11 Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi on the Power of Nonviolence

Gandhi Portrait

11 Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi on the Power of Nonviolence

Few leaders embodied the notions of peace and civility like Mahatma Gandhi. His means of civil disobedience won India its independence without a single trigger pulled against the English. You don’t achieve that sort of peaceful demeanor without a few choice remarks to say about the matter.


Gandhi was born in 1869. His family comes from the village of Kutiana.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi originally was a lawyer, so this quote makes sense given the greater context of his life.


Gandhi married at the age of 13 to Kasturba Gandhi, who would stay by his side for his entire life.
©"Mahatma Gandhi" by dbking is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Gandhi strove for an independent India, a change he welcomed to the world without firing a single rifle or throwing a bomb.


1888 would see Gandhi travel to London for law school.
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“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience proved fairly effective, using non-violent means to protest oppressive actions by the British.


While in London, Gandhi would convert to vegetarianism, a choice he stuck by for his entire life.
©"Mohandas and Kasturba Gandhi" by public.resource.org is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

There may be a point to this, as Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. both used the same principles of non-violence to get the results desired for their people.


Returning home in 1891, Gandhi didn’t do much as an attorney aside from petition to litigants in Rajkot.
©"Sculpture: Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi" by jmf1007 is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.”

This quote seems almost biting given the history of the British Raj. Mahatma Gandhi would’ve been keenly aware of what the British had done in his homeland since they took control.


1893 would be the most instrumental year in shaping Gandhi’s trajectory, when he ventured to South Africa.
©"Laxmidas and Mohandas Gandhi" by public.resource.org is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Willpower has a strength far beyond muscles, something Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated through countless arrests and organizing events like the Dandi Salt March in 1930.


Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa, fighting for civil rights among the minority communities.
©"Dandi salt march" by Nagarjun is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“Man lives freely only by his readiness to die if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him.”

We see the notion of non-violence that pervades everything Mahatma Gandhi strove for in this quote. It isn’t a willingness to die that makes someone free, but a willingness to die without retaliating toward a violent act.


1915 would see Gandhi’s return to India, this time to fight for the independence of his people.
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“Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these two principles are inseparable, but I see the merit in suggesting it.


Despite his vows of non-violence, Gandhi did support the First World War, being called upon by the war council in 1918.
©"Diorama of Mahatma Gandhi Leading 1930 Salt Satyagraha - Gandhi Smriti - New Delhi - India" by Adam Jones, Ph.D. - Global Photo Archive is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“I did one seriously think of embracing the Christian faith. The gentle figure of Christ, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek – I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man.”

I find this quote interesting because Christianity doesn’t have much representation in India. Mahatma Gandhi sought out these teachings to instruct himself, rather than being immersed in them from the start culturally.


Gandhi was elevated to folk hero status by the 1920s, thanks in part to non-violent protests and civil disobedience.
©"Mahatma Gandhi" by VinothChandar is licensed under BY 2.0. - Original / License

“Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.”

While the goal was India’s independence, many nations would have chosen a violent method to attain it. The world had already seen the October Revolution in the Soviet Union take place. It was important for the followers of Mahatma Gandhi to seek a means of bringing change peacefully.


Sadly, Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist. He was mourned across all of India, with millions turning out for a five-mile-long funeral procession.
©"Mohandas K. Gandhi, Memorial assassination spot, 2013" by Fowler&fowler is licensed under BY-SA 3.0. - Original / License

“Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.”

It could have been easy to fall into using weapons and violent means to spur a revolution in India, but ultimately Mahatma Gandhi and his followers staged hunger strikes and other non-violent aims to achieve independence.

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