Indian legislators in Gujarat have banned a book by Pulitzer-Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld because it reportedly suggests that Mahatma Gandhi was gay. The book discusses Gandhi’s relationship with a German man named Hermann Kallenbach (who is shown here on the right with Gandhi). Lelyveld insists that the legislators are misreading the book, “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” but the legislators want the book banned. Of course, Candhi was a champion for free speech but the legislators see no contradiction.
Notably the vote in the state assembly was unanimous, showing the total absence of any true civil libertarian in the body.
Some of the passages in the book discuss Gandhi’s lifelong relationship with Kallenbach. Gandhi met Kallenback in 1904 in South Africa where the latter man was a wealthy architect. It was Kallenbach who donated a thousand acre farm to serve as Gandhi’s base of operations in South Africa.
Lelyveld insists that the book never says that they had intimate relations or that Gandhi was bisexual or homosexual. Rather, he told the media that “It says that he was celibate and deeply attached to Kallenbach. This is not news.”
The relationship was so strong that the only portrait on the mantelpiece opposite Gandhi’s bed was of Kallenbach and in one letter Gandhi writes “How completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.”
Sanjay Dutt, spokesman for the ruling Congress Party in Maharashtra, has gone beyond book banning and suggested criminal prosecution: “The government should invoke a law to severely punish anyone who tarnishes the image of the father of the nation.”
If only India had a voice for tolerance and free speech like . . . well . . . Gandhi.
Source: USA Today