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Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was not without his contradictions. Determined to lead a frugal life, he used ashes instead of soap and had himself shaved with a dull razor because new blades were too expensive. As the poet Sarojini Naidu famously joked, however, it cost the nation a fortune to keep Gandhi living in poverty. Though his entire philosophy touted the village way over that of the city, Gandhi was dependent upon the financial support of industrial billionaires like Birla. And though entirely unafraid of the British, Gandhi was nevertheless afraid of the dark, and always slept with a light burning by his bedside.

[More seriously, though Gandhi believed passionately in the unity of India's people, his failure to keep the Muslim leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah within the Indian National Congress led to the partition of the country. (Jinnah was once booed off the stage during a Congress session for calling him "Mr. Gandhi" instead of "Mahatma" -- and, his vaunted modesty notwithstanding, Gandhi made no move to object.)]

[Everything Gandhi said and did was recorded by secretaries. He insisted on going over their notes, however, and choosing the version which he liked best. "I want only one gospel in my life," he said.]

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