Take a look at the viral confrontation between Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Peters, and find out what really happened!
Viral Confrontation Between Gandhi And Professor Peters
This viral confrontation between Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Peters has gone viral on WhatsApp, and social media platforms, for many years.
It’s very long, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts…
Truth : Gandhi And Professor Peters Confrontation Did NOT Happen
As hilarious as the viral confrontation between Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Peters is, it never happened, and here are there reasons why…
Fact #1 : There Is No Record Of Such A Confrontation
Gandhi’s authoritative autobiography – The Story Of My Experiments With Truth, did not mention ANY confrontation with ANY of his lecturers.
He certainly did not mention any professor called Mr. Peters in his autobiography. Neither do the many biographies written about Gandhi.
If Gandhi himself did not mention this confrontation, and there is ZERO RECORD of such a confrontation, how did the writer know of this amazing story? Was he/she there over 130 years ago when it allegedly happened?
Fact #2 : There Is No Record Of Professor Peters
Mahatma Gandhi arrived in England to study at the University College London (UCL) in late October, 1888.
There is no record of a Professor Peters teaching law at the University College of London.
Swapnajit Mitra contacted UCL about this urban legend, and found out that there is no record of a Professor Peters back then.
Fact #3 : Those Are Pictures Of Gandhi With Lord Mountbatten
This viral story is sometimes shared with pictures of Gandhi sitting down with a white man, suggesting that he made up with Professor Peters.
The man in those pictures is actually Lord Louis Mountbatten – the last Viceroy of India.
They were taken in 1947, during their discussions about India’s transition from British rule to independence.
Fact #4 : Gandhi Likely Did Not Study Long At UCL
Paul Ayris, CEO of UCL Press and Chief Library Officer of UCL History, helped Swapnajit Mitra look into Gandhi’s history at UCL and found “very little evidence” remained :
- His student record card: This records his name as “Mahatma Karamchand GANDHI,” later amended to “Mohandas.” Since Rabindranath Tagore called Gandhi “Mahatma” only in 1915, evidently, this card was not written at the time Gandhi was acutally in London. To seal this argument, two addresses are given on the card, for 1927 and 1939, well after Gandhi left London.
- Two entries in the Professors’ Fees Book for 1888-1889: Here Gandhi is listed under Henry Morley for classes in English.
- An entry in the calendar for 1889-90 (which lists the students for the previous year): This gives his name as “Gaudhi.”
Andrew Lewis pointed out in the Summer 2002 UCL Laws Newsletter that Gandhi’s name does not appear in any surviving class registers, and that the study of law at the university in the 1880s did little to advance a professional legal career in England.
Lewis concluded that Gandhi could well have arrived with the intention of studying for his degree at UCL, but left to study for the Bar at Gray’s Inn, (a place where prospective law practitioners used to go at that time) presumably once he realised this was where he needed to be in order to qualify.
Fact #5 : Gandhi Was Shy And Tongue-Tied
Despite being a great orator later in his life, Gandhi was shy and tongue-tied while studying in England.
In his autobiography, Gandhi stated that he “always felt tongue-tied” and “the presence of half a dozen of more people would strike [him] dumb.”
He also stated that he retained “this shyness” throughout his entire stay in England.
A lecturer, Dr. Oldfield, once asked him, “You talk to me quite all right, but why is it that you never open your lips at a committee meeting?” even though he was elected to the Executive Committee of the Vegetarian Society.
Once, Gandhi was asked to speak on the merits of vegetarianism, and despite preparing a speech in writing, he could not even read it. In the end, someone else had to read the speech he wrote.
It is incredulous that someone as shy as Gandhi was at that time, would be capable of such brilliant repartee and sarcasm.
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