The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi
[ Encyclopedia of Gandhi's Thoughts ]

The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi

(Encyclopedia of Gandhi's Thoughts)

Compiled & Edited by :
R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao

Table of Contents

An Introduction
  2. TRUTH
  4. FAITH

About This Book

Compiled & Edited by : R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao
With Forewords by: Acharya Vinoba Bhave & Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
I.S.B.N :81-7229-149-3
Published by : Jitendra T. Desai,
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
Ahmedabad - 380 014,
© Navajivan Trust, 1960


Chapter-35: Non-Co-Operation

NON-CO-OPERATIONS is an attempt to awaken the masses to a sense of their dignity and power. This can only be by enabling them to realize that they need not fear brute force if they would but know the soul within.

(YI, 1-12-1920, p. 3)

Non-co-operation is a protest against an unwitting and unwilling participation in evil....Non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as co-operation with good.

(YI, 1-6-1921, p. 172)

Non-co-operation is not a passive state, it is an intensively active state, more active than physical resistance or violence. Passive resistance is a misnomer. Non-co-operation in the sense used by me must be non-violent and therefore, neither punitive nor based on malice, ill-will or hatred.

(YI, 25-8-1920, p. 322)

Religious Basis
I venture to submit that the Bhagavadgita is a gospel of non-co-operation between the forces of darkness and those of light. If it is to be literally interpreted, Arjuna representing a just cause was enjoined to engage in bloody warfare with the unjust Kauravas. Tulasidas advises the sant (the good) to shun the asant (the evil doers). The Zend Avesta represents a perpetual duel between Ormuzd and Ahriman, between whom there is no compromise. To say of the Bible that it taboos non-co-operation is not to know Jesus, a prince among passive resisters, who uncompromisingly challenged the might of the Sadducees and the Pharisees and, for the sake of truth, did not hesitate to divide sons from their parents. And what did the Prophet of Islam do? He non-co-operated in Mecca in a most active manner so long as his life was not in danger, and wiped the dust of Mecca off his faith when he found that he and his followers might have uselessly to perish, and fled to Medina and returned when he was strong enough to give battle to his opponents. The duty of non-co-operation with unjust men and kings is as strictly enjoined by all the religions as is the duty of co-operation with just men and kings. Indeed, most of the scriptures of the world seem even to go beyond non-co-operation and prefer violence to effeminate submission to a wrong. The Hindu religious tradition.....clearly proves the duty of non-co-operation. Prahlad dissociated from his father, Meerabai from her husband, Bibhishan from his brutal brother.

(YI, 4-8-1920, p. 4)

Basic Principle
The basic principle on which the practice of non-violence rests is that what holds good in respect of oneself equally applies to the whole Universe. All mankind in essence are alike. What is therefore possible for me, is possible for everybody.... This is essence is the principle of non-violent non-co-operation. It follows therefore that it must have its root in love. Its object should not be to punish the opponent or to inflict injury upon him. Even while non-co-operating with him, we must make him feel that in us he has a friend and we should try to reach his heart by rendering him humanitarian service whenever possible. In fact, it is the acid test of non-violence that in a non-violent conflict there is no rancour left behind and, in the end, the enemies are converted into friends. That was my experience in South Africa with General Smuts. He started with being my bitterest opponent and critic. Today he is my warmest friend.....

Enduring Quality
Times change and systems decay. But it is my faith that, in the result, it is only non-violence and things that are based on non-violence that will endure. Nineteen hundred years ago Christianity was born. The ministry of Jesus lasted for only three brief years. His teaching was misunderstood even during his own time and today Christianity is a denial of his central teaching [: "Love your enemy." But what are nineteen hundred years for the spread of the central doctrine of a man's teaching?] Six centuries rolled by and Islam appeared on the scene. Many Musalmans will not even allow me to say that Islam, as the word implies, it unadulterated peace. My reading of the Koran has convinced me that the basis of Islam is not violence. But, here again, thirteen hundred years are but a speck in the cycle of Time. I am convinced that both these great faiths will life only to the extent that their followers imbibe the central teaching of non-violence. But it is not a thing to be grasped through mere intellect, it must sink into our hearts.

(H, 12-11-1938, p. 327)

Although non-co-operation is one of the main weapons in the armoury of Satyagraha, it should not be forgotten that it is after all only a means to secure the co-operation of the opponent consistently with truth and justice. The essence of non-violent technique is that it seeks to liquidate antagonisms but not the antagonists themselves. In non-violent fight you have, to a certain measure, to conform to the tradition and conventions to the system you are pitted against. Avoidance of all relationship with the opposing power, therefore, can never be a Satyagrahi's object, but transformation or purification of that relationship.

(H, 29-4-1939, p. 101)

Ethics of Non-co-operation
I consider non-co-operation to be such a powerful and pure instrument that, if it is enforced in an earnest spirit, it will be like seeking first the Kingdom of God and everything else following as a matter of course. People will then have realized their true power. They would have learnt that value of discipline, self-control, joint action, non-violence, organization and everything else that goes to make a nation great and good, and not merely great.

(YI, 2-6-1920, p. 3)

There is no instrument so clean, so harmless and yet so effective as non-co-operation. Judiciously handled, it need not produce any evil consequences. And its intensity will depend purely on the capacity of the people for sacrifice.

(YI, 30-6-1920, p. 3)

We had lost the power of saying 'no'. It had become disloyal, almost sacrilegious to say 'no' to the Government. This deliberate refusal to co-operate is like the necessary weeding process that a cultivator has to resort to before he sows. Weeding is as necessary to agriculture as sowing. Indeed, even whilst the crops are growing, the weeding fork, as every husbandman knows, is an instrument almost to daily use. The nation's non-co-operation is an invitation to the Government to co-operate with it on its own terms, as is every nation's right and every good government's duty. Non-co-operation is the nation's notice that it is no longer satisfied to be in tutelage.

(YI, 1-6-1921, p. 173)

The movement of non-violent non-co-operation has nothing in common with the historical struggles for freedom in the west. It is not based on brute force or hatred. It does not aim at destroying the tyrant. It is a movement of self-purification. It therefore seeks to convert the tyrant. It may fail because India was not ready for mass non-violence. But it would be wrong to judge the movement by false standards. My own opinion is that the movement has in no wise failed. It has found an abiding place in India's struggle for freedom.

(YI, 11-2-1926, 59)

A Duty
At times non-co-operation becomes as much a duty as co-operation. No one is bound to co-operate in one's own undoing or slavery. Freedom received through the effort of others, however benevolent, cannot be retained when such effort is withdrawn. In other words, such freedom is not real freedom. But the lowliest can feel its glow as soon as they learn the art of attaining it through non-violent no-co-operation.... I am quite sure that non-violent non-co-operation can secure what violence never can, and this by ultimate conversion of the wrong-doers. We in India have never given non-violence the trial it has deserved. The marvel is that we have attained so much even with our mixed non-violence.

(YI, 20-4-1920, p. 97)

I have presented non-co-operation in terms of religion, because I enter politics only in so far as it develops the religious faculty in me.

(YI, 19-1-1921, p. 19)

Behind my non-co-operation there is always the keenest desire to co-operate on the slightest pretext even with the worst of opponents. To me, a very imperfect moral, ever in need of God's grace, no one is beyond redemption.

(YI, 4-6-1925, p, 193)

....Nothing crooked will have countenance from me. For me, the law of Satyagraha, the law of love, is an eternal principle. I co-operate with all that is good. I desire to non-co-operate with all that is evil...

(YI, 18-6-1925, p. 213)

No Hatred
By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know that this is a big claim. Nevertheless, I make it in all humility. But I can and I do hate evil wherever it exists. My non-co-operation has its root not in hatred, but in love. My personal religion peremptorily forbids me to hate anybody. I learnt this simple yet grand doctrine when I was twelve years old through a school book, and the conviction has persisted up to now. It is daily growing on me. It is a burning passion with me.

(YI, 6-8-1925, p. 272)

It is not that I harbour disloyalty towards anything whatsoever, but I do so against all untruth, all that is unjust, all that is evil.....I remain loyal to an institution so long as that institution conduces to my growth, to the growth of the nation. Immediately I find that the institution, instead of conducing to its growth, impedes it, I hold it to be my bounden duty to be disloyal to it.

(YI, 13-8-1925, p. 277)

My non-co-operation, though it is part of my creed, is a prelude to co-operation. My non-co-operation is with methods and systems, never with men. I may not harbour ill-will even against a Dyer. I regard ill-will as beneath the dignity of man.

(YI, 12-9-1929, p. 300)

Some have called me the greatest revolutionary of my time. It may be false, but I believe myself to be a revolutionary, a non-violent revolutionary. My means are non-co-operation. No person can amass wealth without the co-operation, willing or forced, of the people concerned.

(YI, 26-11-1931, p. 369)

I am by instinct a co-operator; my very non-co-operation is intended to purge co-operation of all meanness and falsity, for I hold such so-operation is not worth the name.

(EF, p. 84)