Gandhi was vehemently opposed to the Partition of India and tried to avoid it. But what was his stance on it once it had happened? Did he accept it as fait accompli or did he envision some scheme for re-unification in the future? Did he express his views on the matter in print before he was murdered?

4 Answers 4


Gandhi accepted partition, but deeply deplored the communal violence that was taking place at that time. In fact, he had been scheduled to leave for a "peace march" to Lahore from Delhi, but was killed just four days before he could begin the march. He had also pleaded before the Government of India to try and maintain friendly relations with the Government of Pakistan.

However, I am not sure that Gandhi was as vehemently opposed to partition as it is generally believed. Had the partition plan not had Gandhi's passive support, it would surely have been vetoed by the Congress, since Gandhi was still its unquestionable leader. It appears that he acquiesced to the partition plan only to avoid communal tension.

As for views in print, since Gandhi himself edited the paper Harijan, I expect there to be some written record. But I have not been able to find it yet. If I get something, I will update my answer.

Update: I have added a few quotes from Gandhi's speeches. They have been taken from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, so in case you disagree with my conclusions, feel free to respond with additional quotes/reasons.

Note on Gandhi's speech at Congress Working Committee on June 2, 1947

He [Gandhi] said that though he did not agree with the decisions of the Working Committee regarding the division of India, he did not want to take any step which would stand in the way of the Working Committee in implementing its previous decision. He however pointed out that there was still some scope for further clarification, and he suggested that Clause 20 relating to the right of the parts to decide to remain or not within the British Commonwealth should be clarified and the Government should be informed that the Congress does not want that any differential treatment should be meted out to any seceding part of India. He also wanted that a written and categorical assurance should be forthcoming from the Muslim League that it accepts the statement as a final settlement and will not make any further claims beyond what is conceded in this statement.

Refer to Gandhi's speech at prayer meeting on June 4, 1947

I told you that we would not give even an inch of land as Pakistan under coercion. In other words, we would not accept Pakistan under the threat of violence. Only if they can convince us by peaceful, argument and if their proposal appeals to our reason would we concede Pakistan.

From another letter by Gandhi on June 2, 1947

Probably no one is more distressed than I am over the impending division of India. But I have no desire to launch a struggle against what promises to be an accomplished fact.

  • 1
    RE last paragraph: That would be great. Your answer matches my understanding as well, but I have no better source for this idea than a veiwing of the Ben Kingsley Gandhi movie 30 years ago. I was hoping to see something more authoratative here.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 31, 2013 at 18:41
  • Do you have a source for the claim that Gandhi accepted partition? I am also not sure about your claim that he gave the partition his "passive support". Feb 1, 2013 at 19:19
  • @FelixGoldberg Please check my update.
    – Arani
    Feb 6, 2013 at 20:25
  • That third quote seems both ironic and hypocritical given that most of his adult life was spent in "a struggle against ... an accomplished fact". I infer from the statement that his opposition to partition was decidedly weaker than his opposition to British rule; and that his statement is purposefully disingenuous. Apr 29, 2014 at 2:05
  • @PieterGeerkens Exactly my view too. Apart from what he himself said, most of the leaders in the Congress Working Committee owed their rise to Gandhi himself and it is hard to believe that they would have gone directly against him.
    – Arani
    Apr 29, 2014 at 6:34

His views in the Harijan are as follows::

“Like other groups of people in this country, Muslims also have the right of self determination. We are living here as a joint family and hence any member has the right to get separated (Harijan, April 6, 1940).”

“If majority of the Muslims of this country maintain that they are a different nation and there is nothing common with the Hindus and other communities, there is no force on the earth that can alter their view. And if on that basis, they demand partition that must be carried out. If Hindus dislike it, they may oppose it. (Harijan, April 18, 1942)”


In 1947 congress was not under the control of Gandhiji ."Partition must be on my coffin box" was his stand. But he was cornered by congress, as well as Muslim league. The Hindu-Muslim conflict and bloodshed of innocents went beyond the control. This hurt Gandhi very much. Finally, he forcefully and painfully accept partition. Still he planned a march to Lahore to establish peace before which Godse killed him. It was undoubtedly Mahmadali Jinnah who was responsible for partition.


Nothing that I've read or seen thus far moves me to think that the partition act of India was any one person's fault or doing. We must remember that at the time of partition there were radical groups both Hindu and Muslim that were determined to not accept the other. Add to that volitile mix Ghandi's at times stubborness, Church Hill's drive to keep England politically viable at any cost, and Jinnah's attempts to keep some kind of balance for all and thus losing focus, and you have a political bomb just waiting to explode.

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    Welcome to the site, and thank you for a thoughtful opinion. Unfortunately this doesn't answer the question , "Ghandi's opinion", and doesn't provide any citations or research.
    – MCW
    Jul 4, 2016 at 16:43

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