The Unflinching Determination Of Vows

March 23, 2015

Every week, we feature excerpts by Gandhi that lend insight into his values and personal practices.

For Gandhi vows were a promise made by one to oneself and believed that they can have exemplary effects on others. Gandhi considered the possible elevation of his fellow men and women as more important than his own salvation or self-realization.** For him, this is the public purpose of even private vows to oneself: to set an example for the common good of humanity. Picked from some of his letters, below are some glimses on his perspective on vows and the importance of them:

October 08, 1913

“Vows are always taken only in respect of matters otherwise difficult of accomplishment. When after a series of efforts we fail in doing certain things, by taking a vow to do them we draw a cordon round ourselves, from which we may never be free and thus we avoid failures.” (1)

 "A vow means unflinching determination, and helps us against temptations. Determination is worth nothing if it bends before discomfort." (2)

"If we resolve to do a thing, and are ready even to sacrifice our lives in the process, we are said to have taken a vow. It is essential for every person to train herself/himself to keep such vows; one can strengthen one’s power of will by doing so and fit oneself for greater tasks. One may take easy and simple vows to start with and follow them with more difficult ones.” (3)

(1) “The Swadeshi Vow”, Bombay Chronicle (17 Apr 1919). CWMG, vol 17, p. 394.
(2)  “Letter to Narandas Gandhi” (14 Oct 1930). CWMG, vol 50, p. 135.
(3) “Importance of vows”, Indian Opinion (8 Oct 1913). CWMG, vol13, p. 363.
Narandas Gandhi” (14 Oct 1930). CWMG, 50, p. 136.
(**) Raghavan N. Iyer, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. p. 80. 

Be The Change

This week think about a small vow you can take to serve the common good.