Indian Freedom Fighters Kamala Nehru Biography
Kamala Nehru was the wife of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and the mother of Indira Gandhi. Kamala was known as “the Delhi beauty”. She was deeply sincere, highly patriotic, serous minded and sensitive.
When she died Gandhiji wrote to Indira, “Kamala had virtues which are not commonly found in ordinary women”. She was a social worker who was keenly interested in promoting women`s rights.
During the fight for freedom she was busy picketing foreign shops and leading processions. She said that her happiest days were in prison fighting for the cause of Indians. She had great will power and determination that even while on sickbed she tried to learn Urdu.
Kamala was the daughter of an orthodox Kashmiri Pandit. She belonged to a traditional middle class family. All her schooling had been at home, under the guidance of a Pandit and a Maulvi. She was married at the young age of 17 to Nehru, who was nine years older to her.
The Nehru family sticked on to the Western style of living. The first few years after marriage were difficult for Kamala. She felt confused and uncomfortable in her husband`s home. It took years for her to adjust with the Nehru family. Even after training her in Western ways, her thinking was quite different.
She was very serious minded and was interested in traditional values. At first, even her husband considered her as uncultured and not suited to his western ways. It was only after a few years of marriage that a new relationship began to develop between Kamala and Jawaharlal.
A son was prematurely born to Kamala, but the child lived for only two days. After which a long period of hospitalization followed. Doctors ad-vised that she be taken to Switzerland for treatment. So Jawaharlal, Kamala and Indira left for Eu-rope.
Kamala had to spent most of her time in bed. Jawaharlal occasionally traveled to Berlin, London, Paris and Rome on short trips to attend conferences. They decided to return home via Sri Lanka when Kamala`s health improved.
Though not fully recovered, Kamala became pregnant again. Because of physical weak-ness she had a miscarriage. She had aches and pains and it was diagnosed that she had appendicitis. She had to undergo an operation. During this time Jawaharlal stood for com-plete independence and made fiery speeches in its cause.
He was injured in a lathi charge during a demonstration against the Simon Commission. Forgetting her illness, Kamala took an active part in organizing women.
Vijaya lakshmi was a tough sister in law who considered her a trespasser. During her marriage she wished to posses a certain neck-lace owned by Kamala which she was keeping for her daughter Indira. Kamala was at first reluctant to give but Jawaharlal insisted her to part with it. In her twenties Kamala contacted TB and be-came an invalid.
A long period of separation from her husband and the uncongenial atmosphere at Nehru`s home worsened her condition further.
In her letters to Jawaharlal, when he was in jail, Kamala expressed her unhappiness at the way she was treated at his home and said she wished the government had send her to prison.
Indira never forgot the bitter tears her mother was made to shed and her relation with her aunt where cold to the very end. Quite naturally Indira could not forgive her father for not realizing her mother`s unhappy situation.
He was always in prison and he could not witness the “clash of personalities” his wife had to suffer at his home. Indira too was not with her mother as she was at Shantiniketan. She always regretted the fact that she could not spend much time with her mother whom she had dearly loved.
Kamala helped to set up a hospital in the premises of Swaraj Bhavan, Nehru`s family mansion. She persuaded women to come out and join the struggle for Independence. They hawked khadi and made bonfires of imported goods. As a member of the Desh Sevika Sangh, she joined other members in picketing foreign cloth shops.
Kamala was attracted by Gandhiji`s teachings and came under thehis powerful influence. She took his call for self-sacrifice seriously and encouraged Jawaharlal not only to throw himself entirely into the freedom movement, but and to change his way of life.
Thus the appearance of Westernization chipped off from the Nehru family. Khadi dhotis and kurtas were used instead of Silks and suits. Jail life separated Kamala and Jawaharlal for long months and even years. Jawaharlal had to spent more than 350 days in jail.
Kamala craved to be by the side of her husband in the struggle but she was imprisoned and was sentenced for two months. She was released after twenty-six days because Motilal Nehru lay on his death-bed.
By the end of 1931, Kamala`s health worsened. Still, she was active in politics. She participated in the Civil Disobedience movement. While she was leading a procession and picketing outside a government college that she had a chance meeting with Feroze Gandhi.
Kamala began to suffer from constant cough and was also given to fainting fits. In July 1934, she suffered a severe attack of pleurisy. During that time Jawaharlal was in jail.
For eleven days he was released to be at the bedside of his sick wife. Hints were thrown to him that he could be free if he stayed away form political activity. Kamala heard of these rumors and told Jawaharlal not to consider such an idea.
Kamala was suffering from tuberculosis. Doctors advised that she should be shifted to a hospital in Bhowali near Almora. Her health was improved after a two-month stay at the hospital. Further she was advised to go to Europe for treatment.
The four years from 1931 to 1934 saw a sharp decline in Kamala`s health. During these years she witnessed a very lonely life. She became deeply reli-gious, taking initiation at the Ramakrishna Mission.
As her condition worsened she was taken to the Bhowali Sanitorium for treatment while Jawaharlal was in jail.
At the prime age of 37 she died. Gandhiji, in a message, on her death said “I have not known a truer, braver and more God fearing woman”.
She was indeed a noble soul who lived for the people of India.