Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


An Uncommon But Not an Untrue Appraisal Of Mahatma Gandhi

Dt: 19/9/2018


An Uncommon But Not an Untrue Appraisal Of Mahatma Gandhi


Dr T.H.Chowdary*



The good is often interred with the dead………”  said  Mark Antony at the  funeral of Julius Caesar who was stabbed to death in a public square.  In India,  it is more  usual  to inter  the bad with the dead and  deify the dead.   Mahatma Gandhi is now praised more in his death than when he was alive.  There are  large number of people   in India, those  who rioted for the  partition and those who were  Anglo-files and  loyal to His Majesty, the King of United Kingdom and the Emperor of  India  who denounced  Mahatma Gandhi as a rabble - rouser  and even as a communal  Hindu.  Some said that he was Hinduising the Indian National Congress  but after his death all these  adverse critiques also have begun to hail him as the  Mahatma  reminding us ,


Hundred cities claimed Homer Dead

Where the living Homer begged for his bread.


2. Just as Buddhism is revered extensively in countries  out -side India,  so now  many nations pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi  as the  apostle of  non-violence, of  love even towards adversaries and for the  non-violent  movement he led for the  freedom  of India  from British rule.  Here in India,  his Jayanti (birth day) is observed and  glorious tributes are  paid to the Mahatma and  his non-violence. In truth, whatever Gandhiji wanted


independent  India to be is entirely given up.  Gram Swaraj, Cottage  Industries, Handlooms,  least government, morality and  rectitude  among  politicians,  leaders and public  servants  had all been forgotten.   His perspective of  a true leader namely,



“Those who claim to lead the masses must resolutely refuse to be led by them, if we want to avoid mob law and desire  ordered progress for the country.  I believe that mere protestation of one’s opinion and surrender to the mass opinion is not only not enough, but in matters of vital importance, leaders must act contrary to the mass of opinions if it does not commend itself to their reason.


Is just ignored by those leaders who flock to his Rajghat Samadhi in Delhi and address rallies in other cities.


3. It is of course not even known to many in the last two generations that his name  has been appropriated by a particular  family although it is in no way related  to Mahatma  Gandhi, not even to  his  espousal of truth, honesty and non-amassing of wealth.


4. The most important  contribution that Mahatma Gandhi made to India was to take the  Indian National Congress of  lawyers, doctors and scholars from Town Halls to villages, to the  masses, in the entire  country.  As a leader ought to, he educated the  masses about the  evils of  foreign rule and  the virtues and the  imperative of  independence and  self - rule. From an organization submitting petitions and passing resolutions,  the  Congress was converted into a vibrant   movement of millions of people. Gandhiji taught  people to give up  fear and  to follow dharma.   He did not  promise to the  freedom - fighters that when independence  came,  they would  get pensions; he did not promise that they would  become  MLAs, MPS, Ministers  and  Governors .  He said that freedom for India   from foreign rule  must mean  the  alleviation of poverty  and the  restoration of  dignity to the human person. 


5. Inspired by the   education that he imparted, millions of  even “illiterate”  men and women”, peasants and propertied people faced lathis,  full-throatedly shouted Vande Mataram and went to jails and gallows. They did not  mind the loss of their  incomes,  the  attachment of their  properties by the  alien British rule as punishment for violation of “laws”. Gandhiji thus  demonstrated to the  people  that they could be  heroes.


Notwithstanding these great deeds, Gandhiji had monumental failures in the conduct of the  political movement, the results of which are  still tormenting India to no little extent.  Some of these are only mentioned in this essay.


6.Gandhiji was dictatorial  though very soft and  sweet in words. Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as  President of the  Indian  National Congress in the year 1939. Gandhiji did not  like him as President of Congress. He got Dr.  Pattabhi Sitaramiah to oppose  Subhas Chandrabose.  Despite Gandhiji’s endorsements and support,  Pattabhi was defeated. Gandhiji  did not take to Bose’s election  kindly. He unabashedly said that Pattabhi’s defeat was his own  defeat. Those who were without  demur  obedient to Gandhiji  took this as a  clue to make the  presidency of Subhas Chandra Bose  impossible. Gandhiji’s men non-cooperted with  Subhas Chandra Bose to such an  extent that Bose had to   resign the Presidentship. Gandhiji resorted   fast  unto death many times to coerce not always the  British but even enlightened and patriotic Indians  to bend to his will . His fast unto death  against  the British government’s award of  separate electorates to Harijans  was one  such instance.  It made  Dr. Ambedkar,  the life-long   fighter  for justice and equity and fair play to the  “untouchable”, Harijans  say, to the effect that  Gandhiji was prepared to approve separate electorates for  Muslims who were claiming that they are not part of the  Indian  nation but  he (Gandhi) opposed  the grant of  separate electorates to untouchable Hindus, whom he elevated  as  the people of  Lord Hari himself  by calling them Harijans; Mr. Gandhi would not give to his unfortunate co-religionists what he would  give to Musalmans who were repudiating the  Indian nation-hood.


7. Gandhiji swore by   Hindu -Muslim unity  and brother-hood. Over the  fierce opposition of the  then  nationalistic Md. Ali Jinnah  and  Dr. Annie Besant and others,  he committed the secular Indian National Congress to the purely   and totally  communal  movement  of the  Muslim residents of India, demanding  that  the British should  restore  to the  Turkish  Caliph cum Sultan   jurisdiction over the  land   where Mecca and Madina were located.  This was called Khilafat movement during which   the Muslims   even thought of  inviting the  Amir of Afghanistan to invade India. The Khilafat Muslims  demanded that the  Indian Army which has Muslims in it,  should not be  used against  any Muslim country.  (Later, the Muslim League made the  same  demand).  Just imagine   India  which has Muslims in its armed forces not using  the Indian  army against  Pakistan  trying to grab Kashmir. Gandhiji’s idea was that  since Muslims   are  brothers of  Hindus, to demonstrate  their  brother-hood, Hindus  must join the  communal   movement of the  brothers who were in distress and in sorrow.


8. Even while that movement was going on   Maulana Mohammed  Ali, the tall Muslim  leader in the Khilafat movement speaking at Aligarh and Ajmer said:



“However pure Mr. Gandhi’s character may be, he must appear to be from the point of view of religion inferior to any Musalaman, even though he be without character”.


The Statement created a great stir. Many did not believe that Mr. Mohamed Ali, who testified to so much veneration for Mr. Gandhi was capable of entertaining such ungenerous and contemptuous sentiments about him.  When Mr. Mohamed Ali was speaking in a meeting held at Aminabad Park in Lucknow, he was asked whether the sentiments attributed to him were true.  Mr. Mohamed Ali without any hesitation or compunction replied.


“Yes! According to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen gentleman to be  better than Mr. Gandhi”

(Sentences in italics are from Dr.Ambedkar’s book, “Partition of India or Pakistan”)



9. And when the Khilafat movement had to be ended because the Turkish people themselves kicked out the Caliph and exiled him to  France,  the Muslims in Kerala called Moplahs took the  revenge on their  Hindu neighbours  looting them, burging their homes and crops,  molesting and raping their women and forcibly converting them to Islam and marrying them as  second, third or fourth wife to Muslims. Gandhiji did not  condemn the Moplah’s vandalism and demoniac acts against Hindus. He described the Moplahs as “god-fearing” people and declared that “they are fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner they consider as religious” .  The Hindu- Muslim unity  which Gandhiji wanted to  forge by involving Hindus in the Muslim movement  in favour of a person  who has nothing to do with India, did never  materialize; not even now after partition.  The Khilafat movement stoked Muslim  separatism. The number of communal  riots  rose hugely thereafter. Muslim consciousness was so much aroused that  they  declared that they were not Indians  but Muslims and that India should be  partitioned to create  a Muslim homeland, Pakistan. And to realise that, they took to  Direct Action beginning in Calcutta on the  16 of Aug 1946; Direct Action not against the   British who were not granting   freedom to India, but against  Hindus who were opposition partition.  Ten thousand  Hindus were killed on one day in Calcutta by Muslims.  The government of  Bengal was headed by a Muslim League leader, H.S.Suhrawardy. This was the  first  government- organized  genocide in India.  The Hindu- Muslim brotherhood  he preached and  pledged to  achieve, was ( and continues to be) unrealized. 


10. Gandhiji used to say  that  India  could be  partitioned only over his  dead body.  He even offered the Prime Ministership of India  to Md. Ali Jinnah to see that India was not partitioned.  Md. Ali Jinnah was not a fool, but  was immensely clever.  He cleverly foresaw  that  in  unpartitioned democratic India,  the majority  acting as a community (like the minority who always act as  one community) would rule over the Muslims.  He declined the PM-ship and insisted upon partition.  If Gandhiji  demanded the British to “Quit India”, Md.Jinnah said to  the British, “divide and  quit”. India was divided on the  14 of  Aug 1947and only then, the British quit India granting it  independence on the  15th of Aug 1947.


11. Mahatma Gandhi went to the all -India  Congress session in Delhi in June 1947 to plead  with Congressmen who opposed partition  to accept partition!. The  same Mahatma who said that India would be divided only over his dead body,  did have to plead with  Congressmen to accept the  partition!  So he failed in keeping  India  un-partitioned.



12. Ganhdiji  advocated  non-violence ;he is called, “the apostle of non-violence” and it is for that he is being praised, extolled and deified abroad and  in India.  He even  told the Hindu victims of  Muslim violence  and rape that they should not  retaliate. Such was his   commitment to non-violence but the immediate reasons for the  partition  of India were orgies of violence initiated  by Muslims in Calcutta. Naokhali, (Bengal)  and joined in by Hindus  in defence and retaliation. A million  Hindus, Muslims  and Sikhs were  slaughtered in mutual  fights  just before and a few days  after partition. Non-violence might have worked against civilised people like the  British but not  against Muslims   and of course,  Stalinist, Communists,  Hitlerite Nazist and Mussolinis, Fascist. Non-violence as taught by Buddha  was also  taught by Ganhdiji . Non-violence is in practice as much  among  Buddhists as with Gandhists. It was an ideal but it is a total failure  in the  context of a relentlessly violent communal, frenzied religion  -inspired community.  In  India we had periodic violent communal riots during Gandhi’s life time and  we still have them. Gandhiji was  even wanting to  establish that the message of the  Gita ( and the  essence of Hinduism) is non-violence . Fortunately, the hollowness and falsity of Gandhijis Gita-inspired  non-violence  was refuted by the  late  Lokamanya  Bala Gangadhar Tilak in his monumental work, “Gita Rahasya”. There he established that    dharmic conduct and  defence  of dharma was a righteous  duty and while carrying out that duty,  if violence was necessary, so be it and it is  in the  light of this message that Arjuna  waged the  battles in Kurukshethra dealing death to  his  grand –father,  his Guru, his  elders,  his kith and kin. Living in dharma, practising  and defence of dharma might  involve violence  and  a blind  faith in  non-violence  to the neglect of dharma was unbecoming; that is Lord Krishna’s message and  Lokamanya Tilak’s exposition of it in contrast to Gandhiji who  extolled non-violence to the point of  one’s and the nation’s extinction. 


13. Dr. Rafiq Zakaria, a great scholar and a nationalist  Muslim had, in a number of his books, brought out how Gandhiji’s main objectives were  totally unrealised and so he was a great  failure  in the achievement of his very much extolled intentions. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar  who, like Md. Ali Jinnah never called Gandhiji as Mahama but  only as Mr. Gandhi, made a profound observation after visiting  the dead body  of  the assassinated  Mr.Gandhi. He wrote to:  Sharada alias Laxmi Kabir who later became his wife, following Gandhiji’s assassination. In that letter, dated 8 February 1948, Dr B R Ambedkar wrote that “Gandhiji should have not met his death at the  hand of a Maharashtrian”.  Then he went  on: “Mr. Gandhi had become a positive danger to his country.  He had choked all thoughts.  He was holding together the Congress which is a combination of all the bad and self-seeking elements in society who agreed on no social or moral principle governing the life of society except the one of praising and   flattering Mr Gandhi.  Such a body is unfit to govern the country. And the Bible says that something good comes out of evil, so also I think that good will come out of the  death of Mr. Gandhi.  He will release people from bondage to superman. It will make them think for themselves and it will compel them to stand on their own merits”. And to that, he added: “My real enemy has gone, thank goodness, the eclipse is over. (Source: A Reporter At Large ( page 238/239) by M V Kamat)


14. Mahatma Gandhi undertook fasts unto death on  many occasions to the total  disadvantage of  India and Hindus  and   to  please   Muslims. For eg:  He did not fast unto death when   the Muslim League  unleashed  the slaughter of Hindus  in Calcutta  on the  Direct Action Day  but when  once  Hindus  gained upper  hand and were  slaughtering Muslims, he went   on a  fast unto  death to get the Hindu leaders to stop the revenge. When  the Sikh and Hindu refugees who had  fled  Pakistan  in  great distress with loss of  kith property and  loss  and took shelter in the houses and abandoned Muslims properties in Delhi, Gandhiji undertook a fast unto   death to get  Hindus  and Sikhs vacate   the Muslim properties . He even succeeded in getting the damaged mosques  repaired  with the secular government’s money . At the  same time,  he opposed  the restoration of the  Hindu  Somnath temple by government  money and  insisted that the money should come  through donations.


Gandhiji  took  another  fast  unto death and compelled the Government of India to give Rs. 56cr.  to Pakistan ( Pakistan’s share of Sterling balances) even as its armies  were   invading Kashmir .  Gandhiji undertook another  fast unto death  to see  that  Hindus of  Delhi  would not   undertake any actions  that will make  the Muslim residents of India leave for Pakistan and this,  even while  millions  of Hindus and Sikhs were being forced out of  Pakistan . 


15. Gandhiji did much good to the nation (see paras 4 & 5) .  But we must not uncritically adore and  deify him.  Veneration of  national  heroes is alright but worship is unbecoming.  Undoubtedly  but unintentionally  or innocently, he has done injustice to Hindus through his  uncritical and unrequited/unreciprocated, indeed overzealous fraternity with  Moslems, the  tallest among whom  did not hesitate to publicly hold him (Gandhiji) inferior to  an “adulterous and fallen” Mussalman.  Regrettably, Gandhiji allowed his  name, Gandhi to be appended to Indira ( Nehru) although her husband , Feroze was Ghandi (Parsi- oil  presser by  tradition). Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka have   no relationship with Mahatma  Gandhi . But by appending that name, large number of uninformed Indians  are  misled into  support to that  clan which by now is only half-unIndian (Euro-Indian like Anglo-Indian to be precise).


16. I know that many would accuse me of  denigrating  Mahatma Gandhi. I am too small to have  to effect any denigration  or subtract from the Mahatma’s  greatness. But  it is  impermissible for anyone to blindly extol a person  without  ever referring to  his monumental  failures. For eg: the Hindu- Muslim brother –hood was never there. Despite Mahatma Gandhi, socialist Jawaharlal Nehru and nationalist Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Muslims of India rejected  Congress and Gandhiji   -  98.35% of them voted against the Congress (which swore by  undivided India), in the 1945-46 general elections to  provincial  and central  legislatures   and voted  for the  Muslim League which asserted that Muslims are not part of  the Indian  nation and therefore demanded the partition of India and  succeeded to create the  Islamic state of Pakistan. Gandhiji preached  non-violence; there is  un-paralleled violence by jihadis and   Maoists and     even Congress-men ( eg: 1984 slaughter of Sikhs in and  around Delhi) and extremists.  The objective namely Hindu-Muslim brotherhood; non-division of India and non-violence which Gandhiji strove to achieve have remained  totally unrealized.  The  magnificent effort is a failure but venerable.


17. It is only in dictatorships like that of the communists and  religious fundamentalists that inconvenient truths  are   glossed over and only  hagiographic accounts  of the men in power are  written and revised  according to  the  interest of the  rulers. But in a country in which  democracy is not yet extinguished and freedom of expression  is still upheld  by the  judiciary, it is not unreasonable and discourteous if one points out the failures  of   so great  a person  as the Mahatma, failures which hurt India and  Hindus. (Initially written in 2006; revised in Sept 2018).    (2,917 words) –END-