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6 Biggest Controversies Relating Mahatma Gandhi

“My Life is my message.” said by Mahatma Gandhi, full name Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi, was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India and is well-known for bringing independence to the nation India. He completed his law study in London, England and went to South Africa in 1893 where he spent 21 years fighting for the civil rights of Muslim and Hindu Indians there.

He returned to India in 1915 and became a leader of Indian National Congress. He helped peasants to protest against excessive land taxes and he was focused on decreasing the poverty and expanding women’s rights in India.

Mahatma Gandhi is well-known worldwide for his propounding philosophy of non-violence and is a leading figure of Indian Independence Movement. But, this well-known figure “Mahatma Gandhi”, also known as “Bapu” (Father of Nation), have some disgraceful truths.

Some untold truths which reveals the reality of Gandhi and blame him being a Racist! A Betrayer! These truths have been spreading from over years and claims that Gandhi kept people in dark and cheated them. Some of these so called “Anti-Gandhi Messages”, “Dark Secrets” or “Untold Truths” of Gandhi may or may not be true but have been in the highlights and impacted very deeply on his followers.

Here are the 6 biggest controversies of Mahatma Gandhi:

6. Gandhi & his Eldest Son Harilal:

Before I start explaining about the eldest son of Gandhi, Harilal, read these words below that Harilal said about his father

“He (Mahatma Gandhi) is the greatest father you can have… but he is the one father I wish I did not have”.

These words by Harilal about his father Mahatma Gandhi describe his anger and emotional pain. Gandhi confessed that in his entire life, his greatest regret was that he was unable to confess two people. One was Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who demanded for the separate land for Muslims to live, which caused the partition of India and Pakistan. The other person is his own son, Harilal, who always used challenge him and his experiments and principles .

Harilal was an alcoholic as well as a gambler and used to work as trader to import foreign clothes ignoring one of the principles of his own father of not using foreign products. In September 1888, Harilal was only six months old when Gandhi left his family in South Africa. But Gandhi came back realizing the importance of spending time with his sons and became a successful advocate.

And Harilal was fully aware of the comfortable social and financial life of his father. But when Gandhi took a vow of celibacy and poverty, Harilal was shocked that it was just not for his younger brothers, who did not recall the earlier good life. There’s another popular story about the Gandhi and his sons that once one of the Indian friend of Gandhi offered him to send any one of his son to England for a Scholarship.

To this, Gandhi asked that this opportunity is truly for his sons or for someone who really dissevers it. His friend favored the idea of giving scholarship to the one who dissevers it. So Gandhi suggested his friend some other two young boys for the scholarship instead of his own sons.

To this, his wife complained by saying, “You want to make saints out of my boys before they are men,”.  It was the time when Harilal started drinking alcohol and trading foreign clothed in India for profit. After the death of first of Harilal, he decided to remarry against the will of his father. To this, Gandhi said, “If Harilal wants to marry against my wish, I will have to stop thinking of him as my son.”


5. Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose:

Mahatma Gandhi used say that he considers Subhash Chandra Bose as his own son, but later controversies shows exactly opposite to what he said (Link 3). In the struggle of freedom, congress was the biggest party. And Subhash Chandra Bose, also known as Netaji, was a strong leader in the party but he was not satisfied with the lenient and non-violence behavior of congress. So Subhash Chandra Bose opposed this, or we can say that he opposed Gandhi’s non-violence idea.

According to Subhash Chandra Bose, Gandhi’s philosophy was not going to bring the independence to India and his opposing brought Gandhi and other leaders against him. In 1939, Subhash Chandra Bose was elected as President of the Indian National Congress for a second term defeating Gandhi and not forgetting that it was Gandhi who usually used to get elected. But Subhash Chandra Bose resigned the post because he was unable to do his tasks properly due to his conflicts with Gandhi.Gandhi went on Hunger strike until Subhash Chandra Bose resigns his post.

It was Subhash Chandra Bose who attacked openly on the foreign and internal policies of congress. He also started the mass civil disobedience protest against the decision of Viceroy Lord Linlithgow and declared the war on the behalf of India. This result that Subhash Chandra Bose was arrested by the British and there his seven-day hunger-strike made a way for him to out of the jail, but still he was kept under CID’s surveillance (House Arrest). Then in 21st October 1943, he developed the Indian National Army and declared a government named Azad Hind Fauj.

This Indian National Army brought the freedom to Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the hands of British and then these islands were renamed as Swaraj and Sheheed Islands. After so much damage to the British by Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, with Maulana Azad and Nehru, signed in an agreement with a British judge that if Subhash Chandra Bose enters India, he would be handed over to the British government.

4. Gandhi and Shaheed Bhagat Singh:

Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a Sikh revolutionary and was one of the leading protesters against the British rule. He was a member of a youth organization, Noujawan Bharat Sabha with members from apiece ll religions and it was the organization where he met other revolutionaries like Chandra Shakhar Azad, B.K. Dut etc. The Naujajwan Bharat Sabha used to print handouts and newspapers in three languages: Punjabi, Urdu and English, to aware people about the politics.

During the time when anti-British feelings where rising, a commission under the Sir John Simon was appointed by the British government in 1928 and there was not a single Indian member on this commission. Against this, Lala Lajpat Rai and Pandit Malaviya, joined by many other thousands, protested with a silent march. During the march, Lala Lajpat Rai was beaten several times on head with a Lathi (a wooden rod) by the Police Chief Scott which results his death.

The eyewitness of this murder scene, Shaheed Bhagat Singh decided to take revenge and planned to kill the Scott with the help of Azad, Rajguru and Sukhdev. But mistakenly they killed a junior officer Sanders. This incident was the main reason behind the hanging of the three revolutionaries: Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Before they were hanged to death, people’s expectations were on Gandhi that he can save the three revolutionaries.  But unfortunately, they were hanged on 23 March, 1931 and their bodies were cut and cremated on the bank of Satluj River in Ferozepur (Link 5).

Now the question arises that did the Mahatma Gandhi do his best to save Bhagat Singh and his other two fellows? On asking at the Karachi session of Congress, Gandhi said,

“I pleaded with the Viceroy as best as I could. I brought all the persuasion at my command to bear on him. On the day fixed for the final interview with Bhagat Singh’s relations, I wrote a letter to the Viceroy on the morning of 23 March. I poured my whole soul into it, but to no avail. I might have done one thing more. I might have made the commutation a term of the settlement”.

It’s been 82 year since the incident and still this question encircles the intentions of Mahatma Gandhi.

3. Gandhi’s Racism:


The book “Great Soul” of Pulitzer award winner and former editor of The New York Times, Joseph Lelyveld claims that Gandhi was a racist (Link 6). He held racist views against black people of South Africa. Remember that famous train incident when Gandhi was arrested for riding a South African railroad coach which was reserved for White people. This incident was shown in a Hollywood film about Gandhi, but the reason behind his arrest was not correctly explained. People say that Gandhi was protesting for equal rights of black people and Indians of riding in first class rail carriage with white people. But the truth is that Gandhi was asking the authorities to let only upper caste Indians to ride with white people (Link 7).

There was no word about Blacks and lower cast Indians. In his words, Gandhi used a word “Clean” to separate upper caste Indians from lower caste Indians and “Kaffirs” for black people,

“You say that the magistrate’s decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate’s decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to the Court’s decision, only clean Indians or colored people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams.”

Gandhi’s pathetic racism goes on when he protested authorities to stop making Indians to use the same entrance as blacks to the Durban Post Office and asked make a separate entrance for Indians to the Durban Post office. Later authorities provided three separate entrances to the post office: for Europeans, Asiatics and Natives. Not only this, Gandhi mentioned Black people as uncivilized, convicts, troublesome in his word

“They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.”

Also Gandhi was disappointed, when he, with his fellow Indians, was marched off to a prison which was for only black people (Link 6). He said,

“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”

All this makes us believe that Gandhi was really a racist and caused the hurdles in the way of liberty of black people.

2. Gandhi’s Bisexual Life:

A controversial biography of Gandhi has claimed that he was bisexual and left his wife in 1908 for the love of a German born Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach. “Mahatma Gandhi” who is known as a great soul of India, had an intimate relationship with a guy. This claim came from the book we talked about in previous point (Link 6).

Some words from the book

“Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about ‘how completely you have taken possession of my body… this is slavery with a vengeance’.” 

Adding more to this,

“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.’”

The book claims that Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House”. Was Gandhi really in love with Kallenbach? Was he really having any type of physical and emotional relationship with Kallenbach? We’ll not discus about the answers of these questions, let’s just see some more words Gandhi wrote to his so-called lover Kallenbach (Link 9)

“Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom. The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.”

I wonder who keeps a portrait of his “Just-Male-Friend” on the mantelpiece opposite to the bed in the bedroom. These bisexual claims on Gandhi become stronger when we hear that Cotton Wool and Vaseline are the two things which remind him of Kallenbach. Again I wonder WHY? After the Lelyveld’s controversial book, Lelyveld defended his book from these claims by saying

“The word ‘bisexual’ nowhere appears in the book”.

So the mystery remains a mystery.

1. Gandhi’s Lust for Women:

Gandhi had a normal married sex life and was having inter-courses with his 15 years old wife Kasturba after the death of his father. At the age of 38, he took a vow to be a Brahmacharya. He believed that a true Brahmacharya is the one who will be able to stay away from the pleasures like meat, alcohol, sex etc. So he set up an Ashram where he used to conduct his experiments with sex. It was said that in the Ashram, boys and girls used to bath and sleep together as chaste and were punished for any kind of sexual talk or activity (Link 1a).

And Gandhi himself too used to bath and sleeps with the young women and used to have nude massages. Talking about the married couples in his ashram, wives were called to join his bed even though they were forbidden to sleep with their own husbands. And many of his most devoted male followers complained about it. His own secretary’s sister, 18-year old Manu shared his bed naked and two other women too.

According to Gandhi, he was doing his experiments that if he can control his sexual feelings and resists the intercourse. So the question arises, was he able to control himself? The answer seems to be “NO” because on an occasion he reportedly told a woman

“Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience.”

And also when Gandhi went to London for higher law studies, he decided to stay away from Alcohol, Meat and Sex; but in case of Sex, he accepted that he was unable to control. The India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said that Gandhi’s pronouncements on Sex were “abnormal and unnatural” and completely distances himself from Gandhi’s behavior (Link 11). Nehru added further about Gandhi’s Sex views and activities that they “can only lead to frustration, inhibition, neurosis and all manner of physical and nervous ills… I do not know why he is so obsessed by this problem of sex.”

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