It was no secret that Mohandas Gandhi had an unusual sex life. He spoke constantly of sex and gave detailed, often provocative, instructions to his followers as to how to they might best observe chastity. And his views were not always popular; "abnormal and unnatural" was how the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, described Gandhi's advice to newlyweds to stay celibate for the sake of their souls. But was there something more complex than a pious plea for chastity at play in Gandhi's beliefs, preachings and even his unusual personal practices which included, alongside his famed chastity, sleeping naked next to nubile, naked women to test his restraint? In the course of researching my new book on Gandhi, going through a hundred volumes of his complete works and many tomes of eye-witness material, details became apparent which add up to a more bizarre sexual history.
Did Mahatma Gandhi sleep with virgins?
Mahatma Gandhi’s little-known love affair with a married, progressive woman in Lahore
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After taking his vows of poverty and chastity, Gandhi began setting up ashrams essentially Hindu monasteries to teach his ideas to others. But they were also intended to be places where Gandhi could experiment with the best way to stay chaste. These ashrams took in young boys and girls and began training them to live their lives without sex. Children and adults of both genders were expected to live, sleep, and even bathe together.
The psychological models that Gandhi developed to address the issues of sexuality, self-control and abstinence were baffling and unorthodox to say the least, and quite divergent from traditional Hindu models of Kama and Brahmacharya. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who later received accolades like Mahatma, Bapu and Father of the Nation, is usually associated with morality, ethics, self-abnegation, piety and self-control. Gandhi openly spoke about issues of sexuality to his followers and gave them advice on how to conduct themselves in both public as well as private. However often his advice bordered on extreme puritanism and aberrance. For example he asked married men to take a cold bath if they felt the urge to have intercourse with their wives.