GANDHI is still so revered in India that a book about him that few Indians have read and that hasn’t even been published in this country has been banned in one state and may yet be banned nationwide.
The problem, say those who have fanned the flames of popular outrage this week, is that the book suggests that the father of modern India was bisexual.
The book’s author, Joseph Lelyveld, does write extensively about the close relationship Mohandas K. Gandhi had with a German architect1, but he denies that the book, “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” makes any such argument.
In an interview Mr. Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, said he thought he had “treaded very carefully” with the information, which he knew was delicate.
“I lived in India, and there’s an Indian word called tamasha,” he said, which translates to “spectacle.” “I’m surprised to find myself at the center of one, because I think this is a careful book, and I consider myself a friend of India.”
Still, this week Gujarat, the state where Gandhi was born and grew up, banned the book after reviews and news articles about it appeared in Indian newspapers. Gujarat is particularly conservative — alcohol can’t be sold in there, for instance — and the state is governed by a Hindu nationalist party.
(click here to continue reading Gandhi Biography by Joseph Lelyveld Roils India – NYTimes.com.)
- Hermann Kallenbach, the German-Jewish architect with whom Gandhi lived in Johannesburg [↩]