Letters and photos documenting the intimate friendship between Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach went on display Wednesday, the 65th anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, at New Dehli’s National Archives of India.
“My Dear Lower House,” wrote Gandhi on August 20, 1912, “We are to blame for all the misery in the world and therefore all the imperfections of our surroundings. They will be perfect when we are.”
Gandhi signed the letter to Kallenbach, a German-Jewish architect, “With love, your sinly [sincerely] — Upper House.”
While some believe the two men were lovers — as was proposed by Joseph Lelyveld’s controversial biography, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India — the National Archives’ Director General Mushirul Hasan dismisses the idea.
“Gandhi as a person tended to get very enthusiastic about certain relationships, and expressed the intensity in words that conveyed the impression that it is more than a normal relationship,” Hasan told The New York Times.
The speculation over the Mahatma’s sexuality drove the Indian government to shell out over a million dollars for the Gandhi-Kallenbach papers. The Kallenbach family had originally planned on auctioning off the letters, but the controversy of Lelyveld’s book heightened not only interest but the price of their collection.
Despite the Indian government’s mad grab for the letters, Hasan denied that the collection was edited or that certain letters were omitted to protect Gandhi’s legacy.
“Nothing controversial has been left out or necessarily included [sic],” Hasan said. “They had a marvellous relationship and the archives reveal the intensity of that relationship.”