Rare Gandhi-Kallenbach letters at National Archives
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"My dear Lower House, I was delighted to receive your note... ," reads a letter yellowed by time. Dated 1914, it is signed "Upper House".
On Wednesday morning, the National Archives of India released rare letters and photographs related to Mahatma Gandhi's life in South Africa. The most prominent display is the ones exchanged between "Upper House" Gandhi and "Lower House" Hermann Kallenbach, one of his closest of associates.
Titled "Gandhi-Kallenbach papers", the exhibition is open to public at the National Archives till February 15.
Marking the 65th death anniversary of the Mahatma, the collection at the exhibition is part of thousands of items related to Gandhi which were recently procured by the government after signing a contract with London-based auction house Sotheby's.
The government bought the items for $1.28 million. Union Minister of Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch inaugurated the exhibition and Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi was the guest of honour.
"Firstly, Gandhi had a close and intense relationship with Kallenbach and these letters bring out the intensity. Secondly, Gandhi owed a great deal to many people in South Africa and Kallenbach was one of them. Thirdly, the Gandhian struggle in South Africa is not very well known. This is the first collection, which sheds light into this phase of his life," Professor Mushirul Hasan, Director General of National Archives, said.
Kallenbach, a Jewish South African architect born in Germany, was a close aide of Gandhi and was greatly influenced by his views on Satyagraha. He even accompanied Gandhi and wife Kasturba on their final journey from South Africa to London in 1914. He had also donated his thousand-acre farm near Johannesburg, called Tolstoy Farm, to Gandhi. It was here that many of Gandhi's philosophies were put to test — simple lifestyle, vegetarian diet, social equality, politics and self-sustained economy. The letters are the latest addition to National Archives' "Private Papers" collection.
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