Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Love and hate relationship with Gandhi!

I still remember a very huge paper cutting of Mahatma Gandhi's picture on the back of my room door. That was in 2004 on his 135th birthday celebration and the clipping turned yellow having stood there for almost 6 years (removed when the whole house was painted). I did not look at it often and neither did it bother me. It just had to be there ( like I had A.P.J Abdul Kalam's email ID stuck inside my wardrobe for years). 

I was quite a Gandhian myself during childhood (although my close friend liked to argue that I was more of a Subhash Chandra Bose kind) in that I was fascinated by the ideals such as swadeshi, brutal honesty and simplicity. This influence was by a language teacher in our school V.Ganesh who was a hilarious speaker and whose preaching affected me the most. I was all gaga over Gandhian stories, principles and philosophies. My young immature mind was blown away in the words of a very powerful teacher! I was eagerly waiting to lay my hands on Gandhi's autobiography 'The story of my experiments with truth'. No sooner I came out of school than I began to form my own opinions about Gandhi.

While it was indisputable that Gandhi's way of Ahimsa and non-cooperation won us our independence from British, it is also true that Gandhi could have mended his ways to save a lot of lives, resources and money. I slowly came across articles and discussions which made me wonder should Gandhi be considered as saintly as I previously believed him to be. There were movies shouting at me that my doubt is just. When seen through revolutionist's perspective it feels Gandhi erred with his ways. Sarojini Naidu reckoned "it costs the nation millions to keep Gandhi living in poverty". I started to feel that Indians in general and people close to him in particular paid a dear price to let Gandhi live his life his way.

Did Gandhi not break a pledge that he would rather die than witness partition? Did he not practise unethical and questionable things in the name of Brahmacharya and chastity? How couldn't the father of nation be good to his own family? Why did his noble and saintly decisions always wreak havoc in public life? Did he patronize dalits without empowering them? Did he give away whatever muslims asked for without thinking of the consequences? Why did Indian government wipe out from the face of earth, controversial Gandhi's letters and problematic articles about Gandhi? Was it too essential to keep up an image and not give the citizens naked truth?

I can hurt my colleagues and the entire world for the sake of truth. 
M.K Gandhi
I fail to understand what truth he speaks of.

I tried reading "The story of my experiments with truth" but even with my nature of finishing every book I couldn't complete it. It was utterly boring and at many times revolting. Being a 21st century girl I couldn't fathom the fact that 'Mahatma' couldn't be brave enough to allow individualistic freedom for his wife. Just because she was his ardhangini she had to put up with his outrageous demands apparently termed simplicity. Reading his explanations for everything, at a point of time I witnessed a drain of interest for this man. In his prime youth Gandhi enjoyed all the worldly pleasures and only in mid age did he renounce them and boast of his saintliness to the world.

After a gap of 3-4 years I chanced to read 'Brahmacharya Gandhi and his women associates' by Girja Kumar, a research scholar. From the self explanatory title one could guess what this book speaks of. I was disgusted beyond measure at the blasphemy in which Gandhi involved numerous young women in his experiments of chastity. About his practice Gandhi often said "the greater the temptation; the greater the renunciation". How would sleeping with young naked girls without touching them help beat his carnal desires? Why did it even matter to him that he exhibit to world the highest sanctity of his brahmacharya? Isn't such every single act of his, a mad passion to seek glory?

The great historian of all times, Will Durant has declared Gandhi's life to be on par with that of Jesus. This is beyond my understanding and I have repeatedly failed to admit this. How do I even begin to explain that Gandhi was wrong in thinking that British were excellent administrators and they failed only in India? I could never feel right about him approving Indian soldiers fighting on behalf of British in world wars.

As I respect every Indian who has contributed to our independence and hence even here my respect goes to Gandhi for many good things he did for India (since our teachers have quite exhaustively covered these good deeds in our schools I don't intend to bore you with those details). I just refuse to accept that he was a saint and flawless. I am against the glorification of his personality even though I salute each of his sacrifice for the nation. I bow my head before the half-naked man who gave Indian subcontinent a strong psychological sense of oneness and I raise my voice against his immoral deeds as a person.

Many great thinkers and scholars are of the opinion that a great man's personal life shouldn't be used to belittle the grandeur of his achievements. While I agree to this, isn't it Gandhi himself who claimed that he has no distinction between his private and public life and that he was leading a life for all to see! So the right to question his ways is given to me and many others like me by Gandhi himself.


  1. One more glorified historical person in Indian school text books. The Other has to be Dr. B R Ambedkar!!

    With the impression of Reverential Gandhi I was shocked when I first read about Gandhi and his experiments with sexuality and women, his daily enema etc.

    Echo your feelings Appi!!

  2. Well put. Gandhi - he's apparently the Father of the Nation! I think Bhagat Singh would have put us on a different map altogether.

  3. I too was a Great fan of Gandhi and his principles as a high school kid..Well from the same source of inspiration- V.G sir:). But then as i grew up i had not given it much of a thought. This article poses the questions which has awakened me to know the truth behind the truth!

  4. Naanu high school nalli irbekadre 8th mathe 9th std alli Gandhiji aatma charitre ann text book agithu... aur bagge bari olle vishya gale ithu..aa vaysyanalli sahaja vage naan impress aade ... ivattin vargu Ganhiji andre nanig ade bhaaavne ithu ... aadre e article oodud meele nan nambke swalpa alladtide..naanu Gandhiji bere mukha gal baggenu tilkobeku anta aase agtide..