Biography of Indian Ruler Jawaharlal Nehru Part 2

About the famous Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, biography and history of the ruler.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


After receiving his law degree he returned to India and married Kamala, who in sharp contrast to her husband had little formal education and was quite unsophisticated. Nehru practiced law and moved on the outer edge of politics for the next four years, until he was swept up in the nationalist movement. Plunging into Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience campaign, Nehru was horrified by his first real encounter with the true poverty and ignorance of the Indian masses. Traveling through rural India, giving dozens of speeches, Nehru began developing into the politician he would later become. "The peasants took away the shyness from me," he remarked, "and taught me to speak in public." Shedding the last vestiges of his Western upbringing, Nehru abandoned his English style of dress and adopted traditional Indian garb. As a dedicated Satyagraha (literally "truth force")--one pledged to disobey the law as a symbol of passive resistance to the British regime--Nehru embarked on the road that was to land him in prison so many times during the next 24 years. Along with some 30,000 other Indians, he first went to jail in 1921 for distributing notices advocating the closing of schools and businesses to protest English rule in India. Caught up in the fervor of nationalism, Nehru looked upon imprisonment as a privilege, saying, "I shall go to jail again most willingly and joyfully. Jail has indeed become a heaven for us, a holy place of pilgrimage." During his periods of imprisonment Nehru wrote several books, including his autobiography, Toward Freedom, as well as a series of whimsical letters to his daughter, Indira, about the history of the world, which were later published as a children's book. Because of Nehru's political activity, he was often absent from his family for long stretches of time, although he did accompany his wife periodically to Europe, where she was treated for tuberculosis. Despite their differences, Nehru and his wife enjoyed a close relationship, especially when she too became involved in the civil disobedience movement and went to prison--along with other members of his family, including his father, two sisters, and daughter. Nehru was only in his 40s when Kamala died, but he didn't consider marrying again. His name was rarely linked romantically with anyone. However, he did have several platonic friendships with married women, and he apparently had an affair with Lady Edwina Mountbatten--allegedly with her husband's approval.

As Gandhi's protege, Nehru rapidly emerged alongside the spiritual leader as one of the primary figures in India's fight for freedom, and at Gandhi's urging he became president of India's Congress in 1935. Although Nehru and Gandhi often disagreed on methods--Nehru wanted to move forward too rapidly and leaned too far away from nonviolence for the Mahatma's liking--the two developed an immutable bond. Impatient at times and quick-tempered, Nehru's impetuosity was actually part of his charm. Impulsive acts such as tearing off a garland of marigolds from around his neck and tossing it to a young girl in a crowd endeared Nehru to the masses, and later in his life he was referred to by some as "our Buddha." Nehru admitted that he was both annoyed and flattered by such devotion, and his family helped him keep a sense of perspective in the matter. They would tease him by saying, "O Jewel of India, what time is it?" or "O Embodiment of Sacrifice, please pass the bread."

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