A champion of atheism and critic of the caste system in pre-independence India, ‘Gora’, an almost forgotten figure of the national movement has been revisited by an American author who seeks to establish the impact of his views on Mahatma Gandhi in a book.

Goparaju Ramachandra Rao, or ‘Gora’ was a radical figure who rebelled against the caste-based systems in Indian society, reacting by renouncing religion and propagating atheism as a way towards equality.

American musicologist and of late a chronicler of Indian history, Mark Lindley’s recently released book ‘The Life and Times of Gora’ seeks to comprehend the reformer vis-à-vis his time and his relationship with Mahatma Gandhi.

Gora, as he called himself after embracing atheism, was born in a Brahmin family in 1902. Excommunicated from the Brahmin society for renouncing religion, he made social reform his life’s motive that also brought him in touch with the Mahatma.

“Gora was in some ways a bridge between the Mahatma and Ambedkar. Gandhiji’s association with him was partly responsible for the change in his views on Ambedkar’s beliefs on caste system,” says Mr. Lindley.

While Ambedkar was for uprooting the caste system, Gandhiji’s approach was milder; he wanted the negative aspects of caste system like untouchability to go while retaining its framework.

Gandhji came in contact with Gora late in his life, during 1944-45, following which his views on caste system saw a change,” says Mr. Lindley.

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