Gandhiji was much impressed by reading John Ruskin’s Unto This Last. He translated it later into Gujarati entitling it Sarvodaya. The book brought great transformation in the life of Gandhiji and Sarvodaya became a great ideal of his life and philosophy. The broad outlines of this ideal were the following:
(a) That the good of an individual is contained in good of all.
(b) That a lawyer’s work has the same value as that of a barber in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.
(c) That a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is a life worth living.
As a votary of non-violence, Gandhiji did not fully subscribe to the utilitarian concept of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. He hoped that a votary of Ahimsa would zealously strive for the greatest good of all and may be ready to sacrifice his life gladly for attainment of that ideal whereas a utilitarian would never sacrifice his life for the good of others.
Hence, the ideal of the greatest good of all is superior to that of the utilitarian doctrine of the greatest good of the greatest number, the former being comprehensive enough to include in it the latter also.
He believed that if the ideal of Sarvodaya could be realised, there would be true democracy in which the highest and the humblest, the ruler and the rub would be equal. This presupposes that all are good and pure. So distinctions of caste and outcast would vanish. There would be no untouchables. The capitalist and the toiling labourer would hold equal status. Everybody would earn his living by honest means and by the sweat of his brow. There would be no distinction between intellectual and physical labour People would abjure intoxicants of opium and liquor at the own will. There would be no exploitation of women. Eva woman who is not a wife, would be respected as the modi sister or daughter according to her age. Swadeshi would be rule of life. A zealous spirit of sacrifice would imbue all of us Everybody would be ready to sacrifice his life for the good of all and would never think of taking the life of his fellow brethren.