Here you have a character who's generally revered or even adulated.
If he had been a catholic, the pope would have declared him a saint long since. Even Charlie Chaplin was so proud of the photograph with Gandhi and him on it, he printed it in his autobiography.
In actual fact, however... Well, judge for yourself. Far be it from me to try and influence you unduly! But the mere fact that he started a ruling dynasty makes one wonder. Most of the statements below are from Richard Shenkman's book Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of World History.
"As an old man, he liked to sleep in the nude with naked young women [...] to test his vow of chastity." Just possibly he occasionally flunked the test; but that's slander. He had some weird and almost—what do I say! occult ideas about the energy contained in ejaculations and once, upon discovering "he'd accidentally had a nocturnal emission he's said to have almost suffered a nervous breakdown." He was obsessed with bowel movements and the usefulness of enemas. It seems his assistants vied for the honor of administering them. "His daily greeting to [his young women] was: 'Have you had a good bowel movement this morning, sisters?'" Bathrooms ought to be "so clean and inviting that anyone would enjoy eating there."
When his wife came down with pneumonia, he refused the British doctors to give her penicillin; it was against his principles. He was not nearly as bugged by his principles when taking quinine for his own malaria; or when he had an appendectomy for an attack of appendicitis.
Anyway, he dumped his wife to start an affair with German bodybuilder Herman Kallenbach and said Vaseline was a "constant reminder" of his BF. How romantic!
According to the National Lampoon's TRUE FACTS (1981) Gandhi believed that the Jews in Hitler's Germany should have gone to their deaths voluntarily to score a 'moral victory' over the Nazis. He is quoted as saying "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife." When writing to Adolf Hitler, he addressed him as "my friend." The Jews should wait until the Arabs were "ripe" for a state of Israel and "rely on their goodwill."
He has not always been so peaceful as he later claimed to be; he volunteered to serve in 3 (three) British imperial wars, and not against the British, either; rather, against the "savage blacks" of Natal.
The British judged they weren't that desperate and didn't really need a minuscule underweight warrior, though.
Andwhen the Nawab of Maler Kotla issued an order to shoot ten Muslims for every Hindu who was killed in the state, Gandhi gave it his blessing.
And to top it off, his statement about Independence:
"I would not flinch from sacrificing a million lives
for India's liberty."
So spoke this great Pacifist.
In World War II Gandhi failed to see a difference between Hitler's Nazi Germany and England's colonialism. He opportunistically judged the time was ripe to start aQuit Indiamovement against the British in 1942, with the Japanese approaching from the East. (His timing really was not so smart at all — by then it had already become obvious that they were losing their war.) This was accompanied by heavy rioting; again, his declared non-violence principles turned out not to be held in such high esteem by himself.
This affair is hardly ever mentioned anymore. You can read more about it here.
Gandhi the Luddite
By 1920, powered looms had made the British textile workers so productive, and the textiles were so cheap, that their cloth could be sold at a profit even to the impoverished farmers of the Kathiawar peninsula. In campaigning for his country's independence, Mahatma Gandhi exhorted Indians to spin their own cloth instead, on their traditional, hand-powered cottage looms.
Gandhi's] hand-powered looms stood as much chance against powered looms as the Zulu's assegai throwing spears did, when bravely hurled in the direction of ten-barrel, 320 round-per-minute Gatling guns.
Guess what the original Luddites destroyed? Right, powered looms.
Peter W. Huber & Mark P. Mills, The Bottomless Well (2005) pp 128-129.
When there were several bad earthquakes in India, Mahatma Gandhi solemnly warned his compatriots
that these disasters had been sent as punishment for their sins.
- Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays
Paul F. Boller, Jr
& John George
Legends, Lies & Cherished
Myths of World History
on beloved stories
Fake quotes, misquotes,
& misleading attributions
Even Shenkman makes some awful blunders: Who could write about the Armada fleet Spain sent to England and never even mention the role the Dutch played in beating it? My essentially Dutch education may have over-influenced me the other way round, but undeniably the Dutch did have their thing to say on that occasion.
Joseph Lelyveld: Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India
Gandhi's 1939 letter to Hitler
"It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world
who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage state."
2 months after this letter, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and 1 month after that
introduced the Jude star for all Jews to wear.
You may well wonder why the letter is cut off at the edges. This may be explained by the fact that it is an nth-generation photocopy (every time you copy an original, and then the copy, it gets slightly enlarged). Which would also explain the way the text weaves around. So it'd rather prove it's not a fake. The fact that Gandhi wrote in English at first sight is surprising but I'd guess it was pretty hard to find somebody in India at the time who could write German. Gandhi's English of course was perfect and he (rightly) must have assumed Hitler had somebody around who could translate.
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