Munnabhai’s Gandhi vs. Mohandas K. Gandhi
This is a comment I wrote in response to Amey’s post his blog : Happy Birthday, Bapu
While there is no doubt that Gandhi played a role in the freedom movement in India, there are several controversial facts about the man’s political and personal life that unravel a level of hypocrisy in his preachings.
To begin with the socio-political, several documentaries(you may watch one here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6721307153994157269) and reports of the area will state that Gandhi completely and utterly failed in relating to the the Islamic minority in the country.
It has been proposed that Gandhi’s pseudo-secularist policies, in holding religious ceremonies and prayers publicly, but at the same time claiming to embrace all religions was a decisive alienating factor to the minority religions in India, leading to the partition of the British Indian Empire. Jinnah, who is often considered the cause of “breaking India up”, was perfectly legitimate in demanding the creation of a new state as , technically, there _was_ no India before Aug 15, 1947. What was required here was a comibnation of strategic strong arming which Nehru and Patel performed so effectively in cases like Nagaland and Hyderabad, but Gandhi was apparently no strategist.
It is perhaps a self-contradiction but to Gandhi’s credit, he has in his speeches conceded many times
in dire circumstances “war may have to be resorted to as a
India’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Rabindranath Tagore, had sensed a
strong current of nihilism in Gandhi almost from his first days, and as early as
1920 wrote of Gandhi’s “fierce joy of annihilation,” which Tagore feared would
lead India into hideous orgies of devastation–which ultimately proved to be the
case. Robert Payne has said that there was unquestionably an “unhealthy
atmosphere” among many of Gandhi’s fanatic followers, and that Gandhi’s habit of
going to the edge of violence and then suddenly retreating was fraught with
danger. “In matters of conscience I am uncompromising,” proclaimed Gandhi
proudly. “Nobody can make me yield.” The judgment of Tagore was categorical.
Much as he might revere Gandhi as a holy man, he quite detested him as a
politician and considered that his campaigns were almost always so close to
violence that it was utterly disingenuous to call them nonviolent.
It is interesting as well to note that in 1893, Gandhi is a “caste” Hindu, and from one of the higher
castes. Although, later, he was to call for improving the lot of India’s Untouchables, he was not to have any serious misgivings about the fundamentals of the caste system for about another thirty years. To my way of thinking the caste system in India was a greater oppressor of the masses than the British Empire ever could be.
While in South Africa, Gandhi fought furiously to have Indians
recognized as loyal subjects of the British empire, and to have them enjoy the
full rights of Englishmen, he had no concern for blacks whatever. In fact,
during one of the “Kaffir Wars” he volunteered to organize a brigade of Indians
to put down a Zulu rising, and was decorated himself for valor under fire.
Now to turn to Gandhi’s personal life. I make no moral judgements on Gandhi’s actions, but I think those who revere him might.
Richard Grenier, noted in 1983, with utter disgust the following :
“(I could not imagine)…Gandhi’s pretty teenage girl followers fighting “hysterically” (the
word was used) for the honor of sleeping naked with the Mahatma and cuddling the
nude septuagenarian in their arms. (Gandhi was “testing” his vow of chastity in
order to gain moral strength for his mighty struggle with Jinnah.)”
“Nor, frankly, did I expect to see Gandhi giving daily
enemas to all the young girls in his ashrams (his daily greeting was, “Have you
had a good bowel movement this morning, sisters?”), nor see the girls giving him
*his* daily enema.”
Sigmund Freud may have a word or two to say about that.
Because the rant is getting a bit too long to be of any interest to your readers, I am going to let it go. Though I hope to have made the point, the poster-Gandhi is the pious man that many Indians revere. The real Gandhi was an erratic, self-contradicting, deeply prejudiced man, and autocratial who was not in as much control of his instincts as many would have us believe.
The historical distortion in Gandhi’s image and his susequent dietification is not new. It seems similar to Krishna’s story – where his praised as a diety while his numerous extra-marital sexual encounters with the Gopis are restricted only to temple carvings in our country.
what I wonder about is – was Gandhi really a failed strategist? If one assumes that Gandhi was working for self-glorification, he seems to be a strategic genius.