Be the change you wish to see in this world. These words were spoken by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is simply known by the world as Gandhi. As the leader of the Indian independence movement, Gandhi enforced nonviolence as the means to defeat tyranny. These words were spoken in order to enlighten people to make a difference. Mutually respected throughout the world, Gandhi is remembered as a great humanitarian. However, Gandhi’s reputation is on the line with the release of Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India.
Written by Joseph Lelyveld, the book portrays Gandhi as a completely different man than what he normally is perceived as: a compassionate man. According to the Wall Street Journal, Great Soul “gives readers more than enough information to discern that he was a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist”. Already sparking controversy, the book has already upset many people.
“This book makes me really upset,” said junior Maggie Smith. “Gandhi is someone you’re supposed to look up to. He is supposed to have all of this wisdom, and to say that he is such a bad guy is a horrible thing to do.”
Great Soul proclaims that Gandhi slept with many women at a young age. This heinous accusation is further developed through other claims. Lelyveld also writes that Gandhi frequently encouraged his young to be naked during nights spent with the Indian leader. These allegations have shocked many people throughout the world, who have always remembered Gandhi helping those in poverty, developing women’s rights, building religious amity, and increasing economic self-reliance.
The most shocking assertion in Great Soul is Lelyveld’s claim that Gandhi was secretly gay. Supposedly, Gandhi had a secret affair with Hermann Kallenbach, a Jewish architect and bodybuilder from Germany. The two were together during the early 1900’s, and Lelyveld writes that Gandhi even left his wife for Kallenbach in 1908. However, World War I soon broke the couple apart. When Gandhi returned to India in 1914, Kallenbach could not visit him due to the war.
Due to these fierce indictments, the book is already facing serious charges. The state of Gujarat, where Gandhi was born, has unanimously voted to ban the biography, and many other states have followed Gujarat’s lead. Although the book has not yet been released in India, book reviews from the United States and the United Kingdom have sparked this hatred.
The main reason for these bans is the homosexual allegation against Gandhi. In India, Gandhi is still highly revered for his domestic work throughout the country. Seen as a national hero, Gandhi’s reputation is considered pristine in India. Homosexuality is considered a stigma in India, and proclaiming a national leader as a homosexual would only tarnish Gandhi’s image in India. Readers are also outraged because many other authors have researched the topic, and they have not achieved the same results.
“I think the book is a little bit ridiculous,” said junior Emily Rabahy. “He has been a great man for many years and a lot of people look up to him. People have every right to ban this book.”