Jawaharlal Nehru

Memories of Panditji

Raja Ramanathan
Raja Ramanathan

Raja Ramanathan was born in Independent India, in Calcutta. He has spent the last sixty years or so growing up in different parts of the world, Singapore, England, India, the Middle East, and, in the last twenty years, Canada.

Much before I was born in 1950, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was my father’s political hero. Once when, as a child, I referred to him as Nehru, Dad corrected me, and said that I should refer to him respectfully as Panditji.

That has stayed with me. I think a lot of my father’s reverence for Panditji came from the fact my father had a close association with Dr. Annie Besant, and one of Panditji’s early tutors, Ferdinand Brooks, was a Theosophist.

I do not know if all my family members had the same regard for Panditji. However, my mother has often related this story to me, perhaps more because it shines the light on her eldest child.

Panditji was an extremely good-looking man. Sometime in 1946, when my family lived in Calcutta, Panditji was visiting Calcutta. We had a Bihari cook at home, whose one ambition in life was to see Panditji. So, he took the day off and travelled by tram to wherever Panditji was speaking in Calcutta. It is difficult to capture in words how much of a hero Panditji was in his heyday. The crowds he could gather were uber phenomenal ... and people would wait hours to hear him speak.

Remembering Nehruji

Urmila Vaidyanathan
Raja Ramanathan


Urmila Vaidyanathan is a Trustee of Bhaktavatsalam Educational Trust and Academic Director of Brindavan Public Schools, Tamil Nadu. Her qualifications are B.A in Social Sciences, M.A. in Political Science and B.Ed. in English and History. Her interests include reading, music, dance, and travel.

Author's note: My father Sri. O V. Alagesan was a freedom fighter, President, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, Union Minister and Ambassador at various points of time in his political career. Therefore, he had a close association with Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. While in jail as a political prisoner, he translated Nehru's Glimpses of World History into Tamil. Hence, this piece of writing contains some of his personal recollections about Panditji.

This happened way back in 1956. The day was February 28, 1956 and it was raining cats and dogs in Delhi. The rain poured and poured\; so did the tears from the eyes of a little eight-year-old girl that I was. Some days or weeks (I don't remember) earlier, I had won the gold medal for Indian Classical Dance (mine was Bharathanatyam\; other Indian dances were also featured) in a show called ‘Little Theatre' organised by Shankar's Weekly, a prominent publication at that time.  I was to perform the same item again (Natanam Aadinar in the ragam Vasantha) on the 28th before Chacha Nehru, who was my hero as he was to thousands of children in India during the1950s.


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