Harilal Gandhi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Harilal Gandhi

Harilal Gandhi, pictured sometime between 1915 and 1932.
Born 1888
Died 18 June 1948 (aged 60)
Mumbai, India
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) Gulab Gandhi
Children five children
Parent(s) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Kasturba Gandhi

Harilal Mohandas Gandhi (Devanagari: हरीलाल गांधी), (1888 – 18 June 1948) was the eldest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.[1]

Early life[edit]

Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies and hoped to become a barrister as his father had once been. His father firmly opposed this, believing that a Western-style education would not be helpful in the struggle against British rule over India.[2] Eventually rebelling against his father’s decision, in 1911 Harilal renounced all family ties.

He converted to Islam and took up the name Abdullah Gandhi.[3]

Harilal married to Gulab Gandhi and they had five children, two of whom died at an early age. Nilam Parikh, the daughter of Ramibehn, who was the eldest of Harilal’s children, wrote a biography on him, titled Gandhiji’s Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi.

He appeared at his father’s funeral in such derelict condition that few recognized him. He died from liver disease on 18 June 1948 in a municipal hospital in Bombay, Union of India.[4]

Gandhi’s Letters[edit]

In June 1935, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal, accusing him of raping Harilal’s daughter, Manu, while she was only eight years old. He also urged him to give up “alcohol and debauchery”. In the letter, Mahatma Gandhi stated that Harilal’s problems were more difficult for him to deal with than the struggle for Indian independence. He wrote:[5]

“You should know that your problem has become much more difficult for me even, even more than our national freedom. Manu is telling me a number of dangerous things about you. She says that you had raped her even before she was eight years and she was so badly hurt that medical treatment also had to be taken.”

My Father, Gandhi[edit]

The troubled relationship between Harilal and his father is the subject of the film and play Gandhi, My Father. The film adaptation was released on 3 August 2007 and directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and produced by Anil Kapoor. Harilal is portrayed by Akshaye Khanna. Khan’s play, Mahatma vs. Gandhi,[6] while different from this film, had a similar theme. There is also a Marathi play named Gandhi virudh Gandhi.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harilal Gandhi: What Life[7] by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal
  • Gandhiji’s Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi by Nilam Parikh, grand daughter of Harilal Gandhi
  • Mahatma Vs Gandhi by Dinkar Joshi



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