In India, Gandhi is a personality without equal. I challenge you to find a town without a Mahatma Gandhi Road running through it. You simply won’t be able to. While Gandhi was alive his reputation was untouched by any blemishes in India. He was a holy man, and to the vast majority of India, a fundamentally good person.
In the years after his death, the world’s views on Gandhi have changed rapidly. In the middle of the 20th century, Gandhi was perfect in every way. Today his memory is marred by reports of his strange sexual behaviour and general deceptiveness.
1. Ghandi Performed “Sexual Experiments”
He shared his bed with many young women, the most famous of whom was Manu, his grandniece.
Though Gandhi had taken a vow of celibacy, called Bramacharya in Hinduism, he used his influence to perform what many call “sexual experiments” on women and girls. By his own reasoning, he performed these experiments to test his own commitment to celibacy, but if you think about it, he was probably lying.
Gandhi and his chosen women slept naked together every night, at Gandhi’s insistence. His grandniece, only eighteen at the time, was one of those girls. He even refused to halt sleeping with naked women because, according to him, it would show weakness. I mean, what’s more likely, that he was trying to strengthen his resolve or that he was sick of celibacy?
We both may be killed by the Muslims and must put our purity to the ultimate test, so that we know that we are offering the purest of sacrifices, and we should now both start sleeping naked.” Ghandi to his niece.
Image Source: Grisselita
We will never know for sure what went on in Gandhi’s bedroom because a great deal of Gandhi’s records of those experiments have been destroyed. One undestroyed record reads “Vina’s sleeping with me might be called an accident. All that can be said is that she slept close to me.” We know that Gandhi already normally slept close with women, so Vina’s sleeping “close” probably means something else.
As his experiments progressed, he called for younger, more attractive women to, apparently, test his resolve even more. What is strangest is that throughout all of this, Gandhi considered himself celibate and, in his own words, without “lustful intention”. He had redefined what it meant to be celibate in Hinduism. He had bent the rules to keep his reputation as a holy man while also abusing his position of power .
2. Ghandi Was Obsessed With Semen
That’s right, Gandhi felt strongly about the importance of preserving one’s semen. He despised his nocturnal emissions, believing that they implied a lack of willpower and purity. In fact, there is an almost humorous passage in a biography on Gandhi, Freedom at Midnight, which describes a seventy-something Gandhi waking up in horror at the presence of an erection.
By keeping all of his semen inside him, he believed he gained power. He said, “one who conserves his vital fluid acquires unfailing power.” That sounds much less like something a sane person would say and much more like the ramblings of a sex-obsessed madman.
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3. Gandhi Forced His Wife Into An Early Death
Gandhi and his wife Katurba-Image Source: Answers
All while he shared his bed with many women and even bathed with them under the guise of celibacy, Gandhi told the public to segregate themselves by gender. He instructed husbands and wives to avoid sleeping together and in his temples, separated man and woman. He believed that his own rules did not apply to him – in his mind, he was above reproach when it came to sex.
Gandhi’s worst hypocrisy, however, was with his wife, Kasturba. When she was ill with pneumonia, he refused to allow doctors to inject her with penicillin, which would almost certainly have saved her life
He believed that the act of injection itself was violent and, on another level, that medicine would interfere with the fate that had been already decided. Kasturba died and within six weeks, Gandhi fell ill with malaria. Guess what he did? He took medicine, quinine, for his malaria and of course, became healthy again. He essentially forced his wife into an early death because of his own beliefs, and then reversed those beliefs just over a month later.
4. Gandhi Was Unsympathetic To Rape Victims
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Gandhi’s religious beliefs sometimes got in the way of understanding other problems. He puts it best:
I have always held that it is physically impossible to violate a woman against her will. The outrage takes place only when she gives way to fear or does not realize her moral strength. If she cannot meet the assailant’s physical might, her purity will give her the strength to die before he succeeds in violating her…It is my firm conviction that a fearless woman, who knows that her purity is her best shield can never be dishonoured.”
In the very first sentence, Gandhi denies that rape is possible, which automatically places blame on the victim. As an explanation, he gives only a half-assed, vague attempt: that her purity will somehow kill her before she is raped.
That doesn’t really make any sense – is she supposed to kill herself before she loses her purity? This demonstrates Gandhi’s inability to sympathize with rape victims and makes him a part of the problem of rape in India, to this day.
If nothing else, Gandhi is an extreme figure with extreme beliefs and actions. He was stubborn, and as his hypocrisy shows, sometimes downright arrogant.
Gandhi’s strange actions and beliefs tell us that sticking to an ideology without doubting or questioning it is a great way to end up on the wrong side of history. Extremism, in any form, leads to ignorance and negative outcomes for many.