When I consider Gandhi the man as I know of him from readily available published sources, I am led to the conviction that he must have been a tortured soul. As a kind-hearted human, I am moved more to pity mixed with revulsion at who he was than I am to condemnation and hatred of the man. But at the same time, I cannot excuse neither his actions nor ignore their terrible consequences. Whether he intended the horrors he perpetrated on a vast scale or not, what he did eventually resulted in immense horrors. I am convinced that he is the most evil man in human history, bar none.
I have no training in abnormal psychology. The only training I claim is in economics, a much popularly misunderstood discipline (a state of affairs the blame for which rests on economists alone.) The disclaimer is that it is quite possible that I don’t know what I am talking about here. But I leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide that. This is a blog post, not a paper submitted to a peer reviewed scientific journal. As we say in the US, you gets what you pays for.
What motivates this essay is seeking balance. Gandhi has been deified beyond reasonable limits. Every popular publication — newspaper, books, radio program, movies, magazine article — in India is a naked hagiography of the man. The fantastic hyperbole heaped on him is nauseating to anyone who values truth and accuracy. Even the internet is full of that sort of nonsense.
Every attempt at publishing anything even mildly critical of Gandhi is censored by the government of the day, regardless of their political convictions. The Congress Party is understandably quick to ban books about Gandhi that deviate from the standard pitch that the man was a saint but the BJP — a party that doesn’t see eye to eye with the Congress on any other matter — is equally dedicated to not allowing any critical examination of Gandhi. The BJP trips over itself in its haste to keep Gandhi on the high pedestal the Congress has him installed on.
As a card-carrying contrarian, my aim is to take down Gandhi a notch or two. Not just Gandhi, I am dedicated to taking down all popular idols — in India (SSRS, SadGuru, APJ “Dr” Kalam, etc). Whenever I see some mortal popularly venerated, I suspect that there’s something not quite right with the person.
I use this simple heuristic: if someone is singularly popular, it must be that the person has some great faults. The Chinese in their tradition of Confusian practical wisdom have a saying that the bigger the front-side, the broader the back-side. No human is perfect. And if someone is being promoted as a paragon of virtue and morality, it’s a signal that something is out of kilter.
My amateur psychoanalysis is that Gandhi was an average, garden variety sexual pervert who somehow rose to power and his perversions forced him to do what he did. Most of it had to do with sex. Freud, with his theories about repression and what-nots, would have had a field day with Gandhi.
The average sexual pervert does not get to do any harm to anybody. But Gandhi was playing on the world stage. Therefore his deviant psychology is neither irrelevant nor inconsequential. It matters enormously for weal or woe.
People more or less have a healthy attitude toward sex. Most people’s sex lives, I guess, are quite unremarkable since in any healthy society (as found in the civilized world and not in sexually repressed societies), the range of acceptable sexual behavior is quite wide. It’s like food: people differ in their preferences for food but they all fall within the range that is considered socially acceptable. For example, Marwari Jain food is quite distinct from Bengali Hindu food but both are “normal” because the range is wide — from strict Jain vegetarian to non-vegetarian.
With regard to food, some people are not normal. People with eating disorders like anorexia (food restriction, fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin) and bulimia (binge eating followed by purging) are not normal. So also some people are not normal with regards to sex. They have a dysfunctional relationship with sex. Stephen Fry observed this about the Catholic Church:
“It’s the strangest thing about this church – it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we, with our permissive society and rude jokes, are obsessed. No. We have a healthy attitude. We like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly; because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult.
“It’s a bit like food in that respect, only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.”
If there’s a sexual abnormality that is equivalent of a mixture of anorexia and bulimia, then that describes Gandhi. Gandhi was obsessed with sex; and he was repelled by it. He clearly had a voracious appetite for it. He started to get it on from an early age, as was not unusual for the time. Married at 13 to a 14-year old girl, he didn’t have to wait long. He liked it enough that he left his father’s deathbed to have a bit of nookie with his young wife. It could have been it is because of that incident that he developed a guilt complex about sex.
He was so racked with guilt that he decided to become a celibate at the age of 38. Sex was dirty business and he would have noting to do with it. It is reported that he didn’t sleep with his wife for decades. Well, good for you. Whatever floats your boat, Mr Gandhi. I wonder what Kasturba thought about it. But then, what mattered to Mr Gandhi was what Gandhi wanted. The rest can lump it.
But why should it matter to anybody other than him and his wife? Sex is a private matter. Or it normally should be. But not for Gandhi. He paraded his private life in public, as if to say, “I am dedicated to overcoming the weaknesses of the flesh. You are all weaklings — you give in to your lust. But not me. I am constantly purifying myself. I put myself in the most tempting situations just so that I can overcome the temptations and then prove to you that I am a better person than you can ever hope to be.”
It was always a huge big public performance for Gandhi. The average guy may decide that he’s had enough of something, and stop doing it. But not Gandhi. He had to wave it in everyone’s face. Laying out one’s private life in full public view is not normal; it must arise from some psychological bug in the system. Attention seeking. To use a modern expression, Gandhi was constantly virtue signalling.
Gandhi was often “fasting unto death” — which I think is a very potent instrument for blackmail. But when challenged, he declared that he didn’t intend to die by fasting but rather he was “purifying” himself. Well, if that was so, Mr Gandhi, go fast in private and don’t make a bloody public spectacle of it. This “look at me, look how much I mortify my flesh so that God will take pity on you miserable sinners, observe and be impressed at my sacrifice” is nauseating. It’s like someone showing off how wonderful his personal hygiene routine is by wiping his butt in public.
Sex is a private matter that should not concern anyone other than the consenting adults involved. What people do behind closed doors is no one’s business. Gandhi did not get that. He dictated to others what they should do. He told that married people should avoid having sex — cold showers if the mood strikes. He, however, was quite given to sleeping naked with naked nubile young girls and women — at his ashram in his 70s.
He’d bathe with young women in the buff but he said “he kept his eyes shut.” He liked getting enemas twice a day and only favored women got the privilege to shove the nozzle up his rectum. (There are credible reports that Gandhi had a crush on a Jewish male bodybuilder too.)
Alright, I am not a prude but I feel a little dirty typing this. The Independent UK newspaper carried an article in Jan 2012 with the title An odd kind of piety: The truth about Gandhi’s sex life. It’s a disturbing, though quick, read. Go read the details there. Warning: not for the faint-hearted.
I think it takes all sorts of people to make an interesting world. Thank goodness that everyone is not the same boring type. Some are adventurous, some timid, some smart, some dumb, some scientists and some singers. Some people are great athletes and others astronomers. The private lives of people must also cover a very wide range. But it should be private — as it usually is.
But when private perversions lead a public figure to do harmful things, that’s where I draw the line. I couldn’t care less about some US president getting it on with an intern; what I do care about is the president’s use of the military to distract the public. I don’t care who Gandhi slept with; I do care about the public insanities that emerged from his private perversions.
Contrary to the widely held public perception of the man as a saint, I think he was a sexual pervert and a deviant.
Previous part: Gandhi – the Saint of India.
Next parts: Gandhi — The Economics Retard. And then, Gandhi — The Megalomaniac.