Beloved Bapu offers readers an unprecedented insight into the relationship between Gandhi and Mirabehn, his foremost Western woman disciple. Born Madeleine Slade, the daughter of a British admiral, Mira came to India in 1925 to dedicate her life to Gandhi and his cause, and remained his faithful companion for twenty-three years. Gandhi and Mira were often together but correspondended extensively when they were not. The current volume brings together this correspondence in its entirety for the first time, interweaving Gandhi's letters to Mira with her own responses to him and putting them in conversation with each other.
Mira and Gandhi shared a connection that was as close and loving as it was troubled. She was a woman of tremendous industry and drive, a quality that Gandhi grasped quickly and admired greatly. However, he was also deeply ambivalent about the obsessive nature of her love - indeed, her infatuation - chastising her sharply for her 'idolatry' on the one hand, and apologising for his harshness and keeping her close on the other.
Their letters reveal the great depth and complexity of this close but incredibly fraught relationship. They also provide fascinating glimpses of their work in the khadi industry and in village India, their perspectives on ashram life and people, their struggles with health and diet, and their opinions on a living a good life and serving truth.
The original letters reproduced here are accompanied by the editors' commentary, which will guide the reader through the trajectory of this remarkable relationship.
This book will interest not only historians, students and scholars of Gandhian thought but also the lay reader who is interested in the Mahatma, his times and his companions.