Posted on December 25, 2007
Sexual Antics of Gandhi–His failures, Pedophilia and Sexual Perversion
Updated December 30th, 2007
This issue contains three articles: 1) Sexual Antics of Gandhi, 2) Gandhi’s Girls:- very comprehensive article with blow by blow details of the exploding news about Gandhi’s indiscretions, 3) Was Gandhi a Tantric: Well researched article on the details of his liaisons, 4) Other articles are being included and updated
Mohandas (not Mahatma) Gandhi’s Failed Leadership in Politics and Gandhi’s Domestic Violence and weird Sexual Perversion in his private life.
“We know from his autobiography how shamefully he treated his wife. He was transparently honest and he had much less to hide from anyone else. Nothing can be found if other public figures are to be scrutinized because things have been carefully hidden and suppressed.” Gandhi, the family man
Gandhi used to beat his wife up routinely.
Gandhi was having sex when his father lay breathing his last upstairs.
Gandhi denied sex to his wife for decades
Gandhi was an adulterer and had a spiritual marriage with two British women who were in the Ashram
Gandhi slept naked with his niece and other women to prove that he could control his manliness.
Gandhi would do enemas twice a day and if he liked you allowed you to enter the piece up his rectum.
Gandhi son left him and converted to Islam
Gandhi was a total failure in South Africa where he tried to stratify the society, Whites, Indians and Africans
The Indian government contributed $10 million for the movie Gandhi. It is based on a book of fiction called “Freedom at Midnight” by Collins et al. You can see glossed over failures and the perversion in the movie Gandhi but it is not overt and explicitly shown. You have to be smart and familiar with the history to see it embedded in the movie.
This is what Time Magazine says:
“Exceptions to the author’s reserve mostly center on Gandhi’s limitations as a family man. Where the world sees a saint, Rajmohan Gandhi sees a cruel husband and a mostly absent father, paying scant attention to his children’s schooling and dragging wife Kasturba across continents at will, belittling her desire for the simplest of material possessions, then expecting her to comply when he turns from amorous husband to platonic companion to apparent adulterer. Gandhi took on a magnetic personality in the presence of young women, and was able to persuade them to join him in peculiar experiments of sleeping and bathing naked together, without touching, all apparently to strengthen his chastity. (Whether these experiments were always successful is anyone’s guess.) It is also revealed that Gandhi began a romantic liaison with Saraladevi Chaudhurani, niece of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore—a disclosure that has created a buzz in the Indian press. The author tells us that Gandhi, perhaps disingenuously, called it a “spiritual marriage,” a “partnership between two persons of the opposite sex where the physical is wholly absent.” This bombshell occupies only five pages, but it gives Rajmohan Gandhi enough material for his book’s redeeming feature—namely, the clear depiction of the tensions between Gandhi’s erratic emotional compass and his unswerving moral one. For despite the occasional salacious lapses, the overarching principle that infused Gandhi’s life was his intrinsic belief in the equality of all souls.
“Mahatma Gandhi was not shy of speaking about his relationship with his women associates, except in a few cases. He wanted the world to know of his tryst with Brahmacharya in which women constituted an integral part. He kept a meticulous record and tried to make the players keep the records too. Alas! Most of them seem to have either destroyed the records or refused to disclose the intensity of their feelings. A construct, however, is still possible based on Gandhiji’s writings and on basis of writings of some of them, who were involved. Gandhiji persuaded Kanchan Shah, his role model for Married Brahmacharya, and Prabhavati, wife of Jaiprakash Narayan, to practice married Brahmacharya. It was a difficult odyssey and the book tries to analyse why it was difficult.”
“It was the revulsion from sex that forced Gandhiji to take the vow of Brahamacharya in 1906. Then onwards, till the laboratory experiment in Noakhali, Gandhiji kept trying to find out if it was possible to overcome desire and remain a brahmachari. There were more than a dozen women who came to closely associated with him at one time or the other. Some of them were foreigners - Millie Graham Polak, Sonja Schlesin, Esther Faering, Nilla Cram Cook, Margarete Spiegel and Mirabehn. Prabhavati, Kanchan Shah, Shushila Nayyar and Manu Gandhi formed a part of his entourage at various points in time. He called JEKI “the Only Adopted Daughter”. Gandhiji was too found of Saraldevi Chowdharani, Rabindranath Tagore’s niece, and often displayed her as his mannequin for popularizing Khadi. He called her his “spiritual wife”.
His closeness to Saraladevi or arguments on Brahmacharya with Premabehn Kantak created a storm in the ashram and exposed him to public glare. He was undaunted and made a tactical retreat to allow the storm to subside. Soon things were back to normal. While the world was unsure, the Mahatma was sure of his actions.
There was a definite attraction in Gandhiji that brought womenfolk to him. It is quite possible that they were looking for glory and he provided the opportunity. Some like Mirabehn were inspired by his ideals and wanted to devote their entire life to his cause. But once they came close, Gandhiji and not his cause became their obsession. They hardly knew this was the next step to losing him, as the Mahatma could not be chained. He had higher goals. The book is a psycho-biography and a study of man-woman relationship involving one of the greatest men in living memory.”
Experts from Gandhi’ grandson’s Book “Mohandas”:
“Saraladevi was the topic of discussion in undertones and overtones among his friends, associated and family members. How could Ba not be affected? The years 1919 and 1920 were years of mental torture and agony for her”. (page 220)
Gandhiji referred to “small-talks, whispers and innuendos” going around of which he was well aware: “He was already in the midst of so much suspicion and distrust, he told the gathering, that he did not want his most innocent acts to be misunderstood and misrepresented”. (page 339)
“The Sarla Devi episode in his life establishes his humanity. To suppress any information on Gandhi would have meant doing injustice to what he stood for all his life - truth. I have only presented the facts as a scholar not a sensationalist journalist” (Mr Gandhi the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi)
The book “Mohandas” also describes Gandhi’s practice of brahmacharya in his life. He would sleep nude with his niece Manu. “It’s a matter of historical record. This has been written about many times. Even Gandhi wrote about it. In doing so, he was surrendering his sexuality and that of his partner’s, after passing a huge test,“
Dr. Sushila Nayar told Ved Mehta that she used to sleep with Gandhi as she regarded him as a Hindu god.
Responding to noted Gandhian Rajmohan Gandhi’s recent claim about Mahatma Gandhi’s fondness for Sarla Devi, his granddaughter Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee on Friday said as a man of great aesthetic sensibility, if Gandhi felt attracted to a “woman of intellect”it could be natural. Elaborating her point, Bhattacharjee said Mahatma Gandhi also admired the way Rajkumari Amrit Kaur held her pen.
In another book “Mira and the Mahatma”, psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakkar delves deep into the desires that lay buried in the “Mahatma’s” heart. The hero pines for the company of his Mira who is away from him. “You are on the brain. I look about me, and I miss you. I open the charkha and miss you,” (Excerpt from Sudhir Kakkar’s book).
THE ORIGINS OF THE “MAHATMA” MONIKER: EVANGALIST GOALS OF MISSIONARIES IN THE SUBCONTINENT.
Mr. Mohandas Gandhi was converted into a “Mahatma” under the auspicies of the British in South Africa. Its genesis was started by the white Christian clergy. Rev. Joseph J. Doke, a Baptist Minster was the first to write the biography of M. K. Gandhi.
What started as a ploy became an avalanche under a well planned scheme. Pastor John H. Holmes, a Unitarian ”priest” from New York praised Gandhi in his writings and sermons with titles like:
“Gandhi: The Modern Christ”,
“Mahatma Gandhi: The Greatest Man since Jesus Christ”,
“Mahatma Ji: Reincarnation of Christ”and
“Gandhi before Pilate.”
Romain Rolland, the French Nobel Laureate in literature thought of Gandhi not only as a Hindu saint, but also “another Christ”. He wrote Gandhi’s new biography in French which poured praise on the the diety— “Gandhi is the One Luminous, Creator of All,” “Mahatma.”
At this juncture the Nehru-Gandhi loyalist Hindus were brought in. Muslims and others from the Subcontinent were left aghast when Krishnalal Shridharni elevated Gandhi to the status of twentieth century Hindu god - “The seventh reincarnation of Vishnu, Lord Rama.”
One of the objectives of colonialism was the “civilze” the “natives” and the “tribes”. According to Rdyard Kipling this was the “White Man’s Burden”. The British machinery and their accolytes, the Christian clergy had an ulterior motive in building the Gandhi myth. Similar schemes had worked in Africa and Latin America. Local dieties were “included” in Christian concepts to make it more palatable to the people. Later these “local influences” would be purged.
The Colonial rulers thought that by elevating Gandhi to a 20th century messiah and then converting him would open the flood gate for evangelizing and converting the Hindu and masses. However Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was not Emperor Constantine, and was unable to fulfill the wishes of the colonian masters.
Many believe that this wish of foreign funded Christian Missionaries is being fulfilled by Christian Sonia Gandhi and her Christian lobby. Many Indians are upset that Glady Stains was awarded Padmshree. Many Indians are upset at the missionary activities of the faith healer Benny Hinn’s organized in Bangalore with the support of Andhra Government to please, Sonia Gandhi, the Pope and the Vatican City’s its Indian ambassador.
Behold the God that supported the British wars, did not oppose “Aparthied” in South Africa, beat his wife, slept naked with his neice and had affairs with various women.
In his book The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress: Secrets of the Female Taoist Masters, Hsi Lai writes that Mahatma Gandhi “periodically slept between two twelve-year-old female virgins. …as an ancient practice of rejuvenating his male energy. . . . Taoists called this method ‘using the ultimate yin to replenish the yang.’”
Thackeray questions Gandhi’s celibacy
NEW DELHI, Dec. 27: Remarks by right-wing politician Bal Thackerayquestioning the celibacy of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the Indian nation, have caused a furore, reports said on Friday.
“Gandhiji was always accompanied by two girls. Yet that was okay with everyone. If we do something, we are criticised. Gandhi’s celibacy was a fraud,” press reports quoted Thackeray, chief of the regional Shiv Sena party which rules the western sate of Maharashtra in coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as having said”.
“Freedom at Midnight”: Interested readers may look up Chapter 4 (A Last Tattoo
“…at the age of sixty-seven, thirty years after he had sworn his vow of brahmacharya, Gandhi awoke after an arousing dream with what would have been to most men of that age a source of some satisfaction, but was to Gandhi a calamity, an erection.” [Page 81, Freedom at Midnight, Simon& Schuster Edition,1975].
The following is a quote from COLLINS and LA PIERRE in Freedom atMidnight.Chapter 4 (A Last Tattoo For A Dying Raj)
“Gandhi saw in Manu’s words the chance to make her the perfect female votary. “If out of India’s millions of daughters, I can train even one into an ideal woman by becoming an ideal mother to you” he told he “I shall have remembered a unique service to womankind”. But first he felt he had to be sure she was telling the truth. Only his closest collaborators were accompanying him to Noakhali, he informed her, but she would be welcome, provided she submitted to his discipline and went through the test which he meant to subject her.
They would, he decreed, share each night the crude straw pallet which passed for his bed. He regarded himself her mother; she had said that she found nothing but a mothers love for him. If they were both truthful, if he remained firm in his ancient vow of chastity and she had never know sexual arousal, then they would be able to lie together in the innocence of a mother daughter. If one of them was not being truthful, they would soon discover it.
“…at the age of sixty-seven, thirty years after he had sworn his vow of Brahmacharya, Gandhi awoke after an arousing dream with what would have been to most men of that age a source of some satisfaction, but was to Gandhi a calamity, an erection.”[Page 81, Freedom at Midnight , Simon & Schuster Edition,1975].
Collins does not mention what Manu said or did, or what the collaborators heard!!
Erik H Erikson (american psychoanalys) while doing his reasearch in india on Ghandi wrote about Ghandis episodes with other women besides Manu the articles were also published in new yorker of 1996. He gives the reference of a book by Nirmal Bose : My days with Gandhi. It deals with this problem and other, very respectfully in two chapters
On 3.2.1947 he said, as Nirmal Bose quotes :
” What [ he was ?]doing was not for imitation. It was undoubtly dangerous, but it ceased to be so if the conditions were rigidly observed. ”
GANDHI GETS CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN:-LITERALLY
“During his Noakhali tour of 1946, Gandhi used to sleep with the nineteen-year-old Manu. When Nirmal Bose, his Bengali interpreter, saw this he protested, asserting that the experiments must be having bad psychological effects on the girl. In his Book My Days with Gandhi, published in 1953 with great difficulty and at his own expense, he offers a Freudian interpretation to Gandhi’s experiments. It is generally believed that Gandhi started sleeping with women toward the close of his life. According to Sushila Nayar, he started much earlier. However, at the time he called it ‘nature cure.’ She told Mehta, ‘long before Manu came into the picture I used to sleep with him just as I would with my mother. He might say my back aches. Put some pressure on it. So I might put some pressure on it or lie down on his back and he might just go to sleep. In the early days there was no question of calling this a brahamacharya experiment. It was just part of nature cure. Later on, when people started asking questions about his physical contact with women, the idea of brahamacharya experiments was developed. Don’t ask me any more questions about brahamacharya experiments. There is nothing to say, unless you have a dirty mind like Bose.’
Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles is an extremely well-written book. Mehta has made it highly readable with his subtle expression and suave sarcasm, particularly when he reproduces his conversations with Gandhians. He has shown courage in unraveling some of the myths woven around Gandhi by his blind followers. The latter will certainly be dismayed by Mehta’s forthrightness. The book has created a tumult in the Indian Parliament. It will be a great pity if it is banned”. http://www.sikhtimes.com/books_020278a.html
POLITICAL FAILURE OF GANDHI: The biggest Urban Myth is that Mr. Gandhi led a movement for the independence from the British. Gandhi did not bring the British empire to its knees. In 1945 the tottering “empire” was its knees already. Actually it had been knocked out (KO!). WW2 with 50 million dead had totally destroyed London and decimated the infrastructure of the country. There was no appetite for empire. British voters threw out Churchill. The exhausted British had already decided to leave all her colonies after the 2nd world war. After the Labor Atlee government took over in Britain, the only point of discussion was “when” to dismantle the colonies. Nigeria, Malaysia, Kuwait, Iraq all got their independence without any “Gandhi”.What kind of national leaders sits in a religious “Ashram” and wears a monk like religious uniform? Would this sort of enlightened soul be acceptable to a diverse population? The answer is no.
It is nonsensical to say that Gandhi won freedom for the Subcontinent “without spilling a drop of blood.”Non-violence was just a slogan. 5 million died in 1947. In the 40’s when the British colonial rule was taking its last breadth there was a strong wave of nationalism across the globe, in China, in Malysia, in Nigeria, in South Africa, and in the Subcontinent. Many of the leaders were Tipu Sultan, Bahadar Shah Zafar, Alam Iqbal, Mohhammad Ali Jinnah, Maula Mohammad Azad, The Ali Brothers, Maulana Abdul Bari Farangi Mahali, Lokmanya Tilak, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, Gokhale, Lal Lajpat Rai, Veer Savarkar and many other unnamed heroes. Their sacrifices were not less than Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi came to the political scene in India after Jinnah, Iqbal, and Sir Syed. He came after Tilak Yug, Subhash Chandra Bose launched the “Azad Hind Fauj.” The devastating affects of the 2nd Tribal War (World War II) forced the British government to abandon her Colonial Empire.
GANDHI WAS “CREATED” TO USE THE SOUTH AFRICANS IN THE BRITISH WARS: Gandhi was a creation of the British and they used him to get the South Africans to fight in the British wars. He also stratified the South African society.
From Oct. 1899 to May 31st, 1902 Mahatma Gandhi did not mention in “Non-Violence.”At the beginning of the South African War, Gandhi argued that “Indians must support the War effort in order to legitimize their claims to full citizenship. “
The “Prophet of Non-Violence“, the “apostle of peace” urged the Indians to support the British by enlisting in the army during World War I.
GANDHI WAS A TOTAL FAILURE IN SOUTH AFRICA: Gandhi was a failure in South Africa and a failed attorney in Bombay. His failure hardened “Apartheid” and it took decades to dismantle it. This created a rift with the Black of South Africa who rejected this. Gandhi urged the colonial authorities to raise a volunteer militia of Indians to fight for the Empire. Gandhi informed the “South African Natal Authorities” that it would be a “criminal folly” if they did not enlist Indians for the war. Mr. Gandhi urged the Indian community to show their loyalty to the British Empire by raising funds for the War. He reminded them that they were in South Africa due to the courtesy of the Empire.
GANDHI WAS IMPORTED TO THE SUBCONTINENT BY THE BRITISH:The British Empire included many countries in Africa and Asia. In the Subcontinent it included more than 500 states. At the end of the 2nd Tribal War in Europe (WW2), the pillars of the once mighty British Empire were collapsing. In the Subcontinent the War of Independence of 1857 (also known as “Indian Mutiny“) had failed.Gandhi’s arrival in India was a carefully planned and crafted scheme to get rid of the Muslim leadership in the Indian National Congress. Some of the biggest millionaires in India devised a marketing plan to construct a leader for a superstitious, illiterate and colonized people. Gandhi was the perfect candidate. He was imported from South Africa. Special trains were constructed to transport Gandhi in “3rd class” bogeys. The Salt March and his fast in Calcutta were managed events for publicity and fund raising. Huge crowds were attracted to this circus. Funds were generated to support the Indian National Congress and other organizations which unleashed a campaign of terror against the Muslims of Bengal and Kashmir. Initially the INC was not a communal organization but it used the RSS and the Jan Sangh to do its dirty work. The machinery worked overtime to put the Subcontinent on the track of Ram Rajhya.Gandhi first introduced Hindu religious symbols to Motilal Nehru’s Secular Indian National Congress and then tried to make all of India succumb to a racist Hindu Ram Rajha rule. The British brought Gandhi back to India from South Africa to sabotage Indian national movement against British rule. The Congress Party at the time was a secular party. At the expense of other important people Nehru-Gandhi were imposed on the party which had been set up under the patronage of the British authorities.
“One of his reason for launching the Civil Disobedient Movement is to contain the violence of revolutionaries.” Gandhi’s letter to the Viceroy in1930
The 2nd World War broke out in 1939 after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Initially, Mr. Gandhi favored offering “non-violent moral support” to the British effort, but other Congress leaders were offended by the unilateral inclusion of the people of the Subcontinent into the war, without the consultation of the people’s representatives (INC,ML, AD, RSS, Jan Sangh etc.).
MR GANDHI INTRODUCED RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM INTO THE SUBCONTINENTAL POLITICS: THIS LED TO THE ALIENATION OF MUSLIMS ETC. Mr. Gandhi introduced religious symbols into politics which led to the Indian National attracting the communalists like Patel. As a result of the Ashrams and the satyargarhs and the Banda Mahtaram INC became a Hindu Party with the Muslims in the Muslim League and the Sikhs in the Akali Dal. Unable to agree on the Cabinet Mission Plan all agreed to gain independence in a different manner from the British. Gandhi’s religious symbols eventually led to the BJP ruling India, Ayodhia and the massacres in Gujrat. Secularism in India means “Hinduism Light”. Dynestic “Democracy” in India was imposed to wrest the control of India from Muslim lands. Land reforms were forced on a vulnerable Muslim population and their lands were confiscated.
SCHEME TO DETHRONE THE MUSLIMS FROM THE CORRIDORS OF POWER: A scheme was created to disable the Muslim infrastructure of India and get rid of the rulers who had ruled India for more than a thousand years. A word that had not been in vogue was issued into the lexicon of the English language. This word “Democracy” did not appear in the American constituion and Socrates, Jeffersen, Hamilton and others had written much against it. However the word galvanized the people of Britian and America to fight Fascism. It worked to draw in the Americans to the war. The British used this word to seduce the Hindus of the Subcontinent to lure them into supporting them so that after they left, they would rule the Subcontinent–something they had not dreamed about in more than a thousand years.
The politics of sex locked the British Empire into irrational decision making. There is an overwhelming body of evidence to show that Lord Mountbatten was gay. Lord Mountbatten was seduced by Mr. Nehru whose homosexual tendencies have been mentioned by Stanley Wolpert and others. Lord Mountbatten’s wife Edwina’s affair with Mr. Nehru is well known also.
GANDHI WAS A FAILURE IN THE SUBCONTIENT:Gandhi had pledged to keep a fast to death to prevent Pakistan. He did not do so.
“The anti-Muslim thrust of some of Gandhi’s Hindu opponents combined with Muslim separatism to produce Pakistan.” Gandhi’s grandson
The Gandhi opponents in India were unhappy with him for “allowing Pakistan”. They also think that the “protest fast unto death and the non-violent arm of Gandhism was a fraud. Both Mahatma Gandhi and British Empire knew this. This was a friendly fight as Congress, its allies and left fronts are doing. After all they are true loyalist of Nehru Gandhi dynasty. “
THE NON-VIOLENCE SLOGAN WAS FOR THE SAKE OF THE BRITISH RULERS
The “Non Violence” theme in the Subcontient was a great marketing ploy of Mr. Nehru and Mr. Gandhi. Gandhis sole contribution to history was to make 150 million Muslims of India subservient to the Hindus. Attempts to make another 300 million subservient continue.Other than lip service he was unable to eliminate the caste system in India. Sati and “White Widows” remain instilled in the fabric of India.
Source: Mohandas by Gandhi’s grandson, In Search of Truth by Mohandas Gandhi, Freedom at Midnight by Le Pierre (screen play for the movie Gandhi).
Mohandas– a true story of a man, his people and an empire, on Mahatma Gandhi” by former Parliamentarian and writer Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi
Was Pakistan inevitable?
Also on this site: How Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan outmaneuvered Gandhi, Nehru and the INC and Sir Chottu Ram’s Zamindara (renamed Unionist Party). Please click here
IS INDIA A FAILED STATE: Also on this site. Please click here
WHY PAKISTAN WAS CREATED?Also on this site. Please click here
Also on this site: Why Pakistan was created?
Gandhi’s girls - sex scandal
Washington Monthly, July-August, 1987 by Art Levine
India, 1942: In the end, the political demise of Mohandas Gandhi came with stunning speed. Until last week, he was the reversed Mahatma–the Great Soul– leader of 400 million Indians in the drive for independence from British colonial rule. With the election of the Labour Government in Britain increasingly likely, chances never seemed brighter for the free India that Gandhi had sought for so long.
But by week’s end, in the wake of newspaper accounts of Gandhi’s sexual peccadillos, bizarre personal habits and mind-bending cult practices, his career–and perhaps Indian nationalism –lay in ruins. Those closest to Gandhi likened it to a Greek tragedy, a giant cut down by his own hands. “Gandhi’s personal life was a political time bomb waiting to explode,’ said one distraught associate. “Now it’s finally blown up in our faces.’
Ironically, Gandhi set the stage for his demise through his own pronouncements on sex. His obsession began in 1885 when he learned of his father’s death while in bed with his wife. By 1906, he had taken a much celebrated vow of celibacy. An extraordinary commitment, but even then Gandhi was angling for moral loopholes. “If for want of physical enjoyment,’ he wrote, “the mind wallows in thoughts of enjoyment, then it is legitimate to satisfy the hungers of the body.’ For years, supporters now admit, Gandhi had pushed the outer limits of propriety. “The man in the loin cloth, it seems, has thought a good deal about loins,’ said one observer.
After years of such rumors, it was the specific nature of the latest charges, followed by other damaging revelations, that undermined his political base. The shock waves were felt throughout the British empire–and new questions were raised about how relevant a politician’s character was to his work, and whether in the case of Gandhi, the Fourth Estate went too far.
A Spiritual Experience? The trouble began a week ago when the New Delhi Herald published a front page story reporting that Gandhi had spent the weekend with five attractive young women–aides in his nonviolent campaign–at his ashram in Sevegram. Meanwhile, his wife Kasturbai was 2,000 miles away at their mountain retreat in Kashmir recuperating from an illness.
Escorting them was Gandhi’s aide, the movie star-handsome Jawaharlal Nehru. With his urbane charm and stylish taste in jackets, Nehru never had any pretense to celibacy. (His intimacies with Lady Mountbatten are infamous.) Campaign insiders said that they had long been alarmed by Gandhi’s ties to Nehru, and several suggested their time together be cut back. “We told him to dump Nehru,’ said one aide. “But the old man would just sit there and smile. He didn’t see the storm coming.’
It was advice Gandhi must now wish he had heeded. New Delhi Herald reporters and photographers were hiding in nearby bushes, guarding both the front and rear entrances. Except for a breath of fresh air at 3 A.M., the women had spent the entire night with the erstwhile spritual leader. If the chronology was indicting, the photographs were positively damning. Wielding telephoto lenses, the Herald photographers snapped shots that seem sure to snuff out a political career. The scene: Gandhi and his cabal sprawled on his rope bed– naked.
Late Sunday morning, a weary Gandhi finally spotted the Herald reporters and confronted them. The women were only there as an experiment in self-restraint, he insisted, and nothing sexual transpired between them. “True brachmacharya (celibacy) is this: one who, by constant-attendance upon God, has become capable of lying naked with naked women, however beautiful they may be, without being in any manner whatsoever sexually excited. I have done nothing wrong,’ Gandhi insisted.
The Indian public wasn’t buying it. His explanations had become the issue of the campaign, according to a poll taken two days after the Herald story broke. Only 34 percent of those questioned believed Gandhi’s claim that he hadn’t had sexual relations with the women–and a scant 16 percent believed he hadn’t been sexually excited. A mere 26 percent claimed to be disturbed by the incident itself; what bothered them, said 75 percent of India’s citizens, was the appearance of hypocrisy.
But the questions kept coming. Every stop on his campaign swing turned into a media circus. A protest march in Dandi was cut short by a throng of reporters, barraging Gandhi with questions about his sexual self-control. A new low in political discourse may have been reached when a reporter for the Bombay Post asked during a sit-in, “Did you get an erection last weekend?’ Although Gandhi was well within his rights when he responded, “I don’t have to answer that,’ some observers felt that the appearance of evasiveness further eroded his credibility.
Matters were only made worse when the Herald was widely rumored to be on the verge of publishing more damaging photos–of nothing less than unmistakeable signs of Gandhi’s physical excitement. When a pack of enterprising reporters caught up with her at her sickbed, Mrs. Gandhi stuck by her man. She told them: “Honestly, if Mahatma told me that nothing happened, then nothing happened.’
More Revelations: Still, by week’s end, the prospects for Gandhi’s political recovery looked grim, despite his denials and counter-attacks. In the next few days, there were other newspaper accounts of Gandhi’s celibacy experiments. The Bombay Post ran an insiders’ account of life in Gandhi’s ashram. Contrary to the image he had cultivated of a gentle, loving soul, the two-part series, “The Dark Side of Gandhi,’ detailed the brutal regimen imposed on his followers. His 100-plus disciples, forced to live in primitive mud and bamboo huts, were awakened daily at a A.M. to eat nothing but a few crumbs of unseasoned vegetarian gruel and dry wheat. Weakened, they were subjected to long harangues on arcane religious topics. Eyewitness accounts were gruesome. “We had to spend hours on our knees chanting prayers and spinning cotton,’ said one American follower who defected. “We were like zombies.’ Cult experts say Gandhi had dozens of ingenious schemes to weaken his followers’ ties to their families and strengthen his control over them. Their secret name for their leader: “Bapu,’ or father.
The Post story was the final straw. In his political death throes, Gandhi made a dramatic appearance before his supporters–and stopped just short of abandoning his campaign for a free India. “I intended, in all honesty, to come to you this sunrise and tell you that I was leaving the cause. But, then, after tossing and turning all night, as I have through this ordeal, I woke up and said, “Heck, my goodness, no.”
Instead, Gandhi with his back against the proverbial wall reached deep into his bag of tricks and, like a cat with nine lives, pulled yet another rabbit from his hat: a hunger strike. Over the course of a fifty-year career, Gandhi had turned this familiar strategy into a crowd pleaser that could move the masses or pummel an Empire. “Under certain circumstances, fasting is the one weapon God has given us for use in times of utter helplessness,’ said Gandhi defiantly.
No one doubts that Gandhi can go weeks on end without even a drop of chutney. But political analysts are doubtful that the man, once dubbed “Mr. Hunger Strike,’ could make this latest gambit work. “Gandhi represents the politics of the past,’ said Patreek Chardeli. “A new generation of Indians wants vital, robust leadership. I don’t think a starving old man is well positioned to do it.’ More ominously, other pundits said the political damage was too much to contain– even with a high-profile play for sympathy. Davidahr Garthati, the media consultant credited with Gandhi’s decision to abandon the suit and tie of his early barrister days and “go native’ instead, was equally pessimistic. Garthati noted, “His celibacy shtick was crucial to the saint image he’d cultivated for all these years. The non-violence thing, the spinning wheels, the fasting–that was brilliant. But his celibacy really set him apart, made him genuinely holy. Without it, he’s just another pacifist do-gooder.’
Political opponents moved quickly to capitalize on the gaffe. Columnist Robert Novakilli, a longtime Gandhi critic, lambasted Gandhi’s hijinks from his nationally broadcast McRajan Group. “The real perversion is Gandhi’s political agenda. For years, he and his pacifist pals have had two things in mind: tinkering with the salt tax and cozying up to Stalin.’ And his most formidable rival, Moslem leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah, sought to subtly position himself to pick up Gandhi’s fleeing supporters. “Family life has always been sacred to me,’ he told reporters, standing outside his family’s mosque with his wife and daughter. “I don’t think it’s my place to comment on the controversy surrounding some of those in the public eye. It’s up to the Indian people to judge for themselves.’
And their judgment seemed harsh. Within a matter of days, the squalid controversy over Gandhi’s private parts turned him from a national hero into a laughingstock. On his nightly radio program, comedian Charu Carson quipped, “Well, at least we know the Mahatma is big enough for the job of running India.’ He added, to more laughter, “I guess he was really meditating his brains out this weekend.’ Editorial cartoonists had a field day, as a bulging loin cloth quickly became the Mahatma’s new trademark.
In the next few days more revelations came trickling out about other celibacy “experiments’ he had been conducting since his forties, including one report of a pleasure trip down the Ganges with Nehru and two female assistants on the awkwardly named Holy Cow. The Post also revealed that at the end of each day, he had one of his attractive, young female disciples administer an enema, which he insisted was for “health’ and “cleansing’ purposes. “Gandhi gives as much as he takes– even to total strangers,’ said one Gandhi aide.
New Ground rules: Gandhi’s sudden demise triggered an orgy of self-examination in the media. Did the press go too far? “At first, I agonized over whether we should risk tarnishing a great man’s reputation with close-up photos of naked women and speculation about his sex life,’ said Ved
Fiedleraba, who led the Herald stakeout. “But then I realized that the public had a right to know.’ Fiedleraba reasoned that if there was the slightest possibility that Gandhi was lying about his celibacy, then that raised serious questions about his candor and his ability to negotiate with foreign leaders were India ever to become independent. “So, naturally, it was my moral obligation to set up camp outside his bedroom.’
Clearly, the ground rules have changed. Historically, the press has had a gentlemen’s agreement with India’s rulers. When Viceroy Lord Lillybottom himself brought a bevy of beauties to the Taj Mahal, the muckrakers of Madras looked the other way. But with the rise of Indian Nationalism and the decline of British sea power, the mores of Indian society have been loosened–and so have those of the press. Today, nothing is off limits, even enemas. Many wondered what’s next: asking Jinnah whether he had violated the Koran’s strictures against amorous relations with pigs or other unholy animals? But for now it was Gandhi who was caught in this whirlwind. This smiling man, from a more polite age, seemed oblivious to the new rules of his beloved India.
Whatever the press’s ultimate responsibility, the longstanding doubts over Gandhi’s character left India’s nationalist movement in disarray. Behind the scenes, some Congress party operatives were privately relieved. “We feel betrayed,’ said one. “Gandhi promised he would remain celibate, at least until India achieved independence. Now that he’s gone, at least we can move on.’
Ultimately, Gandhi’s fate hinged on those questions of character, rather than any moral revulsion. In her essay “Gandhi’s Women Problem, Women’s Gandhi Problem,’ Sukai Lessardai voiced the concerns of many women wary of Gandhi’s apparent philandering. “Whether or not he was celibate, his need to prove his spiritual manhood by lying with five naked women is an affront to the dignity and equality of women everywhere.’ And as Willmed Schneidermanai of the Indian Enterprise Institute points out, “It’s not so much the fact that he slept with these women or regularly indulged in enemas; it’s that he showed such bad judgment in doing so. I think this raises serious questions about Gandhi’s self-discipline and insensitivity to the appearances of impropriety –and finally about Gandhi’s ability to lead a successful non-violent movement.’
Now the question is: Whither India? In his stead, there are other leaders who could possibly win independence for India–the Moslem Jinnah, or even Vallabhaai Patel–but neither has the stature and name recognition of a Gandhi. Non-violent disobedience seems a memory now. And nationalism itself is on the backburner. As the likely next Viceroy of the Raj, Lord Louis Mountbatten, points out, “If an entire nation could be led down the primrose path by this charlatan and hypocrite, the Indian people are not yet ready for independence.’ Wise heads in India and Britain agreed, and with Gandhi’s political demise, a tumultuous chapter in India’s history closes, and calmer times lie ahead.
Photo: More than disciples?: Gandhi and two “aides’
Photo: Character flaw?: Gandhi stalked by questions about his judgment– and candor
COPYRIGHT 1987 Washington Monthly CompanyCOPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
WAS GANDHI A TANTRIC?
By Nicholas Gier
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
University of Idaho (email@example.com)
For a complete version, which will appear inGandhi Marg (2007) click here.
For a 900-word version click here.
My meaning of brahmacharya is this: “One who never has any lustful intention, who . . . has become capable of lying naked with naked women . . . without being in any manner whatsoever sexually excited.”
–M. K. Gandhi
The greater the temptation, the greater the renunciation.
–M. K. Gandhi
I threw you in the sacrificial fire and you emerged safe and sound.
–Gandhi to his grandniece Manu Gandhi
I can hurt colleagues and the entire world for the sake of truth.
–M. K. Gandhi (letter to Sushila Nayar)
[Gandhi] can think only in extremes-either extreme eroticism or asceticism.
The professional Don Juan destroys his spirit as fatally as does the professional ascetic, whose [mirror] image he is.
–Aldous Huxley, Do What You Will
Some scholars believe that it is unseemly to write about the sex lives of great thinkers. William Bartley, for example, has been criticized for documenting, quite successfully in my opinion, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s homosexual encounters, information that helps us better understand his life and work. If we use this information in an ad hominem attack against these thinkers’ worldviews, then we have indeed erred and done them an injustice.
Full and accurate biographies, however, are essential for those of us who wish to capture the full measure of a person’s life and character. It is therefore unfortunate that D. K. Bose, Gandhi’s faithful secretary and interpreter in Bengal, was forced to self publish his book My Days with Gandhi. He only thought that he was being truthful, but many considered him an apostate, and Sushila Nayar, one of Gandhi’s female intimates, thought he had “a dirty mind.”
Most people would rather not hear about Martin Luther King’s extramarital liaisons, but they remain embarrassing facts, along with the plagiarized passages in his doctoral dissertation, that must be integrated into our understanding of this great saint of nonviolence. King confessed that what he did was wrong and he sought forgiveness from his wife and sought repentance. Sadly, I do not think that we can say that same thing about Gandhi’s response to those who criticized his intimate relations with young women. Furthermore, King did not defend his actions by saying that they were part of his spiritual development, something that Gandhi of course did.
It is now widely known that Gandhi shared his bed with young women as part of his experiments in brahmacharya, a Sanskrit word usually translated as “celibacy,” but generally understood as the ultimate state of yogic self-control. Gandhi believed that Indian ascetics who sought refuge in forests and mountains were cowards, and he was convinced that the only way to conquer desire was to face the temptation head-on with a naked female in his bed.
I take Gandhi at his word that he did not have carnal relations with these women-his sleeping quarters were open to all to observe-so he was not among the left-handed Tantrics who engaged in ritual sex with their yoginis. At the same time, Gandhi’s Tantricism cannot be right-handed kind because this school proscribes intimate contact with women.
As would be expected, we will find that Gandhi was a very distinctive Tantric. Perhaps it can be said that Gandhi was somehow simultaneously a left-handed and right-handed Tantric. Raihana Tyabji, a close associate with a Tantric past, thought that Gandhi’s position straddling right-handed and left-hand Tantra was untenable, and that the only way to free himself and his women from sexual desire was “to give free rein to it-to indulge it and satiate it. But he wouldn’t listen.”
It is not widely known that Gandhi subscribed to Shakta theology, one that puts skakti, the power of the Hindu Goddess, at the center of existence. Shakta theology is the foundation of Hindu Tantricism. Scholars have warned us that not all Shaktas are Tantrics, but Gandhi’s sexual experiments with young women definitely suggest some association with Tantra. It is also possible that that Gandhi’s sexual experiments may have been an abuse of personal power rather than a practice of Hindu spirituality.
One defense that could be made for Gandhi’s actions is that he experienced intimate relations with men as well. Hermann Kallenbach, a South Africa associate, was very close to the Mahatma. Kallenbach promised that he would travel to the “ends of the earth in search of [Gandhian] Truth,” and he also promised Gandhi that he would never marry. Gandhi reciprocated by declaring unconditional love and a declaration that they would always be “one soul in two bodies.”
Gandhi was also very close to Pyarelal Nayar, Sushila Nayar’s brother, and boasted that Pyarelal slept closer to him than his sister did. For Gandhi, however, sleeping with men was different from sharing a bed with women. Abha Gandhi’s husband Kanu once objected to his wife sleeping with the Mahatma and offered himself as a “bed warmer.” Gandhi rejected his proposal by making it clear that brahmacharyatests required young women as bedmates. Finally, if someone makes an appeal to the Indian custom and necessity of intimate Indian family sleeping arrangements, Girja Kumar is not convinced: “Not even in India do grown-up daughters sleep with their fathers.”
In his book My Days with GandhiBose does mention in passing that Gandhi’s techniques are “reminiscent of the Tantras,” and Gandhi himself said that he read the books on Tantra written by Sir John Woodroofe, but, as far as I know, only Gopi Krishna has argued at any length about Gandhi’s Tantricism.
In his on-line essay “Mahatma Gandhi and the Kundalini Process,” Krishna argues that the only way that we can explain Gandhi’s actions with these young women is to assume he was a kundalini yogi. Krishna speculates that “upward flow of reproductive energy [shakti]” started as soon as he committed himself to brahmacharya in 1906. Gandhi was 37, “the usual time,” from Krishna’s own experience, “for the spontaneous arousal of the Serpent Power.”
As evidence that Gandhi had perfected this state, Krishna cites this passage from Gandhi’s Key to Health: “[the brahmachari’s] sexual organs will begin to look different. . . . He does not become impotent for lack of the necessary secretions of sexual glands. But these secretions in his case are sublimated into a vital force pervading his whole being.” Krishna claims that this passage makes it “patently clear” that Gandhi had attained the state of brahmacharya, but it is not clear that Gandhi is writing about himself, and that, except during the crisis with Manu, he rarely ever claimed spiritual perfection.
As the kundalini yogi matures, Krishna states that he “needs constant stimulation to increase the supply of reproductive juices. . . . The Tantras and other works on kundalini clearly acknowledge the need of an attractive female partner in the practices undertaken to awaken shakti.” Gandhi does in fact say that “my brahmacharya . . . irresistibly drew me to woman as the mother of man. She became too sacred for sexual love.”
Krishna admits that Gandhi himself most likely “had no inkling of the transformative process at work in him,” even though he claims that Gandhi noticed that his male organ had shrunk. Krishna brushes aside criticism of Gandhi’s actions and also concern for the young women’s mental health, because “nature accomplishes her great tasks in her own way and leaves short-sighted mortals wondering how it could happen.” Apart from the speculative nature of Krishna’s theory, we should be most concerned about his disregard for the women’s well being, as well has the implication that Gandhi was driven by forces over which he had no control.
For Gandhi the virtues of patience, self-control, and courage were absolutely essential to defeat the temptation to retaliate and respond with violence. Gandhi made it clear that each of these virtues were found most often in women. Gandhi once said that he wanted to convert the woman=s capacity for “self-sacrifice and suffering into shakti-power.” Gandhi describes womankind as follows: “Has she not great intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage?” He also claimed that nonviolence is embodied in the woman: she is “weak in striking. . . strong in suffering.”
The women around Gandhi were amazed how comfortable they felt in his presence and how much of a woman he had become to them. Millie Polak observed that “most women love men for [masculine] attributes. Yet, Mohandas Gandhi has been given the love of many women for his womanliness.” His orphaned grandniece Manu considered Gandhi as her new mother, and she simply could not understand all the controversy surrounding their sleeping together.
The fact that women felt no unease in his presence was proof to Gandhi that he was approaching perfection as a brahmachari. Indeed, Bose contends that Gandhi attempted to “conquer sex” was “by becoming a woman.” Gandhi told Pyarelal Nayar that he once tore the burning sari off a woman in his ashram, but “she felt no embarrassment, because she knew I was a brahmachariand so almost like a sister to her.” Alternatively, Gandhi says that his goal was the state of “complete sexlessness” recommended by Jesus and that this condition could be achieved by becoming a eunuch by prayer not by an operation.
Gandhi is no doubt referring to shaktiwhen he states that “all power comes from the preservation and sublimation of the vitality that is responsible for the creation of life.” Gandhi may very well be indicating a Tantric process of empowerment that involves the preservation and sublimation of a male vitality that has its source in shakti. When Gandhi did his first radio broadcast on November 12, 1947, he declared that the phenomenon of broadcasting demonstrated “shakti, the miraculous power of God.”
When Gandhi once described himself as “half a woman,” an alternative view of masculine and feminine power suggests itself. The Chinese/Jungian view of complementary yin (anima) and yang (animus) energies is found in this passage: “A man should remain man and yet should learn to become woman; similarly, a woman should remain woman and yet learn to become man.” Hsi Lai uses the yin/yang model to explain Gandhi’s sexual experiments: “He didn’t do this for the purpose of actual sexual contact, but as an ancient practice of rejuvenating his male energy. . . . Taoists called this method ‘using the yin to replenish the yang.”
The source of Gandhi’s dipolar views of male and female may have been Christian rather than Asian. While a young man in England, Gandhi came into contact with the Esoteric Christian Union, whose interpretation of the image of God meant that the individual “must comprise within himself the qualitiesBmasculine and feminineBof existence and be spiritually both man and woman.” When he confessed to Kedar Nathji and Swami Anand that his sexual experiments were “unorthodox,” Gandhi says that his views on this subject had been influenced by “Western writers on this subject.”
It is the male who is active in Tantric rites. Only males undergo initiation, and the only instruction females receive, if they get any, is that they “should not even mentally touch another male.” Gandhi’s Tantricism definitely follows this androcentric approach. Gandhi also takes the defiant stance of the Tantric who says that he cares nothing for what others thinks of his practice: “The whole world may forsake me but I dare not leave what I hold is the truth for me.” Gandhi once admonished a critic that he would sleep with a thousand women if that is what it took to reach spiritual purity. Gandhi’s experiments in truth took on the value free aspects of the scientific method, and left-handed Tantrics believe that their actions are above conventional law and morality.
Normally Tantric practices are tightly structured, highly ritualized, and the initiation procedures, guided by a guru, are esoteric. The only bona fide guru in Gandhi’s spiritual development was Raichandcharya, a Jain saint, not a Tantric, with whom Gandhi corresponded during his formative South Africa period. Gandhi officiated at daily worship and hymn singing, encouraged the chanting of the Ramanama (the god Rama’s name), and followed an unconventional diet, but these practices are not Tantric in any way. The chanting of the Ramanama is said to have magical properties, but its use is so widespread in India it may not indicate any special Tantric associations. Nevertheless, Gandhi does connect the chanting of Rama’s name with “an alchemy [that] can transform the body” that leads to “the conservation of vital energy.”
Gandhi’s experiments with truth were highly personalized but not spiritually esoteric as are Tantric practices. Only after the sexual experiments came under public scrutiny did Gandhi started telling his female associates to keep their activities secret. Not until his last days, when his sleeping with Manu became public, did Gandhi confess that this secrecy was actually a sign of untruthfulness. Gandhi’s secrecy was simply expedient and not spiritually required.
Before Gandhi started his brahmacharyaexperiments in 1938, he had a string of intimate relationships with European and Indian women. While he was in South Africa, Gandhi fell in love with Millie Polak, the wife of Henry Polak, both of whom lived with Gandhi at Phoenix Farm. Kumar describes their first contact as follows: “Gandhiji and Millie started conversing through their eyes. They made a pact between them immediately. Poor Henry was left stranded.” As with all of his female friends, Gandhi insisted that he and Millie be sisters or alternatively that he be her father, but after they were together in London in 1909 without Henry, Gandhi dared to suggest that he was a substitute husband.
Even though Millie was smitten by him, she stood up to Gandi’s controlling nature and argued against his absurd dietary ideas and his goal to force chastity on all his coworkers. This independent spirit that defines most of his female intimates of this early period stands in instructive contrast to the passive participants in the later brahmacharyaexperiments. For example, Kumar describes Manu as a devotee who “was prepared to sacrifice her life at the altar of her personal God.” Gandhi controlled every aspect of Manu’s life, and when she once forgot his favorite soap at their last stay, he made her walk back through a dark jungle to retrieve it.
When Millie finally broke off their 3-year affair, Gandhi’s attentions turned to Maud Polak, Henry’s sister. Maud worked with Gandhi at Phoenix Farm as his personal secretary until 1913. In a letter to Henry, Gandhi described Maud seeing him off at a railway station: “She cannot tear herself from me. . . . She would not shake hands with me. She wanted a kiss. [This incident] has transformed her and with her me.”
Esther Faering, a young Danish missionary, was the next major love in Gandhi’s life. From her very first visit at the Satyagraha Ashram in 1917, Kumar describes Faering as “completely hooked on” Gandhi, and as with Millie Polak, “an instant chemistry developed” between them. Gandhi “experienced an intensely personal passion for Esther,” and she praised him as the “Incarnation of God in man.”
The other ashramites were alarmed at Gandhi’s obsession with Faering, and Kasturba Gandhi was particularly cool to her husband’s new love interest. Gandhi made matters worse by siding with Faering against his wife. While he was away from the ashram, he wrote daily letters to Faering, which Kumar describes as having the passionate intensity of the poets of Hinduism and Sufi Islam. He hazards a guess that “Esther must have stirred,” as young beautiful women are supposed to do in the Tantric yogi, “the serpent resting uncoiled in [Gandhi’s] kundalini.“
One would expect Gandhi to have at least been serially monogamous in his relationships, but that was not the case. While Faering was struggling against Kasturba and other ashramites, and receiving Gandhi’s constant support from afar, he was conducting what Kumar calls a “whirlwind romance” with Saraladevi Chowdharani, a Bengali revolutionary married to a Punjabi musician. Her father was a secretary of Indian National Congress in Calcutta, and by virtue of her singing and activism, Saraladevi was celebrated as Bengal’s Joan of Arc and as an incarnation of the Goddess Durga. She rose to the challenge and wrote that “my pen reverberated with the power of Shiva’s trumpet and invited Bengalis to cultivate death.”
After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, Gandhi stayed at Saraladevi’s home in Lahore and then toured India together during 1920. Her husband, R. D. Chowdhary, was in jail for the first eight months this period, but he was content, as was Henry Polak, to share his wife with the Mahatma. Gandhi agreed with Chowdhary that Saraladevi was the “greatest shakti of India.”
Gandhi called Saraladevi his “spiritual wife” after “an intellectual wedding,” and he reported that he bathed “in her deep affection” as she showered “her love on [him] in every possible way.” Kasturba Gandhi had refused to wear khadi-the homespun and hand woven garments that Gandhi made famous-but Saraladevi became the Mahatma’s most elegant khadimodel. Kumar describes them as “lovelorn teenagers with stars in their eyes,” and depicts Saraladevi as “aristocratic, gorgeously dressed, sensuously beautiful, and imperious. In short, she had everything that [Kasturba] lacked.”
In contrast to his later brahmacharyamistresses, Saraladevi, just as Millie Polak before her, did not bow to Gandhi’s authority in any way. For example, as the quotation above implies, she agreed with fellow Bengalis, such as the young Aurobindo, that independence required violent revolution. Following her Goddess, Durga’s shaktiwas always accompanied by violence, and Saraladevi eventually broke with Gandhi over this very issue.
Kumar concludes that just as his relation to Faering, while “full of sensuality,” was asexual, Gandhi’s romance with Saraladevi was “probably . . . entirely platonic.” There was, however, a “large component of eroticism” and the “line of demarcation between sexual, sensuous, erotic and platonic was only of degree and not of kind.”
Kumar’s phrasing is unfortunate and logically incoherent, because “degree” means a slippery slope and not a strict line between the intellectual/spiritual and the physical. In letters to Saraladevi in July, 1920, Gandhi insists that being “spiritually” married means that the “physical must be wholly absent,” but he then admits that he is “too physically attached to” her for there to be a true “sacred association.”
In his conversations with Margaret Sanger, Gandhi refers to a “woman with whom I almost fell,” and “the thought of my wife kept me from going to perdition.” Writing to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, a later bedmate, he admitted the he, “with one solitary exception,” had never “looked upon a woman with lustful eyes.” These two references must have been to Saraladevi Chowdharani.
Madeleine Slade, who became Gandhi’s beloved Mirabehn, was the daughter of a British naval officer who was once stationed in Bombay. Mirabehn first learned of Gandhi through Romain Rolland, who was then writing a Gandhi biography. She wrote to Gandhi requesting that she become a member of the Sabarmati Ashram, but he required that she live as an ascetic for one year before coming to India. More than any of his disciples, Mirabehn eagerly took to the austerities that Gandhi demanded. As opposed to Kasturba, who disliked latrine duties, Mirabehn eagerly took charge of the toilets, even those for all the delegates to a meeting of the Indian National Congress.
At their first meeting in November, 1925, Mirabehn found Gandhi “divine,” and she was able to confirm Rolland’s claim that he was indeed the second Christ. They fell in love with one another and Kumar says that “Mira was Saraladevi . . . all over again.” Once again, because of Gandhi’s fascination for her, Mirabehn was shunned by the ashramites. Gandhi soon discovered that Mirabehn’s emotional instability caused his blood pressure to rise, so he frequently sent her away on other tasks. They did, however, keep in contact with weekly self-described “love letters,” and Gandhi wrote that she haunted his dreams.
Mirabehn agreed with Gandhi’s depiction that their passion was like a “bed of hot ashes,” a veritable ascetic-erotic rhapsody of yogic tapas.Gandhi also shared with Mirabehn agonies about his spontaneous erections, daytime ejaculations, and wet dreams, for which he castigated himself unmercifully, and they even discussed the causes and cures of constipation.
Of the women closely associated with Gandhi, at least ten were said to have slept in his bed. They can be identified as follows:
Sushila Nayar was only 15 when she came to the Sabarmati Ashram and then became Gandhi’s intimate companion, with some periods of alienation and remove, for the rest of his life. Gandhi claimed that Nayar was a natural brahmachari, having observed it from childhood. They bathed together and even used the same bath water, but Gandhi assured everyone that he kept his “eyes tightly shut.”
Lilavati Asar, associated with Gandhi from 1926-1948, slept in his bed and gave him “service,” which meant bathing and massaging.
Sharada Parnerkar slept “close” to Gandhi and rendered “service.” She was very ill in October, 1940, and Gandhi gave her regular enemas.
Amtul Salaam, whom Gandhi called his “crazy daughter,” was a Punjabi from Patiala. She was also a bedmate and masseuse. Gandhi once wrote about the joy he gave Salaam when she received a massage from him.
Prabhavati Narayan, a Kashmiri, lived in an unconsummated marriage with Jayaprakash Narayan, Indira Gandhi’s most famous political foe. Because of her lack of sexual interest or desire, Gandhi thought that Prabhavati would be a perfect married brahmachari. In addition to sleeping with Gandhi, she also gave him “service.”
Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, married to a Rajasthani prince, was India’s first health minister and was a Gandhi associate for 30 years. Although older, she slept right along with the younger women in Gandhi’s quarters. She also helped with baths and massages.
Sucheta Kriplani, a member of Parliament and professor at Benares Hindu University, was a member of Gandhi’s Peace Brigade in East Bengal in 1947. She maintained a brahmacharimarriage with J. B. Kriplani, a famous socialist and saint. Gandhi fought their union tooth and nail. Although Gandhi invited Mrs. Kriplani to his bed on a regular basis, he insisted that married couples in his ashrams always sleep in different quarters.
Abha Gandhi was a Bengali who accompanied the Mahatma in East Bengal. She started sleeping with Gandhi when she was 16; she also bathed him and washed his clothes.
Kanchan Shah, also a married woman, had a “one night stand” with Gandhi and was banned from brahmacharya experiments because she reputedly wanted to have sex with him. Gandhi gave the following instructions on brahmacharimarriage to Shah and her husband: “You should not touch each other. You shall not talk to each other. You shall not work together. You should not take service from each other.” But Gandhi of course received “service” from his women on a daily basis. On the hypocrisy of taking what he denied to others, Kumar has this to say: “The vow of brahmacharya was a revenge he took upon everyone else.”
Manu Gandhi was his brother’s granddaughter and she was his constant companion for the last eight years of his life. Interestingly enough, there is a temple to Manu, a powerful rain goddess, in Gandhi’s home city of Porbandar.
Most accounts of Gandhi’s spiritual experiments focus on those with Manu in 1946-47 in East Bengal. Although he conceded at the time that it “may be a delusion and a snare,” and although he seemed to be recalling his earlier experiments at Sevagram-”I have risked perdition before now”-he was still confident that he had “launched on a sacrifice [that] consists of the full practice of truth” and the development of a “non-violence of the brave.” He said that these tests were no longer an experiment, which could be seen as optional, but a compulsory sacred duty (yajna). His hut where he slept with Manu was called “holy ground,” and Manu’s father had to sleep elsewhere when he visited.
There is some confusion about whether the women simply slept next to him or shared the same cover, or whether they slept clothed or unclothed. The scenario appeared to be that they first slept next to him, then slept under the same cover without clothes. Significantly, Gandhi admitted that “all of them would strip reluctantly. . . and they did so at my prompting.” As to the reason for complete nakeness, Sushila Nayar recalls Gandhi’s explanation to Manu: “We both may be killed by the Muslims at any time. We must both put our purity to the ultimate test. . . and we should now both start sleeping naked.”
Gandhi described his sleeping with Manu as a “bold and original experiment,” one that required a “practiced brahmachari” such as he was, and a woman such as Manu who was free from passion. Confessing as she even might have done with her own mother, Manu told Gandhi that she had not ever experienced sexual desire. Presumably because of these ideal conditions, Gandhi predicted that the “heat would be great.” It is not clear whether Gandhi was speaking of the yogi heat of tapas, or the heat of the negative reactions that he anticipated.
One has to admire Manu because it was she, not Gandhi, who suggested that they not sleep together any longer. It is harder to credit Gandhi, particularly when he said that the experiments ceased because of Manu’s “inexperience,” not because of any failing on his part. As Kumar states: “Just five days before Gandhiji was assassinated, he charged her with failing to realize the potential of mahayajna.” So it was Manu’s fault, not his.
Controversy about the practice continued during the summer of 1947, but Gandhi was pleased when two editors of his journal Harijan, who had resigned in protest about the experiments, confessed that they had misjudged Gandhi. It is not clear that the experiments stopped because Pyarelal notes that “the practice was for the time being discontinued”; indeed, after returning to Delhi, Manu and Gandhi resumed sleeping together and “continued right till the end.”
Gandhi’s “sacred associations” actually began at his Sevagram ashram as early as 1938, when his wife Kasturba was still alive. Sushila Nayar not only slept with him there, but also gave him regular massages, sometimes in front of visitors, and they, as I have noted, bathed together. About his relations to Nayar, Gandhi states: “She has experienced everything I have in me. . . . She is more absorbed in me. Hence I would even make her sleep by my side without fear.” Nayar told Ved Mehta that “long before Manu came into the picture, I used to sleep with him just as I would with my mother. . . . In the early days there was no question of calling this a brahmacharya experiment. It was just part of a nature cure. Later on, when people started asking questions about his physical contact with women, the idea of brahmacharya experiments was developed.” The fact that Gandhi changed the justification for these experiments after closer public scrutiny suggests that his motivation for these actions may not have been as pure as he wanted people to assume.
In an extremely candid confession, Gandhi admits that at Sevagram he had made a grave mistake:
I feel my action was impelled by vanity and jealousy. If my experiment was dangerous, I should not have undertaken it. And if it was worth trying, I should have encouraged my co-workers to undertake it on my conditions. My experiment was a violation of the establishment norms of brahmacharya.Such a right can be enjoyed only by a saint like Shukadevji who can remain pure in thought, word and deed at all times of day.
Gandhi, however, could not maintain his resolve, because shortly thereafter (as soon as 12 hours!) intimate contact with women of the ashram resumed. According to Mark Thomson, “Gandhi explained that he could not bear the pain and anguish suffered by women devotees denied the opportunity to serve him in this fashion.” Gandhi confessed that he “could not bear the tears of Sushila and fainting away of Prabhavati.” In February, 1939, there was another crisis. Gandhi admitted that four women at Sevagram did not like “giving service” and they were ordered to sleep “out of reach” of his arms.
When Gandhi spoke of the dangers of his sexual experiments in 1938, he must have realized that he was not ready for the test. While he did claim that he “can keep [sexual desire] under control,” he admitted he had not “completely eradicated the sex feeling,” a criterion that he had honored from the traditional rules of brahmacharya. Gandhi openly admitted that there were some “black nights,” presumably sleeping with his women, in which God “saved me in spite of myself.”
One of these dark nights must have been May 9, 1938. In a letter to Nayar’s brother, Gandhi admitted that he may have had “a dirty mind” and may have played “the role of Satan.” His “diseased mind” might have “aroused him” and thereby compromised Nayar, causing her “untold misery.” Gandhi was obviously wrong when he claimed previously that Nayar’s natural purity could “forestall any mistake I may make,” and that “contact with her has brought greater purity to me.” Although he took all the blame upon himself, Gandhi appears incredibly obtuse in assuming that Nayar had no reason to feel disturbed or unhappy about the psychological effects of her intimate relations with him.
Sushila Nayar was away from the ashram for long periods for her medical education. When she finished, Gandhi begged her to return as the ashram’s doctor. He was upset that she now refused to be called his daughter, and he urged her, without her preconditions, to “rush to me and become one with me.” Reading the dozens of letters exchanged during this time, it is clear that Nayar was still very troubled about what happened at Sevagram. She wrote that she would return only on “conditions,” which were that she would not have to give Gandhi “service.” Nayar reluctantly submitted to Gandhi’s indomitable will in September, 1940. While he was in Delhi, she did give him a massage, but she came to him “with great difficulty.” She also sent him a letter beforehand, which he described as “hurtful.” While describing himself as unhappy, he acknowledged that Nayar was suffering “deep misery.”It looked as if Nayar could have succeeded in tearing herself away from Gandhi’s possessive domination, just as his earlier intimates had, but she did eventually return to him and was with him and Manu in East Bengal.
Although Gandhi declared that he, compared to other men, could take greater liberty” with women, and that no woman “has been harmed by contact with me or been prey to lustful thoughts,” there is sufficient evidence to prove that Gandhi’s experiments had a deleterious effect on his female intimates’ mental health. There was intense competition among the women for Gandhi’s attention. For example, Lilavati Asar and Amtul Salaam were very jealous of Sushila Nayar, and Gandhi promised Asar that he would stop sleeping with Nayar because of her anger.
Gandhi was always inclined to blame others for not understanding the unique nature of his experiments. In 1940 Gandhi admitted that the “atmosphere here [Sevagram] cannot be said to be natural for anyone,” but nevertheless the conflict was caused by those who were not properly “absorbed” in it. Those who had learned “master the atmosphere” could live at Sevagram “comfortably and grow.” Several visitors attested to definite signs of psychological turmoil among Gandhi’s women companions. In 1947 Swami Ananda and Kedar Nath, two visitors with substantial spiritual credentials, queried Gandhi as follows: “Why do we find so much disquiet and unhappiness around you. Why are your companions emotionally unhinged?” The former Tantric Raihana Tyabji observed that the more Gandhi’s young women “tried to restrain themselves and repress their sexual impulses . . . the more oversexed and sex-conscious they became.”
After learning of the experiments, Bose wrote that he would “never tempt [himself] like that; nor would my respect for a woman’s personality permit me to treat her as an instrument of an experiment undertaken only for my own sake.” He was also concerned about the women’s emotional health: “Whatever may be the value of the [experiment] on Gandhiji’s own case, it does leave mark of injury on the personality of others who are not of the same moral stature as he himself is, and for whom sharing in Gandhiji’s experiment is no spiritual necessity.”
Bose was also concerned about Gandhi’s own emotional state, observing that Sushila Nayar’s presence brought him out of his normal “unruffled” composure. On December 17, 1946 at 3:20 AM, Bose heard two loud slaps and “deeply anguished cry” from Gandhi’s sleeping quarters. He went in to find both Nayar and Gandhi in tears. Bose had assumed that Gandhi had slapped Nayar, but she insisted that Gandhi had hit himself on the forehead twice, a physical form of Gandhi’s “self-suffering” that Manu had witnessed as well. Bose also mentions an unnamed woman “Z,” who “was not always disinterested in her relations with” with Gandhi, and who also upset him and distracted him from his political work.
In conclusion, if we can call Gandhi a Tantric, then it is a very unique nonritualistic, nonesoteric practice combining aspects of both left- and right-handed Tantric schools. It also must be said, no matter how much we want to hold Gandhi in the highest esteem, that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Gandhi was inconsistent in his justifications for his sexual experiments and not completely sincere in carrying them out. This would then lead one to question whether these experiments were a spiritual necessity or simply a personal indulgence and abuse of power.
If the goal of the true Tantric is to transform desire into something sacred, then personally I am less and less certain that Gandhi achieved this goal. As Aldous Huxley once said: “The professional Don Juan destroys his spirit as fatally as does the professional ascetic, whose [mirror] image he is.”
Letter to R. A. Kaur, March 18, 1947.
Quoted in Ved Mehta, Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles(Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penquin Books, 1976), p. 213. I rely heavily on Mehta for two reasons: (1) his book was well received and republished by Yale University Press; and (2) he sought out all the living Gandhian associates and interviewed them extensively.
Quoted in Girja Kumar, Brahmacharya: Gandhi and His Women Associates(New Delhi: Vitasta Publishing, 2006), p. 90.
The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Government of India Publications, 1958), vol. 93, p. 340.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Selected Works (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1974), p. 349.
Aldous Huxley, Do What You Will (New York: Doubleday, 1928), p. 45.
William Bartley, Wittgenstein (Chicago: Open Court, 2nd ed., 1985).
Quoted in Mehta, p. 203.
Jeffrey Kripal, Kali’s Child (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
Gandhi, Young India 8 (January 21, 1926), p. 30.
Quoted in Mehta, p. 211.
Collected Works, vol. 79, p. 301.
Ibid., vol. 96, p. 183.
See Mehta, p. 201.
Kumar, p. 294.
Nirmal Kumar Bose, My Days with Gandhi(New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1974), p. 2.
Pyarelal Nayar, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase(Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 2nd ed., 1966), vol. 1, bk. 2, p. 229.
Gopi Krishna, “Mahatama Gandhi and the Kundalini Proces” (Institute of Consciousness Research, 1995) at http://www.icrcanada.org/gandhi.html (accessed on June 11, 2006). All the citations are from the second section of the essay.
Gandhi, Key to Health, trans. Sushila Nayar (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Trust, 1948), p. 24. Krishna’s English translation differs significantly from this one, so I wonder if he is citing the same text. He himself gives no reference.
Cited in Bose, p. 171.
Pyarelal, p. 214.
Gandhi, Womans’s Role in Society(Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing, 1959), p. 8.
Gandhi, Harijan (November 14, 1936), p. 316). “Woman is the incarnation of ahimsa. Ahimsa means infinite love, which again means infinite capacity for suffering” (Harijan [February 24, 1940], p. 13.
Cited in Martin Green, Gandhi: Voice of a New Revolution (New York: Continuum, 1993), p. 261.
Quoted in Mehta, p. 213.
Bose, p. 177. Mrs. Polak noted a Atrait of sexlessness@ even in his South Africa days (Gandhiji as We Know Him, ed. Ch. Shukla [Bombay, 1945], p. 47). A Mrs. Shukla said that Athere are some things relating to our lives that we women can speak of . . . with no man . . . . But while speaking to Gandhiji we somehow forgot the fact that he was a man@ (C. Shukla, Gandhiji=s View of Life [Bombay, 1951], p. 199). See also The Last Phase, vol. 1, p. 595; 2nd ed., vol. 1, bk. 2, p. 234.
Cited in Metha, p. 44.
Pyarelal, p. 585. This story may have variations, but the one that I read clearly indicated that the Gopis were embarrassed to come out of the Yamuna River and redeem their saris for a kiss from Krishna. Radha of course was the single exception.
Ibid., pp. 219, 220.
Brian K. Smith, “Eaters, Food, and Social Hierarchy in Ancient India,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 58:2 (Summer, 1990), pp. 177, 178.
Gandhi, Harijan (July 23, 1938), p. 192.
V. S. Gupta, “Gandhi and the Mass Media” at http://mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org/mass_media.htm, visited on May 30, 2006.
Quoted in Pyarelal, p. 217.
Gandhi’s Letters to Ashram Sisters, ed. K. Kalelkar and trans. A. L. Mazmudar (Ahmedadbad: Navajivan, 2nd rev. ed., 1960), p. 94.
Hsi Lai, The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress: Secrets of Female Taoist Masters(Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 200), p. 16. Lai states that he became interested in “the matter of transformational sex” by reading about Gandhi’s experiments.
Pyarelal, p. 223.
As told to Bose, pp. 149-50.
Devi-Mahatyma, 1.59 (Coburn translation).
Agehananda Bharati, The Tantric Tradition (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1965), p. 202.
Brahmavaivarta Purana, Rakriti-Khanda55.87, trans. Tracy Pintchman, The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition(Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994), p. 164.
Bharati, p. 236.
Collected Works, vol. 87, p. 13. Compare this with the Tantric yogi who said “Let my kinsmen revile me. . . let people ridicule me on sight . . . .” (cited in Bharati, p. 238).
“Thousands of Hindu and Moslem women come to me. They are to me like my own mother, sisters, and daughters. But if an occasion should arise requiring me to share the bed with any of them I must not hesitate, if I am the bramacharya that I claim to be. If I shrink from the test, I write myself down as a coward and a fraud” (Collected Works, vol. 87, p. 15).
See Bharati, pp. 200, 202, 203. Other exceptions were an active Shiva in Tamil Shaivism and a static female in the Markandeya Purana (p. 213).
Hevajra Tantra, trans. D. L. Snellgrove, excerpted in The World of the Buddha, ed. Lucian Stryk (New York: Grove Press, 1968), p. 311.
See Buddha’s Lions: The Lives of the Eighty-Four Siddhas, trans. and ed. James B. Robinson (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing Co., 1979).