Gandhi Behind the Mask of Divinity

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Gandhi
GandhiBehindTheMaskOfDivinity.jpg
Cover page by Prometheus Books.
Author Colonel G. B. Singh
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-Fiction
Publisher Prometheus Books
Publication date
April 2004
Media type Print Hardcover & Paperback
Pages 356
ISBN 978-1-57392-998-1
Followed by Gandhi Under Cross Examination

Gandhi Behind the Mask of Divinity is a book by US Army Colonel G. B. Singh. The book was written in biographical form nearly 60 years after the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and challenges his image as a saintly, benevolent and non-violent leader of Indian independence, told through Gandhi's own writings and actions over the course of his life. The book claims that Gandhi emulated racism from the Hindu ideology of caste towards the Blacks of South Africa and the Untouchables, instigated ethnic hatred against foreign communities, and, to this end, was involved in covering up the killing of American engineer William Francis Doherty.

Singh puts forward that the portrayal of Gandhi as a great leader is "the work of the Hindu propaganda machine" and Christian clergy with ulterior motives; and, furthermore, it was based on irrationality and deception which historians have failed to critically examine.

Book organization[edit]

The author, Colonel Singh, states that he spent 20 years collecting Gandhi's original writings, speeches and other documents for this research book.[1] An earlier article by the author, Would the Real Gandhi Please Stand Up[2] in AAH Newsletter (publication of African Americans for Humanism) had resulted in protests by an active Black group in South Africa, when a statue of Gandhi was unveiled in central Johannesburg.[3][4]

The book is organized into 7 parts and 30 chapters. It starts by presenting a majority of earlier publications on Gandhi and the interactions and exposure (if any) of the authors of those publications to Gandhi and his ideology. In the first part, the author starts by explaining the reason for yet another book on Gandhi and then continues by presenting the major previous literary work done on Gandhi including the Gandhi movie in the first part of the book. The book claims that the Christian clergy first started "the Gandhi myth" – they wanted to elevate Gandhi to a 20th-century messiah and then convert him to Christianity, something that would open the floodgate for evangelizing Hindu masses.

The second part deals with Gandhi's alleged role in War against Blacks during the Bambatha Rebellion (Zulu war) followed by part 3 of the book in which the author talks about the methodology of Satyagraha used by Gandhi to uphold the status of Indians by preaching racial hatred and segregation against South African Blacks. Later parts 4, and 5 consider Gandhi's politics before and after the Boer War in South Africa, providing examples of what the author sees as racism from Gandhi towards blacks. Singh states that racism against Blacks of South Africa was an integral part of Gandhi's Satyagraha in South Africa, and he never fought for the rights of the native people. Singh further discusses how Gandhi actively encouraged the British to raise an Indian regiment for use against the Black Zulus, contrary to his image of a non-violent leader. The author also says that Gandhi had accepted the superiority and predominance of the white race, and believed that the upper-caste Indians shared with the Europeans a common Aryan heritage.

Part 6 of the book deals with Gandhi's alleged caste ideology and black Untouchables of India. This part starts with a chapter on Singh's views on Hinduism and the claim that it segregates people based on skin-color with the "Blacks ending up at the bottom as Untouchables". Singh claims that Gandhi received fierce resistance from B.R. Ambedkar as Gandhi continued to play his "racial and ethnic politics against the rights of Untouchables".

The last part of the book deals with alleged "White Murders" done during Satyagraha movements against the British which Singh contends have been ignored by Gandhian scholars. The book claims that Gandhi was involved in covering up the murder of an American Engineer William Francis Doherty during the campaign against visit of Prince of Wales, Edward the VIII. It also presents the content of original sworn on oath affidavit filed by William Francis Doherty's wife Annette H. Doherty in which she testified that Gandhi resorted to bribery to cover up the murder. Further, the book talks about Gandhi's alleged role in support of ethnic cleansing for his defense of Adolf Hitler, his "condemning" of Jews and British for not committing "collective suicide" by surrendering to the Nazis and also his condemning of Sikhs for not accepting the partition of Punjab in 1947 over their own massacre and uprooting.

Reviews[edit]

Scholarly[edit]

A comprehensive, annotated bibliography on Mahatma Gandhi-related literature briefly mentions the book as a "Highly critical account. Every move by Gandhi is interpreted by the author to be racist, which argument is very questionable”.[5]

Dr. Baldev Singh, frequent writer on Indian politics, Punjab and Sikh issues reviewed the book and opined that the book has "exploded the Gandhi myth" and the author has brought out the truth from Gandhi's "own mouth"[1]

Xavier William in the Midwest Book Review (2004) accused the author of mud slinging and compared it to another anti-Gandhi piece written by Khushwant Singh.[6]

Thomas W. Clark, who reviewed the book for American Humanist Association's The Humanist, stated that most readers will find the book "overwrought and unnecessarily inflammatory".[7] As for Singh's accusations of Gandhi destroying incriminating documents to cover up his racist views, Clark labeled them "unsubstantiated hypothesis" and "simply speculation". Clark instead recommended B. R. Ambedkar What Gandhi and the Congress Have Done to the Untouchables (1945) as a "more substantial and balanced account of some of Gandhi's shortcomings".[7] Katie Violin of The Kansas City Star also criticized the book and stated that "Gandhi as a racist doesn't add up."[8]

Professor Manfred Steger, author of Gandhi's Dilemma: Nonviolent Principles And Nationalist Power, wrote a review of the book in the December 2005 issue of The Historian.[9] He stated that the author doesn't offer hard evidence for the first thesis in the book - the alleged "Hindu propaganda machine", and found Singh's "eagerness to accuse" without raising or answering relevant questions "deeply disturbing". At the same time, Steger said that the author offers "much better evidence" for the second thesis - Gandhi's racist attitude.[9] He stated, "Perhaps one of the strongest sections of the book is the author's examination of pertinent primary and secondary literature revealing Gandhi's attitude toward black Africans during his two decades in South Africa". Steger noted that numerous other "balanced" critiques of Gandhi exist, such as the works by Ved Mehta, Partha Chatterjee, and Joseph Alter. In comparison, Steger concluded, that the book was a "one-sided attack" on Gandhi, without offering the larger, more complex picture of Gandhi's ethical and political engagements, thus turning it into a "strident polemic".[9]

Alan Caruba, the editor of Bookviews.com mentioned the book in its December 2004 issue, and stated "We need to remember that even great men had their flaws and Col. Singh, a career military officer and student of Indian politics, Hinduism, and of Gandhi, presents his facts in a compelling way."[10]

In his book, Gandhi's Philosophy and the Quest for Harmony, the author Anthony Parel termed Singh's book as "scurrilous", "crude bias" and "deplorable ignorance".[11]

Political[edit]

United States Congressman Edolphus Towns called the book "definitely controversial" but worth reading to broaden perspective on Gandhi and understand the foundations of India.[4] Towns mentioned the book in his Congressional debate during the Proceedings and Debates of 110th United States Congress (First Session).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gandhi Behind the Mask of Divinity". Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  2. ^ Singh, G. B. (Fall 2002). "Would the Real Gandhi Please Stand Up?". AAH Examiner 12 (3). 
  3. ^ "An Interview with Col. G. B. Singh". Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  4. ^ a b Extensions of Remarks - December 13, 2005 by HON. EDOLPHUS TOWNS OF NEW YORK IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Proceedings and Debates of 109th Congress (First Session)
  5. ^ Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography on Mahatma Gandhi By Surendra Bhana, Ananda M. Pandiri, Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie,ISBN 0-313-30217-0 P495
  6. ^ William, Xavier (October 2004). "Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity. (Book Review)". Reviewer's Bookwatch (Midwest Book Review). 
  7. ^ a b "Gandhi in question.(Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity)(Gandhi As We Have Known Him)(Book review)". The Humanist (American Humanist Association). July 2006. ISSN 0018-7399.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  8. ^ Violin, Katie (2005-01-02). "Gandhi as a racist doesn't add up". The Kansas City Star. p. 7. 
  9. ^ a b c Steger, Manfred B. (2005-12-05). "Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity (Book review)". The Historian (Phi Alpha Theta) 67 (4): 781. ISSN 0018-2370. 
  10. ^ Caruba, Alan. "BookReviews.com". Retrieved 2008-02-11. [dead link]
  11. ^ Parel, Anthony (2006). Gandhi's Philosophy and the Quest for Harmony. Cambridge University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-521-86715-3. OCLC 69484298.