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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?

On:           Mar 26, 2011
Tagged: , ,
    • David Ehrenstein

      Hubba-Hubba Mahatma!

      Mar 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay P

      hmm Gay? Well that explains his brilliance.

      Mar 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike

      “Upper House” and “Lower House” could also be a reference to the old German caste system, which was still more or less in place at the time. Gandhi would have been very familiar with Indian caste, so maybe it was an inside joke between them?

      Mar 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • niles

      He always did rock that dhoti. As for Upper House, it’s clear he considered himself the brains and his beau the brawn in the relationship – passive resistance indeed.

      Mar 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FunMe

      Wow! That would mean I would adore Ghandi even more! And it would not surprise me as we gays tend to be leaders in more ways than one.

      Very cool.

      Mar 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • edgyguy1426

      Well you managed to take a real interesting subject and reduce it to its lowest common denominator

      Mar 27, 2011 at 1:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree

      Never knew ANY of this. Thanks, Max Simon & Queerty!

      Time for me to do a little research….

      Mar 27, 2011 at 1:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Viking

      How about a real picture of Kallenbach instead of a gym bod from today? Nobody looked like that back in the early 1900s.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 7:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TJ Parker

      LOL. “Upper house” and “lower house” are parts of a bicameral legislature, not sexual positions. Presumably he meant something like “elite/intellectual/mind” versus “common/physical/body” in his Senate versus House analogy.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 8:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alex

      The first parts of the linked article, about Ghandi’s (alleged) *real* politics, egotism, views on race, and treatment of others … are actually more interesting than any speculation on his sexuality.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BreakTime

      alex : Yes, that part of the article is the most interesting.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sidewalk

      The wikipedia entry for Hermann Kallenbach, with references, makes no mention of bodybuilder. Kallenbach adopted a vegetarian diet, according to one source, and was a sport-loving bachelor.

      A quick review through Google demonstrates how our instant news and twitter culture can spread an idea without any factual support. The initial review of the book says ‘bodybuilder,’ and a host of other sites merely copied/pasted the word without any critical thought or fact-checking.

      For a different view of Kallenbach, highlights from some other sources:

      “They had a great deal in common a deep attraction for simple life and working for the good of their fellow beings.

      In 1904 he met Mohandas Gandhi, who was then working in South Africa. He became his intimate friend and dedicated devotee. Abandoning the life of a wealthy, sport-loving bachelor, he adopted the vegetarian diet and simple lifestyle of Gandhi.

      In Gandhi’s words, they became ‘soulmates’ and, for a time, shared Kallenbach’s home.”

      Mar 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BreakTime

      And I believe Gandhi had a pretty well-established sexual desire (to say the least) for women. Not that that negates a love/lust for a man, too, but..

      Mar 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • niles

      @alex breaktime Damn you guys are a buzzkill

      Mar 27, 2011 at 8:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BreakTime

      Oh…Niles…..c’mon. You can still enjoy the alleged bodybuilder topic! I just thought the other stuff is very interesting.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • christopher di spirito

      Gandhi’s organ probably only rarely became aroused because he was always fasting. A good hard-on requires nutrients. Gandhi looked incredibly unhealthy through most of his life.

      Mar 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Danny

      Upper house-lower house – so was he a bottom who liked to sit on top his boyfriend?

      Mar 28, 2011 at 4:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Uber_Zeitgeist

      I found this article trite and simplistic in its analysis of Gandhi and Kallenbach’s relationship. The article’s reliance on titillating language only makes the article seem weaker to me.

      Gandhi was no doubt a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine, which could account for his use of enemas, rather than him being a bottom per the author’s assertion.

      I also find the author’s use of quotes suspect, ending the quote, “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.” with his own words, rather than Gandhi’s

      While Lelyveld’s book is no doubt scholarly in its analysis and approach, a trait I’ll assess when I read the book, the author of this article does little to raise his writing out of the smutty gutter.

      Mar 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ilyas abasi

      @FunMe: You’re rite.

      May 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John Renner

      The article includes an image of Gandhi, and another image by Mark Jenkins. Queerty.com does not have reproduction rights for the Jenkins image. Please remove it or pay a licensing fee.

      We await your progress.

      John Renner
      Representative of Mark Jenkins

      Jul 13, 2012 at 3:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Maxim

      Well, being spiritual requires a higher amount of divine feminine (that gives one the qualities of loving, healing and nurturing). That what a gay man really is(a male with a more developed female energy). Often, not being accepted by the surroundings some of them turn into varies self destructions,but that’s not who they are. If Gandhi really was gay, he was the example of a gay men that did what he came here to do.

      Jul 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ron

      False,completely false,i think the gay community is now crossing the line,is this called freedom of speech?
      homosexuality should be banned globally.

      Aug 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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