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

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

No Duty is More Pressing than that of Gratitude: My Regret of Missing the Chance to Thank Prof. Sathya

I’d like to relate an incident that reiterated the value of human relationships and genuine outreach.

Guruswamy Sathyanarayanan, Lehigh University and Indian Institute of Science

Prof. Guruswamy Sathyanarayanan was a Fulbright scholar at the Indian Institute of Science, where I worked as a research assistant in the year 1999. “Sathya,” as he was fondly known, was a visiting professor from Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA.

Upon our acquaintance, I had observed that Sathya seemed stressed out from his work and had struggled to get his computer programs to run. I had offered to help him with computer programming and research on manufacturing processes. Our interaction had quickly evolved into a bond of mentorship. He was not particularly joyful, but was always genial and inquisitive. Over coffee breaks, we had many an interesting conversation about the relevance of Eastern Philosophy in the modern world.

At that time, I was applying for graduate school in the United States. Sathya had advised me on the schools to which I should apply based on my specific interests, the nuances of the application process, and the many components of the applications. On a particular day when my applications were due to be dispatched, he had me revise my personal essay repeatedly until he felt it was succinct enough to reflect my academic ideas and interests. When I thanked Sathya, he asked me to thank him only after receiving an admission and to keep him updated on my applications.

Three months later in March 2000, one late night, I received a call from a prestigious school. The school had admitted me to its graduate program with a 100% tuition waiver and a generous stipend for research in my area of choice, a precursor to 3D Printing. I was extremely delighted, but did not call Sathya because it was late at night.

The next morning, I learnt that Sathya had died the previous night of sudden heart attack. When I visited his home that afternoon, Sathya’s wife informed me that he had complained of uneasiness after a heated debate with a fellow-researcher on the progress of their research work. Sathya’s death came as a shock to me since he was only 47 years old and had a six-year old son.

I profusely regret not having called Sathya on that fateful night to express my gratitude for his mentorship of my application process. I am given to wonder if my success could have cheered him after his tense conversation with the research colleague—I’ll never know.

I never thanked Sathya in person, but I dedicated my master’s thesis to his memory.

Thesis Dedication: To the memory of my mentor and a great friend, Dr. Guruswamy Sathyanarayanan, Lehigh University

Call to Action: Practice Gratitude

There’s plenty of anecdotal and empirical evidence that practicing gratitude can considerably increase our sense of social well-being and happiness, yet we fail to acknowledge our blessings and thank people who’ve made a difference in our lives.

“The learned have prescribed penance for the murderer of a pious man, a drunkard, a thief or for one who has violated a solemn vow. But there is no pardon for the ungrateful,” asserts the Panchatantra, a collection of animal fables from ancient India.

Dear readers, there is no excuse for not conveying your feelings to your loved ones today. There is no excuse for not expressing your gratitude and appreciation today. There is no excuse for not taking a few minutes of your time to check-in on somebody who has influenced your life with his or her gift of kindness.

NOW is the time to appreciate the people who have helped you. This is your opportunity to do it—RIGHT NOW, while there is time.

Humility is a Mark of the Great


Humility is a Life-long Pursuit

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”
* The Holy Bible (Proverbs 18:12)

We live in a world that misconstrues the virtue of humility as a sign of meekness, timidity, lack of resolve, and, in general, a personal and leadership inadequacy. Could anything be more imprudent?

As the following narratives of great people will illustrate, humility is the bona fide characteristic of the truly accomplished and well-adjusted people. These great men and women live the life of modesty, unpretentiousness, and supreme confidence. They do not bear a sense of self-superiority and pride.

The Humility of Dr. Albert Einstein

“Einstein taught the greatest humility of all: that we are but a speck in an unfathomable large universe.”
* Time magazine, recognizing Albert Einstein as the Person of the Century

Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist, Philosopher Author Sometime in the ’50s, Don Merwin, a producer of the ‘This I Believe’ radio program, visited Albert Einstein‘s home in Princeton, New Jersey. He was to record Einstein speak his essay, “An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man” for the program. Don Merwin later recalled his experience: “I started setting up [the bulky tape recorder], and Dr. Einstein, who was a very amiable man, was chatting with me and expressed curiosity about tape-recording, which was fairly new in those days. He said, ‘How does it work?’ I started explaining the electronics of it, the way that the recording heads imprinted a signal on the moving tape. All of a sudden, I froze up. I said, ‘I am lecturing to Albert Einstein on physics!'” [Source: Allison, Jay, et al. (editors) “This I Believe: the Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.”]

The Humility of Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna

M. Balamuralikrishna and Gangubai Hangal, celebrated Indian Classical vocalists Look at this 2007 picture from Deccan Herald, via Churumuri. Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, the 79-year old celebrated Indian Classical vocalist, expresses deep reverence and seeks the blessings of the 96-year old Dr. Gangubai Hangal, another legendary vocalist.

The Humility of Sri Veerendra Heggade

Veerendra Heggade, guardian of the Dharmasthala temple How about this 2009 picture from Karnataka News (via Churumuri?) Sri Veerendra Heggade, the widely respected guardian of a prominent temple in South India, holds an umbrella to shield from sun blaze the chairman of a culture convention at a parade in the latter’s honor.

The Humility of Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, the 'Father of Modern Management' I have read of many an instance of the humility of Peter Drucker, the most influential management philosopher of the modern era. Here are two anecdotes:

  • Executive-education student Cathy Taylor remembers Peter Drucker conscientiously writing down autograph seekers’ names on a napkin to get the spelling correct before he made the formal inscription.
  • Forbes magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard remembers Peter Drucker “apologizing for taking so long to answer the doorbell at his modest home in Claremont, California. He said he was still adapting to his new artificial knees.”

Call for Action: Try to Practice Humility

Humility is simply the absence of pride. Humility and modesty are the marks of a genuine individual. However, practicing humility is often easier said than done. Deplorably, our society and world of work characterizes humility as significantly antithetical to the impression of the intelligent professional and competent leader. It is rather easy to succumb to the temptation to enhance our ego.

Hard as it may be, try to practice humility whenever an opportunity arises. Here are few remainders to bear in mind.

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.

The Legacy of Infosys’ Narayana Murthy

Mr. N R Narayana Murthy, executive chairman of Bangalore-based Infosys Technologies, retired today on his sixtieth birthday. He was one of the six founders who started Infosys [INFY] with a small investment of Rs. 10,000 and nurtured the organization to a world-class company currently valued at Rs. 50,000 crores ($10.75 billion).

A shareholder describes Infosys' achievements at a Shareholders' Meeting in Bangalore (Dec '04)
Caption: A shareholder describes Infosys’ achievements at a Shareholders’ Meeting in Bangalore (Dec ’04)

Globally, Mr. Murthy is a widely-admired business leader. Much has been written about his background, discipline and his ‘simple living, high thinking’ philosophy. His biggest legacy will be the dreams and confidence his company’s success has fostered in a whole generation of middle-class India. In creating a highly respected, world-class company that provides top quality services and adopts best management practices from around the world (a strong corporate brand, transparency in operations and financial reporting, sharing wealth, best training practices,) his team has offered a blue-print for entrepreneurial success in the new economy.

Mr. Murthy will transit into the role of a non-executive chairman at Infosys. His retirement will enable him to expand his endeavors with various institutions, viz., administrative (India, Thailand, United Nations Foundation), financial (RBI, DBS, SEBI), educational (IIM-A, IIIT, Cornell, Wharton, Singapore Management University) and corporate (NDTV, TiE). He is widely rumored to be nominated to the role of the President of India. He has himself expressed an interest in being designated the Ambassador of India to the United States. We should hope to continue hearing his ideas on various fronts. He may author a book or two on management practices in the global economy or the story of Infosys.

Congratulations on your retirement, Mr. Murthy.