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-79: Education

THE ANCIENT aphorism, 'Education is that which liberates' is a true today as it was before. Education here does not mean mere spiritual knowledge, nor does liberation signify only spiritual liberation after death. Knowledge includes all training that is useful for the service of mankind and liberation means freedom from all manner of servitude even in the present life. Servitude is of two kinds: slavery to domination from outside and to one's own artificial needs. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of this ideal alone constitutes true study.

(H, 10-3-1946, p. 38)

Knowledge Of Living
Today pure water, good earth, fresh air are unknown to us. We do not know the inestimable value of ether and the sun. If we make wise use of these five powers and if we eat the proper and the balanced diet, we shall have done the work of the ages. For acquiring this knowledge, we need neither degrees nor cores of money. What we need are a living faith in God, a zeal for service, an acquaintance with the five powers of nature* and a knowledge of dietetics. All this can be acquired without wasting time in schools and colleges.

(H, 1-9-1946, p. 286)

Persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind. Inquisitiveness should be tempered by humility and respectful regard for the teacher. It must not degenerate into impudence. The latter is the enemy of the receptivity of mind. There can be no knowledge without humility and the will to learn.

(H, 8-9-1946, p. 306)

Education must be of a new type for the sake of the creation of a new world.

(H, 19-1-1947, p. 494)

It is not literacy or learning which makes a man, but education for real life.

(H, 2-2-1947, p. 3)

Side by side with adult franchise, or even before it, I plead for universal education, not necessarily literary except as, perhaps, an aid. English education. I am convinced, has starved our minds, enervated them and never prepared them for brave citizenship. I would give them all sufficient knowledge in the rich languages of which any country will be proud. Education in the understanding of citizenship is a short-term affair if we are honest and earnest.

(H, 2-3-1947, p. 46)

Dignity Of Labour
I hold that, as the largest part of our time is devoted to labour for earning our bread, our children must from their infancy be taught the dignity of such labour. Our children should not be so taught as to despise labour. There is no reason why a peasant's son, after having gone to school, should become useless, as he does become, as an agricultural labourer.

(YI, 1-9-1921, p. 277)

Literary education should follow the education of the hand-the one gift that visibly distinguishes man from beast. It is a superstition to think that the fullest development of man is impossible without a knowledge undoubtedly adds grace to life, but it is in no way indispensable for man's moral physical, or material growth.

(H, 8-3-1935, p. 28)

I hold that true education of the intellect can only come through a proper exercise and training of the bodily organs, e.g., hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, etc. In other words, an intelligent use of the bodily organs in a child provides the best and quickest way of developing his intellect. But unless the development of the mind and body goes hand in hand with a corresponding awakening of the soul, the former alone would prove to be a poor lopsided affair. By spiritual training I mean education of the heart. A proper and all-round development of the mind, therefore, can take place only when it proceeds PARI PASSU with the education of the physical and spiritual faculties of the child. They constitute an indivisible whole. According to this theory, therefore, it would be a gross fallacy to suppose that they can be developed piecemeal or independently of one another.

Harmonious Blend
The baneful effects of absence of proper co-ordination and harmony among the various faculties of body, mind and soul respectively are obvious. They are all around us; only we have lost perception of them owing to our present perverse associations.....

(H, 8-5-1937, p. 104)

Man is neither mere intellect, nor the gross animal body, nor the heart or soul alone. A proper and harmonious combination of all three is required for the making of the whole man and constitutes the true economics of education.


By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated. Literacy in itself is no education. I would therefore begin the child's education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training..... I hold that the highest development of the mind and the soul is possible under such a system of education. Only every handicraft has to be taught not merely mechanically as is done today, but scientifically, i.e., the child should know the why and the wherefore of every process.

(H, 31-7-1937, p. 197)

I attach far more importance to the cultural aspect of education than to the literary.

(H, 5-5-1946, p. 120)

Useful manual labour, intelligently performed is the means PAR EXCELLENCE for developing the intellect..... A balanced intellect presupposes a harmonious growth of body, mind and soul. . . An intellect that is developed through the medium of socially useful labour will be an instrument for service and will not easily be led astray or fall into devious paths.

(H, 8-9-1946, p. 306)

Nai Talim
Any basic craft to serve as a medium for education must answer the test of universality.

(H, 25-8-1946, p. 283)

Craft, art, health and education should all be integrated into one scheme. NAI TALIM is a beautiful blend of all the four and covers the whole education of the individual from the time of conception to the moment of death..... Instead of regarding craft and industry as different from education, I will regard the former as the medium for the latter.

(H, 10-11-1946, p. 394)

My NAI TALIM is not dependent on money. The running expenses should come from the educational process itself. Whatever the criticisms may be, I know that the only education is that which is 'self-supporting'.

(H, 2-3-1947, p. 48)

 It is called the new method of education, for it is not a foreign importation or imposition, but is consistent with the environment in India which is predominantly made up of villages. It believes in establishing an equilibrium between the body, the mind and the spirit of which man is made. It is unlike the Western type which is predominantly militarist, in which the mind and the body are the primary care of education to the subordination of the spirit. This is best done when education is given through handicrafts. The other specialty is that it is designed to be wholly self-supporting. It does not, therefore, demand an expenditure of millions on education.

(H, 11-5-1947, p. 147)

The teachers earn what they take. It stands for the art of living. Therefore, both the teacher and the pupil have to produce in the very act of teaching and learning. It enriches life from the commencement. It makes the nation independent of the search for employment.

(ibid, p. 145)

Our system of education leads to the development of the mind, body and soul. The ordinary system cares only for the mind.

(H, 9-11-1947, p. 401)

It is popularly and correctly described as education through handicrafts. This is part of the truth. The root of this new education goes much deeper. It lies in the application of truth and love in every variety of human activity, whether in individual life or a corporate one. The notion of education through handicrafts rises from the contemplation of truth and love permeating life's activities. Love requires that true education should be easily accessible to all, and should be of use to every villager in his daily life. Such education is not derived from, nor does it depend upon books. It has no relation to sectional religion. If it can be called religious, it is universal religion. If it can be called religious, it is universal religion from which all sectional religions are derived. Therefore, it is learnt from the Book of life which costs nothing and which cannot be taken away from one by any force on earth.

(H, 21-12-1947, p. 480)

University Education
The aim of university education should be to turn out true servants of the people who will live and die for the country's freedom. I am therefore of opinion that university education should be co-ordinate and brought into line with basic education. . . .

(h, 25-8-1946, P. 283)

As for women's education, I am not sure whether it should be different from men's and when it should have begin. But I am strongly of opinion that women should have the same facilities as men and even special facilities where necessary.

(h, 5-8-1950, P. 195, Ashram Activities (1932) Tr. V. G. Desai)

I have never been an advocate of our students going abroad. My experience tells me that such, on return, find themselves to be square pegs in round holes. That experience is the richest and contributes most to growth which springs from the soil.

(H, 8-9-1946, p. 308)

Code For Students
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.

(H, 7-9-1947, p. 312)

The students should be, above all, humble and correct...... The greatest to be great has to be the lowliest by choice. If I can speak from my knowledge of Hindu belief, the life of a student is to correspond to the life of a SANNYASI up to the time his studies end. He is to under the strictest discipline. He cannot marry, nor indulge in dissipation. He cannot indulge in drinks and the like. His behaviour is to be a pattern of exemplary self-restraint.

(ibid, p. 314)

Medium Of Instruction
I find daily proof of the increasing and continuing wrong being done to the millions by our false de-Indianizing education..... We seem to have come to think that no one can hope to be like a Bose unless he knows English. I cannot conceive a grosser superstition than this. No Japanese feels so helpless as we seem to do....The medium of instruction should be altered at once and at any cost, the provincial languages being given their rightful place. I would prefer temporary chaos in higher education to the criminal waste that is daily accumulating. In order to enhance the status and the marker-value of the provincial languages, I would have the language of the law courts to be the language of the province where the court is situated. The proceedings of the provincial Legislatures must be in the language, or even the languages, of the province where a province has more than one language, within its borders...At the centre Hindustani must rule supreme. In my opinion, this is not a question to be decided by academicians..... When this country becomes really free, the question of medium will be settled only one way. The academicians will frame the syllabus and prepare text-books accordingly. And the products of the education of a free India will answer the requirements of the country....So long as we, the educated classes, play with this question, I very much fear we shall not produce the free and healthy India of our dream. We have to grow by strenuous effort out of our bondage, whether it is educational, economic, social or political. The effort itself is three-fourths of the battle.

(H, 9-7-1938, pp. 177-8)

I have no doubt whatsoever that, if those who have the education of the youth in their hands will but make up their minds, they will discover that the mother tongue is as natural for the development of man's mind as mother's milk is for the development of the infant's body. How can it be otherwise? The babe takes its first lesson from its mother. I, therefore, regard it as a sin against the motherland to inflict upon her children a tongue other than their mother's for their mental development.

(MI, p. 8)

National Language
The interprovincial language..... can only be Hindustani written in Nagari or Urdu script... My plea is for banishing English as a cultural usurper, as we successfully banished the political rule of the English usurper. The rich English language will ever retain its natural place as the international speech of commerce and diplomacy.

(H, 21-9-1947, p. 332)

The re-distribution of provinces on a linguistic basis is necessary if provincial languages are to grow to their full height. Hindustani is to be the lingua franca -Rashtra Bhasha-of India, but it cannot take the place of the provincial tongues. It cannot be the medium of instruction in the provinces-much less English. Its function is to make them realize their organic relationship with India.

(H, 1-2-1948, p. 14)

English Language
The highest development of the Indian mind must be possible without a knowledge of English.

(YI, 2-2-1921, p. 34)

It is my considered opinion that English education in the manner it has been has emasculated the English-educated Indians, it has put a severe strain upon the Indian students' nervous energy, and has made of us imitators..... No country can become a nation by producing a race of translators.

(YI, 27-4-1921, p. 130)

English is today admittedly the world language. I would therefore accord it a place as a second, optional language, not in the school, but in the university course. That can only be for the select few-not for the millions..... It is our mental slavery that makes us feel that we cannot do without English. O can never subscribe to that defeatist creed.

(H, 25-8-1946, p.284)

I must not be understood to decry English or its noble literature. The columns of the HARIJAN are sufficient evidence of my love of English. But the nobility of its literature cannot avail the Indian nation any more than the temperate climate or the scenery of England can avail her. India has to flourish in her own climate, and scenery, and her own literature, even though all the three may be inferior to the English climate, scenery and literature. We and our children must build on our own heritage. If we borrow another, we impoverish our own. We can never grow on foreign victuals. I want the nation to have the treasures contained in that language and, for that matter, in other languages of the world, through its own vernaculars. I do not need to learn Bengali in order to know the beauties of Rabindranath's matchless productions. I get them through good translations. Gujarati boys and girls do not need to learn Russian to appreciate Tolstoy's short stories. They learn them through good translations. It is the boast of Englishmen that the best of the world's literary output is in the hands of that nation in simple English inside of a week of its publication. Why need I learn English to get at the best of what Shakespeare and Milton thought and wrote?

(H, 9-7-1938, p. 177)