Soulmates (The Story of Mahatma Gandhi and Herman Kallenbach)

Soulmates (The Story of Mahatma Gandhi and Herman Kallenbach)

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Item Code: NAG481
Author: Shimon Lev
Publisher: Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788125046998
Pages: 202
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 380 gm

About the Book


Over six decades after his death, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi continues to play a role in inspiring the lives, thought and philosophy of nations and their leaders. There is little about the political life and work of possibly the greatest human being of the last century that has not been studied, debated and written about. The few relatively unexplored gaps that remain in research largely concern his personal life, comradeship and friendships-among them, his close association with Hermann Kallenbach, the German-Jewish architect with whom the Mahatma developed an enigmatic friendship in South Africa, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.


Soulmates: The Story of Mahatma Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach is the first full-length, comprehensive study of this unique relationship. The story is told chronologically, from the time the two men were introduced by Gandhi's friend R. K. Khan, to the important milestones in Gandhi's evolution as a mass leader in

South Africa. It is a detailed and sensitive portrayal of their struggles and triumphs, their political and spiritual journey.


The book also chronicles the different trajectory that Kallenbach's life took after parting ways with Gandhi at the beginning of World War I, and their reunion nearly a quarter century later when Kallenbach travelled to India to enlist the Mahatma's support for the Zionist Movement.


Kallenbach and Gandhi corresponded extensively when they were fighting discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The author has drawn on the letters that Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach, and those that Kallenbach wrote to his family, accessed from the Kallenbach Archives in Israel. The letters show a deep and mutual respect and admiration, and how each was influenced by the ideas and inspiration of the other.


The account of the strands linking these two remarkable lives is a valuable addition to Gandhi Studies. This volume will inform and fascinate a readership well beyond academic or professional interests.



About the Author


Shimon Lev is an artist, researcher and writer and lives in Israel. He is currently pursuing his Phd from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Indian Studies.




This is only one of many expressions of friendship and love in the correspondence between Gandhi and the Jewish architect Hermann Kallenbach during Gandhi's sojourn in South Africa between 1906-14. Similar expressions of affection in hundreds of letters make it apparent that the person closest to Gandhi in the second half of his sojourn in South Africa was Hermann Kallenbach. Kallenbach and Gandhi first met in 1903 or 1904. By 1907, their relationship had developed into that of intimate friendship, one that assumed deep significance for both of them for the rest of their lives.


Gandhi and Kallenbach lived together episodically from 1908 to 1913 as close friends, dedicated both to personal spiritual development and to managing the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa. As Kallenbach describes, 'though we worked in our own offices, we lived in the same rooms-almost in the same bed-and he cooked for us whilst I did the cleaning'. For the first two years, they lived in Kallenbach's home in Johannesburg, and then moved to Tolstoy Farm, what could be called a prototype of the Gandhian ashram in India. After Gandhi left Tolstoy Farm in January 1913, Kallenbach underwent a personal crisis and considered migrating to Palestine as a Zionist pioneer. It was Gandhi who eventually dissuaded him from doing so. Ultimately, Kallenbach decided not to migrate to Palestine but rather to dedicate himself to the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa, which was renewed with increased vigour by the end of 1913. Kallenbach played a central role in the third wave of the Satyagraha struggle, was arrested alongside Gandhi and Henry Polak during the 'Epic March' from 6-10 November 1913, and sentenced to three months in jail. When the struggle ended, Kallenbach abandoned his local affairs and left South Africa with Gandhi in order to work with him in India. Together, they sailed to England to meet the moderate Indian politician Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915). Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War I disrupted their plan to continue to the Indian subcontinent as Gandhi's attempts to procure a visa to India for Kallenbach, who was a German citizen, failed. After a few months in London, Gandhi left for India while Kallenbach was compelled to spend the duration of the war at a detainee camp in the Isle of Man. Kallenbach was released in 1917. He returned to South Africa in 1920, where he quickly reinstated himself as a successful architect. In the mid-1920s, Kallenbach grew increasingly interested in Zionism and in 1937, in response to an urgent letter from Moshe Shertok (Sharerr')" asking him to garner support for the Zionist cause from Gandhi, he travelled to Gandhi's ashram in India. The purpose of his trip was to obtain a statement from Gandhi supporting the Zionist cause, something the latter had opposed in the past. Kallenbach's personal relationship with Gandhi effectively made him the most significant link between the Indian national movement and the Zionist movement. The complete absence of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, which ended only in the 1990s, has contributed to the general ignorance about Gandhi's and Kallenbach's relationship.


A survey of the literature on Gandhi reveals much about his character, teachings and phenomenal leadership. However, at times, aggrandisement of Gandhi has both sidelined the study of those who influenced him, and belittled their contribution to the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa. In recent decades, a number of studies that focus on those who influenced Gandhi have been published, such as Weber (2004) and Hunt & Bhana (2007).


The aim of this book, therefore, is to expand upon Kallenbach's role in the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa. Unlike other studies, this research examines Gandhi and Kallenbach's relationship chronologically, and emphasises the degree to which Kallenbach influenced Gandhi. My premise is that one cannot understand Gandhi without understanding his relationships with those who were closest to him during this period which saw him metamorphose from Mohandas to the Mahatma. This book attempts to show that Kallenbach was the person closest to Gandhi during the seminal period of change in his leadership qualities. It was Kallenbach whom Gandhi regarded as his partner during a period that was both critical and dramatic, one which some researchers claim became the springboard for Gandhi's activities in India.





List of Photographs











Chapter l.

Gandhi and Kallenbach's Meeting


Chapter 2.

The Upper House and the Lower House


Chapter 3.

Tolstory Farm


Chapter 4.

'The people you want to serve may be your death traps'


Chapter 5.

'The remedy lies not in Palestine'


Chapter 6.

Kallenbach's Role in the Third Wave of the Satyagraha


Chapter 7.

World War I-Gandhi and Kallenbach Part


Chapter 8.

Between Gandhi and Zion


Chapter 9.

'The Jews'






Photo Gallery









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