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Day 16 – Q 3.What was more important to Mahatma Gandhi- means or end of an action? How did he practice these principles in his public life?

3. What was more important to Mahatma Gandhi- means or end of an action? How did he practice these principles in his public life? 

महात्मा गाँधी के लिए क्या अधिक महत्वपूर्ण था– एक कार्यवाही का तरीका या परिणामउन्होंने अपने सार्वजनिक जीवन में इन सिद्धांतों का अभ्यास कैसे किया?


The Means vs. Ends Debate of an action has been so prominent in ethics that two separate schools of thought emerged. Consequentialism focussing on judging the moral worth of the results of the actions and Deontological ethics on judging the actions themselves.


Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy:

Gandhi observed that “Noble Goals can be achieved only through Noble Means” Here he adheres similarity with Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of moral command that action should end in itself.

That’s why Gandhi advocated that people should reform themselves and then preach to people i.e. more focus in the cultivation of self.

Gandhi used an example to explain why means always take precedence over ends in the context of usage of Non-violence over violence to establish Peace .

“If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation.”

Application of principles in real life:

Gandhi withdrew the first large scale mass movement “Non co-operation movement”, because of one single ‘Chauri Chaura incident’ because the incident deviated from his Non-violence stance and he immediately called off the movement despite criticism.

The Seven Sins philosophy also emphasises on Importance of Means. For example, in the list of sins – Politics without Principles, Wealth without Work, Worship without Sacrifice, etc., the former are the ends whereas the latter symbolises means which imply that Ends are of lesser value without the desired means.

Gandhi’s notion of democracy is that under it the weakest shall have the same opportunities as the strongest. Which stands for Deontological ethics i.e. putting dignity of an Individual over narrow definition of democracy.

With respect to concept of development (END) he emphasised on the idea of village level sustenance through small and cottage industries thereby making villages self-reliant (Desired Means).

Gandhi’s Ideas of politics with principle and special stress on 3rd tier Panchayati raj, respect for others’ religion and pride for one’s own & the famous Gandhian quote -” the nature is sufficiently endowed to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed” are respectively the wide dimensions that emanate from Gandhi’s Deontology philosophy.


Mahatma Gandhi was not only a capable leader but a great thinker as well. His Philosophy can be summed up in his words-  “Means are after all, everything’. As the means so the end…”

 The philosophy is of great importance in today’s situation mired with a lot of pains and conflicts. These principles are instrumental in holding the society together.

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