use of the 'true indian' phrase is mild. By far the worst abuse that has been heaped on Gandhi has been of this sort Many years ago when some ruffians in broad daylight vandalised Gandhi's samadhi and even snuffed out the eternal flame kept there. I have brought these things to the notice to a few of our liberals and have meet with silence.

    Arun said...

    We shall eventually take on those as well. In the meantime, notice that the difference between Ambedkar and Jinnah is between day and night - Ambedkar after all was one of the writers of the Constitution, while Jinnah wanted none.

    pennathur said...

    No I do not mean Ambedkar. He and Gandhi disagreed with each other but never misrepresented each other's opinions and held one another in the highest regard. According to Dhananjay Keer (whose biographies include Savarkar's, Gandhi's, Phule's, and Ambedkar's) Ambedkar walked the entire distance with Gandhi's funeral cortege although he did not comment on it afterwards.
    Jinnah is not in the same league as these greats. And compare Jinnah to Ambedkar? Heavens no!