Indian Minorities Confront Arun Gandhi
Indian Minorities Confront Arun Gandhi
Sun City, CA – Oct. 20, 2007 – “Mahatma” Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, drew protest from Indian minorities when he spoke in Southern California on Saturday.
Approximately 10 Indian minorities attended the first event, a speech at the Sun City United Church of Christ. During the question and answer session, several Indians challenged Mr. Gandhi to explain aspects of Mohandas Gandhi’s writings which highlighted his racism and sham nonviolence.
Mohandas Gandhi said: “It cannot be said that Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are separate religions. All these four faiths and their offshoots are one. Hinduism is an ocean into which all the rivers run. It can absorb Islam and Christianity and all other religions and only then can it become the ocean.” This quote was paraphrased by one Indian, who also mentioned Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which declares Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains to be Hindus.
“How can Gandhism be called tolerant,” asked the Indian, “when it forces these religious minorities to be Hindus?”
Mr. Gandhi replied that Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism are all offshoots from Hinduism. He said it was not incorrect to call adherents of these religions “Hindus.” This statement is completely false, as these four religions all have completely separate scriptures, beliefs, and traditions and cannot be construed as identical religions by any objective observer.
Another Indian mentioned Gandhi’s quote, “If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British.” Mr. Gandhi said he had never heard of the quote and that his grandfather would never say such a thing. This quote, however, was documented by Gandhi’s long-time trusted secretary, Pyarelal Nayyar, in “Mahatama Gandhi: The Last Phase.”
Peter Flanigan, webmaster of Gandhism.net, asked about Mohandas Gandhi’s anti-black activism while in South Africa. He referenced the Durban post office incident and quoted some of Gandhi’s anti-black comments. In light of Gandhi’s South African activities, Mr. Flanigan asked, “Why was Gandhi so offended by being associated with black people? And to what extent did he contribute to the rise of Apartheid in South Africa?”
Mr. Gandhi first said he had never heard of these quotes or the Durban incident, although they are very well-documented and included in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi.
He also said that his grandfather was friendly towards the South African blacks, even helping nurse wounded blacks during the Second Boer War. He neglected to mention that Mohandas Gandhi later served as a British Sergeant Major during the 1906 Natal Zulu Rebellion. According to Gandhi: “Those who confine themselves to attending the wounded cannot be absolved from the guilt of war.” Arun Gandhi finally tried to justify his grandfather’s anti-black quotes by saying that Gandhi “lived in a different time” when people were not as “enlightened.” He also insisted that Gandhi later apologized for his anti-black comments, which is false.
There is no record of Gandhi ever apologizing for his racism. Additionally, though it may have been a “different time,” Gandhi has long been cast as the ultimate egalitarian. He has also been heavily associated with the American Civil Rights Movement, which sought to end the degradation of black people. His own disdain for blacks, however incidental to his era, should disqualify Gandhi as a civil rights hero.
Despite billing himself as a devotee of complete nonviolence, Arun Gandhi became visibly frustrated and incensed as he was confronted with the reality of Gandhi’s beliefs.
Protesters followed Arun Gandhi to his next event, a fundraising dinner at The Center for Spiritual Living in Sun City. They held signs with slogans such as “Gandhi’s India Kills Minorities” and quotes from Gandhi like “Hitler is not a bad man.” They also distributed two versions of the Gandhi Pamphlet to all attendees.
Mr. Flanigan spoke for the protesters, saying they are dedicated to “setting the record straight by exposing the historical Gandhi for what he was – a shame and a sham.”