June 14, 2024

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That Dual Mindedness of Mahatma Gandhi ji

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Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi has once again become the subject of discussion, and this time there is no one else to question this great monolithic person but his own great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi. Mr Tushar Gandhi tweeted the few days back that Mahatma Gandhiji was not always right. The way he stopped his son Manilal’s love marriage to a Muslim girl, he was wrong in that matter. This tweet of Tushar Gandhi is a testimony to the fact that His Great Grandfather- Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhiji wanted to settle the Muslims in the country, but not in his home. Did not Gandhiji consider this country his home? And, if not so then when his son Manilal wanted to marry Muslim girl Fatima then why Gandhiji had categorically refused him by saying that we will not allow you to enter the house. Manilal had also become very angry on this.

Now understand the dual mindedness of Gandhiji from here. Jinnah did not marry a Muslim girl despite being a Muslim himself. He married a Parsi girl Ratanbai aka Ruti, at that time Gandhiji did not protest. Liaquat Ali Khan had silently married with Sheela Ireen Pant, a girl from the Kumaonuni Brahmin family, but Gandhiji remained silent on this. He wrote in ‘Young India’ on June 4, 1931, “the question of marrying out of his religion is different. In this, as long as both- the men and women are allowed to follow their own religion, I do not consider any objection in such a marriage from the moral point of view. But I do not believe that such marriage relations will be able to establish peace”.

Meanwhile, another interesting incident reveals the double stand of Gandhiji in 1933, when the question of Gandhi’s inter-religious marriage of his own two close acquaintances came up. The man was an Indian Hindu and the woman was a Roman Catholic Christian from Germany. In this, the wife wanted to raise her children on the basis of Roman-Catholic culture. When Gandhiji’s opinion was asked about this, he wrote in a letter on 16 November 1933, ‘I believe that when husband and wife are of different religion, then their children should be reared according to the religious rites of the father. There are solid religious and philosophical reasons to support my opinion in favor of this matter.

But 10 years later, his great philosophy when again took a turn because this time the same question came in front of him in a different form. It was the question of the marriage of Prime Minister Nehru’s daughter Indira who wanted to get married to a Parsi. Now people sent a letter to Gandhiji and asked if Indira’s children would be Parsis, because as per your solid religious and philosophical reason, the father’s religion should be accepted by the children.

Gandhiji then replied and wrote that Feroze Gandhi has long-standing relations with the Nehru family. During Kamla Nehru’s illness, Mr. Feroze Gandhi took at most care of her with a much responsible attitude. He was like a son to her. He also helped Indira during her illness in Europe. So a natural friendship occurred between them. This friendship was restrained. From this a mutual desire to be together raised. But neither of them wanted to marry without Jawaharlal Nehru’s consent and blessings. Now, when Jawaharlal came to believe that there is stability under this attraction, then he gave his approval. People know that how close I am to the Nehru-family. I also talked to both sides and found that if this engagement had not been agreed upon, it would have been an act of cruelty.

It shows that he did cruelty to his son but did not let it happen with the daughter of Nehru ji. How amazing was that Bapu of our country! Further about his double mindedness his granddaughter Uma Dhupelia, Uma Manilal wrote in 2006 in Biography of Manilal Gandhi named as Manilal Gandhi: Gandhi’s Prisoner? Uma was a professor of history at Western Cape University, South Africa. She has a daughter, Sapna, who is currently working on a book on Indigenous people in the South African city of Cape Town.

In fact, for a long time in his life Gandhi was not only against inter-religious but also against inter-caste marriages. Not only he stopped his second son Manilal from having a love marriage with a Muslim girl, but also he stopped his youngest son Devdas from doing the inter-caste marriage for many years thinking that by then his mind will not be stubborn for love marriage.

Well, when Manilal fell in love with a Muslim girl, their love lasted for about a decade. Both wanted to each other. Now when he sought permission from Gandhiji, he refused to let this marriage happen by giving many arguments. Manilal fell in love with Yusuf Gul’s daughter Fatima, Gandhi’s trusted aide in South Africa. They had been together since childhood. A lot of time passed by, so the time brought them closer. Moreover, since childhood, Gandhiji had taught his sons that all religions are equal; we all should live mingle, so to the mind of children it never came that religion can also be a wall.

But Manilal was confident that he would marry Timmy aka Fatima one day. However, he slowly started to feel that there were many obstacles in this. Kasturba was strongly opposed to marriage in other religions. Not just Religion, she was not in favor of marriage even in other caste. She could not accept that her daughter-in-law belonged to another religion or caste. Well, Manilal sent a message in 1926 to his father through his younger brother Ramdas that he wanted to marry Fatima. Not only Fatima, her siblings and family had a very intimate relationship with Gandhiji’s family during their stay in South Africa. Gandhiji answered that this will be unrighteous to do so. The said letter destroyed Manilal’s dreams in totality. Gandiji further wrote in his letter to his son that you are a Hindu and if you married Fatima and even after marriage she remained Muslim, then it will become like two swords in the same sheath on one side while on other side you will lose your faith. Just think that children will be born under which religion and faith then.

Also, even if Fatima wants to change her religion only for marriage, that will also not be good. Faith is not a cloth, which you can juts change like a cloth. If anyone does this, he will be excluded from religion and home which is not also not fair at all. Creating such relationship is nowhere beneficial for the society neither it will not do any good to Hindu Muslims equation. After inter-religious marriage, neither will you be able to serve the country nor will you be able to take out Indian Opinion Weekly by staying in Phoenix Ashram. It will be difficult for you to come to India. I cannot even speak to Ba about this; she is not at all going to allow it. Actually Gandhiji was worried about the reaction of this marriage in India. After giving so many doses to the son in the letter, he gave further strong dose, you are thinking about such a marriage for momentary happiness, even though you do not know what the real happiness is. Perhaps his own ideas of real happiness never coincide with what his son wanted to preach. May you all find answers by connecting the remaining stories!

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