“Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” written by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Joseph Lelyveld, includes passages that some interpreted as hinting that Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach, a German-Jewish architect, were more than just very good friends. (This included a rather inflammatory review published in The Wall Street Journal.)
The focus on Gandhi’s sexuality upset many in India, including politicians and relatives of Gandhi. For many, suggesting that the Father of the Nation may have been homosexual, something Mr. Lelyveld has since denied, was tantamount to blasphemy. In Gandhi’s home state of Gujarat, the book was banned.
Gandhi’s friendship with Kallenbach is again at the center of attention. The Indian government on Tuesday announced it paid $1.28 million to purchase the Gandhi-Kallenbach Archives, thereby withdrawing the material from a proposed Sotheby’s auction in London.
India’s Ministry of Culture said this decision was made after experts who reviewed the archival material, mostly letters between the two men, recommended it should be acquired “as a matter of highest priority.”
The archive includes over 1,000 letters, documents and telegrams exchanged by the two men between 1905 and 1945, as well as several gifts Gandhi gave to Kallenbach over the years. The material, much of it unpublished, originally belonged to Kallenbach, who became a close friend of Gandhi’s during their time in South Africa. It was put on sale by Kallenbach’s grandniece. India Real Time has more.