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Gandhi's experiments with celibacy

gandhi-wheelby Dr Radhasyam Brahmchari

It is well known that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the most trusted and the most loyal stooge of the British crown, served the British interest through his Satyagraha or the nonviolent freedom struggle. But most of the people of this country, who take him to be a man of high moral, do not know what short vile lechery he indulged in in the name of keeping Brahmacharya or celibacy, or in experimenting with the same. In 1903, when he was only 34 years old ( alternatively in 1906, when he was 37), or in other words, when he was at the zenith of his youth, he took a vow that he will observe celibacy and will remain a brahmachari for the rest of his life (D Keer, Mahatma Gandhi, pp-73)..

But the question remains, what made Gandhi, an extremely sensual man, to take such a vow? Gandhi was so sensual that when his father Karamchand was dying, he preferred to make love and have sex with his wife Kasturba in another room of the same house. So, when such a sensual Gandhi took vow to keep celibacy, one becomes suspicious that there must have been an evil intention behind that vow. Many believe that at that time, he developed some form of aversion towards Kasturba, an illiterate mother of three children, or in other words, he disliked to share bed with her. So, his intention was to abandon Kasturba as a sleeping partner in the name of keeping celibacy.

In 1882, when Mohandas was married to Kasturba, he was 13 and Kasturba was 14. While he was in South Africa, he came in contact with several educated and well bred women through his profession and Gandhi liked their company very much. From their company, Gandhi used to obtain a special kind of intellectual pleasure, which was not possible from Kasturba. At that time, more than a dozen women came very close to him and six of them were of Western origin. They were Graham Polak, Nilla Cram Cook, Madelline Slade (aka Miraben), Margarate Spiegel, Sonja Schlesin and Esther Faering (M V Kamath, Mahatma and Celibacy, Organiser, 2.7.2006). His closest Indian women were Srimati Prabhavati Devi (wife of Jaiprakash Narain), Kanchan Shah, Prema Ben Kantak, Sushila Nair (sister of Pyarelal), Manu Gandhi (wife of his grand-nephew Joysukhlal Gandhi), Ava Gandhi and Saraladevi Chaudhurani. This Saraladevi was a niece of the poet Rabindranath Tagore and her mother was Srimati Swarnakumari Devi (M V Kamath, ibid).

To narrate the affair between Gandhi and Saraladevi, Sri Girija Kumar says, “Saraladevi Caowdhurani came very close to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Their whirl wind romance lasted for barely two years, but it upset the balance of the Gandhian establishment and shook its very roots. She is now a part of history and a footnote in contemporary Gandhian literature. She, however, left a scar in the minds of Gandhiji for the rest of his life.” (Brahmacharya: Gandhi and his Women Associates, as quoted by M V Kamath, ibid.). Gandhi used to admit that his relation with Saraladevi went up to sexuality (Girija Kumar (1997), The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Har-Anand Publishers. pp. 73–107). Continue reading

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | Featured, Gandhi | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments