Devdas, Gandhi's son, accompanied Manu to Delhi station where he took the opportunity of instructing her to keep quiet.Questioned in the 1970s, Sushila revealingly placed the elevation of this lifestyle to a brahmacharya experiment was a response to criticism of this behaviour.He set up ashrams in which he began his first "experiments" with sex; boys and girls were to bathe and sleep together, chastely, but were punished for any sexual talk.Men and women were segregated, and Gandhi's advice was that husbands should not be alone with their wives, and, when they felt passion, should take a cold bath. Sushila Nayar, the attractive sister of Gandhi's secretary, also his personal physician, attended Gandhi from girlhood. When challenged, he explained how he ensured decency was not offended.It was no secret that Mohandas Gandhi had an unusual sex life.
On long marches in sparsely populated land in the Boer War and the Zulu uprisings, Gandhi considered how he could best "give service" to humanity and decided it must be by embracing poverty and chastity. So he worked out a series of complex rules which meant he could say he was chaste while still engaging in the most explicit sexual conversation, letters and behaviour.
He, by now, described his reinvented concept of a brahmachari as: "One who never has any lustful intention, who, by constant attendance upon God, has become proof against conscious or unconscious emissions, who is capable of lying naked with naked women, however beautiful, without being in any manner whatsoever sexually excited ...
who is making daily and steady progress towards God and whose every act is done in pursuance of that end and no other." That is, he could do whatever he wished, so long as there was no apparent "lustful intention".
And his views were not always popular; "abnormal and unnatural" was how the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, described Gandhi's advice to newlyweds to stay celibate for the sake of their souls.
But was there something more complex than a pious plea for chastity at play in Gandhi's beliefs, preachings and even his unusual personal practices (which included, alongside his famed chastity, sleeping naked next to nubile, naked women to test his restraint)?