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Introduction | GANDHIAN ETHICS 

  • Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) is a father of our nation.
  • Ethical teachings are the central philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Mahatma Gandhi is a universally accepted as an exemplary model of ethical and moral life, with a rare blending of personal and public life, the principles and practices, the immediate and the eternal. He considered life to be an integrated whole, growing from truth to truth every day in moral and spiritual status. He believed in a single standard of conduct founded on dharma of truth and nonviolence.
  • He successfully led nonviolent struggles against racial discrimination, colonial rule, economic and social exploitation and moral degradation. So long as these manifestations of violence remain, Gandhi will remain relevant. Gandhi was a good man in a world where few resist the corroding influence of power, wealth and vanity.
  • Gandhi in his time wielded more power over the minds of people than any other individual but it was not the power of weapons, or terror or violence; it was the power of his convictions, his pursuit of truth and nonviolence, fearlessness, love and justice, working through incessant service and sacrifice for fellow human beings. His power came from empowering the weak, to lead the masses in the fight against injustice, exploitation, violence and discrimination.
  • Satyagraha elevated the struggle for survival to the highest moral-spiritual levels and ordinary, emaciated people turned heroes.
  • His power arose through the people whom he gave a sense of self-respect, purpose and moral strength.

Major Principles Of Gandhian Ethics

The major principles of Gandhian ethics are:

  • Ends and Means: Gandhi always emphasised on pure means and ends. Improper means cannot be adopted to achieve proper ends. As a wrong path cannot take you to right destination.
  • Satyagraha: It is the continuous realisation for truth. It mainly includes self sacrifice, peace and non violence. Only a person with will and determination can follow satyagraha.
  • Trusteeship: Wealthy people should acts Trustees of trust that looked after the welfare of the people.
  • Concept of seven sins: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without Humanity, Religion without Sacrifice, Politics without Principle are seven sins in a society that should be rectified.
  • Sarvodaya: It means Universal Upliftment of all. By inclusiveness many evils of the society can be removed.
  • Dignity of Labor: Gandhi tried to established equality among all by making bread labor compulsory to all.

Gandhi’s concept of Non-violence | GANDHIAN ETHICS 

  • Mahatma Gandhi says that Non-violence means to keep oneself completely away from such action which may hurt others physically or mentally.
  • Violence is a behavior involving physical force intending to hurting, damaging or killing.
  • Nonviolence is to bear distresses by oneself to make others happy. Non-violence is the most effective means to fight against discrimination and falsehood. Nonviolence is not the outward strength. Non-violence is the internal power. Nonviolence promotes vegetarianism and reverence for all life.
  • Non-violence prevents murder, war, capital punishment in the world. Non-violence avoids abortion, mercy killing, suicide and infanticide in human society. Non-violence creates freedom from physical and psychological violence, exploitation, injustice, inequality and discrimination. Non-violence develops love, co-operation, forgiving, help, and kindness in humanity. Non-violence is fundamental to the discovery of truth.
  • Truth is God and non-violence is God’s love. Truth is the ultimate goal of human life and non-violence is the means to achieve ultimate goal. Without violence it is not possible to seek and find truth. Non-violence and truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disintegrate and separate them. They are like the two sides of the same coin. Mahatma Gandhi expresses that the first step in non-violence is that we cultivate in our daily life, as between ourselves, truthfulness, humility, tolerance, loving, and kindness.
  • Honesty, they say in English, is the best policy. But in terms of non-violence is an unchangeable creed. It has to be pursued in face of violence raging around you. Non-violence with a non-violent man is no merit. In fact, it is become difficult to say whether it is non-violent at all. But when it is pitted against violence, then one realizes the difference between the two. This we cannot do unless we are ever wakeful, ever vigilant and striving. The power of non-violence is the power of internal force. According to Mahatma Gandhi It is no non-violence if we merely love those who love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those who hate us.
  • Non-violence to be a potent force must begin with the mind. Non-violence of the body without co-operation of mind is the non-violence of the weak or the cowardly, and has therefore, no potency. It is a degrading performance. If we bear the malice and hatred in our bosoms and pretend not to retaliate it must recoil upon us and to destruction. It follows, therefore, that if non-violence becomes successfully established in one place, its influence will spread everywhere. The basic principle on which nonviolence rests is that holds good in respect of oneself equally applies to the whole universe.
  • Mahatma Gandhi tells that the non-violence of my conception is a more active and more real fighting against wickedness than retaliation whose very nature is to increase wickedness. Non-violence is one of the major moral qualities of human being. Non-violence is a power force than violence because it is linked with the bravery of mind.
  • Non-violence is a powerful weapon of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi used non-violence not only for the purification of his soul, but to purify the conduct of the human society. He practiced non-violence in mass action and devised means to fight out injustice.


Gandhi warned people of seven sins which has potential to destroy the life.

  • Wealth Without Work
  • Pleasure Without Conscience
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Commerce Without Morality
  • Science Without Humanity
  • Religion Without Sacrifice
  • Politics Without Principle

Satyagraha, Sarvodaya and Swaraj

  • Satyagraha: Gandhi ji called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha. It means the exercise of the purest soul-force against all injustice, oppression and exploitation.
  • It is a method of securing rights by personal suffering and not inflicting injury on others.
  • The origin of Satyagraha can be found in the Upanishads, and in the teachings of Buddha, Mahavira and a number of other other greats including Tolstoy and Ruskin.
  • Sarvodaya- Sarvodaya is a term meaning ‘Universal Uplift’ or ‘Progress of All’. The term was first coined by Gandhi ji as the title of his translation of John Ruskin’s tract on political economy, “Unto This Last”.
  • Swaraj- Although the word swaraj means self-rule, Gandhi ji gave it the content of an integral revolution that encompasses all spheres of life.
  • For Gandhi ji, swaraj of people meant the sum total of the swaraj (self-rule) of individuals and so he clarified that for him swaraj meant freedom for the meanest of his countrymen. And in its fullest sense, swaraj is much more than freedom from all restraints, it is self-rule, self-restraint and could be equated with moksha or salvation.

Gandhi’s Swadeshi drive

  • The word swadeshi derives from Sanskrit and is a conjunction of two Sanskrit words. ‘Swa’ means self or own and ‘desh’ means country. So swadesh means one’s own country. Swadeshi, the adjectival form, means of one’s own country, but can be loosely translated in most contexts as self-sufficiency.
  • Swadeshi is the focus on acting within and from one’s own community, both politically and economically.
  • It is the interdependence of community and self-sufficiency.
  • Gandhi ji believed this would lead to independence (swaraj), as British control of India was rooted in control of her indigenous industries. Swadeshi was the key to the independence of India, and was represented by the charkha or the spinning wheel, the “center of the solar system” of Mahatma Gandhi’s constructive program.

Relevance of Gandhian Ideas in Modern Times | GANDHIAN ETHICS 

  • Administration Sphere: Internal affairs like insurgency issues in Kashmir, central India or in the North Eastern states could be managed is much better way by following Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence and Satyagraha.
  • Social Sphere:
    • Inclusive development of India is possible only by realization of Gandhi’s idea of Sarvodaya.
    • In Indian context, principle of Satyagraha still holds good. Example is Jessica Lal’s case. Through peaceful protest in the form of candle march almost all over the country justice was delivered.
    • Gandhi’s views about sanitation is seen today in Swachh Bharat Mission.
    • Striving for upliftment of Depressed Classes is still as relevant as was during Gandhi’s times.
  • Economic Sphere:
    • Make in India is manifestation of Gandhi’s ideals of self sufficiency.
    • Gandhi’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India.
    • He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution.
  • Political Sphere:
    • Gandhi’s weapon of non-violence has been used by leaders from across the world.
    • Some of the example of such leaders are Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi.
    • There is great resonance of the historic salt march at Dandi with the way Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese leader, brought peace and reconciliation to be all the darkness and loneliness against a brutal and hostile regime.
    • Gandhi was a strategist, a genius and he molded his movement according to the situation. He could visualize the mood of the nation and strategically took each step in a well defined way. So our politicians can learn a lot about strategisation from Gandhi
  • Environmentalism:
    • Gandhi warned the country for unrestricted industrialism and exploitation of nature for human greed.
    • Serious environmental pollution and non-sustainable nature of development are consequence of not aligning with Gandhian environmentalism.
  • International Sphere: Even India’s foreign policy is based on peaceful co-existence and it is reflected in not indulging in aggression first though India remains prepared as the security threats accumulate.




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