NEW DELHI - Reuters
Letters, papers and photographs from the Hermann Kallenbach Archive are seen in this undated handout photograph released in London. REUTERS Photo
The Indian government has bought t housands o f letters, papers and photographs which shed light on the life of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, days before they were to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London, a government official said today.
India paid around 60 million rupees or $1.1 million for the papers, which cover Gandhi's t ime i n South Africa, his return to India
and his contentious relationship with his family. The auction that was to be held on July 10 has been called off.
"These (papers) are of huge importance to India
to carry out research on the Gandhian view on various things, that is why we decided to purchase them," said a senior official at India's ministry of culture in New Delhi, who asked not to be named.
The documents w ill be placed with the National Archives of India
in New Delhi.
The documents previously belonged to relatives of Hermann Kallenbach, a German-born Jewish a rchitect w ho m et Gandhi in South Africa in 1904 and was impressed by his ideas.
The Indian leader began his civil rights work and philosophy of non-violent resistance during his 2 0-year so journ in the African country. He remained fr iends w ith Kallenbach after ret urning to India
Some reviewers of a Gandhi biography by Pulitzer prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld published last year, which documented Gandhi's friendship with Kallenbach, said the book cited correspondence between the two men which suggested that they had had a homosexual affair.
Lelyveld has denied that his book "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India" says Gandhi was bisexual. But the former Indian leader's home state of Gujarat has banned it as an "insult" to the father of the nation.
Among the most illuminating of the documents are dozens of letters written by Gandhi's sons which provide details of his life in India, particularly in the period im mediately af ter his return, when he lived in relative obscurity.
"Father is becoming more and more awful," read one incomplete letter probably written by Harilal, his eldest son.
"It would not be strange if a time may come one of these days when either those who are living with Father might have to go or he might leave us all not being able to stand our life."