Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century and one of the most valued Indian thinkers of modern times.
His thought, his pacifist philosophy and his religiosity were expressed in his numerous books and writings of reflection , but to become familiar with his way of thinking it is also very useful to go to his famous quotes and phrases for remembrance.
Gandhian phrases for understanding his worldview
We are dealing with a pacifist myth and an icon of Eastern and Western culture. Below you can find a list of many of Gandhi’s most important phrases .
1. The action expresses the various priorities.
Gandhi believed that everyone’s philosophy is expressed through their actions and that it is at times when personal values collide with each other that the choice of one over another defines us.
2. Man is a product of his thoughts.
This and several other phrases by Gandhi refer to one of the characteristics of his way of thinking: the importance of focusing on the mental sphere, and not so much on the analysis of the context and the environment in which one lives.
3. The weak can never forgive.
Gandhi believed that the easiest option is the one involving anger and revenge.
4. Violence is the fear of the other’s ideals.
This is one of Mahatma Gandhi’s phrases in which a very simple idea is expressed: fear of what other people believe is a symptom of the weakness of one’s own way of thinking.
5. My life is the message.
Once again, it is clear that this Indian thinker did not distinguish between theory and action.
6. Non-violence and truth are inseparable.
According to Gandhi, firmness in what one believes in can never be expressed violently.
7. An eye for an eye and everyone will be blind.
An analysis of the consequences of war and spirals of violence.
8. Anger and intolerance are the enemies of knowledge.
For Gandhi, wisdom is born from dialogue.
9. An ounce of action is worth tons of preaching.
Another of Gandhi’s phrases emphasizing the need not to separate ideals from the way of life.
10. I know the change you’d like to see in the world.
For this thinker, progress is based on small individual and everyday decisions.
11. No one can hurt me without my permission.
Mental toughness was a property much claimed by Gandhi.
12. The truth never harms a cause that is just.
The solidity of ideas translates into their solidity, too, in the face of evidence.
13. Those who know how to think do not need teachers.
Gandhi shows in this quote that thought is based on the autonomy of each one.
14. The future depends on what you do today.
According to Mahatma Gandhi’s thinking, it is the small details of daily life that will shape the future.
15. Fear has its uses, but cowardice does not.
This quote from Gandhi embodies the idea that the important thing is to focus on the goals related to good and truth.
16. Poverty is the worst form of violence.
For Gandhi, poverty is also a form of oppression by the powerful, (although it is disguised as possibilities to choose one’s own destiny and theoretically it seems easy to get out of precariousness), because it does not give options to make decisions and to improve one’s quality of life.
17. No culture can live if it tries to be exclusive.
This quote reflects the high value to Gandhi of dialogue and mutual understanding between various types of societies.
18. When faith becomes blind, it dies.
Gandhi was a religious person, but he believed that faith has to go hand in hand with reason and the questioning of dogmas.
19. The good human being is a friend of all that lives.
Gandhi thus expressed an idea that was widespread in several non-Western cultures: human beings are not the only forms of life to be respected.
20. The truth remains even if it has no public support.
In this sentence, Gandhi refers to the self-reliance of truth as something that does not depend on human opinions.
Other quotes from Gandhi on politics, friendship and peace
We continue with other famous quotes from the Indian leader.
21. Where there is love there is also life.
Love is the main source of good vibrations.
22. The essence of all religions is the same, only their approaches change.
A position that shows their discontent with the dogmas and function of some religions.
23. Faith is not something that is grasped, but something that is lived for.
His heterodox religiosity is fantastically reflected in this opinion.
24. Disagreement is often a sign of progress.
Democracy implies discrepancy, and discrepancy gives rise to better and renewed ideas and ways of acting.
25. God has no religion.
A sentence to think and reflect on. Maybe God is above certain symbols and creeds, right?
26. Even if you are in the minority, the truth is the truth.
The truth has only one path, reality is objective and palpable. A lie repeated a thousand times will never become the truth.
27. The glory lies in aspiring to a goal and not finishing it.
The important part is on the road, not the goal.
28. Happiness appears when what you think, what you say and what you do is in harmony.
An antidote to hypocrisy and sadness: act as we feel.
29. Hates the sin, loves the sinner.
A way of showing that peace must prevail, in spite of everything.
30. To believe in something and not live it is fundamentally dishonest.
Gandhi championed the need to pursue the destiny that everyone feels in life.
31. Live simply so that others may simply live.
Against materialism and the desire to accumulate possessions and wealth.
32. Death is nothing but a dream and an oblivion.
Phrase to be freely interpreted.
33. Live like you’re going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you will live forever.
A Gandhian classic. Carpe diem, do what you have to do, otherwise you’ll regret it.
34. You can’t shake hands with fists.
Another famous quote about peace and how to reach consensus with other people or groups.
35. Behavior is the mirror that shows our image.
The behavior of each one is what best defines his personality and his essence.
36. Every house is a university and the parents are the teachers.
Education, that great forgotten.
37. Loneliness is a catalyst for creativity.
When you are alone, it is easier for you to look in your own world for ways to escape from reality and create new ideas and artifacts.
38. Selfishness is blind.
Selfishness does not see far, it just goes on the easy way, which sometimes may not lead to a good destination.
39. There is no god greater than the truth.
Another sentence about truth and about the need for human beings to be honest.
40. Love is the most powerful force there is.
Love moves mountains.
41. For a non-violent person, everyone is family
The idea of a community with which emotional ties are established, for the pacifist, has no borders.
42. Western civilization? Well, that would be an excellent idea
One of Gandhi’s phrases in which he criticizes the inconsistency of Western values.
43.The cause of freedom becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the destruction of those who should enjoy freedom
Freedom is understood by Gandhi as an absolute, not something relative.
44.The most appalling thing about the bad things of bad people is the silence of good people.
Inaction can be an instrument of oppression.
45.A minute that goes by is unrecoverable. Knowing this, how can we waste so many hours?
A reflection on the way we use time.
46.The sadness of separation and death is the greatest of all deceptions
Gandhi laughed at life beyond death and considered that not to do so was to fall into an intellectual trap.
47.Victory achieved by violence is equivalent to defeat, because it is momentary
For this referent of pacifism, means and ends are inseparable.
48.Impure means lead to impure ends
In line with Gandhi’s other phrases, this one emphasizes the need to use strategies that are consistent with what one aspires to.
49. My best weapon is silent prayer
In spiritual respite and introspection there can be a tool for social progress.
50.Gold shackles are much worse than iron ones
Oppression disguised as freedom is perverse.
51.Rivers of blood will flow before we conquer our freedom, but that blood must be ours
Another one of the most inspiring phrases about pacifism.
52. We win justice more quickly if we do justice to the other party
Gandhi points out that what we want for ourselves we must apply to others.
53. To change the world, start by transforming yourself
Collective and social change begins with oneself.
54.Man does not enjoy the power to create life. Therefore, neither does he have the right to destroy it
A way of justifying pacifism through reason.
55.A coward is not capable of showing love; to do so is reserved only for the brave
Expressing affection is an act of courage.
56.When everyone leaves you, God stays with you
Gandhi finds in the figure of God a spiritual refuge.
57. Don’t let the sun die without your grudges dying
One of Gandhi’s phrases about hate and its limiting nature.
58. I am a practical dreamer and I want to make my dreams come true
Gandhi was not content to fantasize about a better world, he wanted to create it.
59. We must not lose faith in humanity, for it is like the ocean: it does not become dirty because some of its drops are corrupted
A reflection on humanity’s potential to do good.
60.Birth and death are not two different states, but two aspects of the same state
Gandhi saw life as a two-way street.
61.He who retains something he does not need is the same as a thief
A reflection on the need to share.
62. I am humble, but at the same time an enthusiastic seeker of truth
A phrase from Gandhi that reflects his philosophy of life.
63. Religion is a matter of the heart; no physical evil can keep me from it
This pacifist was a great defender of the idea that religions have a common root.
64. Each one prays to his god from his own light
In line with the above reflection, Gandhi points out that even in private beliefs there is something in common.
65. I am prepared to die, but there is no reason why I should be prepared to kill
Death is part of life, but murder is not.
66. The best way to find yourself is to get lost in helping others
A reflection on how social relationships based on love serve to build an identity of their own.
67. Prayer is the key of the morning and the lock of the evening
One of Gandhi’s most poetic phrases, about his understanding of prayer.
68. Morality is the foundation of things, and truth is the substance of all morality
In this reflection a direct relationship is established between morality and what is true.
69. If I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would have killed myself long ago
A surprising statement about one’s own life and, at the same time, a way of emphasizing the importance of a sense of humor.
70. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in what you get
Gandhi reflects on the nature of satisfaction.
71. Respect for oneself knows no considerations
Maintaining dignity is an unquestionable principle, according to the philosophy of this thinker.
72. In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart
Another of Gandhi’s phrases about prayer understood as something in which feelings must be expressed.
73. Jesus is pure and perfect, but you Christians are not like him
A scathing observation about the Christian community.
74. The culture of a nation resides in the heart and soul of its people
This leader of pacifism understood culture as something alive and dynamic present in the great masses and not in palaces or museums.
75. Peace is its own reward
Peaceful initiatives are valuable in themselves.
76. The search for truth does not admit violence against the adversary
Another phrase that could be taken as a motto of pacifism.
77. All religions, although they differ in some respects, unanimously point out that nothing lives in this world beyond the Truth
Another example of Gandhi’s ideology regarding the universality of religions.
78. Morality is smuggling in war
A critique of the cynicism with which morality is appealed to in wars.
79. I have worshipped woman as the embodiment of sacrifice and the spirit of service
Gandhi here refers to the gender roles traditionally associated with women.
80. Everyone can hear the inner voice; it is within everyone
A way of pointing out the importance of introspection.
81. There is sufficiency in the world for man’s needs, but not for his greed.
If we all just consumed what we needed, there would be no poverty or hunger.
82. Palestine belongs to the Arabs, just as England belongs to the English or France belongs to the French.
A clear position regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians
83. Prayer is the key to tomorrow and the lightning of the night.
A well-known phrase in which he expresses his religious convictions.
84. I wish to change their minds, not kill them for the same weaknesses we all possess.
Emphasizing the power of speech and argument.