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Quit India Speech | Study Guide

Mahatma Gandhi

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Quit India Speech | Quotes


I want you to know and feel that there is nothing but purest Ahimsa in all that I am saying and doing today.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

In this speech, Mahatma Gandhi calls for the Indian National Congress (INC) to pass a resolution that will begin a campaign for Indian independence. However, Gandhi wants to reassure his listeners that as always, he believes any protest action should be nonviolent. Ahimsa is a principle in several world religions, including Hinduism, that states no harm shall be done to any living thing. Gandhi believed in living his life by a policy of ahimsa.


Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India's independence.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi again offers reassurance in the beginning of his speech. Here, he tells listeners (and later, those who will read the printed version of the speech) that while it is the Indian National Congress considering (and soon passing) the resolution for independence from the British, they are not trying to replace the British as dictators. Gandhi is also implying that the new government will not necessarily be led only by the Hindu majority.


Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

A recurring theme in his life and in this speech, Gandhi promotes the idea of a united India. Decades of unrest between Muslims and Hindus in India had led to tense political times. Gandhi hopes that the nationalist movement will unite all groups in India, despite religious and cultural differences.


Our quarrel is not with the British people, we fight their imperialism.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Repeatedly, Gandhi calls on Indians to resist feeling hatred and anger toward the British. For Gandhi, there is a distinct difference between the British people (especially those to whom he has grown close) and the policies of the British government.


Hindu-Muslim unity is not a new thing. Millions of Hindus and Mussalman have sought after it.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi speaks again on the need to unite India across groups of people. For years, India has been approximately 75 percent Hindu and 25 percent Muslim. In the years leading up to this speech, Muslim leaders broke away from the Congress, feeling that their voices were ignored by the Hindu majority. The leader of the All-India Muslim League, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, with whom Gandhi had worked closely, no longer agreed with Gandhi's vision.


You may take it from me that whatever in your demand for Pakistan accords with considerations of justice and equity is lying in your pocket ... whatever ... is contrary ... you can take only by the sword and in no other manner.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Here, Gandhi is speaking to Jinnah, and in not as peaceful a manner as usual. Gandhi did not support the idea of Pakistan, a proposed new country for Muslim Indians. In 1947, when India gained its independence, Muslim Indians formed their own country, made up of West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan later became Bangladesh.


India is without doubt the homeland of all the Mussalman inhabiting this country. Every Mussalman should therefore co-operate in the fight for India's freedom. The Congress does not belong to any one class or community.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi reiterates two points here. First, there is no need for Pakistan, when India is the homeland of Muslims (Mussalman) as well as Hindus. Second, Muslim Indians should align with the Indian National Congress's mission, since it will be fought for all Indians, regardless of faith. Gandhi even floats the idea that Muslims can take over the INC, if they find that necessary to become involved in the protests that are about to begin.


How can I remain silent at this supreme hour and hide my light under the bushel? Shall I ask the Japanese to tarry awhile?

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi raises the immediacy of his call to action, which is being made in the middle of a raging World War II. In recent months, Japanese attacks on nearby British colonies, including Burma, had alarmed many Indians. Japanese bombs had also hit some Indian ports. For Gandhi, it is impossible for the British to ask Indians to contribute any more than they have to the war effort without a promise of withdrawal.


Every one of you should, from this moment onwards, consider yourself a free man or woman, and act as if you are free and are no longer under the heel of this imperialism.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi makes it clear that the INC's passage of a resolution calling for action is recognition that Indians no longer consider themselves British subjects. By acknowledging this long-unfamiliar freedom, Gandhi hopes that Indians will feel more invested in the actual independence movement and protests.


The mantra is: 'Do or Die'. We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi says that Indians now have only two choices going forward. They can achieve independence, or they can die trying. Gandhi declares that the colonial days ("our slavery") cannot continue.


The empire too bestows power on the Princes, but they should prefer to derive power from their own people.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi, after speaking of the divisions between Muslim and Hindu Indians, now turns to another set of divisions: those states (called the "princely states") administered by Indian princes. The British government had long allowed the princes to retain control over their lands as long as they adhered to some rules. Here, Gandhi calls on princes to sacrifice the power and land they have so long held so that India can be unified under one government, as one people.


I would ask the students to say to their professors: 'We belong to the Congress. Do you belong to the Congress, or to the Government?'

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Along with princes, government employees, and soldiers, Gandhi also addresses India's students. While urging them to stay the course with their education, he requests that they declare their allegiance to the INC and its mission. He also asks students to determine where their teachers' loyalties lie, and to nonviolently force any supporters of colonialism out of their positions.


It is a terrible job to have to offer resistance to a Viceroy with whom I enjoy such relations.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Throughout the speech, Gandhi references the British officials and citizens with whom he has developed close relationships. Among these people is the viceroy, or head British official in India, Lord Linlithgow. As an example of how he is following his own advice to not hate the British, Gandhi describes his sorrow at waging a campaign that will pit him against a friend.


Let me tell you that I do not regard England or for that matter America as free countries.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi expresses his disappointment with how many Western countries claim to be composed of only free people but do not truly offer full freedom. In particular, he calls out England (Britain) and the United States, both of which were powerful empires at this time. Gandhi particularly objected to denial of civil rights to African Americans and other minorities. He argues that there is less freedom in Britain and the United States than will exist in the India he foresees in the near future.


Think what difference it would make if India was to participate as a free ally.

Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Gandhi returns to the topic of World War II. He explains that he acknowledges the difference between the British imperialism experienced by India and the fascism exhibited by the Axis powers in World War II. However, he explains that a free India will be a stronger, perhaps more dedicated, ally to the Allied powers than an India still controlled by the British.

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