Sexual torment of a saint: A new book reveals Gandhi tortured himself with the young women who worshipped him, and often shared his bed

The image of Mahatma Gandhi in his homespun loincloth – peering through his round wire glasses and leaning on two sari-clad women – is as fresh today as it was the day he was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1948.
To the world he was the spiritual leader of India’s independence movement, a pioneer of non-violent resistance and father of the Indian nation.
He inspired civil rights movements everywhere – as well as today’s most charismatic political leaders, including Mandela and Obama.

Gandhi: Naked Ambition claims that Gandhi, a London trained lawyer-turned-guru, was a ruthless cult leader who enslaved his followers with such bizarre sexual demands that it became difficult for many people to take him seriously, even during his own lifetime.
The book’s author, Jad Adams, even goes so far as to suggest that the Draconian practices instituted by this iconic figure in the ashrams he founded prompted the perverted 20th-century cults of Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana, and David Koresh in Waco, Texas – both of whom used their mesmeric sexual appeal to reduce their followers to almost slavish subjugation.
Though apparently frail and undernourished, like many ambitious men Gandhi was highly sexed – and wrote quite openly about the fact.
But it was the peculiar nature of the rigorous exercises he instigated to try to contain his huge appetites that many people considered so unacceptable.
Gandhi always said his obsession with sex started when he was married off at the age of 13 to a girl just one year older.
The son of a prime minister in the state of Porbandar, as a child Gandhi’s extreme fastidiousness was the only indication there was anything unusual about him.
An indifferent pupil – small, frail and afraid of ghosts, snakes and the dark – he despised his father for giving in to his own carnal urges and became determined to control his own.
From the outset, he claimed that he never wanted to get married – he was taken out of school for a year to prepare for the event, and thought it a total waste of money.

The new revelations are made in Jad Adams’s book
But mainly he was concerned that he and his bride Kasturba, the daughter of the local mayor, were far too young – even though teenage marriage was by no means unusual.
For the rest of his life, Gandhi remained angry with his father for marrying him off while he was a child. In fact, he said that on his wedding night, he and Kasturba (affectionately called Ba) were far too shy to face each other.
Yet, having been told the facts of life by his brother’s wife, the couple seem to have had no trouble consummating their relationship.
Thereafter, Gandhi never tired of complaining that they had such an active sex life that there was no time for what he would have much preferred to do – which was to educate the illiterate Kasturba.
‘I am sure that, had my love for her been absolutely untainted by lust, she would be a learned lady today,’ he said.
But it was what happened on the night his father died that marked him forever.

Gandhi, then 16, left the sick old man’s bedside in order to rush home to make love to Kasturba and thereafter, he could never forgive himself for having been in the grip of lust when his father breathed his last.
To make matters worse, his wife was pregnant at the time – and the child did not survive – leaving Gandhi tortured by guilt.
By the time he went to London to study law in 1888, Gandhi had sworn a puritanical oath to touch neither wine nor meat, as well as women.
But in London his crankiness only increased.
He soon fell under the influence of the Vegetarian Society and its wealthy president, Arnold Hills, who not only believed in a diet of raw vegetables and pulses, but also preached abstinence from sex even within marriage, except for the purpose of procreation.
Gandhi returned to India in 1891 as soon as he had been called to the Bar.
And despite his determination to stay away from the wife he hadn’t seen for three years, he was soon back in bed with her – and within a year their second son was born.
But it was when Gandhi went to Africa in 1893 – where he fought for the rights of Indian residents – that he really started to hone his philosophy.
When Kasturba joined him in his newly-founded ashram three years later, she was horrified at the harshness of the lifestyle he had adopted. Gandhi’s asceticism dictated that she could have no servants and must empty her own chamber pot.
He had learned to do his own laundry, cut his own hair – and even studied a childbirth manual so he could deliver their subsequent sons himself.
Gandhi had become obsessed with chastity, as well as how to control his potent urges – and his experiments in self-restraint were quite extraordinary.
At his ashram, men and women were housed separately, yet he encouraged the young to bathe and sleep together.
‘I sent the boys reputed to be mischievous and the innocent young girls to bathe at the same time,’ he boasted, explaining carefully to them they were not to succumb to temptation. If ever they strayed, the vigilant Gandhi himself was present to adjudicate.
At bedtime, everyone slept together on the verandah with their beds just 3ft apart – and Gandhi in the middle. When nature got the better of them, he punished the girls by cutting off their long hair.
When one of his own sons strayed with someone else’s wife, Gandhi imposed a seven-day fast on him, saying: ‘If he dies in the process it will not be a matter for regret’.
By 1906, Gandhi had taken the Hindu vow of brahmacharya – chastity. At the age of 36, he was determined to be celibate.

‘It is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry,’ he said. ‘In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.’
When he finally returned to India in 1915, the rules at his new ashram were even more stringent. Gandhi no longer felt sex was permissible on any level – even for procreation.
His advice to husbands and wives was not to sleep in the same room – and, if they felt an urge, to take a cold bath.
But while he insisted on other people sticking to his Draconian rules, Gandhi didn’t always observe them himself.
Despite his frail appearance he was an attractive man, according to one woman who lost her heart to him.
‘I caught a glimpse of him in the midst of silks and brocades, frills and sparkling jewels. He was dressed in a coarse khaki (handspun) dhoti and looked like a small-time tailor who had wandered in by mistake . . . He became my father, my mother, my boyfriend, my girlfriend, my daughter, my son, my teacher, my guru.’
Women of all sorts flung themselves at him, and some became important to him. In middle life, he fell for Saraladevi Choudhurani, a Bengali nationalist activist, and his attraction to her was such that he even confessed that he was toying with breaking his own rules.
Saraladevi provided the intellectual companionship his wife never could – and he wrote to a friend calling her ‘my spiritual wife’.

Gandhi wrote many affectionate letters to Danish missionary Esther Faering
The couple were so close that whenever she visited the ashram terrible jealousies were aroused. The other women criticised the time he spent alone with her and how she was allowed off the most distasteful chores.
In the end, it was Gandhi who ended the relationship – but there were other women, including the Danish missionary Esther Faering to whom he wrote many affectionate letters and the English admiral’s daughter Madeleine Slade, who took the name of Mirabehn, and waited on him hand and foot.
Although he proclaimed his abstinence, he still managed to be extremely intimate with many of his women.
Despite the diet of fruit and nuts that he believed reduced his sexual urges, he was habitually constipated and would spend hours in the bathroom, feeling no shame in encouraging them to come and visit him during his sessions on the commode.
Afterwards, they would massage him with mustard oil and lime juice while he lay naked before them.
By 1936, Gandhi was already so venerable that everyone called him Bapu – Father. By then it had become his habit to take walks leaning on two girls, usually a pair named Abha and Sushila, whom he referred to as his walking sticks.
His first question to them each morning was always: ‘Have you had a good bowel movement this morning, sisters?’
The teenage Abha was married to his great-nephew. Gandhi admitted that it was very dangerous sleeping close to her without wanting sex – but also conceded that it was a ‘very worthwhile experiment’.
As for Sushila, he had known her since she was six when she had sat on his lap and he had asked her mother to gift the girl to him.
After taking a medical degree, Sushila returned to the ashram – and became his personal physician. Gandhi often slept in the same bed as her, but Sushila admitted that ‘there was nothing special about sleeping next to Bapu . . . I used to sleep with him just as I would with my mother’.
She elaborated: ‘He might say: “My back aches, put some pressure on it.” So I might put some pressure on it or lie down on his back and he might just go to sleep.’ She confirmed that this was not part of the chastity experiment, but more of a natural cure.
Despite the way it looked to other people, none of this seemed like self-indulgence to Gandhi, who followed each of his obsessions with the same religious ardour: He never spoke on Mondays, which were designated silent days.
And he clung to his limited diet, too, even though it was taking a terrible toll on his physique and all his teeth were falling out. If he fell
ill, he pushed himself to fast more – and insisted that his children and wife do the same, even when they were so weak they seemed on the point of death. In many ways it’s astonishing that they all survived.

Gandhi (far left) also developed a relationship with Madeleine Slade (right)
Disgusted by his innate lust, Gandhi would try to distance himself from the women – but he was soon sleeping next to them again – and, what’s more, blaming his surrender on them. ‘I could not bear the tears of Sushila,’ he said.
In September 1938, to counter their criticism, he wrote a circular letter to all the girls explaining the innocent procedure that he implemented when he took a bath with Sushila.
‘While she is bathing, I keep my eyes tightly shut,’ he maintained. ‘I do not know the manner of her bathing, whether she bathes naked or with her underwear on. I can tell from the sound that she uses soap. I have seen no part of her body that everyone here will not have seen.’
Incredibly, the long-suffering Kasturba seems to have taken all this in good part, though relations with his sons became more and more strained.
Gandhi had long had an indifference to his children because they were the product of his despised sex life – and when they, in turn, became sexual beings themselves, he was revulsed.
Understandably, they did not respond well – and his alcoholic eldest son went so far as to use brothels openly in order to humiliate his father.
When Kasturba died in Gandhi’s arms in 1944, following more than 60 years of married life, the old man was moved to even more extreme experiments of his form of chastity – which became a source of great concern to those who were looking to him for political guidance.
‘I deliberately want to become a eunuch mentally,’ he explained to them – as he started sharing his bed with his friends’ wives.
At this point it seems that he might have resumed some of the more perverse sexual experiments he had tried with Kasturba, in which he deliberately put himself into increasingly arousing situations to prove mind over matter.
Whenever anyone criticised him, he would defend himself saying that to give up his habits now would be to admit that his whole life had been a failure.
As he reiterated again and again, there was no difficulty in an impotent man staying away from women – the trick was for one with powerful sexual urges to resist them.
To make things even more tempting – and his self-control therefore that much more of a triumph – he took a much younger woman to his bed, spurning the faithful Sushila who was utterly distraught to find herself banished from his side.
The new girl was Manu Gandhi, his great niece, who had been cared for by Kasturba when she lost her own mother.
Gandhi wrote to Manu, saying his ambition for her was that she should remain a virgin till the end of her life.
‘We may both be killed by the Muslims at any time and must put our purity to the ultimate test so we know we should be offering the purest of sacrifices and so we should now both start sleeping naked.’
He was sleeping with her in the nude – and the rather more reluctant Abha (who insisted on keeping her clothes on) – till the end. In fact, the devoted pair were walking either side of him when the assassin’s bullet – fired by a Hindu – finally shot him dead.
• Gandhi: Naked Ambition by Jad Adams is published by Quercus

Title : The Mahatma Gandhi and his ‘girls’
Author : Arvind Kala
Publication : Free Press Journal

Bal Thackeray’s sarcasm about Mahatma Gandhi being in the company
of young girls in the twilight of his life has created a mini
political storm, but his comment is based on history. In fact,
Gandhi’s life-long quest to eliminate all sexual desire from his
being prompted him to try experiments which even troubled his
followers. For instance, while touring Noakhali to calm
Hindu-Muslim communal passions, Gandhi shared his bed every night
with his 19-year-old great-niece and constant companion, Manu.
This greatly shocked his followers and one of them, Nirmal Kumar
Bose, who worked closely with Gandhi during the months of 1946-47,
mentioned this in a letter he wrote to another troubled associate.
Bose wrote: “When I first learnt in detail about Gandhi’s prayog or
experiment, I felt genuinely surprised. I was informed that he
sometimes asked women to share his bed and even the cover which he
used, and tried to ascertain if even the least trace of sensual
feeling had been evoked in himself or his companion.
“Personally, I would never tempt myself like that; nor would my
respect for a woman’s personality permit me to treat her as an
instrument of an experiment undertaken only for my own sake. But
when I learnt about this technique of self-examination employed by
Gandhiji, I felt that I had discovered the reason why some regarded
Gandhiji as their private possession, this feeling often leading
them to a kind of emotional imbalance. The behaviour of A, B, or C,
for instance, is no proof of a healthy psychological relationship.
“Whatever may be the value of the prayog on Gandhiji’s own case, it
does leave a mark of injury on the personality of others who are
not of the same moral stature as he himself is, and for whom
sharing in Gandhiji’s experiment is no spiritual necessity.”

These paragraphs come from a book. My days with Gandhi, that Bose
wrote in 1953. But before mailing this letter, Bose showed it to
Gandhi and Gandhi replied that his self-examination was part of his
dharma. It lid not imply any assumption of a woman’s authority.
Gandhi replied to Bose thus: “I believed in a woman’s perfect
equality with man. My wife was ‘inferior’ when she was the
instrument of my lust. She ceased to be that when she lay with me
naked as my sister. If she and I were not lustfully agitated in our
minds and bodies, the contact raised both of us …

“I do hope you will acquit me of having any lustful designs upon
women or girls who have been naked with me. .

A campaign of calumny began against him and news of his sleeping
with Manu spread intense shock among Congress leaders in Delhi
waiting to begin their critical talks with India’s new Viceroy.
Gandhi remained untroubled. He calmed his immediate followers in
Noakhali, but when he sent his views to his newspaper, Harijan,
about why Manu shared his bed, the storm broke out again. Two of
Harijan’s editors quit in protest. Its trustees, fearful of a
scandal, did something they had never dreamed of doing before. They
refused to publish the text written by the Mahatma.

Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre record in Freedom at Midnight
that a series of emissaries discreetly asked Gandhi to abandon his
relationship with Manu. But he refused. He had to leave for Bihar
and he said he would take Manu along with him. Finally, Manu
herself suggested to Gandhi that they suspend the practice.

In a sense, Bal Thackeray has done a great service to India by
re-opening a part of Gandhi’s life that Indians never discuss out
of misplaced loyalty to the Mahatma. The irony is that if Gandhi
had been alive, he would have welcomed Thackeray’s criticism to
have another look at himself. In fact, Gandhi has already passed
into history as one of the greatest men of all times and his
greatness cannot be diminished by his sexual experiments.

Gandhi’s association with young women in his last years has been
documented by several writers. One of them was Margaret
Bourke-White, a photographer of Life magazine, who spent several
months in India in the tumultuous months before Independence. In
her book, Halfway to Freedom, Bourke-White wrote that in 1946,
Gandhi used to receive daily two-hour massages from Sushila or one
of his other women in his ashram. A few decades later, American
writer Ronald Segal wrote in is book, Criss of India, that Gandhi’s
close association with women was frequently harmful to them. Many
of them became neurotic, few of them married or even led normal or
apparently contented lives. One of them, according to Bourke-White,
was Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, India’s first health minister, who left
her home at a young age to spend the next 30 years around the
Mahatma. A woman friend of Raj Kumari told Bourke-White that Raj
Kumari’s first meeting with Gandhi “almost made a slave of her”.

About Gandhi and his sexuality, we have to consult history. At 37,
he took a vow of sexual abstinence because 21 years earlier, his
father passed away in his house while Gandhi was making love to his
wife in another room. That memory always tormented Gandhi. The fact
that a bout of lust had kept him away from his father in his dying
moments. So he spent his life trying to conquer his sexual urge.
The perfect Brahmachari in Gandhi’s mind was a man who could ‘lie
by the side even of a Venus in all her naked beauty without being
physically or mentally disturbed’.

For years after taking his vow, Gandhi experimented with different
diets, looking for one which would have the slightest possible
impact on his sexual organs. “While thousands of Indians sought out
exotic foods to stimulate their desire, Gandhi spurned in turn,
spices, green vegetables, certain fruits, in his efforts to stifle
his,” wrote Lapierre and Collins in Freedom at Midnight.

But at the age of 67, Gandhi got a shock one night when he woke up
sexually aroused. He was so anguished by ‘this frightful
experience’ that he swore a vow of total silence for six weeks. To
master his desires, he gradually extended the range of physical
contact he allowed himself with women. He nursed them when they
were ill and allowed them to nurse him. He took his bath in full
view of his fellow ashramites, male and female. He had his daily
massage virtually naked, with young girls most frequently serving
as his masseuses. He often gave interviews or consulted the leaders
of the Congress Party while the girls massaged him. He wore few
clothes and urged his disciples, male and female, to do likewise
because clothes, he said, only encouraged a false sense of modesty.

Source : Internet Media | DailyMail

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