I have conceived no such thing as Gandhism. I am not an exponent of any sect. I never claimed to have originated any philosophy. Nor am I endeavoring to do so. Several people said to me that I should write a smrit of Gandhian thought. I told them that I could not presume to vie with the ancient law-givers. I have no such plans. The right to codify my thoughts cannot belong to me. Whatever is lasting will take shape after I am gone. Without any elaborate scheme I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal Principles of truth and non-violence to our daily life and problems. Like a child I did whatever occurred to me on the spur of the moment during the course of events.
Then I realized that what I was doing were experiments in truth. In doing so I have sometimes erred and learnt by my errors. Life has thus become for me a series of experiments in truth. In my pursuit of truth I came across the method of non-violence. By instinct I have been a votary of truth, but not non-violent. As the Muni Jinavijayaji once rightly observed, I was all for truth and was capable of sacrificing non-violence for the sake of truth. I confessed to him that it was true. For me “there was no dharma higher than truth” and “no dharma higher than the supreme duty of non-violence.”( Mahabharata, Adiparvan, XI. 13 and Shantiparvan, CLXII. 24) The word dharma in my opinion has different connotations as used in the two statements. In other words it means that there cannot be an ideal higher then truth and there cannot be any duty higher than non-violence. A man can pursue truth only by constantly adhering to this duty. There is no other means for the pursuit of truth. For the sake of truth one should not hesitate even to witness the ruin of one’s country. One may even leave one’s country. Paul Richard has severely criticized me in this regard. He had pointed out the difference between my ideas and those of Manusmriti. I do not regard it as dharma to have to resort to untruth either for the sake of argument or to protect the cow. This statement is correct. However, I do not think this is a subject which can be discussed academically. Well, all my philosophy, if it may be called by that pretentious name, is contained in what I have said. You will not call it Gandhism; there is no ism about it. And no elaborate literature is needed about it.
All that I have written is but a description of whatever I have done. And my actions alone are the greatest exposition of truth and non-violence. Those who believe in these can propagate them only by following them in practice. They call for no books. My work is there for them to emulate. But it may be said that this, too, is not permanent. A caustic critic once observed that the spinning-wheel would be so discredited that when I died the wheels would serve to make the funeral pyre. That, however, has not shaken my faith in the spinning-wheel. I will not despair even if you all forsook me. My faith will grow all the more. Indeed, I have never despaired nor have I had to repent. I do not regret the long struggle that I have put up nor the amount of money and the number of lives lost. Whenever I went to the villages I have returned with my vessel full of hope. But how can I convince the world that one cannot communicate this confidence with the help of books? Silent work alone can provide it. Hence no one should yield to the weakness that he would be helpless if the committee did not supply literature. The workers complain that pundits from the government and other circles go to the villagers and criticize our ideas. They misguide the people. What can we do, then,since we do not have their superior knowledge? It is a real difficulty. But where is the need for books? Tell the villagers that you are there in their midst to serve them with your wheels, your brooms and buckets. Let them accept your service if they will. Must we then, you will ask, work away in silence, without bothering about our critics? Yes; I should not mind even your taking a vow of silence. Write if you feel you cannot do without it. But let not your real work suffer because you are busy writing books.
SPEECH AT GANDHI SEVA SANGH MEETING-III, SAVLI, March 3, 1936