Critical Podium Dewanand India
Mohandas GANDHI'S EXPERIMENT WITH CELIBACY By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari
Sacrificer Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari
Sacrifice code wfor0439
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Mohandas GANDHI'S EXPERIMENT WITH CELIBACY
By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari
Ii 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
Brahmacharys 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).
Next to Saraladevi was Prabhavatidevi. While commenting on Gandhi's affair
with her, Girija Kumar writes, "Prabhavati became so obssessed with
Gandhi that she would not tolerate separation from him even for a single
day. .... Her hysteria was highest manifestation of her desperation. She
would remain unconscious for hours together...", (Brahmacharya: Gandhi
and his Women Associates, as quoted by M V Kamath, ibid.). "In his
own way, without, obviously meaning it, the Mahatma ruined many lives.
It was only when he was jailed at the Agha Khan Palace that he came to
be reconciled with Kasturba. And it was only after Gandhi died that Prabhavati
came to live a normal life with her husband, until she died a premature
death. Many detested Gandhi's so-called 'experiments' with celibacy"
(M V Kamath, ibid). In 1938, Prema Ben Kantak wrote Prasad and Diksha,
narrating her sex life with Gandhi, which triggered a widespread uproar
However, the entire episode of his sexual perversion in the name of experimenting
with celibacy or brahmacharya after coming back to India in 1915 and setting
up the Sabarmati Ashram. And as a consequence, Gandhi started naked display
of sex with his women associated, in a big way. This obviously aroused
commotion among the other members of the ashram. "The main reason
behind this uproar was his double standard. While for other members, he
declared strict law for renunciation of women, he kept himself above all
such restrictions. As an excuse, he used to say that he was an ardhanariswar
(or half man and half woman, the other name of Lord Shiva ) and hence
devoid of any carnal desire" (Yashodhara Roychowdhuri, Bengali daily
Ananda Bazar Patrika, 25.6.2006). To hoodwink the other members, he used
to say that he was the mother of all and hence every women of the ashram
were either his mother or a sister. He used to deceive others in another
way. He used to say that whatever he was doing, he was doing according
to the command of his "inner voice", or, in other words, according
to the command of the God and hence all his deeds were sacred.
Though, due to the above mentioned uproar by the other members of the
ashram, Gandhi was compelled to stop his sexual activities for a time
being. But that was only to resume it with a new enthusiasm in the name
of experiments on celibacy and sleeping naked with several naked women
on the same bed. At first, he and his women, though shared the same room
but slept on different beds. But after a short while, naked Gandhi and
his naked women companions started to share the same bed. He used to say
that lying with so many naked women kept him warm and the practice was
a type of naturopathy for him (Patricia Caplan (1987). The Cultural construction
of sexuality, Routledge. pp. 278 & Parekh, Bhikhu C. (1999). Colonialism,
Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi's Political Discourse, Sage.
pp-210 ). He also used to say that lying with so many naked women helped
him a lot to assess his success in keeping celibacy, (Kumar, Girja (1997).
The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Har-Anand Publications.
pp. 98, and Gandhi's letter to G D Birla in April, April, 1945). It should
be mentioned here that Gandhi considered his experiment a success if,
despite such extraordinary provocation, his private part refused to erect.
Many will refuse to believe that, after Satyagraha (or nonviolence), sex
was his second major subject of his articles and letters he wrote to his
eulogists. He wrote a series of five articles of his experiments on celibacy,
i.e. lying naked with so many naked women, which were later published
in Harijan ( Kumar, Girja (1997). The Book on Trial: Fundamentalism and
Censorship in India, Har-Anand Publications. Pp-98.). In the present context,
it should also be mentioned that, in general, young and adolescent boys
experience wet dream. When he was in South Africa, Gandhi had wet dream
at least once in a month. But it is unbelievable that he had such an experience
in Mumbai, when he was an old man of 67. This single incidence is more
than enough to expose Gandhi's sexual perversion. Moreover, Gandhi admitted
that till his death, he failed to get rid of his sexual perversion (D
According to Gandhi, active-celibacy meant perfect self control in the
presence of opposite sex. Gandhi conducted his experiments with a number
of women such as Abha, the sixteen-year-old wife of his grandnephew Kanu
Gandhi. Gandhi acknowledged "that this experiment is very dangerous
indeed", but thought "that it was capable of yielding great
results" (Tidrick, Kathryn (2007). Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual
Life. I.B.Tauris. pp. 302-304). Many believe that, in the name of active
celibacy, he not only used those women, but as he never sought for consent
of them, he committed sexual oppression on them. On the other hand, the
victims had no other alternative but to endure all such oppressions silently
(Yashodhara Roychowdhuri, Ananda Bazar Patrike, 25.6.2006).
While commenting on this aspect of Gandhi's life, Acharya Vinoba Bhave,
a real brahmachari and the most earnest follower of Gandhi, said, "There
was no need for Gandhi to experiment with brahmacharya. In case Gandhi
was a perfect brahmachari, he did not require his brahmacharya to be tested;
and if he was an imperfect brahmachari, he should have avioded the experiments
on principle" (M V Kamath, Organiser-2.7.2006). But Gandhi maintained
that all his experiments yielded very good results (Tidrick, Kathryn (2007).
Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life, I.B.Tauris. pp. 302-304).
It has been pointed out above that Gandhi conducted his experiments with
a number of young women such as Abha, the sixteen-year-old wife of his
grandnephew Kanu Gandhi. Another victim was 19 year-old Manu Gandhi, the
daughter of his another grand-naphew Joysukhlal Gandhi. After making her
a sleeping partner, Gandhi wrote to Joysukhlal that Manu had started to
share his bed so that he may "correct her sleeping posture"
( Tidrick, Kathryn (2007). Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life, I.B.Tauris.
Gandhi went to Noakhali in December, 1946, and at that time Manu Gandhi
was his sleeping partner. He used to say that at that time he was immensely
benefitted by lying naked with naked Manu. And it helped him to assess
the serious problems like Partition and the Hindu-Muslim amity. Gandhi
used to say that he slept with Manu like her mother and Abha and Manu
were his walking sticks. It should be mentioned here that at that time,
Manu Gandhi was married and her husband's name was Surendra Mashruwala.
In March, 1945, Gandhi told the press reporters that lying with naked
Abha and Manu, he achieved great success in his experiment on celibacy.
"Previously I carried out similar experiments with Kasturba, but
that did not yield so much" ( Tidrick, Kathryn (2007). Gandhi: A
Political and Spiritual Life, I.B.Tauris. pp. 302-304.).
Obviously, Gandhi became the target of bitter criticism, even by his closest
companions, due to his sexual perversion in the name of experiments on
brahmacharya. One day his stenographer R P Parashuram, observing him lying
naked with naked Manu Gandhi, submitted his resignation letter and left
the ashram. Gandhi told him that he was at liberty to do whatever he wanted.
He could remain at the ashram or go. (Kumar, Girja (1997). The Book on
Trial: Fundamentalism and Censorship in India, Har-Anand Publishers. pp.
Nirmal Kumar Basu was one of the closest associates of Gandhi and accompanied
him during his Noakhali tour. There an incident took place on 17th December
that turned Nirmal Kumar into a severe critique of Gandhi. On that night
Gandhi was sleeping, as usual naked, with Manu Gandhi and Dr Sushila Nair.
Sushila was a doctor and accompanied Gandhi to look after his healthy.
Just before dawn, it appeared that something unusual was happening in
the room where Gandhi was sleeping with Manu and Sushila. It was found
that Gandhi was screaming in shrill voice and slapping his forehead.
Neither Manu nor Sushila had ever disclosed what happened on that fateful
night. But it was not so difficult to guess. Most probably, Gandhi made
sexual advances to Sushila and tried to rape an unwilling Sushila. She,
on the other hand, prevented Gandhi and cried for help and that made Gandhi
to scream out of frustration. After this incident, Nirmal Kumar decided
to abandon Gandhi and he permanently left him on 18th March, 1947 (Ghose,
Sankar (1991). Mahatma Gandhi, Allied Publishers. pp. 356, D Keer, p-759
& Yashodhara Roychowdhuri, ibid.).
Later on, Nirmal Kumar expressed his grievances through a letter. He wrote
that, perhaps he, lying naked with several naked women, wanted to test
whether that aroused his sexual passion. But, in fact, he was ruining
the lives of his young women associates. It is a shame that we are still
using the word Mahatma before the name of such a sexually pervert man.
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