Gandhi’s “Gay Love Letters” Going On Display

gandhi-kallenbachLetters 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.”

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  • stevengmcgrew

    Great men (as do we men who just strive to be great)have many loves throughout their lifetime. Homophobic historians, journalist, etc. try to dismiss those gay loves and we must be sure that in the future gay youth will get a complete history of mankind, including its amazing lgbtq history.

  • AmberSmith

    The sexuality of a person, no matter if popular or not, shouldn´t be of such interest. Humans have other values, we should concentrate on, especially if they had such a great impact on the world, as Ghandis did. For instance nearly nowbody knows why Gandhi fasts regularly… Often you can read the reason “that Mahatma Gandhi undertook a number of fasts unto death to press his demand for the independence of India.” (’s-fasts). That´s absolutely wrong, as you can read in this article… So find the points, that really matters and don´t be a follower of riffraff discussions!!!

  • BobBrown

    @AmberSmith: Ghandi worked to free his people and in many ways we are working to free ours. The discussion of someone’s sexuality is as valid as any other point of their life. The discussion of human sexuality is not to be hidden or secret of shameful. We as gays are not limited to hidden or secret places and we are not ashamed.
    We are not riffraff and neither are the things we discuss.

    Ghandi lived in a place and time where things may have been kept in the shadows. We can cast a light and attempt to push the darkness away. Ghandi was a great man and will continue to be great if he had gay relationships or not.

  • Charles175

    It is true that the bedroom is a private matter. Yet at the same time, we have fundamentalists that are doing their very best to paint a public picture of us in the absolute most unfavorable light that they can. Students in secondary (high) schools are taught about many of the most famous historical figures, all the while remaining silent about those occasional ones that were known gay. You know, documentation about the great accomplishments and general life along with a brief on the personal part of these all the while leaving out key information. Key to knowing if that person happened to be gay. This way fundamentalists are able to continue to demonize us. Demonizing us completely in that we are all supposed to be no good, have no moral, no redeeming value whatsoever. Recently California passed a law to stop this and the fundamentalists are steaming mad. They have filed in court against it. They KNOW that including facts of any famous person whom happens to be gay is in direct conflict with and is a threat to their beliefs, to their propaganda. They want us to crawl back into the closet and shut up. They want us to all go away.

  • AmberSmith

    @BobBrown: I don´t question his effort, even if he´s a gay. I only said that it shouldn´t matter what his sexuality is. He has done a lot for the world and his compatriots. So I can´t comprehend the discussion and sensation on this… It´s just to increase the traffic for media companies. For me the discussion about sexuality isn´t of matter in connection to Gandhi!

  • Brian

    Historians have engaged in revisionism for years. They have systematically de-gayed the historical record to make it seem as if all the important people were straight. It’s a form of Nazi-style censorship.

    I had to laugh at the Indian director of the National Archives who tried to frame these love letters as anything but gay. Typical.

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