The making of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi

At London Book Fair 2019, Gandhi 150, commemorated the150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, displaying works that tell about this life and his message. This stand was developed in partnership with the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. Here, Dr. Sadhna Raut of Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India, shares more about Gandhi 150: Publications action plan.


Gandhi 150: Tribute to Mahatma

The Govt. of India is celebrating Gandhi 150 from October 2018 for which govt. ministries and departments have taken up a comprehensive set of activities to disseminate Gandhian thought through different programmes.The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting took up an ambitious programme for Gandhi 150 through its vast network of TV, radio, print media, exhibitions, publications and many other channels of communication.

Gandhi 150: publications action plan

The programme included restoration and republishing of heritage-value Gandhian literature, besides making available Gandhian resources to the public through seminars and special displays at book fairs. They also launched “Gandhi for the Digital era” – a comprehensive e-compilation of all relevant multimedia content related to Gandhi’s life and works. Moreover, eversion of The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi was uploaded on dedicated Gandhi 150 portal made available to public.

The phenomenal Gandhi

Gandhi’s life is a phenomenal saga which extends beyond his life-span of 1869-1948. Born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, he came to be known as Mahatma Gandhi in his lifetime only.

Gandhi lived every moment of his life for the good of his people, in harmony with the good of all people. Through a novel means of resistance that he devised – Satyagraha (Sacrifice for the Truth) – he showed the way to fight injustice through non-violent methods

CWMG: germination of the idea

Gandhi engaged with people across the globe, in their diversity with issues, any of which required his attention and application of his ethical thought. Fortunately, his life and thought and action were getting recorded by his worthy associates, that speak of the life and journey of the Mahatma.

Through a determined effort, these associates took up the herculean task of collecting, organising and arranging his words and documenting them with fidelity, deep understanding and an ethical sense of responsibility.

This determined effort is what became the prestigious and celebrated work The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG), running into 100 volumes and brought out by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. It is a monumental document of Gandhiji’s words which he spoke and wrote, day after day, year after year, beginning with the year 1884 till his assassination on January 30, 1948.

CWMG: the history

A very rare document; mandated by an actionable agreement in 1956, the CWMG series took 38 years in making and was completed in the year 1994. It runs into over 55,000 pages. In this project, Mahatma’s writings, scattered all over the world, were collected with stringent discipline, guided by a special Advisory Board of veteran Gandhi’s associates and executed by a specially equipped team of editors with a perspective of English literature, world classics, history and a modern system of law. The corresponding Hindi edition Sampoorna Gandhi Vangmaya was completed in 1998.

The process of making of CWMG

The editorial/research process of preserving and presenting this national heritage included the tasks of collecting Mahatma’s writings spread all over the world, deciding their veracity from verified documents, rendering the non-English text in English, placing the matter in perspective and bringing out volumes in chronological order. The copyright of CWMG was vested with Navajivan Trust, as per the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi.The major work of CWMG was done under the leadership of Prof. K. Swaminathan, who became its Chief Editor in 1961 and held office for more than 30 years.

The 100-volume series brings Gandhiji straight to the readers through his words and showcase the evolution of the man into Mahatma over the course of his struggles and his journey. Right from his student years in India and London, his stay and struggles in South Africa, his return to India and leadership of the Indian freedom movement. In these volumes, we find cables, telegrams, appeals, petitions, memorials, notes, silence-day notes, articles in journals, speeches, interviews, talks, dialogues, letters, etc. CWMG gives an account of many a battle that Gandhi fought and the revolutions he conducted on several fronts – social, economic, cultural, religious, political… all at the same time

The Prefaces, as written for respective volumes when published, take us on an epic journey through Gandhi’s life and the Nation in the making.

Making of e-CWMG

Publications Division entered into an MoU with Gujarat Vidyapith (GV), Ahmedabad for bringing out the electronic version of CWMG. Dina Patel, an eminent Gandhian scholar in GV took up this challenge.

The e-CWMG retains the original architecture of the printed volumes in terms of font, line and page structure, visual look, original editorial edifice and content. The e-version has been carefully created for a user-friendly experience and easy search, while ensuring authenticity, original layout and features, tamper-proof format and easy availability in public domain.

Reprinting of out of print CWMG vols.

With the help of Electronic Master Copy, the entire set of 100 volumes was also reprinted exactly as the original version and is now made available after a gap of 20 years.

CWMG: Gandhi’s Legacy in Words

CWMG is an effort to facilitate the world-wide readers of the journey from Mohan to Mahatma with the hope that these volumes will become the beacons for generations to come. CWMG presents a distinct vision about truth and non-violence in action, continuous ethical analysis in every response – to a situation, issue or a person. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi will leave the evidence of this Great Soul for generations to come.

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