NAKED GANDHI – THE CELIBATE WHO SLEPT WITH HIS GRANDDAUGHTERS
The Saint of Sabarmati practiced a unique type of Celibacy - His experiments involved him sleeping naked with his granddaughters
Yes you read it right. MK Gandhi popularly known as Bapu – father of the nation liked to sleep naked with his granddaughters Manu & Abha (both minor and in their teens). He called this veritable debauchery as his experiments with brahmcharya/celibacy. However he did not limit his nightly experiments to his granddaughters. His personal physician (of sorts) too slept with him naked under the same covers on the same bed.
His experiment was never short of willing girls and women. Those who expressed reluctance were first cajoled with high sounding words that he was like their mother and they shouldn’t have any issues sleeping naked with him (their mother). Those who still rebuffed the advances were often ostracized, their access to MKG and his influence restricted. His preference to women was truly secular, though he was not very successful with women of other religions. Among those women, who took part in sleeping naked with MKG there was intense jealousy. They competed with each other to have a chance with MKG (wonder why?). Wife of one of his followers was Bibi Amtussalam wanted to be part of MKG’s experiments of celibacy and she expressed her desire for the same. To this Gandhi replied through letter (as per entry in Manu’s diary dated Feb 24,1947) – “Today Bapu wrote a strong letter to Amtussalamben saying the element of regret that his celibacy experiment didn’t start with her was apparent in her letter to him.”
Another woman who was part of MKG’s “experiment” was Sushila Nayyar, his physician of sorts. She tells us a tale of MKG’s “celibacy”. She was the first to share MKG’s bed.She explains that these experiments were more like “nature cure” eg MKG would ask her to lie to his back (in case his back was paining).
His favourite was the youngest of them all – Manu. She shared his bed mostly alone but sometimes with her sister Abha, who joined the grandfather-granddaughter duo. Vinay Lal, in his paper in Journal of History of Sexuality, 2000 narrates Sushila Nayyar that when Manu went to his bed for the first time, fully clothed, she slipped under the blanket and went sleep within minutes. The next day, Nayyar says, Gandhi told Manu that their purity had to be subjected to the “ultimate test,” and they were to offer the “purest of sacrifices.” He suggested that they “now both start sleeping naked.”
In the beginning is “experiments” were not so extreme. He started with a woman who lived in his ashram. He would have her snuggle close to him to keep hi warm at night. (The woman remained fully clothed). MKG in his own words names her as Parbhavati. He kept these experiments secret from other ashramites. (Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Published by GOI, MI&B vol79 pg 213)
BTW – If someone felt cold they’d ask for an extra blanket or two – BUT MKG was another level. He’d have a woman warm him up – He was after all Bapu.
His greatness knows no bounds – Though he slept naked with his teen age granddaughters as well as some other women, there is no record of his doing anything inappropriate.
Here is another inspiring story of MKG’s greatness as a man and as a grandfather –
Travelling during Noakhali riots, Manu told MKG, she had mislaid his pumice stone. Like the ascetic he is depicted as, he used that particular pumice stone to scrub himself instead of a soap. He got angry and ordered her to revisit their last stop and find his pumice stone. The terrified Manu, just 16, asked him if she could take a volunteer with her. MKG refused. She walked 30 miles.through dense forest of coconut trees and beetlenut groves. There were riots going on everywhere and yet MKG refused her even an escort to accompany her). After much difficulty she found the pumice stone and by night she managed to return the stone to MKG.
The great non-violent man that he was, he later told her: “Had a rioter assaulted & killed you my heart would have danced with joy”. (Kriplani’s biography of Gandhi)
PS – The pumice stone was gifted to him by Miraben (See pic)
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