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Conservative historian Andrew Roberts says that a new biography of Mohandas Gandhi provides ample evidence to conclude that the revered leader of the Indian independence movement was gay.
Roberts reviewed the new biography Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld for The Wall Street Journal. He said the "generally admiring book" would nonetheless support a highly critical opinion of Gandhi, whom Roberts called "a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist."
Among the charges leveled by Roberts is that the icon of nonviolence slept with young women under age 18, which leads him to the discussion of Gandhi's homosexuality.
"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."
Roberts continues, "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.'"
The men were parted in 1914, but Roberts concludes based on the biography by Lelyveld that Gandhi dreamed of being reunited with Kallenbach.