What You Didn't Know About Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi is widely regarded as one of the most peace-loving historical figures in pop culture today. This holier-than-thou image of him is propped up by the countless number of photos of him namaste-ing and bowing his head like he'd never hurt a fly. According to Britannica, his doctrine of nonviolent protest — what he called satyagraha — led to the liberation of India from British colonial rule and garnered him the admiration of people who hope for peace the world over. He famously protested the caste system imposed on India by its colonizers, bringing about significant social change by lifting some of the social stigma placed upon the "untouchables" — the extremely derogatory term used to refer to the citizens of the lowest level of that unjust system.

His large nonviolent protest that went down in history as the Salt March is a highlight of the lengthy 1983 biopic starring Ben Kingsley, but the film left out a rather interesting and important detail of the pacifist's life. Like Mother Teresa, what you didn't know about Gandhi will absolutely shock you and have you questioning your preconceived notions of his inherent goodness.

Gandhi's unique way of testing the limits of his chastity

According to The Guardian, Gandhi biographer Ramachandra Guha has revealed a little-known "inexplicable and indefensible" fact about Gandhi's sex life that went unnoticed for decades after his death. After his wife Kasturba's death in 1944, the popular peacenik apparently took to sleeping with naked women who were sometimes as many as 60 years younger than him in order to "avoid having sex with them." The revolutionary — who supposedly hadn't done the deed at all for 40 years — believed that if he made it through the night without what Iago called "making the beast with two backs," he could say he had reached the Hindu value of brahmacharya, or righteous celibacy. Of course, most of us achieve this rather easily by not getting into bed with underage girls in the first place, but he apparently needed the challenge.

Another Gandhi biographer, Jad Adams — whose 2011 book Gandhi: Naked Ambition was reviewed in the Independent — wrote that Gandhi's aversion to "lustful love" may have had its genesis in his decision as a young man to leave his father's deathbed to get busy with Kasturba. Whatever the source of that guilt, it did not justify him sleeping in his birthday suit with his 18-year-old grandniece, and the recent revelations into Gandhi's sex life now rank him among the numerous respected historical figures who were actually terrible people.