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Discrediting Gandhi

Comments on Discrediting Gandhi


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Posted 04/05/11 - 12:46 PM:
Subject: Discrediting Gandhi
As some of you may have heard, there is a new unauthorized biography coming out which paints Gandhi as a bisexual bigot with a penchant for sleeping with underaged girls:

One of the commenters writes:

"One of the first lines of a right wing attack, claim the target was homosexual and/or sexually deviant."

Another commenter writes:

"This is an intentiona­l attempt at villifying a great man. He had the method for peaceful revollutio­n, it's called civil disobedien­ce, and it's just what America needs to take it's country back. The rich and powerful need to know that they are rich and powerful because we the people support it and allow it. If we were to all or mostly decide to not go to work, not buy things we don't need, not drive our vehicles, not .... you get the idea, the country could be brought to it's knees in days. The USA needs a Ghandi!"

I personally find it weird that anyone should care whether he was bisexual or gay, I suppose it does seem natural that the "right wing" at least would focus on that. But what I would find most potentially damaging are the allegations of racism in light of Gandhi's efforts to remove class barriers in India. On the other hand, maybe he came to renounce bigotry in the world at the same time he came to renounce it in himself. Or maybe not?

Should anyone care about matters in the personal life of such an influential figure? Does knowing or not knowing change your perception of Gandhi?

On a related note, does good advice lose its power when coming from someone who doesn't seem to take their own advice?

Any thoughts?
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Posted 04/05/11 - 1:27 PM:

Of course it matters. If you found out that Mr. Rogers had a penchant for kiddie porn, you wouldn't say 'well that's his personal life...I'll still let him teach my kids'.

When people are set up as moral exemplars they ought to be morally exemplary. If not, why are we paying them any heed? 'Do as I say, not as I do' is not valid. We learn best by example. There can't be a double standard for actions. Which is why as parents we are only justified in teaching that which we are capable of backing up by action. If we ourselves are thieves, we can't very well teach our kids not to steal.

Ghandi is largely an icon, not even a real person for the majority of the world. He's a t-shirt print like Che and Elvis, relevant to some distant culture in the past, but not to us today. I personally don't care much about Ghandi bc he didn't do anything for me or my ancestors.

A better lesson here and in similar cases is not to idolize human beings and place them on pedestals beyond reproach. Even if they have done one or two things that are perceived as 'goods' it doesn't mean that they are in fact a 'good person'.

And also perhaps that we ought not make assumptions about people. If Ghandi liked men and little girls and we assumed something different bc we had no reason to think otherwise, the fault is with us when we are surprised later on.

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Posted 04/06/11 - 12:52 AM:

lib wrote:

Should anyone care about matters in the personal life of such an influential figure? Does knowing or not knowing change your perception of Gandhi?

On a related note, does good advice lose its power when coming from someone who doesn't seem to take their own advice?

Any thoughts?

I personally consider that Gandhi was a great genius; no more, no less. He had all the marks of a genius right from very beginning: Love of truth, immense courage and love of knowledge. His spiritual genius is indeed below par and he cannot be compared to a Buddha or Laozi. Even the Wikipedia article mentions that he had some very unusual ideas about sublimation of libido. He took a vow of celibacy at an age of 36 and since that age he never had an intercourse. I have no proof to support whether he had an intercourse or not, as I was not present with him all the time laughing( and his being really a ‘celibate’ or being sexually active even after having taken his vow of celibacy does not matter much for me) but it is suggested that the sole purpose of his taking the vow of celibacy at an age of 36, after having become a father of four children was-to direct his drive toward his goals of achieving independence for India. The perstinacy and obstinacy are telltale hallmarks of geniuses and they were there very marked in that man. His philosophy was no philosophy but whatever he had was very simple to practice. Even Einstein remarked at his death “It will be very difficult for future generations, to believe that such a man ever walked in flesh and blood”. You might suggest that ‘celibacy’ is much appreciated in Indian saints, and that might have been a cause of immense faith of the Indians in Gandhi, which in turn resulted in the immense force against the rule of the East India company. So, this book, new books and whatever information I can glean on Gandhi, is not going to alter my fundamental idea about him and I do not worship people made of flesh and blood. The practice of sleeping with the young girls in bed was there to test the power of his will and power of his vow. I cannot imagine any other Indian, capable of doing that, even in today's age, in the name of testing the power of will; therefore I appreciate the courage and genius of the man because he did that publicly, with everyone being aware of that and not in private.
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