We all know how Gandhi used to sleep naked with young girls at his ashram as part of his ‘experiments.’
Of course, if any of us tried those, ahem, ‘experiments’ we’d be carted off to prison or hauled off to a mental ward. 😉
But how many of us know that the Mahatma might have also been an AC/DC?
As all intelligent SI readers know, AC/DC in slang means bi-sexual.
A new biography of Gandhi by Pulitzer Prize winner and former Editor of the New York Times Joseph Lelyveld has just come out.
Titled Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, the book, despite being one in an extended line of Gandhi biographies, has some interesting tidbits.
The book releases in the U.S. on March 29 and we will, of course, buy it and review it on SI.
But the sneaky bastards at the Wall Street Journal managed to lay their hands on a copy of Great Soul and reviewed it.
Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal’s review of the book for all ye voyeuristic schmucks:
Yet as Mr. Lelyveld makes abundantly clear, Gandhi’s organ probably only rarely became aroused with his naked young ladies, because the love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom,” he wrote to Kallenbach. “The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.” For some reason, cotton wool and Vaseline were “a constant reminder” of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might relate to the enemas Gandhi gave himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.
Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about “how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House,” and he made Lower House promise not to “look lustfully upon any woman.” The two then pledged “more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.”
They were parted when Gandhi returned to India in 1914, since the German national could not get permission to travel to India during wartime—though Gandhi never gave up the dream of having him back, writing him in 1933 that “you are always before my mind’s eye.” Later, on his ashram, where even married “inmates” had to swear celibacy, Gandhi said: “I cannot imagine a thing as ugly as the intercourse of men and women.” You could even be thrown off the ashram for “excessive tickling.” (Salt was also forbidden, because it “arouses the senses.”)
Source: Wall Street Journal, March 26-27, 2011, p- C10 (print edition)
If Gandhi was an AC/DC, that would not diminish his stature as one of the most interesting personalities of our times.
Truth be said, monogamy and heterosexuality are fairly modern contrivances in the long history of Man.
Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld – Chapter 3; Before he Became Mahatma, Gandhi was a Racist Swine
Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld – Chapter 2
Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld – Chapter 1
holy shit.. I read the WSJ piece .. I was blissfully unaware of the “experiments”. I was thinking that Attenborough’s Gandhi was a truthful biography.
I want someone(Oliver Stone?) to make the Real Gandhi movie. “sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist”.. will it be banned in India?
1. Ah, just back from a decent lunch at an Indian restaurant. In the name of Gandhi, we dug into some nice Chicken Kebab. Life’s good.
2. We won’t be surprised if the book Great Soul is banned in India.
Or maybe not.
Because unlike Allah, Mohammed, Ram and Krishna, Gandhi lacks staunch defenders in India today.
If the new Gandhi movie ever gets made, we want Anthony ‘Dr.Hannibal Lecter‘ Hopkins to play Gandhi. 😉
Hey, who’s being disrespectful.
In all our life, we’ve not come across as entertaining a character as our Mahatma.
Hell, no one even in India’s movie business comes close to Gandhi in pure entertainment value.
Move over heterosexuals Ajith, Chiranjeevi, Rajnikanth. Move over metrosexual Sharukh Khan…Here comes India’s first Bisexual Hero!
Hey Ramoops Hermann! 😉
Now, “hey, ram” before breathing the last may bring a different meaning!! 😉
Maybe, Gandhi actually said Hermann as his last words after being shot by Nathuram Godse but the people around him misunderstood it as Hey Ram. 😉
Sounds very plausible.
Did not know Gandhi was a ManMohan 😉
We’ll get the book (hopefully) on Tuesday. Let’s see what other priceless nuggets are there.
Boops, Neenga EngeyO poiteenga, sir!
Actually it may be true.. Gandhi claimed that he was Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Jew.. why would he be partial to Ram?
Or was he trying to sing “Hey Man, Nice Shot!”
I used to listen to it a lot when it was released, but didn’t know the meaning until 2 years ago..
The actual video of the Budd Dwyer suicide is available on the net.. Just watched it now. Pretty gory.
1. Just listened to the song…not bad.
2. You write: The actual video of the Budd Dwyer suicide is available on the net.. Just watched it now.
his ownhis entertainment. 😉
It is true that Gandhi conducted experiments sleeping naked with Women in his Ashram. It is also true that he believed sex is only for reproduction. Even Sarojini Naidu says that she left the ashram because Gandhiji didn;t agree when she said she was going to marry.
But the fact about Gandhi being a bisexual is a bit too much. As far as I know, he was ashamed of the practice of sexual intercourse only because he was making love with his wife when his father died. The fact that he wasn;t present near his father during his last moments haunted Gandhi for life. That is the reason why Gandhi vowed to control that urge and indulged in all sort of haphazard experiments, which turned out to be quite an embarrassment to the ashram members.
So, all the talks about him being a BI seems a bit odd. But you never know. Anyways, whatever is the fact, he will always be cherished by Indians for his contributions and hated by people like me for his adamant behavior, which led to some unfortunate events in Indian history like the partition.
Who says our leaders don’t lead colorful lives.
Karunanidhi-Two known wives
and the list goes on… 😉
BTW, Kreacher has put out a response to your response on Sachin. Have you seen it?
Another one of those Kini-isms.. Sleeping naked with a 16 year old niece is ok, but being bisexual is a bit too much.. aiyo aiyo..
Hi bisexuality seems to be least controversial thing he did.. racism, self-promotion, disrupting Ambedkar’s work seem to be bigger vices (for a Mahatma).. if they were true. All I know about Gandhi is what I read in lousy school textbooks and whatever little I understood from the movie.. those days I only followed 5% of the dialogs (my listening double followed the other 95%) .. now it has improved to 99% with the help of subtitles.
Wonder what the response to the book would be in Mera Bharat Mahaan.
Also, Kini failed to respond to Kreacher’s latest fusillade. 😉
“Sleeping naked with a 16 year old niece is ok, but being bisexual is a bit too much.. aiyo aiyo..”
Now, please tell me where I have said that Gandhi being a bisexual is too much???? I just stated that this information could not be true and most probably created to sell books. Gandhi being bi-sexual or heterosexual is not my problem. Anyways I am not a fan of Mahatma either.
I am no fan of his theory of Ahimsa nor his ideals. His only purpose was to lead India to freedom and he has been given more credit than he has been due. In fact, other great leaders like Nethaji, Tilak, Gokhale, Vallabhai Patel, Ambedhkar, and Abul Kalam Azad, were ignored. So stop counting me as a Gandhi fan.
Please read my comments before coming to conclusions.
“But the fact about Gandhi being a bisexual is a bit too much.” – Perhaps you forgot to read the beginning of the sentence “But the fact about”.
I have read many books about Gandhi, including some books banned by Indian Government. Nowhere does any Gandhi hater say that he used to be a Bi or homo either. And I don’t think it makes any difference to Indian history either. As for Lelyveld, I am not so sure about the “facts” that he finds. I do hope he has solid proof. I strongly believe that he just brought up this fact to sell his book.
Btw, I am still surprised that people have not called him a womanizer. In all the books that I have read, I find that he was constantly surrounded by young ladies and pretty white followers 😉
@SI: perhaps google could give us better answers.
1. Gandhi’s South Africa days have not come under the microscope as much as his pre-South Africa and post-South Africa years. The man stayed there for nearly 22 years. Surely, there must be some interesting personal moments in that long period.
Let’s see what sources the book cites.
2. You write: I am still surprised that people have not called him a womanizer. In all the books that I have read, I find that he was constantly surrounded by young ladies and pretty white followers
Given Gandhi’s pronouncements in favor of celibacy and the fact that he appeared to adhere to them in his post South African days in India, it’d be hard for any writer to fling the ‘womanizer’ epithet at Gandhi and make the charge stick.
@Aswin, I understood you the right way.. If you believe the fact that he experimented with young girls, why is it a bit too much to believe that he is experimented with men. I also agree that his bisexuality should be of no concern to us…
The review says the book is “generally admiring”, but every subsequent paragraph has some sort of damning accusation(political irritant, racist, hypocrite, misanthropist, the list goes on..) that Gandhi was not a Mahatma, but a very intelligent and eloquent charlatan, who hijacked Gokhale’s freedom movement and used it for his devious entertainment… If he were a charlatan, then he would have be to biggest one since Mohammed.
Wondering if India would have got freedom earlier if Gokhale hadn’t died in 1915.. but not sure what all skeletons he had in his closet.
Cool stuff. This book may actually become the first big book I am going to read since I read “The Day of the Jackal” when I was in my teens (that’s a long time ago).. or maybe not.. I am looking forward to “SI reads Great Soul”.. parts 1 through 20.
You write: I am looking forward to “SI reads Great Soul”.. parts 1 through 20.
😉 Hopefully, the book is on its way.
@MuniAndy: “why is it a bit too much to believe that he is experimented with men. I also agree that his bisexuality should be of no concern to us… ”
Point valid and fully agreed. The facts stated about Gandhi may be true, but they won’t change history in any way, except about the “perception” of Gandhi.
“Wondering if India would have got freedom earlier if Gokhale hadn’t died in 1915.. but not sure what all skeletons he had in his closet. ”
You bet… There will be loads of them. Let’s see what the author has to say about Gandhiji’s opinion on Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose, his adamant stand on partition, his rigid ideals, and what not.
Many people are not going to like what they are gonna read. Let’s see what the book has in store for us.
@SI: “BTW, Kreacher has put out a response to your response on Sachin. Have you seen it?”
Have been busy with some work, will respond today evening IST.
Excuse me Kini Sir,
Partition is one of the best things that has happened to India. I cannot imagine living in a country of 150 crore population stretching from Pakistan to Bangladesh, with different power centres based on the religion and all other non sense.
In fact i would argue partition was incomplete. From any angle how Kashmiris, Biharis, Tamils, Bengalies, Nagas
are grouped to form a one country is a mystery to me. The only reason I could think of is so called “Hinduism” to the most part.
Despite the enormous internal differences in language, cuisine, resources…., we think there was a notion of India or Hindustan as one geographical entity that pre-dated the advent of the British, Partition and all that.
Even the ancient Romans thought so (Gibbon mentions it in his opening chapter when talking of one of the Emperors either Hadrian or Trajan).
Notwithstanding the enormous internal differences, the inhabitants of India/Pak/Bangladesh likely had some things in common, the foremost of which was, as you say, the cementing influence of ‘Hinduism.’
@Twig: Thanks for the extra respect 😛
“Partition is one of the best things that has happened to India.” – True. India would have struggled very badly had it not been partitioned. But the way in which the process was done was very haphazard, violent, and merciless. Lakhs of Hindus and Muslims got massacred for no fault of theirs.
This could have been avoided had Gandhi and Nehru thought of a better way and time to divide the nation.
Believe me, I whole heartedly respect Gandhi and Nehru for their contributions to our freedom struggle. But they were given far more credit and the damage they did and continue to do till date (Gandhi’s rigid ideals and Nehru’s refusal to dissolve the congress after freedom struggle) continue to haunt us till date.
You write: Nehru’s refusal to dissolve the congress after freedom struggle
That’s a naive statement.
So, who would have taken over the reins of the government after freedom?
You need organizations/institutions to run a government. It takes decades for organizations to grow, evolve and mature into effective entities that can handle a variety of responsibilities and tackle numerous challenges. The Congress was the best entity available in the late 1940s and to dissolve it then would have meant a descent into the chaos of Hades.
The Utopia of a party-less democracy may have been feasible and even a reality in the city states or ‘Polis‘ of ancient Greece but merely a fanciful notion in the modern era.
In the movie Gandhi, they portray Hermann Kallenbach as a close friend and could be seen building the ashram in South africa (?) sitting at the roof top.
Wiki has it that Gandhi referred to him as “soulmate” in quite a few places in his autobiography. May be, he hinted at it then 😉
1. You write: Wiki has it that Gandhi referred to him as “soulmate” in quite a few places in his autobiography
Maybe the word soulmate those days was a euphemism for holemate. 😉
2. We vaguely remember the scene you mention in your first line or maybe we’re just imagining it. The mind sometimes plays strange tricks.
If you need the scene, here it is:
But the dialogues in the above video are not in English. Yet, you can hear the name “hermann kallenbach”!!!
Thank you. Just watched your (above) YouTube video.
Yes, we clearly heard Gandhi introducing Hermann Kallenbach to the New York Times Reporter.
Hermann Kallenbach (the bare-chested movie version from your link) looks good. Hell, if we were Bi or Gay, we might have gone for the plunge too. 😉
Here is the second time, he is being portrayed in the movie.
But Hermann Kallenbach doesn’t look like a body-builder, does he?
One would think a body-builder would sport a better physique. Rippling muscles, broader chest and a face depicting hunger of various sorts.
The reputation of a Pulitzer winner aside, this looks like what Xenophilius Lovegood would print in The Quibbler (Harry Potter series, for those not familiar) as ground-breaking journalism.
I am not a fan of Gandhi for several reasons, but I have a hard time believing that something as big as this would go undocumented all these years.
The book is almost certain to get banned in India, accompanied with riots, book burning, protests and what not.
You write: I am not a fan of Gandhi for several reasons, but I have a hard time believing that something as big as this would go undocumented all these years.
We’ve ordered the book. Let’s see what primary sources Joseph Lelyveld cites to support his conclusions.
That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if they are true. There’s Gandhi’s idiosyncratic behavior on matters small and big, for one.
Plus, Gandhi’s 22-year long stay in South Africa has not been hitherto pored over as exhaustively as his Indian days (both pre- and post-South Africa).
While we’re not positing a causal relationship between unusual sexual mores and “greatness” the pages of history books contain examples of several “great” men from diverse fields who have displayed sexual mores contrary to the mainstream. Alexander, Socrates, Tennyson, Frederick the Great, Somerset Maugham, William Wordsworth, Ivory-Merchant quickly come to mind. Surely, some digging will unearth more names.
Can’t believe all this. Please do not publish these in your blog. He is the Father of our Nation
Hey, we’re talking of a biography by a reputed writer here. A Pulitzer Prize winner and former editor of the New York Times, not some crackpot.
So, we have to take it seriously.
We’ll know how solid the book is once we lay our hands on it.
whatever Gandhi was, he has inspired many world leaders and been pivotal in some really effective nonviolent revolutions. He did have his flaws, but should be lauded for living his life the way he wanted to. He had the guts to live the way he did.
Father of the nation … YES.. if proven to be of different orientation, does it change anything.
Partition was a revelation of our people’s minds.
1. You write: whatever Gandhi was, he has inspired many world leaders and been pivotal in some really effective nonviolent revolutions.
Very inspiring, true.
But we’re increasingly beginning to believe that your notion of ‘effective non-violent revolutions’ is a contradiction in terms. A ‘non-violent revolution’ is a freakish concept with its combination of two immiscible political techniques. As for the ‘effective’ part, non-violence tends to impose a heavy toll and prolonged suffering on the oppressed. So even if successful, is it really effective from the perspective of many who have paid a heavy price. Finally, even where non-violence is successful, the threat of violence lurking in the shadows cannot be ignored.
2. Added Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets to the Instant Play queue.
Bal Thackeray once said, “Gandhi’s celibacy was a fraud, he was always accompanied by women.”
Between Gandhi and Thackeray, we’ll take Gandhi any day.
perhaps an interview with the author could throw some light on what made him conclude that gandhi was bisexual. Does he have concrete evidences to support it? it could have a strong impact in the congress party which is already tottering with the wikileaks allegations. Now, nobody would as happy as BJP LEFT AND SENA!
1. You write: Does he have concrete evidences to support it?
Most biographies have a lengthy source list with elaborate documentation at the back of the book.
The book is releasing tomorrow in the U.S. So, we’ll know soon.
2. Unlikely the book will have much of an impact on the coming elections unless there are a lot of people who believe Rahul Gandhi, Sonia, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi are all close kin of the real Gandhi.
In any case, the Congress party is screwed up on its own without needing Gandhi’s ‘help.’
speaking of books,i just finished the mahabharat translated by Krishna Dharma Dasa from UK.it’s a slightly abridged edition(about 900 pages) but keeps all the content in such a good order,you could hardly distinguish it from an actual hindi edition.recommended.
i wouldnt recommend my friend wendy’s book”hindus an alternative history” as i finished reading chapter 6 this morning,trust me,if you want to read it,get it used and cheap.this one is NOT worth the full price.
Our backlog of books (purchased and borrowed from the library) is growing.