Mahatma Gandhi As A Writer


Mahatma Gandhi became a writer by necessity, not by choice. He was so much involved in the struggle for emancipation of the people that he had to give his message, explain his strategy, to the people across the country in the language of the common men. These necessities of life made him a writer. He dismissed the view off hand that art is for Art sake. In fact, Gandhiji was not interested in the art of writing.

Mahatma Gandhi As A Writer

His Speeches and Writings:

During Gandhiji's time, there were several leaders who were fighting for liberation of India and making fiery speeches and writing articles in ornate language to inspire the people. These were poets also who wrote poetry to arouse the people against British rule. But Gandhiji was a shade different from all of them. His speeches and writings were couched in the language of restraint and reason, not of provocation. Therefore his style was different from that of others.

His Being Economical in Use of Words: 

Gandhiji was shy by nature. Therefore he was economical in use of words. His style naturally became terse and compact, as he never wrote a word more than necessary to express his meaning. He writes in his autobiography: 

“My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen.”

His Writings Having the Quality of Preciseness:

As he was a votary of truth, he would not try to exaggerate or suppress any fact. His writings, therefore, have the quality of preciseness. They are completely free from the evils of verbosity and grandiose. He was entrusted with the task of recasting the constitution of the Congress because everybody knew that Gandhiji had a very compact, concise and clear style. Gandhiji recounts, “My other aptitude which congress could utilize was as a draftsman. The Congress leaders had found that I had a faculty for condensed expression which I had acquired by long practice.”

Different Ideas in His Writings: 

Gandhiji's style had evolved through several stages. In the beginning he wrote legal Memoranda in the courts, but when he came to participate in life, he wrote letters, news items and editorials, through which he was to present his views before the authorities and the public in the plainest and simplest language. Gandhi was not merely a politician; he was more of a spiritual leader, making experiments in almost all the fields of life. Naturally his writings contain his ideas on political, economic, educational, and ethical questions. But one thing that is remarkable in his writings is the force of language which was the result of his convictions. Gandhiji's statement on March 18, 1922 at the “Great Trial” is a veritable example of his plain and forceful style: 

His Using Bold Language:

“.... I have no desire whatsoever to conceal from this court the fact that to preach disaffection towards the existing system of government has become almost a passion with me.... I want to avoid violence. Non - violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.” In this speech Mahatma Gandhi has used a bold language to inform the British Government that he was firmly against the existing system of governance yet he never would like to have recourse to violence.

Gandhiji was of the view that Indians should oppose tyranny and injustice through non - cooperation and passive resistance. The principle of passive resistance as enunciated by him required sacrifice of the highest order. When he was asked whether the passive resistance was not an “act of cowardice”, Gandhiji said that it was an act of bravery. “Where is courage required - in blowing others to pieces from behind cannon, or with a smiling face to approach cannon and to be blown to pieces? Who is the true warrior - he who keeps death as a bosom friend or he who controls the death of others?” 

According to Gandhiji, the principle of passive resistance enjoins upon the people to observe chastity, voluntary poverty, truthfulness and fearlessness. He adds that the sexual vice and love of money are more deadly than passion— “A snake - bite is a lesser poison than these two because the former merely destroy the body, but the latter destroys body, mind and soul.”

His Emphasizing to Fight for Justice or Rights: 

Gandhiji has openly said on more than one occasion that home rule is far better than a foreign rule. It has argued that the India would not be able to maintain peace and order if full independence was granted to it. Gandhiji says that peace due to fear of punishment is worse than fighting for justice or rights under home rule. He says, “It is possible that those who are forced to observe peace under pressure would fight after their withdrawal. There can be no advantage in suppressing an eruption; it must have its vent. If, therefore, before we can remain at peace, we must fight among ourselves, it is better that we do so. There is no occasion for a third party to protect the weak. It is this so - called protection which has unnerved us...... I would purchase the thought of an English divine and say that anarchy under home rule was better than orderly foreign rule.”

His Stressing on Simplicity and Purity: 

Gandhiji says that life of simplicity is essential for purity in thought and action. Contrary to this life of comforts and luxury is unnatural, and therefore far removed from truth. The life of comforts violates the principle of non - thieving, which says that keeping something which is not necessary for existence is stealing from those who need it. Gandhiji has no doubt in the truth of his belief. Therefore whenever he speaks about it, he speaks firmly— “The rich are often seen to be unhappy, the poet to be happy. Observing all this, our ancestors dissuaded us from luxuries and pleasures.....” 

His advocacy for life of simplicity has a socialistic angle as well. The problem of gap between the rich and poor in India can be bridged up to some extent if the rich live an ascetic life. Mahatma Gandhi does not recommend use of force to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor. He believes in making sacrifice for the under-dog. 

Socialistic Angle of Simplicity:

On the occasion of the laying of foundation stone of the Banaras Hindu University by Lord Hardinge, Gandhiji observed that Maharajas who attended the durbar were dressed like women in “silk pyjamas and silk Achkan, pearl necklaces round their neck, bracelets on their wrists , pearl and diamond tassels on their turbans and , besides all this , swords with golden hilts hanging from their waists . Gandhiji says that there were the insignia not of their royalty but of their slavery. “Gandhiji condemned this slavish pomp and show in the meeting presided by Mrs. Annie Besant. Gandhiji reminded the audience of the poverty of millions of his compatriots and condemned the rajas who, had excess of wealth which they were displaying shamelessly— “certainly a most gorgeous show, an exhibition which made a splendid feast for the eyes of greatest jeweller who chose to come from Paris. I compare with the richly bedecked noblemen with the millions of the poor. And I feel like saying to the nobleman, “there is no salvation for India unless you strip yourselves of this jewellery and hold it in trust for your countrymen in India.” In this speech, Gandhi has once again taken the opportunity to express his socialistic thought. The wealth that one possesses is the trust of the people.

His Convincing People to Achieve Freedom: 

Gandhiji had learnt during his long struggle that Britishers would not give independence to India of their own will and choice. Therefore he took occasion to tell the people that it was to be wrenched from them. Gandhiji said, while addressing the members of the Indian Civil Services: “If we are to receive self - government we shall have to take it. We shall never be granted self - government. Look at the history of the British Empire and the British Nation ; freedom - loving as it is , it will not be a party to give freedom to a people who will not take it themselves.”


These specimens of his writing and speeches reveal the character of Mahatma Gandhi. He was positive and forceful in his ideas. His language is simple and forceful. It has the ring of truthfulness. As he had become a journalist by necessity, he reported the matter truthfully and cooked upon himself the task of educating the people in principles of Truth, Ahimsa, Satyagraha, etc. 

Saurabh Gupta

My name is Saurabh Gupta. I have designed this blog to help those students and people who are greatly interested to get knowledge about English Literature. This blog provides precious knowledge and information about English Literature and Criticism.

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