Gandhi, Hermann Kallenbach Letters Sought By Indian Government
NEW DELHI — A report says the Indian government is buying a collection of letters that may provide information on the relationship between India’s independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi and a German architect.
The correspondence between Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach had been listed for sale by the international auctioneers Sotheby’s in London.
Press Trust of India said the Ministry of Culture has agreed to pay the Kallenbach family slightly more than the catalog price ranging between $775,000 and $1.1 million. It would store the thousands of letters and photographs at the National Archives.
India’s Gujarat state banned a book on Gandhi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld last year after reviews hinted Gandhi and Kallenbach had a sexual relationship.
NEW DELHI: The Indian government has stepped in to buy a collection of thousands of letters, papers and photos relating to Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi ahead of its planned auction in London.
The archive, which belonged to Gandhi’s close friend Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish bodybuilder and architect, was to have gone under the hammer at Sotheby’s on Tuesday.
The auction house had put a pre-sale estimate of between 500,000 and 700,000 pounds ($775,000 and $1.1 million) on the collection.
But the sale was pulled after Indian authorities agreed to purchase the entire archive.
“The Gandhi-Kallenbach archive… has been sold in a private transaction to the Indian government,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.
The price of the sale was not disclosed.
Most of the correspondence, which spans five decades from 1905 to 1945, is from family, friends and followers of Gandhi, but there are also 13 letters written by him to Kallenbach.
They reference Gandhi’s early political campaigns and the illness of his wife Kasturba.
“I no longer want to be angry with her so she is sweet… She had a few grapes today but she is suffering again. It seems to be me she is gradually sinking,” he wrote in one letter.
In another, written before his return to India from South Africa, Gandhi wrote: “I do all my writing squatting on the ground and eat invariably with my fingers. I don’t want to look awkward in India”.
Indian historian Ramchandra Guha discovered the letters at the home of Kallenbach’s grand-niece, Isa Sarid.
India has in the past complained bitterly about private auctions of Gandhi’s belongings, saying they insulted the memory of a man who rejected material wealth.
Gandhi and Kallenbach became constant companions after they met in Johannesburg in 1904.
The friendship between the two men was the subject of a controversial book published last year, which suggested they enjoyed an intimate physical relationship. via: indiatimes.com
India has acquired an archive of letters and documents that throws fresh life into the personal life of Mahatma Gandhi including his much-talked-about friendship with German architect and body-builder Hermann Kallenbach.
The archive was to be auctioned by Sotheby’s, a multinational auctioneer of fine and decorative art, jewelery, and collectibles, on June 10.
However, the government acquired the preserved letters and documents from Sotheby’s agreeing to pay $ 1.28 million to the multinational corporation against the purchase.
“Gandhi-Kallanbach Archives have been withdrawn from the proposed Sotheby’s auction and sold to government of India,” Culture Minister Kumari Seilja said here on Tuesday.
Popularly known as Gandhi-Kallenbach archives, the collection of the letter and documents relating to the icon of the non-violence, was in possession of Isa Sarid, the grandniece of Kallenbach.
The Sarid family had quoted $ 5 million for the archives. “This offer was considered unacceptable by the Government of India. Finally, it was settled at GBP 8,25,250, which is equal to $ 1.28 million only,” Selja said, adding that the payment has been made to Sotheby’s under an agreement with the auctioneer and Sarid family.
The archive will be housed in the National Archives of India here in the national capital, the Minister said.
The archive contains a large number of unreported letters of Gandhi, including references to his early political campaigns and the illness of his wife Kasturba. There are several letters which throws a fresh light on the much-talked-about friendship between Gandhi and Kallenbach, who was considered very close to him during his stay in South Africa.
According to Sotheby’s, the Gandhi-Kallenbach archive is a key biographical source for Gandhi and “richly informative of the important and occasionally misunderstood friendship between the two men.” via: deccanherald.com
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