He was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century, a man who fought for peace, for the Independence of a great nation, and now a new book has shed light on a very different side of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahatma Gandhi who fell in love with a German Jewish man.
It was in 1947 that India won it’s independence from Britain, lead by a small, barefoot man who preached passive resistance and tolerance of all people and religions.
It had been a long road to independence as Gandhi leading the Salt March in protest against the despised salt tax introduced by the British Government. In jail, out of jail the tireless campaigner risked his health, in many ways including the famous hunger strike in 1947.
Mahatma Gandhi became a figurehead for resistance around the world and today Knopf books has released a highly controversial book, ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India’ written by former New York Times editor, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Joseph Lelyveld.
This story depicts a very different side to Gandhi about a man who left his wife after falling in love with another man, a Jewish body builder.
The two young men met in South Africa where Hermann Kallenbach was practicing as an architect. Born into a wealthy family he abandoned his life to follow and share, albeit temporarily, the life of his one love Gandhi.
After being imprisoned together their lives became separated as Kallenbach chose the struggle against the Nazi’s in World War II and drew on his passion for establishing a Jewish state.
As their paths moved into creating a different part of history the two men kept up in contact though letters which have survived over time.
In one Gandhi says:
“It is not possible to cling to the literal meaning of the verse you have quoted from the Bhagavata4. Krishna alone knows the meaning of His sport. He may, submitting to the urge of desire, pursue love, but we creatures of flesh and blood cannot do likewise.”
In loving terms Gandhi refers to Kallenbach as “My Dear Lower House”, Kallenbach to Gandhi as “My Dear Upper House”.
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