all the lovers

The Male German Bodybuilder That Got Gandhi All Hot And Bothered

Oh, Mahatma! It turns out India’s early 20th century spiritual leader and civil disobedience champion, Ghandi was interested in more than the ladies (including his own niece, whom he hosted nightly cuddle parties with), but also Hermann Kallenbach, a German bodybuilder who biographer Joseph Lelyveld insists was his real true love.

Yet as Mr. Lelyveld makes abundantly clear, Gandhi’s organ probably only rarely became aroused with his naked young ladies, because the love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom,” he wrote to Kallenbach. “The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.” For some reason, cotton wool and Vaseline were “a constant reminder” of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might relate to the enemas Gandhi gave himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.

Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about “how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.” Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House,” and he made Lower House promise not to “look lustfully upon any woman.” The two then pledged “more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.”

They were parted when Gandhi returned to India in 1914 [at age 45], since the German national could not get permission to travel to India during wartime—though Gandhi never gave up the dream of having him back, writing him in 1933 that “you are always before my mind’s eye.” Later, on his ashram, where even married “inmates” had to swear celibacy, Gandhi said: “I cannot imagine a thing as ugly as the intercourse of men and women.” You could even be thrown off the ashram for “excessive tickling.” (Salt was also forbidden, because it “arouses the senses.”)

Well, now we know what Gandhi supposedly told those two British lads, “The greatest gift God gives us is another person to love,” regardless of sex. But this leaves me confused. About Gandhi’s preferred sexual position. All those enemas would have be believing he was a bottom, but nicknaming himself “Upper House” and Hermann as “Lower House” hints Mohandas was the top. Or did terms like “top” and “bottom” even exist back then? Maybe Gandhi was, true to his ideology, completely versatile?