These included prominent leaders of India’s freedom movement such as Vallabhai Patel, J. This 1947 storm in the Gandhi camp was set off by R. Parasuram, a young man from Kerala, who for two years had served as Gandhi’s personal secretary and typist and watched his personal affairs from close by.
Like many students in India at that time, Parasuram too, had idolised Gandhi and after his studies, had travelled to Gandhi’s ashram to live and work with him, and help with India’s freedom movement.
He said that as much as he had worshipped Gandhi, his conscience did not allow him to stay silent any longer.
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He would tell them that even touching each other was unacceptable.
He made the life of one of his own sons, whose wife got pregnant, absolutely hell, angry that they had had sex when he had forbidden them to! He was so confident that he wouldn’t be challenged.
But two years after working with Gandhi, Parasuram quit the ashram and his job.
Before he left, he wrote a 16-page long letter explaining his distress at what he had witnessed in Gandhi’s behaviour with girls and women in the ashram — which included other things besides his ‘experiments in bed.
When I first learnt about Gandhi’s experiment in which a girl took off her clothes and lay under the same cover with him and he tried to find out if any sexual feeling was evoked in him or his companion, I felt genuinely surprised.
Personally, I would not tempt myself like that and more than that, my respect for [women] would prevent me from treating her as an instrument in my experiment.” N. Bose’s letter was only one of the many exchanges among Gandhi’s closest associates and friends in the first half of 1947, about this practice of his, that angered and upset many. Many of them confronted Gandhi directly, and others stopped associating with him.
More detailed citations and references on the chapter on Gandhi in Rita Banerji’s book “Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies,” [pages 265-281, Penguin Books, 2009]. Gandhi had young women in his ashram, some of them still teenagers, one of them his own grand-niece (Manu Gandhi), sleep naked with him in his bed at night.
This was an aspect of Gandhi that I had not read about before, and it surprised me at first.
One of the things that was a big issue was Gandhi’s hypocrisy and manipulation, to what seemed to many, to serve his own ends.