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Gandhi’s Jewish Lover

A less-explored aspect of the Mahatma’s life

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Gandhi (L) and Kallenbach.(Ynetr)

A new biography reveals that Mahatma Gandhi at one point fell in love with and left his wife for Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish bodybuilder and architect. Ynet quotes the Daily Mail quoting the book: “Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about ‘how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.’” Gandhi nicknamed himself and Kallenbach, respectively, “Upper House” and “Lower House,” which I’d guess is, um, an architecture joke.

It is well known that Gandhi’s philosophy included a component called Brahmacharya that involved “active celibacy,” such as sleeping naked with his grand-niece. However, the revelation about Kallenbach appears to be new: Wikipedia, a venue not normally known for coyness or euphemism, identifies him merely as Gandhi’s “very close friend.” Kallenbach was a fascinating figure in his own right, an important patron of Gandhi while the Great Soul honed his ideas about nonviolence in early-20th-century South Africa, and subsequently an ardent Zionist who later tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade Gandhi to endorse the Jewish state.

The biography, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and former New York Times executive editor Joe Lelyveld, was the subject of a cover rave in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. The Wall Street Journal has a much more critical take—less on the book than on Gandhi himself.

Book: Gandhi Left His Wife for Jewish Bodybuilder [Ynet]
Related: How Gandhi Became Gandhi [NYT Book Review]
Among the Hagiographers [WSJ]

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Marc Tracy says:

for the record, folks, a comment that appeared here has been deleted. incidentally, in our back-end, one deletes a comment by clicking ‘Move to Trash,’ which seemed particularly apt in this case.

Frank Messmann says:

Seemingly a pacifist, Ghandi perhaps was covertly aggressive. He wielded considerable power under the guise of service to others. Many militant social activists, TV evangelists,and cult leaders are like this.

J. of New York says:

The gods have feet of clay.

We are all cracked; that’s how the light gets in.
You untainted one…. Cast the stone, for you are unblemished.
Good for him! Oh the thrill it must have been. Read the great soul. So what if he was gay!

>>A new biography reveals that Mahatma Gandhi at one point fell in love with and left his wife for Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish bodybuilder and architect. Ynet quotes the Daily Mail quoting the book: “Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about ‘how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.’” Gandhi nicknamed himself and Kallenbach, respectively, “Upper House” and “Lower House,”<<

So what …

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Gandhi’s Jewish Lover

A less-explored aspect of the Mahatma’s life

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