September 30, 2022

By UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of June 15, 2007, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, October 2 (1869), is officially commemorated as International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi studied law at University College London, enrolled at Inner Temple, and was called to the Bar in June 1891. He returned to India for two years before sailing for South Africa in 1893 before returning to India in 1915. Epstein's Raveesh Varma, Chief Structural Engineer, is a Gandhian, as were and probably still are, many of his closest friends. The significance of this categorization varies from person to person.

On this International Day of Non-Violence, following Gandhi’s words, “I have never made a fetish of consistency”, Raveesh, on behalf of Epstein's DE&I Committee, presents a selection of Gandhi's less-than-non-violent quotations!

On the subjects of violence and non-violence, fearfulness and fearlessness:

“Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral.”

“The world is not entirely governed by logic. Life itself involves some kind of violence and we have to choose the path of least violence.”

“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.”

“I admit that the strong will rob the weak and that it is sin to be weak. But this is said of the soul in man, not of the body. If it be said of the body, we could never be free from the sin of weakness. But the strength of soul can defy a whole world in arms against it. This strength is open to the weakest in body…”

“I decline to be slave to precedents or practice I cannot understand or defend on a moral basis.”

“The art of dying bravely and with honor does not need any special training, save a living faith in God.”

On civic duty:

“Disobedience to be civil must be sincere, respectful, restrained, never defiant, must be based upon some well understood principle, must not be capricious and, above all, must have no ill will or hatred behind it.”

“If, instead of insisting on rights, everyone does his duty, there will immediately be the rule of order established among mankind....I venture to suggest that rights that do not flow directly from duty well performed are not worth having. They will be usurpations, sooner discarded the better. A wretched parent who claims obedience from his children without first doing his duty by them excites nothing but contempt.”

“I value individual freedom, but you must not forget that man is essentially a social being. He has risen to his present status by learning to adjust his individualism to the requirements of social progress. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle. We have to learn to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint. Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member.”

On economic violence:

“I must confess that I do not draw a sharp or any distinction between economics and ethics. Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and, therefore, sinful. Thus the economics that permit one country to prey upon another are immoral. It is sinful to buy and use articles made by sweated labor.”

“According to me the economic constitution of India and, for the matter of that, the world should be such that no one under should suffer from want of food and clothing. In other words, everybody should be able to get sufficient work to enable him to make the two ends meet.

And this ideal can universally realized only if the means of production of the elementary necessaries of life remain in the control of the masses… The neglect of this simple principle is the cause of destitution that we witness today not only in this unhappy land but other parts of the world too.”

Miscellaneous quotes:

“I learnt the lesson of non-violence from my wife, when I tried to bend her to my will. Her determined resistance to my will, on the one hand, and her quiet submission to the suffering my stupidity involved, on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself and cured me of my stupidity in thinking that I was born to rule over her and, in the end, she became my teacher in non-violence.”

“I am uncompromising in the matter of women’s rights. In my opinion, she should labor under no legal disability not suffered by men. I should treat the daughters and sons on a footing or perfect equality.”

“Agitation is only for those who have completed their studies. While studying, the only occupation of students must be to increase their knowledge... All education in a country has got to be demonstrably in promotion of the progress of the country in which it is given.”

“Children wrapped up in cotton wool are not always proof against all temptation or contamination.”

“I am not anti-English; I am not anti-British; I am not anti-any Government; but I am anti-untruth, anti-humbug, and anti-injustice. So long as the Government spells injustice, it may regard me as its enemy, implacable enemy.”

There was an assassination attempt on Mahatma Gandhi on January 20, 1948 following which the government of the newly independent country offered him additional security, which he predictably refused. On the night of January 29, he is recorded saying, “If I die of a lingering illness, nay even by as much as a boil or a pimple, it will be your duty to proclaim to the world, even at the risk of making people angry with you, that I was not the man of God that I claimed to be. If you do that it will give my spirit peace. Note down this also that if someone were to end my life by putting a bullet through me - as someone tried to do with a bomb the other day - and I met his bullet without a groan, and breathed my last taking God's name, then alone would I have made good my claim”. On January 30, 1948 at approximately 5:17 p.m., three bullets penetrated his body, he called out to his God, and passed away. The sum total of his worldly belongings was valued at less than ten Rupees.