Gandhi's Experiments With Celibacy / Brahmacharya

Gandhi with his women associates- Manuben and Abhaben

Gandhi tried to test and prove to himself his brahmacharya. The experiments began when he aged more than 75 years and some time after the death of his wife in February 1944. At the start of his experiment he had women sleep in the same room but in different beds. He later slept with women in the same bed but clothed, and finally he slept naked with women. None of the women who participated in the brahmachari experiments of Gandhi indicated that they had sex or that Gandhi behaved in any sexual way. Those who went public said they felt as though they were sleeping with their ageing mother.

Gandhi in his final year of life was an ascetic, looked ugly and a sickly skeletal figure. Gandhi's public experiments, as they progressed, were widely discussed and criticised by his family members and leading politicians. Nirmalkumar Bose, Gandhi's Bengali interpreter, for example criticized Gandhi, not because Gandhi did anything wrong, but because Gandhi was not concerned about the psychological effect on the women who participated in his experiments.

What is brahmacharya? It is a way of life, which leads us to Brahma (God).

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was widely known as a saint and a revolutionary leader in the early 20th century in India. He introduced ashram system where everyone irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion, and eating habits could stay under one roof. People living in the Ashram had to cook food, clean vessels, wash clothes and work for everyone.

Gandhi dedicated his life to discovering and pursuing truth, or Satya, and called his movement as satyagraha, which means "appeal to, insistence on, or reliance on the Truth". Gandhi summarised his beliefs first when he said "God is Truth". He would later change this statement to "Truth is God". Thus, satya (truth) in Gandhi's philosophy is "God".

Gandhi began experiments with the virtues such as non-violence, patience, integrity, lack of hypocrisy, self restraint and abstinence. In 1906 at age 37, although married and a father, he vowed to abstain from sexual relations. Gandhi's experiment with abstinence went beyond sex, and extended to food.