London: Rich archive comprising of thousands of letters and documents related to Mahatma Gandhi, including those on his controversial relationship with architect Hermann Kallenbach, have been sold to the Indian government in a ‘private transaction’, auctioneers’ Sotheby’s said today.
‘Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that the Gandhi-Kallenbach archive, which had been scheduled for
auction in Sotheby’s English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations Auction on July 10, 2012, has been
sold in a private transaction to the Indian Government,’ a statement by the auctioneer said.
The archive was to be auctioned tomorrow, but after a contract was signed between the auctioneer and India’s
Ministry of Culture on Friday, the auction was cancelled.
The archive, which is likely to be a rich resource for researchers and historians, was recently examined by a team of
experts from the Ministry of Culture, who reportedly described it as ‘very well preserved and of inestimable value’.
The archive includes several letters that throw fresh light on the controversial relationship between Gandhi and
architect Hermann Kallenbach, one of the foremost associates and friends of Gandhi during his time in South Africa.
The auctioneer’s Catalogue Note on the archive said that it ‘is richly informative of the important (and occasionally misunderstood) friendship between the two men, and is a key biographical source for Gandhi’. The archive includes ‘poignant letters’ by the deeply troubled Harilal, Gandhi’s first son, and reveals Kallenbach’s deep friendship in particular with Gandhi’s
second son Manilal, who remained on Phoenix Settlement in South Africa, and his third son Ramdas.
The archive contains mostly unpublished correspondence over five decades, including references to Gandhi’s early
political campaigns and the illness of Kasturba.
Gandhi writes in a letter: ‘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’.
In another letter, Gandhi writes before returning to India: ‘I do all my writing squatting on the ground and eat
invariably with my fingers. I don’t want to look awkward in India’.
‘These letters, together with those by other family members, Mahadev Desai, and of Gandhi’s close associates
in India, provide a detailed portrait of Gandhi’s personal life in India’, the Catalogue Note said.
‘This extraordinarily rich archive stands as a testament to a hugely significant figure in the life of Gandhi and a key
member of his inner circle’.
Did you like this? Share it: