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Who is Gandhi?
Tanu Malhotra | 04 May 2011

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is one of the most revered figures in India. Recently, controversy broke out after a new book discussed about the 'close' friendship between Gandhi and German-Jewish architect Kallenbach. But then who was the real Gandhi?

MAHATMA GANDHI once said, "All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth."

Gandhi believed in the statement and followed it all his life.  For Indians Gandhi is no less than a super power for struggling Indian masses. But in today’s world there is hardly any respect for words like “truth”, “respect”, or “unity”!
 
Gandhi being talked about all around… and no way to figure out what exactly the truth is. A recent controversy on Gandhi’s sexuality in the book “Great Soul: Mahatma And His Struggle With India” written by Joseph Lelyveld is the issue of discussion and has been referred a sensitive topic by the Indian masses.
 
Shiv Sena in Maharashtra gives away warnings to ban it, and at the same time Narender Modi bans it all together believing it to be too sensitive an issue to be published in hometown of Gandhi. Very conveniently our politicians today are able to decide for the masses if the facts and arguments published in the book are readable for the audience or not even before the release.
 
The book not so directly points out that Gandhi was a bisexual and had intimate relations with a German-Jewish architect Kallenbach. At this, Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Gandhi being directly involved as a personal connection with the family does not have a problem with the controversy and says that the letters between Kallenbach and Gandhi are very much open to general public for them to decide themselves and he wanted to take a legal action against the ban in Gujarat but was not able to find a way out.
 
All of this and other comments by famous personalities are in a way funny to me and at the same time thought provoking. Ohk, agreed that Gandhi Is The Father Of The Nation and that is because of his great efforts in the Indian struggle for independence, but does that mean being a national figure he is not suppose to have a personal life? 
 
Or his personal space is suppose to be as perfect and ideal as he is taken as. A biography on Gandhi’s life is being criticized all around, by those who read the book and didn’t like few parts in it, by those who read the few objectionable parts and were not happy with it, by those who just heard about the controversies and got against it and also by those who actually doesn’t care much but still talk about it.. Isn’t it funny enough that a national figure is being in talks like a random celebrity but with different emotions attached?
 
Lelyveld believes he has been writing about Gandhi and his sexual and emotional relationships based on various researches and facts. And if seen broadly his book is obviously not all about Gandhi and his relationships and there are positive things about it that Indian masses have a right to know.
 
Strange enough that we all respect Gandhi as a national personality, as a man of high principles and everything we have believed about him till date. But it’s just this image of his we don’t want to come out from, gives us an excuse to dislike such facts or stories about him. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day, Gandhi won’t be able to come and prove it to anybody anyhow and one would not change any thoughts or respect for Gandhi even after listening about it.
 
So, the bottom line is our own comfort level and not Gandhi’s identity! Acceptance is what the Indian society lacks today and thus leads to such baseless controversies. The book for sure is a great effort to bring the realities of the society today if not Gandhi, and is definitely a bold step!