Gandhi & his Women Associates

Gandhi has been deified by the Indians in a manner that his human attributes have lost in the cloying deification. Gandhi himself never hid his mortal side and was quite candid about his sexuality and sensuality that pestered him till he breathed his last. This book by Girja Kumar is an authentic treatise on a very great man and his sexual idiosyncrasies. Like all great luminaries, Gandhi was also a sexually tormented soul.

 While other greats yielded to bodily pleasures giving two hoots to the world, Gandhi resisted tooth and nail to tide over his overwhelming sexuality. Weaned on the rather preposterous idea of celibacy of Hinduism (Gandhi was a Hindu to the core, despite his much publicised secularism) and his higher education in England, he remained torn between the moral and immoral sides to sex and struggled to suppress the pleasure-seeking aspect of it (sex). All his (revolting) experiments with women, young enough to be his granddaughters, were failed attempts to understand his own sexuality.

Gandhi had a very muddled approach to sex and he was never sure whether it was a purely procreational activity or a recreational act or could be both. Girja Kumar has pared the apostle of peace down to the level of a common man to delve into his sexual self, which hasn't yet been discussed openly because of Gandhi's stature. Though there're certain references and passages in this book that may disturb the sensibilities of even dispassionate readers, it's important that we must also be alive to this facet of the great man.

 Some may call it mental voyeurism to read the sexcapades of such a great man but then how long can we remain in the dark about Gandhi's this dimension as well? A public figure like Gandhi is indeed an open book and his life must be scrutinized comprehensively. This is not mud-slinging. This is reality sans any varnish. The writer has unpeeled this veneer to bring about Gandhi's true persona. His efforts and erudition must be lauded. At the same time, it's expected of us to be more open when it comes to the honest descriptions of our icons' hither-to hushed up lives. We need to change our perceptions about those who we eulogise.

Extol we can still, but the darker side must also be presented to know the truth holistically. Gandhi himself never took umbrage at criticisms and admitted that he learnt from them. I'm sure, those who worship Gandhi, may be a bit offended by this book but if they read it without any prejudice, they'll like it. Mind you, this book doesn't do a disservice to Gandhi, one of the greatest men ever to have walked on earth. Rather, one draws a deep sense of cathartic satisfaction that the great man also had a few chinks in his armour.   
                                                             ----Sumit Paul