27 February, 2021

Gandhi@150: The Man Who Saw Mahatma’s Fangs

Gandhi and Ambedkar were antagonists on issues so key to who they were that bridging the divide remains impossible, writes Aakash Singh Rathore

Life Is A Many-Hatted Thing
Gandhi sporting a range of headgear
Gandhi@150: The Man Who Saw Mahatma’s Fangs

“I know Gandhi better than his disciples.
They came to him as devotees and saw only the Mahatma.
I was an opponent, and I saw the bare man in him.
He showed me his fangs.”

—Dr B.R. Ambedkar, 1955

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s relation­ship with other epoch-makers of his time, whether allies like Jawaharlal Nehru, friends like Rabindranath Tagore or antagonistic rivals like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was never straightforward, uncomplicated or free of turbulence. Among the most controversial relationships was that between Gandhi and Dr B.R. Ambedkar (picture left). Scrutinising the ­relationship between Gandhi and Ambedkar is of crucial importance to a proper understanding of both of these pioneering figures, in spite of their notorious rivalry. As Upendra Baxi has argued, “our understanding of leading historic figures like Gandhi or...

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