LONDON: Back in 2014 hand written letters of Gandhi failed to find a buyer who was willing to pay even half of the expected amount for three historical hand written letters by Mahatma Gandhi accusing his eldest son Hiralal of committing rape.
In an auction that was closely followed all across the world, auctioneers Mullock’s expected the three letters written by Gandhi to fetch atleast 80,000 pounds.
However, the letters were opened up for auction at just 20,000 pounds.
Even then, it did not find a buyer. The lot was “passed” – meaning remained unsold.
The three remarkable letters dated June 6th, June 19th and June 27th 1935, discuss his son’s situation, his relationships and his behaviour – saying he has been accused of lying in his behaviour with two women, adding “please let me have pure truth please tell me if still you are interested in alcohol and debauchery. I wish that you better die rather than resort to alcohol in any manner”.
Gandhi further states “you should know that your problem has become much more difficult for me even then our national freedom”.
The letters are written in Gandhi’s native Gujarati and are in fine condition.
The most important contents of the letter sees Gandhi accuse his son of rape.
“Manu is telling me number of dangerous things about you. She says that you had raped her before eight years and she was so much hurt that medical treatment was also to be taken,” Gandhi says in one of the letters in reference to Harilal’s daughter Manu who had come to stay with her grandfather at Sabarmati Ashram.
Mullock’s said in a statement “The letters are written in Gujarati and are in good condition. These have come via descent from a branch of Gandhi’s family to the present vendor. As far as we are aware they have never before been seen in public and as such they provide remarkable new information on the troubled relationship Gandhi had with his son”.
Harilal Gandhi (1888-1948) had wanted to go to England to study to become a barrister, like his father. Gandhi firmly opposed this believing a Western style education would not be helpful in the struggle against British rule over India. This led to Harilal renouncing all family ties in 1911, and his troubled relationship with his father continued throughout his life, as evidenced in these letters.
It is said that Harilal appeared at his father’s funeral in such derelict condition that few recognized him. He died from liver disease in a municipal hospital in Mumbai.
The troubled relationship he had with his father is the subject of the film and play ‘Gandhi My Father’ released in 2007.