Inspirational Quotations by Mohandas K. Gandhi (#652)

Inspirational Quotations by Mohandas Gandhi

Today marks the birthday of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948,) the apostle of peace and non-violence who said, “My life is my message.”

Around the world, this “Mahatma” (great soul) is idolized as a modern saint not only for his extraordinary public life as the leader of India’s peaceful struggle for independence, but also for his enduring philosophical contributions to humanity.

Gandhi was born into a family of modest means in the state of Gujarat. He was educated in British schools and earned a law degree in London. While working as an attorney in racially divided South Africa, he suffered discrimination in its full force. As dramatized in Richard Attenborough’s superb Gandhi, Gandhi was pushed off a train when he did not relocate from its first class coach. That particular incident made him politically active. During his 21 years in South Africa, he found his calling, experimented with nonviolent resistance, and vehemently fought against anti-Indian legislation in South Africa.

Gandhi then returned to India and organized peasants and workers against land taxes and subjugation. He led a series of nonviolent campaigns as the leader of the Indian crusade for home rule. He frequently resorted to hunger strikes not only in protest of British colonialism but also against hostility between India’s Hindus and Muslims. When Great Britain granted independence in 1947, the partition of India along religious lines led Gandhi to declare his life a failure because India could not govern itself as one nation but instead gave in to the division.

Inspirational Quotations by Mahatma Gandhi Within months after India’s independence, a Hindu fanatic assassinated Gandhi while he was on his way to evening prayers in Delhi. At his funeral procession, American radio journalist Edward Murrow broadcast, “The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived—a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could not boast any scientific achievements or artistic gift. Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom.”

Gandhi is one of the most-biographed people in the history of the world. Physicist Albert Einstein once said, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

'Gandhi An Autobiography' by Mohandas Gandhi (ISBN 0807059099) Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, the 14th Dalai Lama, and political leaders who resist oppressive regimes. He was also a prolific writer; his most famous work is his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1940.)

Gandhi is the political and spiritual father of modern India. Beyond the common reverence of Gandhi as a freedom-struggle leader, he is also venerated for his philosophy of life. He advocated virtue, simple living, nonviolence, and vegetarianism. He expounded a nonviolent way of life in which people can recognize themselves as God’s children, irrespective of religion and culture, and live the life of absolute truth, universal love, and righteous justice. He presented this as an alternative to a Western culture overflowing with consumerism, individualism, competition, and inequality.

Gandhi said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it—always.”

Inspirational Quotations by Mohandas K. Gandhi

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to coyer impotence.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

For me the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

In judging myself I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Jealousy does not wait for reasons.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

A man of truth must also be a man of care.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it, when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the beginning.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Always believe in your dreams, because if you don’t, you’ll still have hope.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Nothing can be more hurtful to an honourable man than that he should be accused of bad faith.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

One golden rule is to accept the interpretation honestly put on the pledge by the party administering it.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be inseparable part of our very being.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different road, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Providence has its appointed hour for everything. We cannot command results, we can only strive.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Faith is not a delicate flower which would wither away under the slightest stormy weather.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Today I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Nothing is impossible for pure love.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The cry for peace will be a cry in the wilderness, so long as the spirit of nonviolence does not dominate millions of men and women.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Man should forget his anger before he lies down to sleep.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should feel free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite violence.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall—think of it, always.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The weak can’t forgive. Forgiveness is of the strong.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

The Buddha Isn’t God or Superhuman

Today is Vesak (or Wesak) in South East Asia, the most prominent of Buddhist festivals and a celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, the historical Buddha. Vesak is celebrated on a different day in South Asia.

I’ll take this opportunity to clarify a common conception—or misconception—taken up during casual comparisons between Buddhism and the Abrahamic faiths. I’ll also shed light on Buddhist gods and deities.

Was the Buddha God or Superhuman

The Buddha Never Considered Himself Savior or the Guardian of Truth

According to foundational Buddhist scriptures, Gautama Buddha claimed to be an ordinary man—not a God, superhuman, or prophet. The Buddha even denied that he was omniscient, though he did emphasize that what he knew was all that really matters.

The Buddha presented himself as a philosopher, an enlightened human being. He was only exceptional in having deeply contemplated the true nature of reality. He claimed he had identified the sources of pain and suffering.

The Buddha taught that humans are fundamentally ignorant about the nature of existence and that everything in life is unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) caused by ignorance (avidya) and selfish craving (tanha.) As a teacher, the Buddha was deeply interested in the ethical remaking of a person and declared that it lay within anybody’s capacity to follow his life experience to achieve awakening. The Buddha insisted that his teachings should not be accepted on blind faith—Buddhism is therefore a ‘religion’ of reason and meditation.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Historical Buddha

Do Buddhists Believe in God The entire philosophical edifice of Buddhism centers on Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment. He was born into royalty as Siddhartha Gautama during the sixth century before Christ. According to tradition, at Siddhartha’s naming ceremony, Brahmin astrologers predicted that the newborn was predestined to become an extraordinary ruler of humans, as a great king or holy man. His father desperately wished the former for his long-awaited heir. He isolated Siddhartha within their palace’s protective boundaries and took precautions to ensure that Siddhartha would never experience any trouble, sorrow, or suffering that could cast even the slightest shadow on his happiness.

At age 29, Siddhartha strayed from his palace’s simulated paradise and chanced upon an old man, a diseased man, and a corpse. He also encountered an ascetic who strove to find the cause of human suffering. Depressed by his encounters with human suffering, Siddhartha resolved to follow the ascetic’s example. Leaving his wife and infant son behind (they later became initial disciples), Siddhartha left his affluent palace and lived as a beggar. After pursuing six years of ascetic practice and arduous meditation, he attained new depths of understanding about the nature of life, ego, consciousness, and reality. He achieved enlightenment and thus became the Buddha, the “Awakened One,” or the “Enlightened One.”

Theism is Incompatible with Buddha’s Teachings

The concept of an omnipotent God does not feature substantially in Buddhism. Indeed, scholars quote verse 188 of the Dhammapada, “Men driven by fear go to many a refuge, to mountains, and to forests, to sacred trees, and shrines,” and state that the Buddha believed that the concepts of religion and godliness stem from primal fear, just as sociologists and psychologists have recently posited.

Unlike people of other faiths, Buddhists believe neither in a creator God nor in a personal God entitled to their obedience. Consequently, Buddhism does not derive its system of ethics from any divine authority, but from the teachings of Gautama Buddha.

Buddhism: Gods and Deities

Buddhism: Gods and Deities

Buddhist doctrines have evolved over the centuries. In some schools of Buddhism, the worship of the Buddha is merely an act of commemoration for the founder of their ancient tradition. Others defy the foundational Buddhist teachings that the Buddha is not an object of prayer or devotion and worship him as a deity who holds supernatural qualities and powers.

Gods in Buddhism Religion - White Tara To account for the misconception of a Buddhist God, the more-religious forms of Buddhism added gods to serve as objects of meditation. According to these schools, living beings can be reborn into various realms of existence, one of which is the realm of the gods. The Buddha was said to have taken various animal and human forms and reborn as a god several times. The gods (those born into the realm of the gods) are mortal and impermanent—i.e., they are born and die like other living beings. These gods do not play any role in the creation or sustenance of the cosmos. Adherents can meditate upon these gods and pray to them for practical (but not spiritual) benefits.

The Mahayana schools of Buddhism also believe in many supernatural beings that feature prominently in Buddhist art: various Buddha-figures, ghosts, demons, and bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are would-be Buddhas who represent various virtues of thought and action. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, the Sitatara or the White Tara (‘star’ in Sanskrit) is a female Bodhisattva. She is a meditation deity who embodies compassion, longevity, and tranquility.

Buddhist God or Deity - Pu-Tai or Budai Finally, the Laughing Buddha (Pu-Tai or Budai in Chinese and Hotei in Japanese) is a holy person per Chinese folklore. He represents a future bodhisattva and epitomizes contentment. His popular image is often mistaken for that of Gautama Buddha. Rubbing Budai’s belly is said to bring good luck and prosperity.

Recommended Books & Films

  • English poet Edwin Arnold’s “The Light of Asia” (1879,) a book that deeply inspired Gandhi. The Light of Asia illustrates the life of Siddhartha Gautama, his enlightenment, character, and philosophy.
  • German theologian Rudolf Otto’s classic “The Idea of the Holy” (1917) explores the mystic, non-rational aspects of the idea of God and contains abundant references to foundational Buddhist teachings.
  • Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Little Buddha” (1993) includes an remarkable visual retelling of the life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Bertolucci also made the epic “The Last Emperor” (1987.)

Gandhi on the Doctrine of Ahimsa + Non-Violence in Buddhism


Non-Violence in Buddhism

“Thou shalt not kill.” This command forbids committing murder—specifically slaying a fellow human. The seventh of the Torah’s Ten Commandments (the Decalogue) allows for the execution of animals.

Non-Violence in Buddhism This specific tenet can be interpreted as comparatively lenient, even indulgent, compared to the mainstream Hinduism and the derivative Jain and Buddhist philosophies. Within these contexts, non-violence is a fundamental building block of ethics. Naturally, this idea of refraining from cruelty proscribes murder, but it also surpasses that guideline. In fact, practicing pacifism deters all varieties of violence against any sentient being, be it a human or an animal. Under the rule of non-violence, these creatures are protected from aggression, hostility, cruelty, sadism, and savagery—all unacceptable forms of conduct.

In accordance with the concept of anatta (the idea of there being no self,) Buddhism teaches us that, should we cling to the illusion of possessing autonomous ‘selves,’ we will fail to fully comprehend non-violence. Upon removal of the sense of the individual self, inflicting damage on another in turn damages the perpetrator. Should you inflict violence upon another, you too will suffer its effects.

Gandhi on the Doctrine of Ahimsa

Violence is the utmost form of asserting oneself over another. An alternative to aggression is Ahimsa or non-violence. This peaceful method was recognized as an entirely credible ethical code when Gandhi adopted it. He took up non-violence in his struggle against injustice and oppression, first as a peace leader in South Africa and then as the leader of India’s independence movement. Gandhi’s own definition of Ahimsa is as follows:

'Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on His Life and Work' Edited by S. Radhakrishnan (ISBN 1553940261) Literally speaking, Ahimsa means “non-killing.” But to me it has a world of meaning, and takes me into realms much higher, infinitely higher. It really means that you may not offend anybody; you may not harbor an uncharitable thought, even in connection with one who may consider himself to be your enemy. To one who follows this doctrine there is no room for an enemy. But there may be people who consider themselves to be his enemies. So it is held that we may not harbor an evil thought even in connection with such persons. If we return blow for blow we depart from the doctrine of Ahimsa. But I go farther. If we resent a friend’s action, or the so-called enemy’s action, we still fall short of this doctrine. But when I say we should not resent, I do not say that we should acquiesce: by the word “resenting” I mean wishing that some harm should be done to the enemy; or that he should be put out of the way, not even by any action of ours, but by the action of somebody else, or, say, by divine agency. If we harbor even this thought we depart from this doctrine of Non-Violence.

Source: ‘Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on His Life and Work’ edited by S. Radhakrishnan

Source of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s Quote, ‘You Must be the Change’

Mahatma Gandhi on Change

Today, (30-Jan-08,) is the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. A few months after India secured her independence from Britain, an extremist shot Gandhi point-blank after a prayer meeting at the Birla House in Delhi. Richard Attenborough’s much-admired motion picture ‘Gandhi’ narrates this event twice: once at the start of the movie illustrating the assassin walking towards Gandhi and a second time at the end of the movie depicting Gandhi walking out from the prayer meeting and facing the assassin.

A Quote, a Fable

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most popular quotations is, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Here is a widely believed — although unverified — story of the origin of this quotation.

During the 1930s, a young boy had become obsessed with eating sugar. His mother failed to convince him to kick the habit. She decided to take him to Gandhi. The Mahatma (Great Soul) was highly revered across the country — perhaps his instruction could convince her son to cut back on sugar.

At Gandhi’s ashram (hermitage,) the mother recounted her difficulty and requested Gandhi to direct her son. Gandhi deliberated for a minute and replied, “Please come back after a week. I will talk to your son.”

The mother and her son revisited Gandhi the following week. Gandhi smiled at the boy and directed him, “You must stop eating sugar.” The boy admitted, “Forgive me, bapu (father.) I will follow your advice.”

The mother was puzzled. She enquired, “Bapu, you could have asked my son to stop eating sugar when we visited you last week. Why did you ask us to come back this week?” Gandhi answered, “Ben (Sister,) last week, I, too, was eating a lot of sugar. … You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Effective Leaders ‘Walk the Talk’

Consider the following case. Ian joined a financial services company and assumed leadership of a group of analysts. In his first staff meeting, he declared, “Our people are our greatest asset.” He asserted that his primary objective as the manager of the organization was to keep them engaged, motivated and happy.

When one of Ian’s employees returned to work after a three-month maternity leave (she had had her first child,) Ian never enquired her about her child or her experiences. Becoming a mother was the most significant event of her life to date. The day she returned to work, Ian assigned her critical projects and demanded her full attention to these projects. Clearly, Ian’s behavior was incongruent with his stated mission of appreciating his people.

As the above example illustrates, frequently, leaders announce personal and organizational values and goals but fail to act on their words — their behaviors do not match their stated missions. Defining values and goals is often rather easy — conforming and getting others to conform to these initiatives is challenging. Leaders quickly lose their credibility by failing to ‘walk the talk.’

Call for Action

Audit yourself. At home or work, write down your objectives. Reflect on your actions. Analyze your behaviors. Do your actions uphold your objectives? Gather feedback from your people. Ask what you can do to achieve your objectives. Ask how you can walk your talk.