Allahabad: The beginning of the Nehru Story


Anand Bhawan, an imposing colonial era building in Allahabad I would often pass by as a young student cutting his teeth in revolutionary politics, is where it all began. As the abode of Nehrus, Motilal Nehru bought it in 1900, the building has bore witness to the history of modern India and those who shaped it. Interestingly, today's Anand Bhawan is in fact not the real one, the one next door now called Swaraj Bhawan was the original Anand Bhawan Motilal Nehru had bought- but that is a different story we would get back to. 
Motilal Nehru with wife Swaruprani Nehru and son Jawahar
Today’s generation would perhaps find the imposing building in a decaying city in Eastern Uttar 
Pradesh long past it forgotten glory as a place most unlikely for such a beginning, but then strange are the ways of history. It would host almost every single important person who had any role in India's freedom struggle. It would see the seeds of reformism growing into a robust tree of nationalism content at nothing less than full independence. It would also see a young Jawaharlal Nehru grow up from a toddler to the specter giving sleepless nights to the powers that may a full 57 years after his death!

Yes, the specter of Nehru lives on even today! One might find it strange but this is perhaps the most apt continuing end of a story of a modernist with no belief in specters as was the beginning. Nehru’s story is a story of paradoxes: of abundance, of sacrifices, of undaunting love and respect of the people, of becoming most unlikely disciple of a real half-naked Fakir called Gandhi, of the relentless ridicule, lies and abuses by then a tiny minority now in power in his own India. His story is a story of paradoxes that unraveled the forces of history in most curious ways.

His story that continues in the speeches, social media distortions, fake news right from the prime minister to minnow Hindutva zealots had very aptly begun much before his birth, establishing him almost as a reincarnation of a Siddha Yogi, an ascetic living in the Himalayas. It goes like this:

Saddened with losing his first born and not getting another among other tragedies like death of his own brother, Motilal Nehru visited an ascetic in Rishikesh. He was accompanied by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu Vishwavidyalaya(God save the Hindutva Zealots) and Pandit Deen Dayal Shashtri. Malviya ji told the ascetic that only desire of Motilal ji was to have a son. The ascetic looked at Motilal and with great sadness informed the party that he would not have one. As devatsted Motilal stood silently, Shashtri ji pleaded with the Yogi that nothing is irreversible as per scriptures.

The Yogi gave him and blessed Motilal with a son. When Motilal tried to thank him, he cut him short, telling him that he has sacrificed all his Punya (austerities) in doing so. Exactly ten month after this, Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889. Legend has it that the Yogi had died soon after, and Jawahar was an incarnation of him.

Quite a strange beginning of the story of someone who would never compromise on scientific temper. It would sound even strange if one recalls that Motilal Nehru himself was a staunch believer in modernity. He had famously refused to subject himself to a purification ceremony for washing off the sins acquired by crossing the sea for a visit abroad, and was excommunicated by purists for the same.

The Nehru story had begun. Going by the daily spins, inventions and insinuations of those haunted by the specter of the Yogi, or Jawahar, it would never end.

This post is part of #BlogchatterA2Z

This post is also part of the global Blogging from A to Z 2021


  1. Welcome aboard, what a riveting theme and how well you handle it. Kudos.

  2. Looking forward to this series. All the best for this challenge

  3. Nehru was a great person, no doubt. But I don't think this sort of myths mean anything much.

  4. Allahabad the city of Sangam and the Nehru clan. Looking forward to the series.


Post a Comment