The ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India’ was released last year and earned a ban in Gandhi’s home state of Gujarat.
The Pulitzer Prize winning author-journalist says while the controversy part was what came to be known, his emphasis had to be on the great Indian leader’s struggles with the implementation of his own theories.
“I am a survivor of a fatwa from the great Gandhian Chief Minister of Gujarat who banned my book,” says Lelyveld, tounge-in-cheek, taking a light jab on Narendra Modi.
But, he says, he was all driven by the study of the 33 years of Gandhi’s life in India’s social realm and how he himself towards the end was dissatisfied by the way India’s Independence came about.
“I had not intended to base my book on the secret sex life of Gandhi,” he said at a session while speaking about the modes of protest popularized by Gandhi and Ambedkar.
“… but on him as a social reformer and how he brought his concept of social equality back to India from South Africa.
It was tracing the course of his emphasis on Hindu-Muslim amity, on caste, untouchability and how his experiments did not often work out brialliantly in his own view,” he said.
“He was not a celebrator of independence as this was not an independence he had worked for”.
The reviews of Lelyveld’s book had claimed that the book portrays Gandhi in a more than platonic relationship with German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder Hermann Kallenbach.