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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Nehru, Jawaharlal

(1889-1964). First Prime Minister of India (1947-1964) who joined the Theosophical Society (TS) on August 13, 1903. Nehru was born in Allahabad on November 14, 1889, into a prosperous Brahman family from Kashmir. His father, Pandit Motilal Nehru was a lawyer.

The Nehru home at Allahabad became the focus both of theosophical work and Indian politics. When Nehru was eleven years old, a resident teacher and Irish theosophist, Ferdinand T. Brooks, became responsible for his education. Nehru wrote of him, “For nearly three years he was with me and in many ways influenced me greatly . . . F. T. Brooks developed in me a taste for reading and I read many English books. . . . Apart from studies, F. T. Brooks brought a new influence to bear upon me which affected me powerfully — this was theosophy.”

Brooks held weekly meetings of theosophists in his rooms at Anand Bhavan and Nehru attended them. He also attended lectures given by Annie Besant and was only thirteen when he joined the TS.

Nehru was sent to England at the age of sixteen to receive his education which took place at Harrow and Cambridge. He gained a degree in Natural Science at Cambridge and in the summer of 1912 he gained a degree in law. Nehru returned to India in 1912 and was influenced by the methods employed by M. K. Gandhi in South Africa; when Gandhi returned to India, the Nehru family became actively involved in the struggle for Indian independence with Gandhi as the leader.

Nehru married in 1916 and his wife, Kamala, was a devoted supporter of Nehru’s political work. Their only child, Indira, became Prime Minister in 1966.

Between 1921 and 1945 Nehru spent ten years in jail as a political prisoner, during which time he wrote Glimpses of World History (1936) consisting of letters to his daughter, Toward Freedom (1941), and The Discovery of India (1946). He was released for the last time shortly before he was elected the first Prime Minister of a free India which was in 1946.

B.N.S./P.S.H.

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