Justice Katju on Gandhi Jayanti

Today, 2nd October, is Gandhi Jayanti, or the birthday of Gandhiji, and some people have asked me to send my greetings to people on this occasion.

I regret I cannot do that, as I regard Gandhi as objectively a British agent, who did incalculable harm to the Indian people, for which they are still suffering. Let me explain.

Gandhi has been proclaimed as a ‘Mahatma’, the Father of our nation, who gave freedom to India. I submit this is a myth carefully built up by the British and certain other vested interests. What is the truth ?

India has tremendous diversity, numerous religions, castes, races, languages, etc ( see my article ‘ What is India ?’ online ). Realizing this the British policy was of divide and rule ( see online ‘ History in the Service of Imperialism ‘ , which is a speech delivered by Prof. B.N. Pande in the Rajya Sabha ).


By constantly injecting religion into politics continuously for several decades, Gandhi furthered the British policy of divide and rule.

When Gandhi came to India in 1915 from South Africa ( where he practised law for about 20 years ) the Congress party was confined to some intellectuals, and had little mass following.

Gandhi thought that since India is a deeply religious country the best way to build up a mass following would be use of religion. So from 1915 till his death in 1948 in almost every public meeting and his writings he would propagate Hindu religious ideas like Ramraj, cow protection, varnashram, brahmachrya, etc ( see ‘The Collected works of ‘Mahatma Gandhi ‘, which is a Govt. of India publication in several volumes ).



This indeed converted the Congress from a party of only intellectuals to a mass party. But it was a mass party of the Hindu masses alone. How could the Muslims join such a party which appealed to Hindu sentiments ? In fact such an appeal to religion necessarily drove the Muslim masses to a Muslim communal organization– the Muslim League.

Did this not serve the British policy of divide and rule ? And therefore was Gandhi not objectively a British agent ?

In his book ‘The Partition of India ‘ the eminent jurist Seervai has written that the method of Gandhi of appealing to Hindu ideas may have mobilized the Hindu masses, but it inevitably led to Partition of India.

Thus while Gandhi claimed he was secular, that was only hypocrisy. In fact he was communal, and his ideas reactionary.

Unfortunately most people in India have not read the speeches and writings of Gandhi from 1915 to 1948, and so they do not know what he had done, and they have been taken for a ride. It is high time for them to know the truth.

If we read Gandhi’s public speeches and writings ( e.g. in his newspapers ‘Young India’, ‘ Harijan ‘, etc ) we find that ever since Gandhi came to India from South Africa in 1915 till his death in 1948, in almost every speech or article he would emphasize Hindu religious ideas e.g. Ramrajya, Go Raksha ( cow protection ), brahmacharya ( celibacy ), varnashram dharma ( caste system ), etc ( see Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi ).

Thus Gandhi wrote in ‘ Young India ‘ on 10.6.1921 ” I am a Sanatani Hindu. I believe in the varnashram dharma. I believe in protection of the cow “. In his public meetings the Hindu bhajan ‘ Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram ‘ would be loudly sung.

Now Indians are a religious people, and they were even more religious in the first half of the 20th century. A sadhu or swamiji may preach such ideas to his followers in his ashram, but when they are preached day in and day out publicly by a political leader, what effect will these speeches and writings have on an orthodox Muslim mind ? It would surely drive him towards a reactionary Muslim organization like the Muslim League, and so it did. Was this not serving the British policy of divide and rule ?

By constantly injecting religion into politics for several decades, was Gandhi not objectively acting as a British agent ?

Some people say that the fact that Gandhi went to Noakhali etc in 1947 to appeal for communal amity shows that he was secular. But in fact this was the typical hypocrisy of Gandhi. First you set the house on fire by propagating Hindu religious ideas day in and day out for several decades, and then when the house is burning you do the drama of trying to douse the flames by appealing for communal harmony. Why did you set the house on fire in the first place ?

Some people ask : what did Gandhi get by this ? My answer is that different people have different motivations. For some money is the motivation, for others power. In Gandhi’s case it was probably power ( he was effectively the leader of the Congress ) and the desire to be called a ‘Mahatma’.

However, that is irrelevant. Whatever may have been his motivation, the real question to be asked is : did his actions in fact further the British policy of divide and rule ? They surely did, and that is why I have called Gandhi objectively a British agent. An objective agent may not receive any money, and he may not even be conscious of the fact that he is working as an agent. But that does not matter. If by your deeds you are in fact serving the interests of a foreign power, you are an agent of that foreign power.

As regards the claim that Gandhi gave us freedom, this again is a myth. Does any country give up its Empire without an armed fight ? Did America get independence from England by satyagraha and hunger strikes, or by mobilizing a Continental Army under George Washington which fought the American War of Independence from 1775-1781 ? Did Bolivar liberate several Latin American countries with guns, or by presenting flowers and bouquets to the Spanish rulers ? Did the Vietnamese defeat the French, and later the Americans, by use of arms, or by salt marches ?

It is said by some that if the Indian people had resorted to arms against the British rulers there would have been a lot of bloodshed. That is true, but then that is the price a people must pay for getting freedom.

In fact our real freedom fighters, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Surya Sen ( Masterda ), Ashfaqulla, Ram Prasad Bismil, Khudiram Bose, Rajguru, Sukhdev, etc realized this and took up arms against the British in the early 20th century. This was no doubt only the beginning of a nationwide armed fight against the British, and was therefore only on a very small scale. But later on it would have developed into a full blown War of Independence.


However, Gandhi successfully diverted this genuine freedom struggle towards a harmless channel called satyagrah, which was sentimental nonsense, and which would do no real harm to the British. Would a great power like Britain give up its Empire because Gandhi was going frequently on fasts and singing Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram in public meetings ? The names of our real freedom fighters ( mentioned above ) have been relegated to the footnotes of our history books, and they have been branded as mavericks and deviants, while Gandhi is given the credit of winning freedom for us

So who was responsible for Independence in 1947 ? Let me explain.

In the Second World War, which started in 1939, Germany attacked England, and considerably weakened it. Possibly Germany would have conquered England, had it not been for American help. But this help came at a price. The Americans put pressure on the British to give up their monopoly in India, and open up India for American enterprize and investments. This is the real cause of independence to india. It had nothing to do with Gandhi.

In India a revolutionary movement against British rule had started in the early 20th century under the Anushilan Samiti, Jugantar, and revolutionaries like Surya Sen, Ramprasad Bismil ( who wrote the song ‘ Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai ), Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, etc ( who were all hanged by the British ). Gandhi successfully diverted the freedom struggle from this revolutionary direction to a harmless nonsensical channel called Satyagrah, which also served British interests.

Gandhi’s economic ideas were thoroughly reactionary. He advocated devolving power to self sufficient village communities, though everybody knows that these communities are totally casteist and in the grip of landlords and money lenders.


Gandhi was against industrialization, and preached handspinning by charkha and other such reactionary nonsense. Similarly, his ‘ trusteeship ‘ theory was all nonsense, and an act of deceiving the people. It inevitably led to Tatas and Birlas, and now Adani and Ambani

It is time the Indian people know the truth about the so called ‘Father of the Nation’


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