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Book suggests Gandhi was racist, bisexual

books Updated: Mar 29, 2011 10:28 IST

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A controversial biography of Mahatma Gandhi has claimed that the leader was racist and bisexual. The book In Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India suggests that he was in love with German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom he left his wife in 1908, according to The Telegraph.

The book, written by, former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld paints a different picture of the independence leader and activist. The book also disclosed that Gandhi slept in beds with young women under the age of 18.

The book quotes from Gandhi’s letter to Kallenbach: “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom” and this mantelpiece “is opposite to the bed.” According to Lelyveld, cotton wool and Vaseline were “a constant reminder” of Kallenbach for Gandhi.

Lelyveld further states that Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” while Kallenbach was “Lower House”, and the Lower House was not supposed to “look lustfully upon any woman.”

“How completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance,” the advocate of celibacy wrote to Kallenbach. And the two swore “more love, and yet more love…such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.”

The book, which dwells at length on his work in South Africa, also claims that the Mahatma was racist towards the blacks. “We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs,” complained Gandhi during a campaign for the rights of Indians in South Africa. “We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized — the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals.”