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The Swami and the Mahatma

india Updated: Apr 08, 2011 22:46 IST

The Swami and the Mahatma

In his review of Joseph Lelyveld’s book Great Soul (Human, all too human, Read, April 2), Indrajit Hazra mentions Swami Shraddhanand’s (photo above) differences with MK Gandhi over the issue of campaigning against untouchability. It was the swami who, in 1915, conferred him the title ‘Mahatma’. In the same year, Gandhi told Rabindranath Tagore, “I feel embarrassed when you call me ‘Mahatma’. If you want to see a real Mahatma then go to Haridwar and meet Swami Shraddhanand.” Shraddhanand was with Gandhi on many issues, but where he differed, Gandhi accepted his vocal dissent gracefully.

Bhartendu Sood, via email

Not afraid of the truth

This refers to Namita Bhandare’s article Mission Saving Bapu (Another Day, April 2). Gandhi was one of those leaders who did not try to conceal his yearnings. In his autobiography, he wrote “in judging myself I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be”. If he was alive today, he would have welcomed Lelyveld’s book even if he did not subscribe to its contents.

HN Ramakrishna, Bangalore


Instead of banning Great Soul and creating an atmosphere of suspicion, the book should be allowed to be read freely so that people are able to read it and judge for themselves. The time has come to distil the real essence of Gandhi’s thoughts.

Mohinder Singh, Patiala

Make amends to root out graft

With reference to the editorial No more pussyfooting (Our Take, April 7), the UPA government can’t ignore the gravity of the apolitical crusade against corruption led by Anna Hazare. The movement reminds one of the one started by Jayaprakash Narayan in the early 70s. The government must constitute a team that will formulate a mutually agreed draft Lokpal Bill for notification.

PK Srivastava, via email