Childhood and Family of Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, had a strong and influential lineage. Born on the 14th of November, 1889 at Allahabad, Jawaharlal Nehru was the eldest child of Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani. His family was from Kashimiri heritage and belonged to a high Hindu caste. They were Saraswat Brahmins, who were revered greatly in Allahabad in those days. Originally part of the Kashmiri Pandit community, the Nehrus had to shift to what was called United Provinces.
But the family gelled well with the people there and Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal's father, started practicing law in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. He was also a highly influential man, both socially as well as politically. He was a learned scholar too. He excelled in several languages that included Persian, Urdu, Arabic, English and many more.

Jawaharlal Nehru and his entire family lived in a large house called 'Anand Bhawan' in Allahabad. The house is still there. Motilal Nehru was a successful man, who was also well known in the society. He was a barrister by profession and won several accolades for his legal works from different spheres. All these brought him lot of name and fame. As a result, he could give his children the best of everything in life. Jawaharlal Nehru was his only son, while he also had two beautiful daughters named Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Krishna Pandit. No discrimination was made between the son and daughters in the family. All of them were provided quality education and privileges. All the children were brought amidst immense luxury and comfort. With a swimming pool and a tennis court in the house premises, Jawaharlal Nehru led a lavish life.

Motilal Nehru never compromised on the education and other facilities that are required to make a happy upbringing for children. He emphasized on English and western education for his children. Jawaharlal Nehru received his initial education at home under an English governess. Hindi and Sanskrit were also taught to the children at the Nehru House. Training was also provided to converse in English fluently. Apart from formal education, various English mannerisms and customs were also taught to Jawaharlal Nehru in his childhood days. The dresses that were adorned by the Nehru family also reflected English style. After some formal education at home, Jawaharlal Nehru also went to a local convent school in Allahabad. At the age of fifteen, he went to England to study at Harrow.

The illustrious family of the Nehrus had a deep impact on the life and childhood of Jawaharlal Nehru. At home, his mother practiced several staunch Hindu customs and even tried to influence young Nehru by them. But she was not much successful in it. Motilal was not a very strong follower of religion, but he was not an absolute atheist too. Motilal Nehru was concerned about very minute details regarding his son. He corresponded with his son, even when he was abroad and enquired about every small detail regarding his stay, studies and all the other curricular activities. Even after coming back from abroad, Jawaharlal Nehru began a firm and solid career with the help of his father. He attained instant fame and glory in his profession and made himself and his family proud.

Motilal Nehru was an active member of the Indian National Congress, which had also influenced and helped in shaping the political life of Jawaharlal Nehru. Motilal Nehru shared extremely good and cordial relation with the British officials. He had a strong belief on British justice and British promises. Several incidents have been sited when Motilal Nehru had been in support of the British officers. His home was also open to various British officers. British officers also respected him and his family and welcomed them to their homes. As a result of this intermingling, Jawaharlal Nehru and his two sisters also got opportunities to have a glimpse of British lifestyle. Some of the British officers could also fluently speak Urdu and Hindi.

Motilal Nehru was a stylish man and he loved to live life luxuriously. He was a follower of beauty and beautiful things. He had the passion of collecting various beautiful articles from various parts of India as well as from foreign countries. He had made a huge collection of artifacts that were considered as masterpieces and rare articles. One of the most important facts that were seen in the family of Jawaharlal Nehru was that, there were no class restrictions or class distinctions. People of all castes and religions were accepted and welcomed in 'Anand Bhawan'. There were many servants in the Nehru household, who belonged to different castes and religions. The doors of 'Anand Bhawan' remained open for all people irrespective of differences in caste and religion.

Another important part of the family of Jawaharlal Nehru was the active participation of his two sisters, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Krishna Pandit in various matters of the family as well as in politics. They supported him and he had a great influence on their lives. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit mentioned in one of her lectures about the childhood they had spent together. She also emphasized on the influence that Jawaharlal Nehru had on her political career and personal life.

Jawaharlal Nehru did not have a blissful married life. He was married at a young age in the year 1916. When he was at Harrow, Motilal Nehru and his wife decided to find a perfect match for Jawaharlal Nehru. They started their search and found Kamala Kaul, a girl from a middle-class Kashmiri Brahmin family in 1912. She was a thirteen year old girl, well-educated at home and knew Hindu and Urdu. They waited till 1916, when Kamala attained the age of seventeen years. Kamala was finally married to Jawaharlal Nehru in February, 1916.

The initial years of marriage were not very happy for Kamala as Nehru was then basking in glory and paid little importance to the home front. Kamala Nehru was a strong woman and she endured all this without any protest. She also had to endure several blunt remarks from her husband's relatives regarding her inferior social origins. But she did not retaliate to any of these. She began to involve herself in the Indian freedom struggle and even went to the prison. This event also helped her to come closer to her husband. Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru also had a beautiful daughter in 1917, who was called Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi. Kamala Nehru also gave birth to a pre-matured baby boy, who died in 1924. After that she underwent a miscarriage after three years.

Kamala Nehru could not bear this trauma and fell seriously ill. She was diagnosed of tuberculosis and underwent treatment in various hospitals in the country as well as abroad. It was during this time that Jawaharlal Nehru realized his love and passion for her. He used to visit her regularly and even took her abroad for treatment. They also spent few days in Switzerland. Finally she breathed her last in 1936.

To summarize, it has been observed that childhood of Jawaharlal Nehru had a great influence on the later life of this great Indian personality. Though he was brought up amidst immense luxury and glory, it did not restrict him from mingling with general masses and feeling their pulse. His family also had a great influence on his social and political career.

Last Updated on : 10/08/2012