Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:47 am

MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts – Part 15
Western Women in leftist and national movements (1)
by sreenivasarao's blogs
January 17, 19__



Before we continue with Roy’s saga in India we need to talk of the highly interesting phenomenon of the Western women participating in Indian independence struggle and in the leftist revolution as also getting involved with Asian men. It is one the fascinating aspects of the early decades of the twentieth century.

Such involvement of Western Women with men from their colonies and in matters that they considered detrimental to their mother-countries became a source of irritation and embarrassment to the European powers, especially to Great Britain.

Kumari Jayawardena in her Book The White Woman’s Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia during British Rule has written wonderfully well on this very engaging subject. Much of what is said here is based on her Book.

The British did not mind so long as the British women confined their activities to social issues such as education, health, charity, social reform and such other harmless activities. They could tolerate it as facet of women’s motherly nature. And, their caring for the weak, oppressed, downtrodden and a general concern for the deprived were viewed as giving expressions to virtues of Christian charity. The British authorities, either in Britain or in India, were not unduly worried about such pious preoccupations of their women as long as there was no breach of law and accepted norms of conduct.

White women as Theosophists were more daring in their questioning of the accepted ethnic and gender roles; and British did not relish the sight of their women of superior race and class wandering behind their Indian Gurus and singing their virtues and greatness. Though such women, surely, were annoying, they were not considered dangerous.

But, a more serious worry, anxiety and threat were the Western women socialists and communists. They were an anathema to the British rulers. Such impertinent women were viewed as the ultimate shame and embarrassment. On a more serious level they were regarded as serious threat to the colonial rule and to the security of the State.

In some cases, severe threats, punishments and deportation were imposed on such erring women to prevent them from further engaging in activities that could harm British rule and British image. A close watch and scrutiny was kept on western women engaged in anti-colonial activities and entangled with Asian men. And, they would be arrested if there was a perceived breach of law.

But, when the British and other western women were legally married to Indian men, their deportation would become a difficult and a ticklish issue. Because, in most cases the western women who got involved with Indian freedom movement or the leftist groups and with the Indian rebels, were, quite often, women coming from respectable middle class families. They usually were well educated having attended Universities and research institutions. They did not fall into the category of the run-of-the-mill ‘undesirable low class’ who could be put behind the bars routinely.

Further, such women who got involved with Asian men and leftist/anti-imperial activities were not only an embarrassment to the white-race, but also were a greater threat to the white race and the State. Such white–educated women were looked down as treacherous traitors who brought shame and betrayed ‘white womanhood’.

They were a more serious threat to the Empire than wayward men. Instead of helping the white men and their colonial rule these misguided women were undermining the very system that supported their life, their homes and their existence. Their unspeakable socialist views and their scandalous marriage, their illicit liaison with Asian men were despised as most reprehensible. They not only had gone astray but would also bring up half-breeds treading their dangerous path.

The British Intelligence, therefore, kept track of the Indian revolutionaries and their western women. And, in fact there were quite a number of such most horrid pairs.

The Western women – theosophists who claimed their rights as women to travel and follow their ‘faith’; and, the socialist women who came out to fight imperialism; formed the ‘feminist breakthrough’ by their rejection of the orthodox church and appropriation of alternative cultures and political ideologies.

Such ‘reprehensible’ alliances also caused discomfort to the Officers of the Empire placed in the colonies. The British dignity in the colonies also depended on their women’s allegiance to the Crown, to colonialism ; and on their modest behavior as polite ladies of refinement and culture. The worst sort of women, for the colonialists, were those white women who ‘traitorously’ rejected the moral duty of imperialism and embraced Asian men and Asian nationalism; for, they were seen not only to reject Empire but also the British men. The British masculine pride in such cases would surely be hurt.

Another irritating dimension of the British women marrying Indian men was the bringing up of their children according to Indian traditions and culture. That truly annoyed both the Colonial officers and the Church.


The situation in Berlin, Germany, was slightly different. Here, relationship or living-together of white woman with Indian male did not suffer from the ‘betraying-the Crown–syndrome’; although there were other issues related to political ideology and criminality. Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s was the hub of Indian students and Indian intellectuals, as also of those diverse revolutionary groups, each fighting the British rule in India, in its own manner, Indian students, in Berlin, openly engaged in anti-colonial gatherings; creating anti-British alliances; and even forging ties with Communists. The line between academic studies and radical politics was often blurred. Most of the Indian students got involved in radical anti-colonial politics.

A significant number of them on return to India grew into nationalist leaders. For instance; Dr. B R Ambedkar the doyen of Indian politics and the Social reform movement, for some time, studied Economics in the Bonn University during 1922-23. He was quite fluent in German (having taken it as a minor at Columbia University) and wrote his CV dated 21 February 1921 submitted to the University, in German. Please click here to view his hand-written CV, in German language. The other more well known of such caliber were: Dr. Zakir Hussain, who later rose to become the President of India; Dr. Ram Manohhar Lohia the stormy Socialist leader. And, Gangadhar Adhikari on return to India became the most influential theoretician in the Indian Communist Party from 1930s to 1940s. And, Dr. Meghnad Saha a noted physicist after returning to India played a major role as the nationalist organizer of science in India during 1930 to 1950.

Apart from radical politics, many Indian students got involved with German women. The instances of Indian students marrying German woman are too many to be recounted here. Just to cite a few cases: the brothers Anadi Nath Bahaduri and Prashath Bahaduri who studied in Germany during the 1920s returned to Calcutta with their German wives Margrit and Gerta. Apart from that, Abdul sattar Kheiri, Babar Mirza, Benoy Kumar Sarkar, and M N Roy all had German or Austrian wives. It appears that during 1930s at least six professors at the Aligarh University who had earlier studied in Germany had German wives.

Emilie Schenkl, Mrs Subhas Chandra Bose

Eimilie with daughter Anita

Much later, in the 1940s, one of the most notable cases was that of Subash Chandra Bose while attempting to destabilize British rule in India with German help had made Vienna, Austria as his base in Europe. Here at Vienna, Bose fell in love with Austrian woman Emilie Schenkl (26 December 1910 – March 1996) and married her secretly, according to Hindu rites. His marriage with Emilie Schenkl was kept a secret, even later. They had a daughter: Anita Bose (Pfaff). Since Bose was unable to bring his family to India in the midst of wartime Europe, he left Schenkl, with a note addressed to his elder brother in India, Sarat Bose, confirming the identity of his wife and their baby daughter; and asking for them to be accepted into the family, should he die in the war. Bose then moved from Germany to Southeast Asia in February 1943, and subsequently, he is believed to have died at the end of the war. And, after the war, Sarat Bose, his wife Bivabati and their three children, Sisir, Roma and Chitra, travelled to Vienna in the autumn of 1948 to meet Emilie and Anita. An emotional family meeting took place in Vienna when Sarat and Bivabati embraced Emilie and Anita into the Bose family. Sarat wanted Emilie and Anita to come to Calcutta to stay but since Emilie was the sole care for her aging mother, she could not leave Vienna

Please also see Emilie’s letter 26.7.1948 to Sarat Bose ]


But all such inter cultural marriages, as it usually happens, were not blissful or milk and honey. The relations within the marriage were tormented by inter-cultural differences, conflict of ideas and affiliations. The 1920s and 1930s were marked by ‘militant phase of feminism’. The western women that Virendranath Chattopadyaya and M N Roy came into contact had strong views on women’s liberation, both in the West and in India. They were quite eloquent in expressing their views. There were also differences on the political line taken by Indian men. The western women took their own theoretical positions on certain public issues, like birth control etc. Therefore, there were always passionate arguments. Even Roy had problems with Smedley. Her views on women’s rights particularly on the issue of abortion were more radical than that of any other Indian nationalist or reformers of 1920s.

Many Indian communists living in the West tended to project their relation with western women or political-comrades as a sign of ‘progress’ and modernity. The Indian men as socialists took a ‘progressive stand on the question of women’s equality’; but, their practice in day-to-day life differed from their stated principle. Roy also spoke and wrote that the modernization of Indian women was a ’historic necessity’ to transform the traditional outdated institutions which deprived women of their elementary human rights. In theory and in public stand he was much ahead of the contemporary scene. But, in his personal life and in his relations with the women in his group he did not seem to differ much from the contemporary male culture.

Kris Manjapra in his the impossible intimacies of M N Roy writes:

M N Roy’s life bore the stress marks of intimacies that were strange for his time. His intense private and professional relationship with Ellen Gottschalk, a German Jewish communist radical, was just one expression of the globe-straddling intimacies that disrupted the normative discourse of race, nation and colonial difference


The lot of western women who married fugitive Indian men – perpetually on ‘run’, very poor, nervous and highly insecure – was truly pathetic. And they did suffer a lot –- physically, mentally and emotionally. They also had to endure the pain, and humility of escapades and displacements. To put it very mildly, for a Western woman, such marriage was a highly unrewarding experience, to say the least.

Evelyn Trent Roy (wife of M N Roy) wrote that she was weary of ‘being hunted from place to place, country to country, of having to hide and always to be rewarded by a thick fog of suspicion and fear’. Similarly, Agnes Smedley, originally from Missouri, a partner of Virendranath Chattopadyaya in Berlin, recalled the extreme difficulties and ‘neurosis associated with anti-colonial inter-cultural lifestyle’. She wrote:

‘We were desperately poor, because Viren had no possessions. I sold everything I owned in order to get money… We skirted the problem by frequently moving, changing names. But, our debts and difficulties seemed to increase by geometric proportions. More than death, I feared insanity”.

She suddenly left Viren in 1928.

As for men, the strain of living as fugitives in a foreign land, without a sense of home, in a hostile environment was indeed very severe. Many Indian revolutionaries in West became nervous wrecks (e.g. Lala Hardayal in Berlin).

Virendranath ‘Chatto_ Chattopadhyaya -stockholm

M N Roy and Virendranath Chattopadyaya fell seriously ill. Roy was affected with infection of the inner ear and severe stomach illness. Virendranath also suffered from varieties of stomach illnesses. In addition, he suffered from paranoia. It appears he never took the meal outside for fear of being poisoned. Virendranath‘s final wife, Russian, Lidilia Kazunovskala remembered him as ‘always in a state of fleeing, full of disease, sorrow, tension, always on alert’. Viren eventually left Berlin in 1928. After another year of wandering he settled down in Moscow for some years. But soon after Stalin’s program of purging started he became nervous again, because he came to know that he was being watched for his ‘deviations from ‘orthodox Marxism-Leninism’ in his talks. He was called an Indian nationalist and not a true Soviet. His worst fears were, sadly, proved right. He was taken in Stalin’s purge of 1938-1940 and murdered.


During the early part of the twentieth century the marriages between Indian men and Western women seemed to be quite common. Apart from Viren and Roy there were quite a number who married Western women. Just to mention a few such, during 1920s and 1930s:

(a) Abani Mukherjee who was in M N Roy’s communist group was married to Rosa Fitingof, of Russian and Jewish origin. They had a son named Goga. Rosa Fitingof had joined the Communist Party in 1918; and was an assistant to Lydia Fotieva, Lenin’s Private Secretary when Abhani Mukherjee met her 1920. Fitingof and Abani Mukherjee were among the founding members of the Indian Communist Group formed at Tashkent. Later, she was also Roy’s interpreter.

During the 1930s, Abani Mukherjee worked at Moscow as an Indologist at the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Abhani Mukherjee fell a victim to the Great Purge in the late 1930s. He was arrested on June 2, 1937. He was assigned for the first category of repression (execution by firearms) in the list “Moscow-Center” and executed on October 28, 1937

(b) Dr, Anadi Bahaduri was member of Roy’s group in Berlin and was studying there for a Doctorate in Chemistry. His wife Margrit (born in 1907) of German Jewish origin continued to live in Calcutta after Bahaduri‘s death, teaching German.

(c) Also in Berlin was Saiyad Abdul Wahid Abai, an Indian Communist who married a German Jewish woman Kaethe Hulda Wolf.

(d) Another was Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje (1884-1966) from the rival group of Chattopadyaya. He was in the Ghadar Party in California; was named in the the Hindu-German Conspiracy; and, fled to Mexico in the early twenties (1920). He worked in the ministry of Agriculture in Mexico. He led the Mexican corn breeding program and was appointed Director of the Mexican Government’s Department of Agriculture. And, in 1936 he married a Belgian – Jeanne Alexandrine Sindic (born 1913).Both returned to India after independence. He settled down in Nagpur; and later went into politics. Pandurang Khankhoje died on January 22, 1967.


(e) And yet another was the Punjabi leader Baba Pyare Lal Bedi (B P Bedi), an author and philosopher, and his English wife Freda Houlston Bedi from Derbyshire (daughter of Francis Edwin Houlston and Nellie Diana Harrison).


Freda (5 February 1911 – 26 March 1977), by any account, had an unusual life. She was born in Austria; raised and educated in England (Masters from St. Hugh’s in Oxford ) and in Sorbonne, Paris; married a Sikh at Oxford in 1933; and, in 1934 went to live in India where she spent the rest of her life.

Freda Marie Houlston was born at home in that 'tiny shop in the heart of old Derby', as she remembered it. It's still there, now a tanning salon looking out on the barren vista of a car park and dual carriageway which have cut Monk Street in two. The far section of Monk Street and adjoining terraces have survived largely unscathed in what is now, and was then, a working-class locality. The corner shops and pubs, the back alleys, the workshop yards, are all still evident, if some way from flourishing. Walking those streets is the closest you can get to communing with the Derby into which Freda was born. By the time her brother Jack came along the following year, the family had moved to Littleover, a neat Derby suburb -- and another step up in the world. During the First World War, they were living on Wade Avenue, in a home distinctly grander than the city centre terraced streets. It was also a safer place to live during the war. There was just one Zeppelin bombing raid on Derby which caused casualties, but the rail and engineering works were obvious potential targets, and Freda had distant childhood memories of hearing a wartime bomb drop on the city....

Every year, a handful of girls from Parkfields Cedars went on to university, but admissions to Oxford and Cambridge were rare. Freda hadn't intended to apply. She was persuaded by a school friend to keep her company in studying for and sitting the Oxford entrance exams. Freda was called for interview; her friend wasn't. She didn't get a place, but was told that if she spent some time in France she had a good chance of being admitted to study modern languages the following year.

It would have been no small matter for a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl to live abroad without any family at hand, but Freda's mother was supportive, and Freda herself showed the courage and initiative evident throughout her life. With the help of a pen friend, she managed to get a place, at no cost, at a high school in the cathedral city of Reims. It was close enough to the First World War battlefields to be able to visit her father's grave, 'overgrown with cat mint and Dorothy Perkins roses'. [4] She stayed with her friend's family and for a while in a boarders' hostel
, and in spite of being homesick and deciding that her love of the French language didn't extend to its spoken form ('I couldn't stand the noise, the sound of French voices'), the confidence and experience she gained served its purpose; she secured admission to Oxford at the second attempt....

Freda emerged from St Hugh's with third-class honours, not quite as damning a statement of mediocrity then as it would be now, but clearly not the degree she hoped for. Neither Barbara nor Olive fared any better; all three women got thirds. [17]

The only substantial published account that Freda has left of the University, written during her last year for the Calcutta Review, pointed to what must have been a personal grievance, the disparity between wealthy and entitled students and those with much more limited resources.

1: The Suicide Club: The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead

Before they moved to India, Andrew Whitehead writes, Baba Pyare Lal and Freda Bedi spent several months, during 1933-4, in Berlin where Baba Bedi had secured a research post. Their first child was born in Berlin. And in the autumn of 1934, the Bedis and their four month old baby reached India. After they settled down in Lahore – India, both got busily involved in the national independence movement during the 1930s and 1940s. The Bedis also became involved in left-wing politics and in journalism. They published several books and edited India-Analyzed (1934). And later, while participating in the national freedom movement, Freda was arrested and detained in Lahore jail with her children and with Gandhi. She was in prison for about six months during 1941-42 .


Her husband, Baba Bedi, it is said, spent long years (?) in prison for his activities in the struggle for independence. Baba Pyare Lal Bedi (1909–1993) later took to life of mysticism and spiritual healing.



After release from prison, they moved to Kashmir. Freda became the Professor of English at Srinagar in Kashmir. Both Freda and Baba Bedi were active in Kashmir during the 1940s; and were said to be close to Sheikh Abdullah and the National Conference. Baba Bedi is said to have drafted the party’s distinctly radical ‘New Kashmir’ manifesto.

Andrew Whitehead (Freda Bedi’s biographer) mentions that following the great famine of Bengal in 1943, Freda toured, during January 1944, the districts most afflicted by famine. By then the famine had brought in its wake epidemic and disease. She took great risk of touring in the infected areas and moving among sick people dying out of sheer hunger and neglect. Freda wrote of her experiences in the famine stricken Bengal in her Book Bengal Lamenting. (Published in 1944)

Bengal Lamenting by Freda Bedi

In the words of Andrew Whitehead:

The book is more than a cry of pain, a call to pity, a picture of another tidal wave of tears that has wrenched itself up from the ocean of human misery. It is a demand for reconsideration on a national scale of a problem that cannot be localized, a plea for unity in the face of chaos, one more thrust of the pen for the right of every Bengali and every Indian to see his destiny guided by patriots in a National Government of the People.

After Independence, she edited Social Welfare, a magazine of the Ministry of Welfare; and was also appointed as the social worker of the United Nations Social Services, assigned to Burma. And much later, she was nominated as the advisor on Tibetan Refugees to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

In 1952, while working for the United Nations, Freda went to Rangoon; and, there she was drawn to Buddhism,
learnt Vipassana meditation with Mahasi Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Titthila. Freda was one of the first Westerners to be initiated into Vipasana.

Nehru with the Dalai Lama

Then in 1959, when the Dalai Lama arrived in India along with thousands of Tibetans, Nehru asked Freda Bedi to help settle them; and, he then put her in charge of the Social Welfare Board.

Freda was very drawn to Tibetan Buddhism and spent the rest of her life as a leader who looked after the welfare of Tibetans in India. And simultaneously, she took to practicing Tibetan Buddhism of the Kagyu School under the direct guidance of the Karmapa. She also became the Principal of a school established by the Dalai Lama in Delhi for young Tibetans. In 1963, Freda helped in setting up Karma Drabgyu Thargay Ling, a nunnery for Tibetan women in northern India. Besides, she set up a number of other organizations, such as : Friends of Buddhism, New Delhi; Tibetan Friendship Group; Young Lama’s Home School, Dalhousie; and Mahayana Monastic House.

Freda Bedi

In 1966, Freda was ordained as a Buddhist monk by the Karmapa; and, was given the name Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo or Sister Palmo. She was the first Western woman to be ordained in Tibetan Buddhism.

She was in contact with the Tibetans right from the moment they arrived in India; guiding and helping them in several ways. She arranged for education of number of young Tibetans in UK. Sister Palmo was a ‘Mother-figure’ ; and, was affectionately addressed by Tibetans as ‘Mummy’. It is said; Sister Palmo was uniquely influential, in a quiet way. She became an adept in Western Tibetan Buddhism; became a Dharma teacher; and guided many disciples.

As an ordained monk, Sister Palmo undertook several tours to West covering Britain, Europe, U.S.A. Canada and South Africa lecturing, giving Dharma instructions and initiations. She also supervised the activities of the Tibetan Buddhist centers set up in Scotland, USA and other places. In her efforts to spread the message of the Dharma, during her tours, she met and discussed with several leading thinkers. During her tour of 1974-5, she visited the Vatican and met the Pope.

She also turned into a Tibetan-English translator; translating number of Tibetan woks and hymns into English (the language ‘my birth-land’ – as she said). Her translations of A Garland of Morning Prayers – in the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism; and other prayers are quite well regarded.

Please also check : for more.

In the later part of her life, she moved to a retreat in Sikkim, took to meditation intensely; wrote, and initiated and guided a spiritual movement that later became the ‘New Age’ movement.

Freda Houlston Bedi – Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo was indeed an extraordinary person who lived an active and a purposeful life in the service of her fellow beings. She excelled in all the aspects of her life. And, in that she found her fulfillment.

She died peacefully in New Delhi on 26 March 1977, at the age of 66.

The Venerable Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo (Freda Bedi) is revered as almost a Saint in Tibetan Buddhism.

According to Ms. Swati Jain, a Stupa is erected in Memory of Freda Bedi (Sister Palmo) at the Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat in Bhattu, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh.

Stupa for Freda ... l-pradesh/)


Freda Bedi was the mother of two sons, Ranga and Kabir Bedi (a film actor) and a daughter, Gulhima

(please check : )

(Please Check here for more on Freda Bedi – Andrew Whitehead’s page )


Alys Fiaz Ahmed

(f) Another couple in the left politics was the famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz of Lahore and his wife Alys George (September 22, 1914 – March 12, 2003) the daughter of a London bookseller. She and her sister Cristobel were active in leftist circles during the 1930s; and, both had worked with Krishna Menon in the India League at London. Her sister married Mohammad Din Tasser of Lahore (also in left movement). On a visit to India, Alys met and married Faiz and worked in politics and journalism. She was the founding member of the Democratic Women’s Association. He died in 1984. She continued to live in Pakistan as human rights activist.

[For more on Alys George and Faiz Ahmed Faiz please check their daughter Salima Hashmi‘s page at ... r-all.html

Salima Hashmi is a Lahore-based artist, cultural writer, painter, and anti-nuclear activist.]


(g) But the most sensational of all such relations was that of an early associate of M N Roy and the one who financed Roy’s health care in Switzerland as also his trip to India. He was Raja Brajesh Singh a wealthy prince hailing from the royal family of Kalakankar near Allahabad; and an Indian Communist. His affair with Josef Stalin’s daughter Svetlana became sensational.


Svetlana had an unlikely romance with Indian Communist Brajesh Singh Svetlana Alliluyeva3 bw

Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva (later known as Lana Peters), was the youngest child and only daughter of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin’s second wife.

Svetlana, when she was 17, married (in 1943) Grigory Morozov, a fellow student from Moscow University, though Stalin hadn’t liked it. They had a son Josef (Iosif) in 1945. And, their divorce took place in 1947. Svetlana married, for the second time (in 1949), Yuri Zhdanov, the son of Stalin’s close associate. A daughter, Katherine, was born to them in 1950. And, soon thereafter they were divorced. Josef Stalin died in 1953.

In 1963, while Brajesh Sing was recuperating from bronchitis in Sochi, Russia, by the side of the Black Sea, he met Svetlana. The two began to talk about a book by Rabindranath Tagore that Svetlana had found in the hospital’s library. Singh was the most peaceful man Svetlana had ever met. He protested when the hospital wanted to kill the leeches they had used in his treatment, and he opened windows to let flies escape. When she told him who her father was, he exclaimed “Oh!” and never mentioned it again.

By then, Brajesh Sing had already married twice – to Lakshmi Devi and to Leea, an Austrian woman. When they met in 1963, Svetlana was about 37 years; and Brajesh Singh (said to be old enough to be her father) was about sixty, about twenty-three years elder to Svetlana. It is not clear whether they were married formally. It appears that the Soviet Primer Alexi Kosygin had strongly disapproved of Svetlana getting married to Brajesh Singh. (She however persisted in calling herself as Brajesh Singh’s wife.) They lived together for four years as man and wife at Sochi until Brajesh Singh died on 31 October 1966.

Svetlana ensured that Brajesh Singh was cremated according to Hindu rites. Thereafter; she decided to take his ashes to India for immersion in the Ganges. That took time because the Soviet leaders tried hard to dissuade her from making that journey. Finally, the arrangements for her travel to India were made at the highest level. And, that was not difficult since Brajesh Singh’s nephew Dinesh Singh was a confidant of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was also a member of her council of ministers.

Svetlana arrived in India on 20 December 1966 with ashes of Brajesh Sigh. She stayed with Brajesh’s family at their ancestral royal home at Kalakankar near Allahabad (UP). After a couple of days, on 25 December 1966, Brajesh’s ashes were immersed in the Holy Ganges, with Svetlana watching the ritual, from the shore, dressed in widow’s white sari.

She lived happily with Brajesh’s extended family; and got on very well with all its members. She wanted to stay back in India; and, Brajesh’s family was also willing and happy to let her stay with them. Svetlana asked Dinesh Singh (Brajesh’s nephew) to use his influence with Indira Gandhi to let her stay in India. But the Soviet Government insisted that she should be back in Moscow before the end of March 1967. Indira Gandhi, not daring to antagonize the Soviets, advised Svetlana, through Dinesh, to return to Russia. Exasperated, Svetlana approached socialist Rammanohar Lohia in Allahabad for help so that she could stay in India and build a memorial for Brajesh. He promised to help; but could do very little.

Svetlana then reached New Delhi for making arrangements for her travel to Moscow; and stayed there at the Soviet Embassy where Ambassador Nikolai Benediktov was advising her to return home. Next day, on the evening of 6 March 1967, Svetlana went out to finalise her travel arrangements; but, she asked the taxi to drive straight to the American embassy. The embassy had shut for the day. She told the duty officer who she was and what she wanted. In panic, the duty officer rang up Ambassador Chester Bowles and told him that he must come to his office immediately to deal with a matter that could not be discussed on the phone. Mr Bowles arrived, talked to Svetlana and gave her a lined pad to write down why she wanted to go the US; and, not to her own country.

[Ambassador Chester Bowles, later recalled: In about two hours she put together a very eloquent sixteen to eighteen page statement in excellent English; a dramatic story of her life, who her father was, who her mother was, and why she wanted to leave Russia and come to America. Please see; India & the United States: Politics of the Sixties by Kalyani Shankar. P.387 to 393]

While Svetlana was writing her piece, Ambassador Bowles sent an “Eyes Only” telegram to the Secretary of State Dean Rusk explaining the situation and asking for instructions. He took care to conclude his cable with the words: “If I do not hear from the State Department by midnight (Indian time), I would, on my responsibility, give her the visa.”

According to the Ambassador’s subsequent account of the incident, as he had expected, there was not a word from Washington by the deadline. So he arranged to send Svetlana to the airport in the company of a CIA officer to catch a flight to Rome.

Only after she had reached Rome safely did the sensational news of her dramatic great escape was leaked to the Press.

There was, of course, a huge uproar in Moscow and in New Delhi; the US government blandly explained that it merely helped Svetlana on humanitarian grounds.

After a brief stay in Switzerland, she flew to the US. Upon her arrival in New York City in 1967, the then 41-year-old said, “I have come here to seek the self-expression that has been denied to me for so long in Russia.”

smiles for photographers at her press conference April 26.

Three days after she landed in America, Svetlana sent her children in Moscow (Iosif and Yekaterina, twenty-one and sixteen) a long letter. Soviet Communism, she said, had failed as an economic system and as a moral idea. She couldn’t live under it. “With our one hand we try to catch the moon itself, but with another one we are obliged to dig out potatoes the same way it was done a hundred years ago,” she wrote. She urged Iosif to study medicine and Yekaterina to continue to pursue science. “Please, keep peace in your hearts. I am only doing what my conscience orders me to do.”

( ... s-daughter)

The note that Svetlana wrote while in the US Embassy at New Delhi along with her “Twenty Letters to a Friend” was published within months of her arrival in the US; and it became a best-seller. The book in the form of a series of letters to her friend, the physicist Fyodor Volkenstein, described her family’s tragic history. The message of the book, it seemed, was that being one of Stalin’s relatives was nearly as terrible as being one of his subjects.

According to Brajesh Singh’s family in India, Svetlana did not forget her commitment for the memorial for Brajesh: “She kept sending money for many years for a hospital in Kalakankar village in Brajesh’s name, until it was taken over by the government”.

Svetlana settled down in Princeton New Jersey, where she lectured and wrote. From 1970–73, she was married to American architect William Wesley Peters with whom she had a daughter, Olga. Svetlana died in Richland Center, Wisconsin, U.S, from complications arising from colon cancer, on 22 November 2011, at the age of eighty-five (28 February 1926 to 22 November 2011).

Svetlana married American Wesley Peters, with whom she had a daughter

For more please do read a detailed article :

My Friend, Stalin’s Daughter by Nicholas Thompson which appeared in the March 31, 2014 Issue of The New Yorker.


Let’s talk about the intertwining lives of what was called as the Left Quartet – M N Roy, Evelyn Trent, Virendranath Chattopadyaya and Agnes Smedley, in the subsequent parts.


Sources and References

The White Woman’s Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia During British Rule by Kumari Jayawardena

Age of Entanglement by Kris Manjapra

Many pages of the Wikipedia

Socialism of Jawaharlal Nehru by Rabindra Chandra Dutt

India & the United States: Politics of the Sixties by Kalyani Shankar

How Stalin’s daughter defected in India–

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Freda Bedi ( )
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:04 am

Freda Bedi’s ‘Big’ Life: An Interview with Vicki Mackenzie
Accessed: 3/15/19




Freda Bedi, born in 1911 in England, lived a “big” life. She attended Oxford University, where she met and married Baba Pyare Lal Bedi, who was the sixteenth direct descendant of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion. They moved to India in 1934 and were active in the Indian national independence movement; she was one of Gandhi’s handpicked satyagrahis. Bedi later played a significant role in providing support to some of the first Tibetan Buddhist lamas to teach Westerners, primarily through the Young Lamas Home School, which she established in 1960. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was one of the many young tulkus who attended the school. He often speaks of how Freda Bedi helped him.

In April 2017, British journalist Vicki Mackenzie talked with Mandala about her new book The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi: British Feminist, Indian Nationalist, Buddhist Nun [available through the Foundation Store]. Mackenzie discussed with Mandala managing editor Laura Miller the origins of the book, Freda Bedi’s many achievements, and how she managed to accomplish several lifetimes of work helping others in just one life.

Freda Bedi, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and Lama Yeshe with Marcel Bertels and Nick Ribush in foreground, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, March 1976. Photo courtesy Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. About the visit from Big Love: “Rinpoche told his old teacher, Freda Bedi, now Sister Karma Tsultrim Khechog Palmo, that he just wanted to meditate. Sister Palmo had accompanied His Holiness the sixteenth Karmapa to Boudhanath for the opening of a big new Nyingma-Kagyu monastery, where he gave three months of extensive teachings and initiations. Lama Yeshe invited her to visit Kopan where she advised Western practitioners to pray to the guru until tears fell from their eyes.”

Mandala: What inspired you to write this book?

Vicki Mackenzie: I never met Freda Bedi. It was such a shame. But from my earliest days in the Dharma, I heard about her. I went to Kopan in November 1976 for my first course there, and she had just visited. There was a buzz because Lama Yeshe had brought her into the gompa, into “the Tent” as it was then called, and put her on the throne. He made three full-length prostrations to her. Unfortunately, she died shortly afterwards, in 1977.

Then when I was writing the book Cave in the Snow, I heard about her from Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, who had helped her at her Young Lamas Home School. Tenzin Palmo said she was such an extraordinary woman, a powerhouse. She had an incredible life, a big life, many lives in one lifetime. So my ears pricked up. And after Cave in the Snow, Tenzin Palmo kept saying, you really must write a book about Freda Bedi, women need inspirational role models. But I wasn’t interested then because I didn’t want to write a book on another British woman who had become a Tibetan nun! She kept pushing though. And then I got a letter from Ranga Bedi, Freda Bedi’s eldest son, saying we’re looking for someone to write a book about our mother. He said the Dalai Lama thought a book should be written. His Holiness didn’t specify me, but I thought, “Well, if His Holiness thinks a book should be written … I’ll take it on.” So the momentum gathered until I gave in.

Mandala: How did you get the information you needed?

Mackenzie: The Bedi family wanted the book written, so they handed over their mother’s recordings, letters, writings: it was the next best thing to being able to actually talk to her. She came alive in these materials. But not completely. It would have been so great to interview her. You get the best material when you can sit someone down and ask them the questions that need to be answered and not just take the stuff they want to give you. That way you can also assess the person’s character and “feel.” That made it a difficult book to write. The Bedi children, who are grown-ups now, all gave me interviews. But then I needed to flesh it out. So I did a lot of traveling, finding people who knew her, seeing the places she had loved and where she had worked. It was a lot of talking!

Mandala: What about Lama Zopa Rinpoche? He attended the Young Lamas Home School.

A young Lama Zopa Rinpoche with the 6th Yongzin Ling Rinpoche (1903 – 1983), senior tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Photo courtesy of Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

Mackenzie: [Lama Zopa] Rinpoche was one of her pupils, who she plucked out of the Buxa Duar refugee camp when he was young and very sick. Rinpoche is always talking about her, so I drew on what I had heard from him. I sometimes wonder if Lama Yeshe wasn’t bowing to her at Kopan partly because she had looked after his heart disciple.

One very important interviewee was Akong Rinpoche, who talked to me at Samye Ling, Scotland, just before he was tragically killed. Freda had “adopted” him in 1960 along with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I interviewed people who had worked with her at the Young Lamas Home School, which she established in 1960. I talked to the volunteers who knew her at the school, and Indians who knew her socially, friends of her family. I interviewed Gelek Rinpoche, who had lived with her in Delhi as one of her pupils. With great difficulty, I tracked down her devoted nun assistant—a very feisty character. I found the nunnery that Freda established in India and talked to the nuns who had known her. They were utterly devoted to her, and kept her room locked up as a shrine. I interviewed Tibetan officials who knew her when the Tibetans came into exile, her niece in England, Pema Chödrön, Joanna Macy, and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, who very kindly wrote the foreword to the book. It was like trying to piece together a giant jigsaw puzzle. It took me six or seven years. It was very, very difficult to get a comprehensive picture of this extraordinary woman because she was involved in so many activities.

Mandala: You mentioned that she lived many lives. Tell me more about that.

Mackenzie: Freda won three scholarships to Oxford. She was mega-bright. Curiously, she was determined without actually being ambitious. She didn’t necessarily want to go to Oxford. A school friend’s family asked Freda to study with their daughter to encourage her as she wasn’t very bright. At the last minute, Freda decided to take the examination too. Ironically, Freda got a scholarship and her friend didn’t.

The young, in-love Freda at Oxford, England, 1932. Taken by her fiancé, Baba Pyare Lal Bedi. Photo courtesy of Bedi family archives via Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Oxford opened up a whole new world for the provincial Freda. There she met a charismatic Sikh called Baba Pyare Lal Bedi who was the sixteenth direct descendant of the founder of the Sikhs. He got her into Marxism and the Indian independence movement. She met Gandhi, who lectured there, and was deeply impressed. She married Bedi, who warned her that she would spend a lot of her married life waiting outside prison walls, which turned out to be true. She returned with him to India and joined Gandhi’s peaceful resistance movement against the British. At the same time she was a professor, journalist, and mother. Freda helped to rouse the Indian people with her amazing oratory; she was extremely articulate in Gandhi’s cause. Gandhi chose her personally to be what is known as satyagrahi, one of those willing to go to prison and even die for the cause. Of course she was duly arrested, and became the first British woman to be imprisoned for insurrection. After that, she became a heroine in India.

But right from childhood she was a spiritual seeker. She would go to church to try and meditate before school. And she read everything she could on the East. While she was at university and then in India, she explored every kind of spirituality she could, very diligently. She read all of the Koran, the Torah, explored Sikhism and Hinduism. And she continued to meditate and do yoga and had some profound spiritual experiences. But there was no Buddhism in India at that time.

Mahatma Gandhi with Lord and Lady Mountbatten, India, 1947. Photo taken at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram by Nagarjun Kandukuru. Flickr Creative Commons attribution.

She also had a strong social conscience and innate compassion. She was desperately keen to help anybody in need and she hated, hated inequality and suffering of any kind. So after India achieved independence in 1947, she threw herself into working for the refugees who arrived due to the partition of India and Pakistan. There was a bloodbath at the time of partition, if you recall, with traumatized refugees on both sides of the border. So she became a social worker, always working for the poor, especially the rural poor. At the same time she mixed with the great and the good. She knew Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi. She knew Lady Edwina Mountbatten, who was the wife of the last British viceroy of India. The Bedis knew all the leading writers, artists, and politicians and were a celebrated couple at society’s top cocktail parties.

Nehru sent Freda to Burma in 1952 on a UNESCO mission.
While she was there, she encountered Buddhism for the first time and learned vipassana meditation from Mahasi Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Titthila. She had a kind of awakening experience. She was never the same after that.

Their Holinesses the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama on a visit to India in 1957 with Prime Minister Nehru at Raj Bhavan, Calcutta. Photo from via Flickr Creative Commons.

And then Nehru sent her, in 1959, to look after the Tibetan refugees in India when His Holiness came into exile. She saw all these refugees, and was working day and night, day and night, to help them, and she saw in them all a spiritual quality she had never seen before. And that was it. It was the tulkus who impressed her the most. She recognized that it was the tulkus who would bring Buddhism to the West. At the time, nobody else was thinking along those lines. Only Freda saw it. Everything was in such disarray. She met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Rinpoche, and felt a deep affinity with the two of them. She took them into her house in Delhi to live with her family.

1960. Freda Bedi with family members: her husband Baba Pyare Lal Bedi, her son Kabir, and her daughter Guli on the steps of their small Delhi flat with newly “adopted” family members, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Rinpoche, found by Freda in the refugee camps. They lived together for several years. Photo courtesy of Bedi family archives via Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Following her hunch, Freda set up a school for the young rinpoches. It started in Delhi with Nehru’s permission and help. And His Holiness supported it. He thought that the most important thing for the young rinpoches was an education. Later she moved the school to Dalhousie and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who had tuberculosis at that time, went there. He was so keen to learn English. And Freda Bedi found him sponsors, and got him robes and medicine.

Mandala: Tell me a little bit more about the school.

Mackenzie: It was nonsectarian. Freda was never interested in divisions so it was open to all the schools of Buddhism. She taught the tulkus herself, and she commandeered passing Westerners as well to teach English and Western topics. Tibet had been completely isolated, and the young Tibetans didn’t know anything about the outside world. She knew that she had to give them a more comprehensive education. But they also did their prayers and practices according to their own traditions. She was constantly fundraising and getting sponsors for them. She never ever had any money and was totally non-materialistic herself, but she was a very powerful woman, with a great intellect and tremendous connections with the most powerful people in India.

The countryside around Dalhousie, India. Photo by Irfan Shaikh via Flickr Creative Commons.

Mandala: And she did some work for nuns as well?

Mackenzie: She established the first nunnery in exile. She really, really believed in the equality of women. In fact, in the exile community, the nuns got their first nunnery, Karma Drubgyu Thargay Ling, before the monks got their first monastery. And it’s still going. On a personal note the sixteenth Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje encouraged her to become the first fully-ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun of any nationality. It was yet another historical milestone she clocked up. She was the first gelongma, which helped pave the way. Tenzin Palmo followed and so did all the others. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Mandala: I understand she did some translation.

Mackenzie: She was an ace at languages. She just had a knack. She had studied French; that’s what got her into Oxford. She learned Hindi and Tibetan, and she was translating texts very early on. That was one of her first jobs, which she was doing on the side. She was one of the first translators of Tibetan texts.

Kagyu nuns, India. Photo by Olivier Adam.

Mandala: Her commitment to helping others meant her family missed her at times.

Mackenzie: Missed her because she was away a lot and when she was at home they had to share her. You know, she was called “Mummy-la” by the Tibetans. They all called her Mummy-la and she sort of saw herself as a universal mother. And the Tibetans, most of them, regarded her as an emanation of Tara. But her own children, I think, often took second place. So I explore that in my book as well: the discrepancy between universal mother and actual mother at home cooking meals and generally putting her children before anything and anyone else. Freda never did that! I think it’s often an issue women face. Our myth of motherhood is very strong. Freda undoubtedly loved her children and they loved her, but she also had her eye on the bigger picture.

Mandala: Her work has had long-term impacts, hasn’t it?

Mackenzie: She got Trungpa Rinpoche a scholarship to Oxford. And he went on from there to America where his impact was enormous. He and Akong Rinpoche established the first Tibetan monastery in the West, in Scotland, Samye Ling. I don’t think you can overestimate the influence of these two lamas. And Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s global influence is inestimable. Freda mentored many other tulkus like Thartang Tulku and Gelek Rinpoche, all of whom have contributed a colossal amount. Freda’s role was pivotal.

And she persuaded the sixteenth Karmapa to go on his first tours to Europe and America. She did that personally, because she was his close disciple, living in a room just beneath his in Rumtek, and he listened to her. She said to him, “The West definitely is ready, go, please, please, they are ready, give them the Dharma.”
She arranged for him to meet the Pope. She went with him, organizing all the way and acting as his intermediary.

Mandala: Was she a serious practitioner?

Mackenzie: Yes, which surprised me. I don’t know when she found the time to practice. I discovered that, while she was on these tours to South Africa and America, she was conducting high initiations with the permission of the Karmapa. So she must have been an extraordinary practitioner. And the Karmapa told her assistant, the nun who was with her all the time, that she was an emanation of Tara. She was doing these extraordinary empowerments. Her explanations were exceptionally profound and very clear. In the book, I have tried to put in, especially for Buddhist readers, excerpts of talks she gave while she was doing the overseas tours, both on the radio and live. It seems that she had a high understanding of the Dharma.

And her devotion to the sixteenth Karmapa was absolute. She didn’t have to learn guru devotion. Her first meeting with him was remarkable. While she was working with the Tibetan refugees, they told her she must go and meet the Karmapa, who had just arrived. It was a long journey on horseback, and she didn’t really know who he was. But she trekked up to see if she could help him. And he revealed himself to her as the Buddha. He was instantly her heart guru. Her devotion to him was so absolute that it annoyed her daughter, who was brought up by her mother to be an independent woman. “Whatever are you doing obeying everything he says? I thought you were an intelligent, liberated woman!” That was her daughter’s view.

Photo courtesy of Shambhala Publications Inc.

Mandala: As a woman, she was quite radical, wasn’t she? For example, she was the primary income earner in her family.

Mackenzie: Yes, her husband had a devil-may-care attitude that life would take of itself. And he was in prison too, for years, because of the struggle for Indian independence. So she was the main breadwinner. She didn’t seem to mind. She worked so hard. All the time, work, work, work. And I think she and her husband believed in freedom of choice for both of them actually. It was radical, yes. The Bedis were a remarkable family. Very advanced, very enlightened. They welcomed Freda into their midst, for example, and treated her like a daughter, even though she was British. They were very special people, her in-laws. She loved them, and they loved her. Her husband’s mother lived with them when she was old and they looked after her. Really, they were all characters.

That’s something I tried to explore in the book. I didn’t want to do a hagiography. I wanted to show the reality. And Freda was big character, and complex. And in a way she was “called.” Her life had, like Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s, a trajectory, even though Freda didn’t meet her guru, her path, until she was middle-aged, by which time she had had an extraordinary life already. She had tasted everything. Career, being a wife, a mother, a socialite, cocktail parties, political activism, jail. But all the time she was always on this trajectory to bring about a better world, to eliminate suffering.

She is an icon in the transmission of Buddhism to the West, an icon. And yet, she has remained fairly unknown. Why has her song never been sung? His Holiness was right. Her story deserves to be told. There was even a hint in her letters that it was through her contacts with Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi that Nehru was persuaded to take His Holiness in, to let him settle in India. That’s in the book. It’s just hinted at, but she could have been an important influence in that momentous decision. Maybe Lama Yeshe was aware of this other role she may have played too.

Then she kept working and working even though her health was never good. On her last tour you can hear on the recordings of her teachings that she can hardly breathe. She was exhausted, physically wrung out—you can hear it. But she kept on going. Apart from teaching and touring, she was still running organizations and getting sponsors for Tibetan causes, refugee camps, and families: she kept that going by endless letter writing. How she did it all, I just do not know. She crammed a lot in!

Mandala: How did writing the book impact you?

Mackenzie: It’s exhausted me. [Laughs] It has been a long haul, weaving all these strands together and hopefully making her come alive to the reader. I also feel tremendously honored to have spent time with her in this way. She did so very much for India, for Tibetans, for the Dharma, for women. She amazes and inspires me. I feel such gratitude for all she did.

Vicki Mackenzie is a British journalist who has written for the national and inter national press for over forty years. Her articles have appeared in The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and many magazines in Britain and Australia. She’s also the international best-selling author of Cave in the Snow; Reincarnation: The Boy Lama; Child of Tibet; Reborn in the West: The Reincarnation Masters; and Why Buddhism? Westerners in Search of Wisdom. Her latest book is The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi: British Feminist, Indian Nationalist, Buddhist Nun, published in March 2017 by Shambhala Publications and available in the Foundation Store.

She has been a student of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche since 1976.

Cover Photo: The Young Lamas Home School, Dalhousie, India. Freda Bedi with the reincarnated Tibetan lamas she was educating in English and modern history to bring Buddhism to the outside world,1963. (Photo courtesy of Faith Grahame via Shambhala Publications, Inc.)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:24 am

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/15/19



Tibetan name
Tibetan ཟུར་མང་དགོན་པ
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 蘇莽貢巴
Simplified Chinese 苏莽贡巴

Surmang (or Zurmang) refers to a vast alpine nomadic and farming region, historically a duchy under the King of Nangchen, with vast land holdings spreading over what is today the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province. In Tibetan King of Nangchen's realm was called the "nyishu dza nga" or the 21 (provinces). Since 1959 it is mainly within the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province in China (historically part of Kham, eastern Tibet). Yushu Prefecture is 97% ethnic Tibetan.[1] The Surmang region is one of the poorest regions in China ranking it among the world's highest infant and maternal mortality, almost 100% illiteracy, and personal income of less than US 14¢/day.[1] It is part of the catchment in China of the 30 million ultra-poor.

Surmang also refers to a complex of nine or ten Kagyu monasteries (gompas) in that area. These include: Surmang Namgyal Tse, Surmang Dutsi Til, Surmang Do Gompa, Surmang Doka Gompa, Surmang Kyere Gompa. The lineage held therein, known as the Surmang Kagyu, is a subschool of the Karma Kagyu yet it includes a unique synthesis of Nyingma teachings. They are led historically by the GharTengTrungSum (sum means three), namely the Gharwang tulkus, the Tenga tulkus and Trungpa tülkus.

Surmang Kagyu


Surmang Monastery (Tibetan: ཟུར་མང་དགོན་པ, Wylie: zur mang dgon pa) was founded about 600 years ago by Trungmase, a student of Deshin Shekpa, the 5th Gyalwa Karmapa. The name in Tibetan means "many cornered" referring to the irregularly shaped reed huts used by the first monastics in the area.

The 1st Trungpa Rinpoche, Kunga Gyaltsen, was a principal student of Trungmase (the 1st Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, also well known as Matiratna, or as Lodro Rinchen, which was given by the 5th Gyalwa Karmapa). Small Surmang is the seat of the Surmang Trungpa tulkus, the line of incarnate lamas particularly associated with the sub-complex Dudtsi-til. The Surmang Trungpa Rinpoches was historically the closest students of Trungmase (1st Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche), along with the eight tongdens (other close students of the founder of the Surmang group). Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, Zurmang Tenga Rinpoche and Zurmang Trungpa Rinpoche are together considered the "Three Pillars of Surmang (GharTengTrungSum)."

Accounts of Trungmase and the traditional hierarchy of Surmang differ somewhat. In his autobiography, Born in Tibet, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche asserts that Trungmase did not take rebirth, and that the Trungpa tulkus were thereafter traditionally supreme abbots of all of Surmang. However, Trungmase is said to have reincarnated and his line of tulkus is known as the Gharwang tulkus. The Gharwang tulkus have traditionally been the abbots of the main Surmang monastery, Namgyal-tse, and in this role lead the Surmang Kagyu tradition. In 1976 the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa enthroned the 12th Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche as the 12th incarnation of Trungmase and an emanation of Tilopa.[2]

The Surmang monasteries, through their long history, were exposed to violence. Dudtsi-til Monastery was razed twice by the armies of the Central Government of Tibet, the most recent time being in the 1930s, when the Central Government tried to collect taxes in Tibetan areas of Qinghai.

The Surmang monasteries were again largely destroyed during the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the subsequent Cultural Revolution.[3][4][5] In recent years Namgyal-tse has been largely restored under the leadership of the 12th Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche. Dutsi-til Monastery is being steadily reestablished under the leadership of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of Shambhala Buddhism and son of Chögyam Trungpa, the 11th Surmang Trungpa. The 2010 Yushu earthquake made it necessary to raze the ancient assembly hall, all of whose costs have been borne exclusively by local support: the monastery, local business community and the Yushu Government.[6] The present regent abbot of Dutsi-til is Aten Rinpoche. The titular head of the monastery is Choseng Trungpa Rinpoche, the 12th Trungpa Tulku.

The three famous Tulkus from Zurmang are well known with the name GharTengTrungSum (Gharwang, Tenga, Trungpa Rinpoche). Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche II and Zurmang Tenga Rinpoche II are the grandson of TrungMase / Matiratna (1st Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche).

Surmang Foundation

Surmang Foundation was founded in 1988 by Lee Weingrad following his trip to the region in 1987, making him the first Westerner to visit the region. In 1991, the Foundation went into partnership with the Dutsi Til Monastery and the Qinghai Provincial Government resulting in the construction of a clinic. The agreement, the first one signed by the Chinese Government with a foundation in Qinghai, opened the door for other foundations in Qinghai, most notably the Konchok Foundation. Since 1991 the foundation provides community development and health services to the region, including support of monks, nuns, and visitors to the facilities at the retreat center of Dorje Khyung Dzong. The Foundation was also responsible for the arrangements and logistics of the 2001 visit of Trungpa Tulku XI's son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Gurdjieff connection theory

The Greek-Armenian philosopher and mystic G.I. Gurdjieff claimed that a mysterious Sarmoung monastery was a major source of the teachings he brought to the West. As such, it has never been located, but the Canadian diplomat and Gurdjieffian James George has speculated, on the basis of the similar name and location, that Surmang may be real basis of the Sarmoung monastery.[7]

As I helped Rinpoche up the stairs to bed that night he said, "Johnny, do you know what killing that bird means?"

"No, Sir." I said.

"It means you will get married and your first child will be a boy who will be a tulku. [12] Also it will cause a slight interruption in our living situation."

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what relationship there was between the events of that morning and my having a son. Rinpoche didn't expand on it, so I let it go and silently put him to bed.

Two days later Rinpoche and Max were in town shopping and got stuck in a heavy snowstorm. They had to stay overnight at an inn. Rinpoche called and told me with a chuckle, "We've been held up by a snowbird." A slight interruption. Interestingly, I have not killed anything since.

Later I did get married and our first child was a daughter whom we called Sophie. Rinpoche announced that she was a reincarnation of G. I. Gurdjieff.

"But Gurdjieff was a man," I said.

"Yes," said Rinpoche, "that's Gurdjieff's joke on us."

-- The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks

See also

• Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche
• Chögyam Trungpa
• Surmang Foundation


1. Surmang Foundation web site
2. Documentation from the enthronement of the 12th Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche
3. "The Surmang Project," Konchok Foundation website. Prior to the Chinese take-over, the monasteries owned over 90% of the land in Tibet. One result of the Chinese invasion was the disestablishment of all the monasteries, meaning that they, along with all other monasteries lost their land holdings after 1959 and thus ceased to be an economic or political force. In addition they could no longer be supported by the institution of share cropper nomads and farmers. [1]
4. "Trungpa Rinpoche XII and Surmang Monastery," Rokpa Foundation website
5. Born In Tibet (4th ed.) by Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala Publications, 2000 ISBN 1-57062-714-2 pg 153-4.
6. Konchok foundation fall 2006 newsletter Konchok foundation fall 2006 newsletter
7. Fordham, Walter (October 2003). "Interview with James George: June 27th, 2003". Chronicles of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Retrieved 1 April 2015. Gurdjieff spent three and a half years in Tibet. He wrote ... that he was taken to a central Asian monastery in Kashmir or Tibet called a monastery of the Sarmoung brotherhood. Now, Surmang, the seat of Trungpa's lineage, is just a transposition of vowels, which I think, may conceal where Gurdjieff received much of his teaching.

External links

• Konchok Foundation dedicated to the well-being of Surmang Dudtsi-til
• Zurmang Kagyud Buddhist Centre founded by 12th Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche
• Surmang Foundation established to alleviate poverty by promoting health
• Zurmang Kagyu Website
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:55 am

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s biography
by Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery
Accessed: 3/15/19



Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was born in England in 1943 and named Diane Perry.

She and her older brother were raised by her mother in the Bethnal Green area of London after her father’s death when Diane was 2 years old. Mrs Perry was a spiritualist who held séances in the family home, and Jetsunma credits this as being a strong and positive influence on her development as a seeker of truth.

Aged 18, she realised she was a Buddhist while reading the book “The Mind Unshaken” by John Walters.

After leaving school she worked as a librarian at the Hackney Public Library and then SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies) in London, saving enough money to leave England in 1964, sailing to India to pursue her spiritual path.

Diane Perry (centre) at a family wedding in the 1950s

She headed north to Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh, where she had arranged to work with an expat Englishwoman named Freda Bedi, who had opened a school for young reincarnated lamas among the exiled Tibetan community.

On her 21st birthday in June 1964, the school had a special guest: His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, a great Drukpa Kagyu lama.

Diane recognised him immediately as her Guru and asked him if she could become a Nun. Aged 21, only 3 months after arriving in India, the newly named Drubgyu Tenzin Palmo became one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monastic.

In 1967 she received the sramanerika ordination at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim from H.H. the 16th Karmapa.

Ordained in 1964, aged 21

H.E. 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche

As full ordination is not yet available for women in the Tibetan tradition, in 1973 she travelled to Hong Kong to obtain the bhikshuni ordination at Miu Fat Temple.

Tenzin Palmo was based with Khamtrul Rinpoche and his community first in Dalhousie and later at the monastery of Tashi Jong, near Palampur, Himachal Pradesh for six years until 1970, when he directed her to the Himalayan valley of Lahaul in order to undertake more intensive practice. She stayed in Tayul Gompa, a small Lahauli monastery for the next 6 years, remaining in retreat during the long winter months.

Then in 1976, seeking more seclusion and better conditions for practice, she found a cave a couple of hours hike from Tayul, at 13,200 feet above sea level. The cave was enhanced by building enclosing walls, creating a living space around 6 feet (1.8 metres) square.

Receiving bhikshuni ordination in Hong Kong 1973

In the summer months supplies were delivered from Keylong and she grew turnips and potatoes nearby. She stockpiled for winter, when the cave was snowbound. She slept and meditated upright in a meditation box.

Despite many hardships and life-threatening experiences, Tenzin Palmo thrived in her solitary spiritual practice and lived in the cave for 12 years, from the ages of 33 to 45. For the first 9 years she occasionally had visitors or took trips away from the cave, while the last 3 years were spent in strict retreat.

Her retreat ended in summer 1988 and after 24 years in India, she returned to Europe to stay with friends in Assisi, Italy. There she rediscovered her western roots and started to accept requests to teach.

Tenzin Palmo drying out furniture at her Cave in the early 1980s.

Before H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980, he had on several occasions requested Tenzin Palmo to start a nunnery. She understood the importance of this and remembers when in 1993, his reincarnation, H.E. the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche together with the Lamas of the Khampagar monastery at Tashi Jong again made the request.

This time Tenzin Palmo was ready to take on the formidable task. Legal preparations began, suitable land was found near Tashi Jong and she began slowly raising support worldwide.

After the publication of her biography “Cave in the Snow” by Vicki MacKenzie in 1998, her profile increased exponentially and she began annual international teaching tours to raise funds.

Tenzin Palmo and H.E. the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche in 2002

In January 2000 the first nuns arrived while Tenzin Palmo was still based at Tashi Jong and in 2001 construction began at the Padhiarkar site. H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche gave the nunnery the name Dongyu Gatsal Ling, which translates as “Garden of the Authentic Lineage”.

Today, DGL is fully completed and provides educational and spiritual instruction to over 100 nuns.

In February 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.

Jetsunma at her enthronement in Kathmandu 2008

Tenzin Palmo spends most of the year at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and occasionally tours to give teachings and raise funds for the ongoing needs of the DGL nuns and Nunnery.

In addition to her role as Founding Director of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, Jetsunma is President of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, Founding Director of the Alliance of Non Himalayan Nuns; Honorary Advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists and Founding Member of the Committee for Bhiksuni Ordination.

To find out more about Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s life, read Vicki Mackenzie’s biography Cave in the Snow published by Bloomsbury, and see the ‘Cave in the Snow’ DVD directed by Liz Thompson and narrated by Rachel Ward.

Jetsunma with her girls – the nuns of DGL
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:18 am

Interview in Nova Holistic Journal [with Tenzin Palmo]
by Rosamund Burton
June 2008



Rosamund Burton meets an extraordinary woman embodying faith, perseverance and the pursuit of happiness for others.

Tibetan Buddhism does not at this time have full ordination for its nuns and is, despite its highly evolved spiritual practices, still very much a male bastion. Yet Tenzin Palmo has not only earned the admiration of people all over the world, but also the deep respect of many Tibetan Buddhist lamas, not to mention His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Originally from the East End of London, she became a Tibetan Buddhist nun in the 1960s and spent 12 years living alone in a cave high up on a mountain before founding the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery.

In February this year, Tenzin Palmo was given the title of “Jetsunma”, which means “venerable master” by His Holiness the Twelfth Gualwang Drukpa, the head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage – the particular form of Tibetan Buddhism to which she belongs.

I have read Vicki MacKenzie’s wonderful book, “Cave in the Snow”, about Tenzin Palmo, and now I find myself face to face with this extraordinary woman who has survived incredible physical hardships in her dedication to her meditative practices. She is currently undertaking a tour of Australia, giving public talks and seminars, and is speaking in Melbourne on 1st, 3rd and 4th May, before going to Sydney for the Happiness Conference on 9th and 10th May.

I wonder what effect so much spiritual practice has had. On the one hand she seems very normal. She smiles and chats, and I feel instantly at ease. Then I feel her brilliant blue eyes pierce and touch me in an indescribably profound way.

She is extremely eloquent and answers my questions in a very systematic and logical way, and as she laughs or emphasises a point, you are aware of a strong underlying serenity.

This is the woman who made a vow to attain Enlightenment in the female form no matter how many lifetimes it takes.

“For many centuries, millenia probably, women have been the overlooked second half of the human race, so that most of the spiritual leaders are male and the texts are written by men from a male perspective,” she explains. “Therefore, it seemed to me obvious that we don’t need more male spiritual leaders; we need more female spiritual leaders, and so it made sense to vow to come back always as a female in order to help women who are so overlooked.”

Theravadan Buddhism, which is practiced in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, and Tibetan Buddhism do not have fully ordained nuns. Therefore, in these countries the nuns have been ordained by the monks, but that means they are always novices, because full ordination must be given by a nun who herself is fully ordained.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tenzin Palmo explains, remaining as novices means that there are many texts which nuns are not allowed to study, and also offices and rituals which they can not carry out. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she continues, is very supportive of the move to enable nuns to receive full ordination, but knows that his geshes are not supportive, and doesn’t want to move on this issue if the rank and file are not really behind him.

“However,” says Tenzin Palmo candidly, “many of us do feel that if he said ‘Okay, I really do want this to happen, this really is my wish: who is behind me?’ most of them would fall into line immediately.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has suggested that Tibetan Buddhist nuns go to Hong Kong to be ordained, as Tenzin Palmo did herself in 1973 when she was thirty years old, but she explains, the nuns do not want to go outside their own lineage.

Tenzin Palmo, then known as Diane Perry, was born on 30 June 1943. Her father was a fishmonger and died when she was only two, so she was brought up by her mother and older brother, living above their fish shop in Bethnal Green. Her mother was a spiritualist, and the weekly séances held at their home meant that this young girl was used to unusual spiritual experiences. In “Cave in the Snow” there is description of the night the large mahogany table with an 18 stone woman sitting on it lifted off the ground and into the air.

Diane Perry’s realisation that she was a Buddhist occurred when she picked up a book called “The Mind Unshaken”. She started studying Buddhism and discovered that it was the Mahayana branch that interested her, which is practiced primarily by the Tibetans. With further reading she realised that the school she needed to study was Kargyupa and, aged 20, she decided to travel to Dalhousie in Northern India where an English woman called Freda Bedi had started a small nunnery for Kargyupa nuns, and a school for young reincarnated lamas.

1963 was an extraordinary time to be in Dalhousie because it was a major Tibetan refugee centre, and the great monasteries that had been recently destroyed when the Chinese invaded Tibet were being re-established there. She met her guru, His Eminence 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, and she became the second Westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

She stayed with Khamtrul Rinpoche and his monks for six years, but became increasingly frustrated and despondent about being unable to learn the teachings which the monks had access to. Finally, one day she told her guru she was leaving. At that point he instructed her to go to Lahaul, a remote region of the Indian Himalayas near the Tibetan border, in order to undertake more intensive practice.

She stayed in a small monastery there for several years and then, wanting more seclusion for her practice, she found a small cave up in the mountains above Lahaul. The cave was only six feet deep and ten feet long, and, because she was training herself to do without sleep, she did not even have a bed, but only a wooden meditation box. Here she lived for the next twelve years, and for the last three years in strict solitary retreat. One winter there was an avalanche and the snow completely blocked her door, so she had to dig herself out. Another time a supply of food she was expecting never arrived, and she had to eke out her minuscule supplies for months.

Tenzin Palmo’s three year retreat came to an abrupt end in 1988 when a policeman knocked on her door saying there was a problem with her visa, and that she would be arrested if she did not report to the local police station the following day. Having been in India for 24 years, and suddenly no longer in retreat Tenzin suddenly felt she needed to return to the West. Friends invited her to stay with them in Assisi, so she went there.

Before HE Khamtrul Rinpoche died in 1980 he had asked Tenzin Palmo several times to start a nunnery. Then in 1993, she attended the first Western Buddhist conference held in Dharamsala, at which she spoken passionately about the plight of women in Buddhism. Shortly after this, she took on the task of starting a nunnery for the women of her order, and began to give talks all around the world to raise funds and interest in the project.

In January 2000, the first nuns arrived and in 2001, the construction of Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery began. Today, there are 45 nuns from aged 15 to 25. Some are from Tibet and others from nearby countries such as Bhutan and Ladakh. They undertake an initial six-year program, after which they may choose to do a long retreat and, if they have the necessary qualities, go on to train as Togdenmas, the female equivalent of the highly spiritual Togdens.

Tenzin Palmo is 65 years old this year and admits that after a tour of Europe in 2009 she is not going to do any more traveling. She says that she is always telling the nuns that as soon as they are ready, she would like them to run the nunnery themselves.

“At that time it will certainly be good to go back and do some more strict practice,” she says.

At her public talk in Sydney she will discuss the mind and the control it has over us. Rather than trying to control our minds, she explains in her slightly European sounding accent, which has no trace of her East End roots, most of us try and control our external circumstances. We put a lot of effort into creating what we believe will make us happy, such as acquiring money, relationships, houses and cars, and then find we are still not content.

“We have to start cleansing our minds,” she says, and becoming mindful, and to do that we need to become more present.

When asked her view on Tibetan attempts to raise awareness of the plight of their country via protesting along the route of the Olympic torch relay, she says: “The Tibetans are a symbol of oppressed people around the world, and they know that this is their last chance to get the world to notice their incredible plight.”

Tenzin Palmo adds that it was both admirable and brave of Kevin Rudd to bring up the Tibet question on his recent trip to China. She believes that the best strategy for the West at this time is to try and put a little pressure on China to get them at least to talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She says that Western countries need to have the integrity to say to China that they are not prepared to trade with them unless they have a better code of ethics when it comes to human rights.

Tenzin Palmo’s final words are simple and yet profound: “I think the most important thing is to live in a way which brings the most benefit both to oneself and to others. So you live your day really sincerely trying to bring happiness to as many people as you can find, starting with the people closest to you and around you.”

This is how Tenzin Palmo has lived her life and it would be true to say that she has brought enormous happiness to the many people with whom she has come in contact.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:24 am

Tenzin Palmo: “There is nothing” a woman can’t accomplish
by Dominique Butet and Olivier Adam
February 24, 2017



Dominique Butet and Olivier Adam profile Tenzin Palmo, the nun who is changing the role of women in Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Translated from French by Susan Maneville.


A few days after Losar, the Tibetan New Year, spring seemed to be dawning on the Kangra plain, situated in Northern India in the province of Himachal Pradesh. Bougainvillea and magnolias were in full bloom, brightening up the dominating green of the region. The weather was already hot when our taxi dropped in front of the open gates at Dongyu Gatsal Ling, a community of ninety Buddhist nuns founded by Tenzin Palmo nearly fifteen years ago.

Straight away we wondered what pushed Diane Perry, a young English woman who had grown up in London, to leave everything behind for India, shaving off her lovely chestnut curls to become the second Western nun in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Now known as Tenzin Palmo, she is over 70 and what she has accomplished has become a living source of inspiration.

We arrived at the convent door. She greeted us with a large smile and a firm, generous handshake. She modestly agreed to talk about herself.

Young Diane was born in 1943 and was a solitary child. She was unusually fascinated by Asia. “I spent hours drawing Japanese women in kimonos,” she recalls, and when the first Asian restaurant opened in London, she wanted to go so she could “see Asian faces” at last. During adolescence, themes on suffering, aging, and death haunted her. She remembers being thirteen, watching a bus pass in front of her, and observing the people in it talking and laughing. Her reaction was quite surprising: “Don’t they realize, don’t they know what’s going to happen to them?”

“Reading my first book on Buddhism at 18 is what changed my life completely,” she’s said. When she was halfway through it, she announced: “I’m a Buddhist” — to which her mother replied, “Finish the book and we’ll talk about it!” But Diane had found her spiritual path and would follow it with all her strength.

Her meeting with Chögyam Trungpa in London guided her towards Tibetan Buddhism and a search for her own master. In February 1964, she embarked on a cargo boat for a two-week journey that took her to Bombay and then went on to Northern India, where she found a position as an English teacher in a school for young lamas. Just at that time, the headmistress of the school received a letter from the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche, recently exiled to India from Tibet. “Just reading his name,” Palmo recalls, “I knew that he would be my master.”

When he arrived at the school a few weeks later, she hurried to greet him, without daring to look at him directly. She whispered to her headmistress: “Just tell him I want to take refuge with him.” “Of course,” he answered. “I knew immediately,” she says, “that he was my master. And he knew immediately that I was his disciple.” The eighth Khamtrul ordained young Diane as a nun and gave her the name Tenzin Palmo.

She went with him to the Tashi Jong monastery in Himachal Pradesh, where she discovered the existence of the Togden, “beings who have realized the nature of the mind and are able to control it, after a retreat of more than fifteen years.” With their hair in dreadlocks and wearing the white robe inherited from Milarepa, these yogis were said to have unusual spiritual capacities. The young nun learned that while in Tibet, her guru lived among the Togdenma (the female Togden), though they did not survive the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

“I then told my master that I wanted to become a Togdenma. He was so happy. He said he’d been praying I would re-establish this order. However, when the monks heard about the project, they declared, ‘a woman is not going to live with the Togden.’ And so, I had to renounce.” She was the only nun in the middle of about a hundred monks. “I made the vow to be reborn in the feminine form until I attained enlightenment.”

Tenzin Palmo was only twenty-six when the Khamtrul encouraged her to go on a retreat and sent her to Lahaul, near Keylong. “This retreat was a vocation for me, it was what I was called to do in life,” she recalls. The cave she chose for her purpose was situated at an altitude of 4300 meters, difficult to access. She would spend twelve years there.


One winter, after seven days of continuous driving blizzards, Tenzin Palmo discovered that the height of snow had covered the openings of her cave and that she was imprisoned. At first she got herself ready to be buried alive, but then she heard an inner voice telling her, “Dig!” She immediately seized her saucepan lids and started digging. After long, terrifying minutes, she finally reached outside air. However, when she went back into her cave, she “realized that the ambient air was not contaminated but fresh. This was how I discovered that caves and snow breathe and that I wasn’t going to die.”

“Another advantage of the cave,” she says, is that it always gives you the space necessary for perfect concentration. And for me this was a source of great joy. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.” Did she have any difficulties? “Of course, certain days were marvelous and there were others of extreme unease when I wished I could do something other than sitting and meditating! But, these highs and lows are natural. Whether it rains or the sun shines is not important. The weather passes and we continue meditating.” Was it more difficult for a woman to live as a hermit in the mountains? “Not at all,” she replies.

Next we asked Tenzin Palmo about the actions she’s led in favor of women. Her enthusiasm was unmissable.

The Dongyu Gatsal Ling project began some time after the end of her retreat. Tenzin Palmo had responded to an old request of her guru: “to found a community for young girls from Himalayan regions [e.g., Ladakh, Bhutan, Spiti, Nepal] who want to become nuns and study according to the traditions of the Drukpa Kagyu.” As her work to reintroduce the Togdenma lineage was beginning to take shape, she praised the commitment of “the nuns who not only seriously study Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, and the founding texts of the tradition, but also practice the rituals with a lot of dedication. At the end of their study program, they can decide to go on a long retreat.”

“Throughout Tibetan history,” she notes, “there have been many great female meditators—yoginis—but little has been written about them, so they are not very well known.” But the tide is turning. “After having been completely neglected, ignored, and underestimated by Tibetan society, the nuns are now starting to become more popular. People are at last aware they exist and are bringing them real support. And there will soon be geshema! [The geshe degree is the monastic equivalent of a Ph.D in Tibetan Buddhist studies, and until recently has granted to men only.] From now on, there is nothing you cannot accomplish in a woman’s body.”

After a pause, her brow immediately darkens. “The ones that haven’t [benefited] are the non-Himalayan nuns. Not just the Western nuns but also those from places such as Taiwan or Vietnam and so on that have joined the Tibetan movement. They receive no financial or moral support from anyone. In most cases, they dedicate themselves to running the Western Buddhist centers and have to pay rent and electricity, without any income. This is why I’ve undertaken the creation of an Alliance of Non-Himalayan Nuns, so they can stay in contact and are no longer isolated. But the first thing to do is to spread the message that they exist so that people become aware. It was the same when I started talking about the Himalayan nuns twenty years ago. First people said “Oh! Are there nuns? I never realized…” And then, they asked: “What can I do to help them?” That was when I was able to raise money to build this nunnery. Now the time has come to look after the non-Himalayan nuns.”

Indeed, in June 2015, she took part in the Sakyadhita Conference, an international gathering of female Buddhists created in 1987 of which she has been chairperson since 2013. Her presentation there concerned the non-Himalayan nuns.


In 2008, when the Gyalwang Drukpa suggested awarding her the title Jetsunma in recognition of her spiritual growth and her work with women, Tenzin Palmo’s first reaction was to refuse such a distinction. “But,” she says, “I received so many e-mails saying how wonderful it was and how it highlighted the status of women that I realized this title had nothing to do with me but concerned women in general. And for this, I could only say thank you.” So she took advantage of talking with Gyalwang Drukpa about the names usually given to the nuns, like Ani (aunt) or Chomo (woman of the house). She then suggested “Tsunma”—a reference to something noble, delicate, pure. The nuns approved the idea and started using this term with each other. “When the Karmapa came to visit Dongyu Gatsal Ling in 2014, I noticed that he also used this term. That was wonderful. The sound of the word immediately gives a positive impression in the Tibetan mind and you know how much we are influenced by language.”
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:41 am

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo: A Brief Biography
by Kate Mattes
Accessed: 3/15/19



Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is one of the first Western women to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. She is also the most senior Western Tibetan Buddhist nun, being ordained for over 51 years. Palmo is a nontraditional woman’s rights activist and a respected teacher. She has spent years in strict retreat, authored books, opened a nunnery, and vowed enlightenment. A woman dedicated to the dharma and to her fellow nuns, Palmo is an exceptional being.

Diane Perry, now Tenzin Palmo, was born in Hertfordshire, England on June 30, 1943. Growing up in London, she felt wrong. Palmo believed she was in the wrong place and the wrong body, wanting to leave London from an early age. Her mother was a widow of poor health, but a pleasant disposition. Spiritual séances would occur weekly at their home exposing Palmo to an open mindset. She had a kind family and a lovely job as a librarian. She spent a lot of her childhood reading about different religions, though she could not identify with any.

When Palmo was eighteen she was delayed in an airport with her mother and the only book with her was about Buddhism. Palmo declared halfway through the book that she was a Buddhist. Her mother’s remark was how nice that was. A few years later she informed her mom she would be leaving for India for a Buddhist teacher, again her mother was supportive asking when she would depart. Her mother, leading a spiritual life, understood her daughter would follow her own path.

Palmo wrote Freda Bedi, a Western woman teaching English to Tibetan refugees in India. Bedi’s response was simply telling Palmo to come. So at the age of twenty Palmo moved to India to teach English at the Young Lamas Home School and by her twenty-first birthday she met the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, her root guru.

An Ordained Nun

Tenzin Palmo was ordained in the Vajrayana tradition in 1964. The name given, Drubgyu Tenzin Palmo means “Glorious Lady who Uphold the Doctrine of the Practice Succession”. She was ordained as a novice nun until in 1973 she was ordained as a full bhiksuni. Palmo lived at Khamtul Rinpoche’s monastery for six years, the sole nun amongst a hundred monks. While the monks did not harass Palmo at all, they would inform her it wasn’t much her fault that she was a female and they prayed she would be reborn a male so she could more readily practice. After a while, Palmo left at the advice of her guru and traveled to the mountain region of Lahaul.

Palmo enjoyed the monastery, but wanted solitude. She discovered there was a cave nearby and wished to go for retreat. Several people discouraged her from this endeavor saying she would be raped or freeze to death. However, after discussing the matter with her guru she was fortified and at the age of thirty-three she moved into the cave.

Caves, Italy, and Nuns

Palmo spent nine years in the cave, going to the monastery to hear teachings and to gather food and supplies. The solitude was lovely, but she decided to enter complete isolation and do a long retreat. At the end of this retreat she was informed she was in India illegally due to visa problems. It was 1988. She moved to Italy and has been active in the fight for equal rights for Buddhist nuns. Palmo traveled and fundraised so that she could open a nunnery, as she had been requested to do by her root guru for several years.

The Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery opened in 2000 for women from Tibet and the Himalayan border. The women receive education and training at the nunnery. Palmo also intends to restart a dead lineage of togdenmas at the nunnery. Palmo is now a member of the “Committee of Western Bhikshunis” which is meant to aid the establishment of bhikshuni ordination in Tibetan traditions. She received the title Jetsunma (reverend lady) in 2008 for her active involvement in encouraging female status in Buddhism.

A True Bodhisattva

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is revered worldwide for her dedication and work for females in Tibetan Buddhism. She has made a vow to attain enlightenment in the female body no matter how many rebirths it takes. Having spent twelve years in a cave, similar to some of the most dedicated yogis, Palmo has transcended the limits of female accomplishment in Buddhism. Changing the mind of monks one day at a time, Palmo continues to offer opportunities to other women through her growing nunnery. True devotion can as easily be seen in the acts of nuns dedicated to equal chance. Tenzin Palmo is a revolutionary bodhisattva.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:58 am

Gandhi Learned Hinduism from Blavatsky's Occult Theosophy
by Gaia Staff
February 1, 2018



History textbooks will tell you that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi, is one of the most revered names in Indian history for his achievements in ending British imperialism through non-violent, civil disobedience. What they won’t tell you is that there is a strong occult connection to his life of social justice, due to the efforts of Madame Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society.


Theosophy is a collection of mystical and occult philosophies, largely based on ancient Eastern religion and spirituality. Founded by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, Theosophy is based around the premise that no religion is higher than truth. Though it takes into account aspects of religion considered to be virtuous, it ascribes to none in particular. This sentiment would later be echoed by Gandhi in a famous quote when he said, “there is no God higher than truth.”

When Madame Blavatsky, a Russian author and occultist started the Theosophical Society, she lived in an apartment in New York City with co-founder Henry Steel Olcott. She had migrated to the U.S. after traveling throughout Tibet where she met “Masters of the Ancient Wisdoms,” later to be referred to as “mahatmas,” who supposedly helped her develop psychic abilities, including telepathy, clairvoyance, and astral projection. She claimed to remain telepathically in contact with these masters throughout her life.

One night Olcott was dozing off, when suddenly he had a vision of an ethereal figure wearing a turban. The figure spoke encouraging words to him and told him to travel to India. It said that the country was the cradle of the oldest civilization and Hinduism was being chipped away by Western colonialism. It urged him to initiate a rebirth of traditional Eastern religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.

Blavatsky and Olcott took heed of this vision and moved to India, where they were welcomed for their embrace of Hinduism and aversion to the British elite. The Indians weren’t used to Westerners encouraging the practice of their native religion, and expected them instead to try to convert them to Christianity, like the Western missionaries in India at the time.

Blavatsky and Olcott soon started a publication expounding on their Theosophical ideologies, much to the chagrin of the British. However, their acceptance by the Indian population led to the creation of a flourishing Theosophical Society and the eventual construction of its headquarters in Adyar. From then on, Theosophy gained significant traction, and the seeds of the Indian Independence Movement were sown.


Blavatsky's health eventually started to fail, forcing her to move to London. There she founded the Blavatsky Lodge and was visited by Mohandas K. Gandhi, who was receiving a Western education and studying to become a lawyer.

He was encouraged by Blavatsky and the Theosophists to read Hinduism’s religious text, the Bhagavad Gita
, though he initially declined, embarrassed by a lack of knowledge of his native religion. He was also ashamed at his lack of comprehension of Sanskrit, but eventually said he was willing to read along with them.

This opened Gandhi’s perception of the religion, having previously cast it off as antiquated and a superstition that his parents shamefully still practiced. But reading the Gita changed his worldview, and it became his guide to life.


This was the first step in breaking down the “civilized” constructs that British imperialist culture had instilled in Gandhi, eventually leading to his non-violent, peaceful protests against that very system. He heard Blavatsky talking about a universal brotherhood and the commonality between all religion and races, inspiring one of the most famous political activists of all time.

It’s well documented that Gandhi attributed much of his inspiration to his time spent with the Theosophical society. He spoke of Blavatsky as being a major catalyst for his ideas, and while he was living in South Africa, Gandhi kept a picture of Annie Besant, Blavatsky’s successor, on his office wall.

Though he was intrigued by the Theosophical Society and its philosophies, he didn’t want to become a member, due to its esoteric, secretive nature. Gandhi believed that secret societies were anathema to democracy and would hinder its success. Besides, Gandhi was a man of the people, though he would eventually join as an associate member, a now defunct title.


Annie Besant was an Irish activist who was involved in political and spiritual movements, which presented alternatives to capitalism and imperialism. She fought for women’s rights, freedom of thought, and secularism.

Besant was a compelling orator, and a speech she gave at Trafalgur Square in London was partially responsible for the Bloody Sunday of 1887, during which police clashed with protesters of the Irish National League and the Socialist Democratic Federation, arresting hundreds and injuring 75.

Eventually she joined the Theosophical Society after writing a review on one of Blavatsky’s books and subsequently interviewing her. She found socialism and economics lacked a spiritual aspect, and found Theosophy filled that void.

With her history in politics and newfound appreciation for Theosophy, she became involved in Indian politics, launching the foundation of the Indian Home Rule Movement in 1916. She became a member of the Indian National Congress and fronted the first political party in India whose goal was to overthrow the imperial British regime.

Obviously, she was met with some resistance and spent time in jail for a few months, but was eventually released and made president of the Indian National Congress for one year. The man who petitioned for her release from prison and who became her successor was none other than Mohandas Gandhi, when he returned home from his time spent in South Africa.

Annie Besant Theosophy

From then on, Gandhi would take over for Besant and develop his satyagraha movement to peacefully protest against British imperialism. And though they grew apart due to ideological differences, Besant continued to campaign for Indian independence.

Though the extent to which the occult Theosophical movement influenced Gandhi and Indian independence is not commonly known, it is well documented. It could also be said that the widespread influence of Eastern spirituality on Western culture that is so prominent today can be attributed largely to Blavatsky and Theosophy. Had she and her followers not taken the steps to influence Indian independence and the revivification of Hinduism, Indian history may have been different.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:18 am

Mohandas K. Gandhi
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/16/19



Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 - January 30, 1948), widely known as "Mahatma Gandhi," was a leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule whose policy of nonviolent civil disobedience inspired activists around the world. He was well acquainted with the Theosophical Society in England, South Africa, and India, and knew such prominent Theosophists as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Sir S. Subramania Iyer.

Introduction to the Theosophical Society

Gandhi arrived in London on October 28, 1888. In his Autobiography he says:

Towards the end of my second year in England I came across two Theosophists, brothers, and both unmarried. They talked to me about the Gita. They were reading Sir Edwin Arnold's translation – The Song Celestial – and they invited me to read the original with them. I felt ashamed, as I had read the divine poem neither in Samskrit nor in Gujarati. I was constrained to tell them that I had not read the Gita, but that I would gladly read it with them, and that though my knowledge of Samskrit was meagre, still I hoped to be able to understand the original to the extent of telling where the translation failed to bring out the meaning. I began reading the Gita with them . . . the book struck me as one of priceless worth.[1]

He the began to read Theosophical literature and related works, such as The Light of Asia by Edwin Arnold and Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy.[2]

Gandhi in 1906

In November 1889, he was then introduced to Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant:

They ['the two brothers'] also took me on one occasion to the Blavatsky Lodge and introduced me to Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant. The latter had just then joined the Theosophical Society, and I was following with great interest the controversy about her conversion. The friends advised me to join the Society, but I politely declined saying, 'With my meagre knowledge of my own religion I do not want to belong to any religious body.' I recall having read, at the brothers' instance, Madame Blavatsky's Key to Theosophy. This book stimulated in me the desire to read books on Hinduism, and disabused me of the notion fostered by the missionaries that Hinduism was rife with superstition.[3]

As Gandhi mentions, Besant's becoming a Theosophist encouraged his abandonment of atheism:

Mrs. Besant, who was then very much in the limelight, had turned to theism from atheism, and that fact also strengthened my aversion to atheism. I had read her book How I became a Theosophist.[4]

Gandhi then became engaged in several organizations that promoted vegetarianism, along with Edwin Arnold and Josiah Oldfield, who shared rooms with Gandhi for a time. He attended the funeral of Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant's mentor, on January 30, 1891.

On March 26, 1891, he was enrolled as associate member of London Theosophical Society. His involvement with the Society ended later that year, when he sailed for India on June 12.[5]

When he sailed to South Africa for the second time, he again found comfort within the Theosophical influence:

During my first sojourn in South Africa it was Christian influence that had kept alive in me the religious sense. Now it was theosophical influence that added strength to it. Mr. Ritch was a theosophist and put me in touch with the society at Johannesburg. I never became a member, as I had my differences, but I came in close contact with almost every theosophist. I had religious discussions with them every day. There used to be readings from theosophical books, and sometimes I had occasion to address their meetings. The chief thing about theosophy is to cultivate and promote the idea of brotherhood. We had considerable discussion over this, and I criticized the members where their conduct did not appear to me to square with their ideal. The criticism was not without its wholesome effect on me. It led to introspection.[6]

Gandhi and his wife in Adyar, 1915

Gandhi's Visit to Adyar

Gandhi and his wife visited the Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar in 1915.

Friends will be interested in the picture of some of the guests at our party in honour of Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi, at the Blavatsky Gardens in Headquarters. The party was under the great Banyan tree so familiar to our readers, and the photograph was taken near the bungalow. Sir S. Subramanian sits in the centre, with Mr. and Mrs. Gandhi on his right and left. Practically all the leading Indians of Madras — Hindus and Musalmans — were present, and we had a very pleasant two hours. Little tables were scattered under the wide-spreading hospitable branches of the great tree, and people ate fruits and cakes and savouries and ices — all Indian — in the friendliest way.[7]

Max Wardall interview with Gandhi

In 1926, Theosophist Max Wardall reported on his visit to Gandhi in Ahmedabad. After a long description of the place and the "Indian Saint" Wardall asked questions related to the Theosophical Society:

MW: "Have you heard the message announced by Annie Besant that a World-Teacher is soon to appear, and will use the body of Krishnamurti, a Brahman youth, as a vehicle?"

MKG: "Yes, I have heard of it," he said with a faint smile and a shake of the heavy head. "But it does not interest me. Teachers and Prophets have come to the world from time to time to give help to men, and I believe They will come again. The idea of the Coming I am prepared to accept, but that the Divine Teacher will use as a vehicle the body of this or that disciple - such a statement I am unable to verify, to affirm, or deny..."

MW: "You were once a Theosophist. Were you not? I asked.

MKG: "Yes," he replied "When in South Africa I worked with Major Peacock in the building-up of the Theosophical Movement. I am still a Theosophist but I am not in sympathy with the Movement. I am not in favor of any institution which fosters secrecy. Any secret training or discipline like that practised in the inner school of Theosophy offends my democratic sympathies. I want everything open and free to all. I have steadily advocated the leveling of all barriers between peoples of all classes."

Additional resources


The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 123 articles about Gandhi or quoting his words.

• Thacker, Elizabeth Lorelei. "Mahatma Gandhi and the Theosophical Movement (1)" The Canadian Theosophist 64.5 (Nov-Dec 1983), 97-106, 117. This article in two parts is a very thorough and well-researched examination of MKG and his connections with the Theosophical Movement.
• Thacker, Elizabeth Lorelei. "Mahatma Gandhi and the Theosophical Movement (2)" The Canadian Theosophist 64.6 (Jan-Feb 1984), 123-130.
• The Gandhi You May Not Know by Rajmohan Gandhi


1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, [1940]), 50.
2. Stanley Wolpert, Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford University Press, 2002. Excerpt online at[1]
3. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, [1940]), 50-51.
4. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, [1940]), 50-51.
5. "Chronology of Mahatma Gandhi's life/England 1888-1891", Wikisource.
6. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, [1940]), 196-197.
7. Annie Besant, "On the Watch-Tower" The Theosophist 36.9 (June, 1915), 189.
8. Max Wardall, "A Visit to Ghandi [sic]" The Messenger 14.1 (June 1926), 1-3.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:13 am

Part 1 of 2

Subhas Chandra Bose
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/25/19



Subhas Chandra Bose
Head of State and Government (Prime Minister) of the Provisional Government of Free India (Undivided India) (Ārzī Hukūmat-e-Āzād Hind)
In office: 21 October 1943 – 18 August 1945
Preceded by: Office created
Succeeded by: Office abolished
President of the Indian National Congress
In office: 1938–1939
Preceded by: Jawaharlal Nehru
Succeeded by: Rajendra Prasad
Personal details
Born: Subhas Chandra Bose, 23 January 1897, Cuttack, British India
Died: 18 August 1945 (aged 48), Taihoku, Japanese Taiwan (present-day Taipei)
Political party: Indian National Congress; Forward Bloc (1939–1940)
Spouse(s): Emilie Schenkl
Children: Anita Bose Pfaff
Mother: Prabhavati Dutt
Father: Janakinath Bose
Education: Ravenshaw Collegiate; Scottish Church College
Alma mater: University of Calcutta; Fitzwilliam College
Known for: Indian nationalism

Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945)[1][a] was an Indian nationalist whose defiant patriotism made him a hero in India,[2][ b][3][c][4][d] but whose attempt during World War II to rid India of British rule with the help of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan left a troubled legacy.[5][e][6][f][2][g] The honorific Netaji (Hindustani: "Respected Leader"), first applied in early 1942 to Bose in Germany by the Indian soldiers of the Indische Legion and by the German and Indian officials in the Special Bureau for India in Berlin, was later used throughout India.[7][h]

Bose had been a leader of the younger, radical, wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, rising to become Congress President in 1938 and 1939.[8][ i] However, he was ousted from Congress leadership positions in 1939 following differences with Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress high command.[9] He was subsequently placed under house arrest by the British before escaping from India in 1940.[10]

Bose arrived in Germany in April 1941, where the leadership offered unexpected, if sometimes ambivalent, sympathy for the cause of India's independence, contrasting starkly with its attitudes towards other colonised peoples and ethnic communities.[11][12]

Freda married BPL on June 12, 1933, at the Oxford Registrar’s Office. She was twenty-two and he was twenty-six….

Their creative, radical Oxford days were over. Both Freda and BPL received their degrees and a whole new life beckoned. It was not what Freda had imagined. She had successfully lined up a job as a cub reporter on the Derby Telegraph, her first stepping stone to Fleet Street (as she had intended). Instead she went to Germany with her new husband, who had won a Humboldt scholarship at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, to research a PHD in Political Science.

“Bedi was concerned about the rise of Hitler, but he thought that as long as he didn’t get a chance to rant in Parliament, it would be all right. He was going to keep a very keen eye on the situation,” she said. She was not to see her homeland again for fourteen years….

By the time Freda reached Berlin, she was pregnant, and delighted with the prospect of motherhood. BPL somewhat protectively decided that she should not work, but instead live quietly in the charming little cottage they had found on the bank of Lake Wannsee. “It was really a lovely place, with a beautiful garden, and we had some very happy months there preparing for the child,” she said. She busied herself with making baby clothes, but could not resist going to Berlin University to study Hindi with a Punjabi professor – a necessary preparation, she thought, for a life on the subcontinent, and to counteract the full-on domesticity she found herself in….

BPL refrained from any political activity in Germany, although he was keeping up-to-date with the Free India movement in India. A frequent visitor to their lakeside cottage was Subhas Chandra Bose, who went on to become one of the most prominent and controversial leaders of the independence movement. Bose was educated at Cambridge and also had a European wife – Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian. He made it a point to visit sympathetic Indian students living in Europe, and the couple had much in common with Freda and BPL Bedi.

“We came to know Bose intimately, and a deep friendship grew,” said BPL. Bose was a hard-core communist, a great admirer of the Soviet Union, who maintained that only an authoritarian state, not democracy, would be able to reshape India. (Later he was forced to resign as present of the Indian National Congress because his platform of violent resistance clashed with Gandhi’s peaceful pathway.)

In Germany, however, Bose, won the young BPL over completely. “Freda and I were both fired up with the patriotic zeal of liberating the motherland from British imperialism,” BPL said. “While we were in Berlin, an eminent journalist asked me what was my agenda for India. ‘Live dangerously,’ I replied. ‘Live dangerously for every form of exploitation of man by man. Live dangerously for every form of injustice. Live dangerously for any violation of human dignity.’”

On May 13, 1934, Freda gave birth to a son after just a four-hour labor….They named him Ranga after the Indian statesman who had defeated the political opposition to their marriage, ten months previously….

BPL had not joined any political club at Berlin University, nor was he taking part in any political activities, but he sensed that tension was mountain. He was friendly with many of the Indian students living in the International Houses, which were being increasingly dominated by Nazi representatives.

In August 1934, Hitler was made fuhrer. The morning the news broke, BPL put down his paper and announced, “Tomorrow we get on the train and go to Geneva. It’s not safe here anymore.”

“He knew that Hitler could swoop down on the Indian students, which was precisely what happened,” said Freda. The life of drama and danger that she pledged to share with Bedi had begun. “You can imagine the state I was in, having to pack up everything in one day, and with BPL having to get the visas for Switzerland. But the next morning we were on the train!” she said

After their hasty exit, they spent a few pleasant weeks staying in accommodations that had been arranged by their old Oxford professor, Alfred Zimmern [Professor Sir Alfred Eckhard Zimmern, whose name is associated with the founding of the League of Nations], who ran a school there. In October 1934, they finally made the decision to go to India and make it their permanent home. They sailed on the SS Conte Verde from northern Italy to Bombay, a journey of three weeks.

-- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie

In November 1941, with German funds, a Free India Centre was set up in Berlin, and soon a Free India Radio, on which Bose broadcast nightly. A 3,000-strong Free India Legion, comprising Indians captured by Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, was also formed to aid in a possible future German land invasion of India.[13] By spring 1942, in light of Japanese victories in southeast Asia and changing German priorities, a German invasion of India became untenable, and Bose became keen to move to southeast Asia.[14] Adolf Hitler, during his only meeting with Bose in late May 1942, suggested the same, and offered to arrange for a submarine.[15] During this time Bose also became a father; his wife, [16] or companion,[17][j] Emilie Schenkl, whom he had met in 1934, gave birth to a baby girl in November 1942.[16][11] Identifying strongly with the Axis powers, and no longer apologetically, Bose boarded a German submarine in February 1943.[18][19] In Madagascar, he was transferred to a Japanese submarine from which he disembarked in Japanese-held Sumatra in May 1943.[18]

With Japanese support, Bose revamped the Indian National Army (INA), then composed of Indian soldiers of the British Indian army who had been captured in the Battle of Singapore.[20] To these, after Bose's arrival, were added enlisting Indian civilians in Malaya and Singapore. The Japanese had come to support a number of puppet and provisional governments in the captured regions, such as those in Burma, the Philippines and Manchukuo. Before long the Provisional Government of Free India, presided by Bose, was formed in the Japanese-occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[20][21][k] Bose had great drive and charisma—creating popular Indian slogans, such as "Jai Hind,"—and the INA under Bose was a model of diversity by region, ethnicity, religion, and even gender. However, Bose was regarded by the Japanese as being militarily unskilled,[22][l] and his military effort was short-lived. In late 1944 and early 1945 the British Indian Army first halted and then devastatingly reversed the Japanese attack on India. Almost half the Japanese forces and fully half the participating INA contingent were killed.[23][m] The INA was driven down the Malay Peninsula, and surrendered with the recapture of Singapore. Bose had earlier chosen not to surrender with his forces or with the Japanese, but rather to escape to Manchuria with a view to seeking a future in the Soviet Union which he believed to be turning anti-British. He died from third degree burns received when his plane crashed in Taiwan.[24][n] Some Indians, however, did not believe that the crash had occurred,[4][o] with many among them, especially in Bengal, believing that Bose would return to gain India's independence.[25][p][26][q][27][r]

The Indian National Congress, the main instrument of Indian nationalism, praised Bose's patriotism but distanced itself from his tactics and ideology,[28][s] especially his collaboration with fascism.[29] The British Raj, though never seriously threatened by the INA,[30][t][31][u] charged 300 INA officers with treason in the INA trials, but eventually backtracked in the face both of popular sentiment and of its own end.[32][v][29][2]


1897–1921: Early life

Subhas Bose, standing, extreme right, with his family of 14 siblings in Cuttack, ca. 1905.

Subhas Bose (standing, right) with friends in England, 1920

Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 (at 12.10 pm) in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Kayastha[33][w] family.[34] He was the ninth in a family of 14 children. His family was well to do.[33]

He was admitted to the Protestant European School (presently Stewart High School) in Cuttack, like his brothers and sisters, in January 1902. He continued his studies at this school which was run by the Baptist Mission up to 1909 and then shifted to the Ravenshaw Collegiate School. Here, he was ridiculed by his fellow students because he knew very little Bengali. The day Subhas was admitted to this school, Beni Madhab Das, the headmaster, understood how brilliant and scintillating his genius was. After securing the second position in the matriculation examination in 1913, he got admitted to the Presidency College where he studied briefly.[35] He was influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna after reading their works at the age of 16. He felt that his religion was more important than his studies.[33]

In those days, the British in Calcutta often made offensive remarks to the Indians in public places and insulted them openly. This behavior of the British as well as the outbreak of World War I began to influence his thinking.[33]

His nationalistic temperament came to light when he was expelled for assaulting Professor Oaten(who had manhandled some Indian students[33]) for the latter's anti-India comments. He was expelled although he appealed that he only witnessed the assault and did not actually participate in it.[33] He later joined the Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta and passed his B.A. in 1918 in philosophy.[36] Bose left India in 1919 for England with a promise to his father that he would appear in the Indian Civil Services (ICS) examination. He went to study in Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and matriculated on 19 November 1919. He came fourth in the ICS examination and was selected, but he did not want to work under an alien government which would mean serving the British. As he stood on the verge of taking the plunge by resigning from the Indian Civil Service in 1921, he wrote to his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose: "Only on the soil of sacrifice and suffering can we raise our national edifice."[37]

He resigned from his civil service job on 23 April 1921 and returned to India.[38]

1921–1932: Indian National Congress

Bose at the inauguration of the India Society in Prague in 1926.

Subhas Bose, General Officer Commanding, Congress Volunteer Corps (in military uniform) with Congress president, Motilal Nehru, taking the salute. Annual meeting, Indian National Congress, December 29, 1928.

He started the newspaper Swaraj and took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.[39] His mentor was Chittaranjan Das who was a spokesman for aggressive nationalism in Bengal. In the year 1923, Bose was elected the President of All India Youth Congress and also the Secretary of Bengal State Congress. He was also the editor of the newspaper "Forward", founded by Chittaranjan Das.[40] Bose worked as the CEO of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for Das when the latter was elected mayor of Calcutta in 1924.[41] In a roundup of nationalists in 1925, Bose was arrested and sent to prison in Mandalay, where he contracted tuberculosis.[42]

In 1927, after being released from prison, Bose became general secretary of the Congress party and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. In late December 1928, Bose organised the Annual Meeting of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta.[43] His most memorable role was as General Officer Commanding (GOC) Congress Volunteer Corps.[43] Author Nirad Chaudhuri wrote about the meeting:

Bose organized a volunteer corps in uniform, its officers were even provided with steel-cut epaulettes ... his uniform was made by a firm of British tailors in Calcutta, Harman's. A telegram addressed to him as GOC was delivered to the British General in Fort William and was the subject of a good deal of malicious gossip in the (British Indian) press. Mahatma Gandhi is a sincere pacifist vowed to non-violence, did not like the strutting, clicking of boots, and saluting, and he afterward described the Calcutta session of the Congress as a Bertram Mills circus, which caused a great deal of indignation among the Bengalis.[43]

A little later, Bose was again arrested and jailed for civil disobedience; this time he emerged to become Mayor of Calcutta in 1930.[42]

1933–1937: Illness, Austria, Emilie Schenkl

Bose with Emilie Schenkl, in Bad Gastein, Austria, 1936.

Bose, INC president-elect, center, in Bad Gastein, Austria, December 1937, with (left to right) A. C. N. Nambiar (Bose's second-in-command, Berlin, 1941–1945), Heidi Fulop-Miller, Schenkl, and Amiya Bose.

During the mid-1930s Bose travelled in Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Benito Mussolini. He observed party organisation and saw communism and fascism in action. In this period, he also researched and wrote the first part of his book The Indian Struggle, which covered the country's independence movement in the years 1920–1934. Although it was published in London in 1935, the British government banned the book in the colony out of fears that it would encourage unrest.[44]

-- Mein Kampf: My Struggle, by Adolf Hitler

1937–1940: Indian National Congress

Bose, president-elect, INC, arrives in Calcutta, 24 January 1938, after two-month vacation in Austria.[x][y]

Bose arriving at the 1939 annual session of the Congress, where he was re-elected, but later had to resign after disagreements with Gandhi and the Congress High Command.

By 1938 Bose had become a leader of national stature and agreed to accept nomination as Congress President.He stood for unqualified Swaraj (self-governance), including the use of force against the British. This meant a confrontation with Mohandas Gandhi, who in fact opposed Bose's presidency,[47] splitting the Indian National Congress party. Bose attempted to maintain unity, but Gandhi advised Bose to form his own cabinet. The rift also divided Bose and Nehru. Bose appeared at the 1939 Congress meeting on a stretcher. He was elected president again over Gandhi's preferred candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya.[48] U. Muthuramalingam Thevar strongly supported Bose in the intra-Congress dispute. Thevar mobilised all south India votes for Bose.[49] However, due to the manoeuvrings of the Gandhi-led clique in the Congress Working Committee, Bose found himself forced to resign from the Congress presidency.

On 22 June 1939 Bose organised the All India Forward Bloc a faction within the Indian National Congress,[50] aimed at consolidating the political left, but its main strength was in his home state, Bengal. U Muthuramalingam Thevar, who was a staunch supporter of Bose from the beginning, joined the Forward Bloc. When Bose visited Madurai on 6 September, Thevar organised a massive rally as his reception.

When Subash Chandra Bose was heading to Madurai, on an invitation of Muthuramalinga Thevar to amass support for the Forward Bloc, he passed through Madras and spent three days at Gandhi Peak. His correspondence reveals that despite his clear dislike for British subjugation, he was deeply impressed by their methodical and systematic approach and their steadfastly disciplinarian outlook towards life. In England, he exchanged ideas on the future of India with British Labour [Labor] Party leaders and political thinkers like Lord Halifax, George Lansbury, Clement Attlee, Arthur Greenwood, Harold Laski, J.B.S. Haldane, Ivor Jennings, G.D.H. Cole, Gilbert Murray and Sir Stafford Cripps.

He came to believe that an independent India needed socialist authoritarianism, on the lines of Turkey's Kemal Atatürk, for at least two decades. For political reasons Bose was refused permission by the British authorities to meet Atatürk at Ankara. During his sojourn in England Bose tried to schedule appointments with several politicians, but only the Labour [Labor] Party and Liberal politicians agreed to meet with him. Conservative Party officials refused to meet him or show him courtesy because he was a politician coming from a colony. In the 1930s leading figures in the Conservative Party had opposed even Dominion status for India. It was during the Labour [Labor] Party government of 1945–1951, with Attlee as the Prime Minister, that India gained independence.

On the outbreak of war, Bose advocated a campaign of mass civil disobedience to protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's decision to declare war on India's behalf without consulting the Congress leadership. Having failed to persuade Gandhi of the necessity of this, Bose organised mass protests in Calcutta calling for the 'Holwell Monument' commemorating the Black Hole of Calcutta, which then stood at the corner of Dalhousie Square, to be removed.[51] He was thrown in jail by the British, but was released following a seven-day hunger strike. Bose's house in Calcutta was kept under surveillance by the CID.[52]

1941–1943: Nazi Germany

Bose greeting Heinrich Himmler (right), the Nazi Minister of Interior, head of the SS, and the Gestapo, 1942.

Subhas Bose meeting Adolf Hitler

Bose's arrest and subsequent release set the scene for his escape to Germany, via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. A few days before his escape, he sought solitude and, on this pretext, avoided meeting British guards and grew a beard. Late night 16 January 1941, the night of his escape, he dressed as a Pathan (brown long coat, a black fez-type coat and broad pyjamas) to avoid being identified. Bose escaped from under British surveillance from his Elgin Road house in Calcutta about 01:25AM on 17 January 1941, accompanied by his nephew Sisir Kumar Bose in a German-made Wanderer W24 Sedan car, which would take him to Gomoh Railway Station in then state of Bihar, India. The car (Registration No. BLA 7169) was bought by Subhash Chandra Bose's elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose in 1937. The car is now on display at his Elgin Road home in Calcutta, India.[53][54][55][56]

He journeyed to Peshawar with the help of the Abwehr, where he was met by Akbar Shah, Mohammed Shah and Bhagat Ram Talwar. Bose was taken to the home of Abad Khan, a trusted friend of Akbar Shah's. On 26 January 1941, Bose began his journey to reach Russia through British India's North West frontier with Afghanistan. For this reason, he enlisted the help of Mian Akbar Shah, then a Forward Bloc leader in the North-West Frontier Province. Shah had been out of India en route to the Soviet Union, and suggested a novel disguise for Bose to assume. Since Bose could not speak one word of Pashto, it would make him an easy target of Pashto speakers working for the British. For this reason, Shah suggested that Bose act deaf and dumb, and let his beard grow to mimic those of the tribesmen. Bose's guide Bhagat Ram Talwar, unknown to him, was a Soviet agent.[55][56][57]

Supporters of the Aga Khan III helped him across the border into Afghanistan where he was met by an Abwehr unit posing as a party of road construction engineers from the Organization Todt who then aided his passage across Afghanistan via Kabul to the border with Soviet Russia. After assuming the guise of a Pashtun insurance agent ("Ziaudddin") to reach Afghanistan, Bose changed his guise and travelled to Moscow on the Italian passport of an Italian nobleman "Count Orlando Mazzotta". From Moscow, he reached Rome, and from there he travelled to Germany.[55][56][58] Once in Russia the NKVD transported Bose to Moscow where he hoped that Russia's traditional enmity to British rule in India would result in support for his plans for a popular rising in India. However, Bose found the Soviets' response disappointing and was rapidly passed over to the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count von der Schulenburg. He had Bose flown on to Berlin in a special courier aircraft at the beginning of April where he was to receive a more favourable hearing from Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Ministry officials at the Wilhelmstrasse.[55][56][59]

In Germany, he was attached to the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz which was responsible for broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio.[60] He founded the Free India Center in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. The Indian Legion was attached to the Wehrmacht, and later transferred to the Waffen SS. Its members swore the following allegiance to Hitler and Bose: "I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose". This oath clearly abrogates control of the Indian legion to the German armed forces whilst stating Bose's overall leadership of India. He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the USSR by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion; many have questioned his judgment here, as it seems unlikely that the Germans could have been easily persuaded to leave after such an invasion, which might also have resulted in an Axis victory in the War.[58]

In all, 3,000 Indian prisoners of war signed up for the Free India Legion. But instead of being delighted, Bose was worried. A left-wing admirer of Russia, he was devastated when Hitler's tanks rolled across the Soviet border. Matters were worsened by the fact that the now-retreating German army would be in no position to offer him help in driving the British from India. When he met Hitler in May 1942, his suspicions were confirmed, and he came to believe that the Nazi leader was more interested in using his men to win propaganda victories than military ones. So, in February 1943, Bose turned his back on his legionnaires and slipped secretly away aboard a submarine bound for Japan. This left the men he had recruited leaderless and demoralised in Germany.[58][61]

Bose lived in Berlin from 1941 until 1943. During his earlier visit to Germany in 1934, he had met Emilie Schenkl, the daughter of an Austrian veterinarian whom he married in 1937. Their daughter is Anita Bose Pfaff.[62] Bose's party, the Forward Bloc, has contested this fact.[63]

1943–1945: Japanese-occupied Asia

The crew of Japanese submarine I-29 after the rendezvous with German submarine U-180 300 sm southeast of Madagascar; Bose is sitting in the front row (28 April 1943).

Bose speaking in Tokyo in 1943.

In 1943, after being disillusioned that Germany could be of any help in gaining India's independence, he left for Japan. He travelled with the German submarine U-180 around the Cape of Good Hope to the southeast of Madagascar, where he was transferred to the I-29 for the rest of the journey to Imperial Japan. This was the only civilian transfer between two submarines of two different navies in World War II.[55][56]

The Indian National Army (INA) was the brainchild of Japanese Major (and post-war Lieutenant-General) Iwaichi Fujiwara, head the Japanese intelligence unit Fujiwara Kikan and had its origins, first in the meetings between Fujiwara and the president of the Bangkok chapter of the Indian Independence League, Pritam Singh Dhillon, and then, through Pritam Singh's network, in the recruitment by Fujiwara of a captured British Indian army captain, Mohan Singh on the western Malayan peninsula in December 1941; Fujiwara's mission was "to raise an army which would fight alongside the Japanese army."[64][65] After the initial proposal by Fujiwara the Indian National Army was formed as a result of discussion between Fujiwara and Mohan Singh in the second half of December 1941, and the name chosen jointly by them in the first week of January 1942.[66]

This was along the concept of—and with support of—what was then known as the Indian Independence League, headed by expatriate nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose. The first INA was however disbanded in December 1942 after disagreements between the Hikari Kikan and Mohan Singh, who came to believe that the Japanese High Command was using the INA as a mere pawn and propaganda tool. Mohan Singh was taken into custody and the troops returned to the prisoner-of-war camp. However, the idea of an independence army was revived with the arrival of Subhas Chandra Bose in the Far East in 1943. In July, at a meeting in Singapore, Rash Behari Bose handed over control of the organisation to Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was able to reorganise the fledgling army and organise massive support among the expatriate Indian population in south-east Asia, who lent their support by both enlisting in the Indian National Army, as well as financially in response to Bose's calls for sacrifice for the independence cause. INA had a separate women's unit, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment (named after Rani Lakshmi Bai) headed by Capt. Lakshmi Swaminathan, which is seen as a first of its kind in Asia.[67][68]

Even when faced with military reverses, Bose was able to maintain support for the Azad Hind movement. Spoken as a part of a motivational speech for the Indian National Army at a rally of Indians in Burma on 4 July 1944, Bose's most famous quote was "Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!" In this, he urged the people of India to join him in his fight against the British Raj.[citation needed] Spoken in Hindi, Bose's words are highly evocative. The troops of the INA were under the aegis of a provisional government, the Azad Hind Government, which came to produce its own currency, postage stamps, court and civil code, and was recognised by nine Axis states — Germany, Japan, Italian Social Republic, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei regime in Nanjing, China, a provisional government of Burma, Manchukuo and Japanese-controlled Philippines. Recent researches[which?] have shown that the USSR too had diplomatic contact with the "Provisional Government of Free India".[citation needed] Of those countries, five were authorities established under Axis occupation. This government participated in the so-called Greater East Asia Conference as an observer in November 1943.[citation needed]

The INA's first commitment was in the Japanese thrust towards Eastern Indian frontiers of Manipur. INA's special forces, the Bahadur Group, were extensively involved in operations behind enemy lines both during the diversionary attacks in Arakan, as well as the Japanese thrust towards Imphal and Kohima, along with the Burmese National Army led by Ba Maw and Aung San.[citation needed]

The Japanese also took possession of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1942 and a year later, the Provisional Government and the INA were established in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with Lt Col. A.D. Loganathan appointed its Governor General. The islands were renamed Shaheed (Martyr) and Swaraj (Independence). However, the Japanese Navy remained in essential control of the island's administration. During Bose's only visit to the islands in early 1944, apparently in the interest of shielding Bose from attaining a full knowledge of ultimate Japanese intentions, Bose's Japanese hosts carefully isolated him from the local population. At that time the island's Japanese administration had been torturing the leader of the island's Indian Independence League, Dr. Diwan Singh, who later died of his injuries in the Cellular Jail. During Bose's visit to the islands several locals attempted to alert Bose to Dr. Singh's plight, but apparently without success. During this time Lt. Col Loganathan became aware of his lack of any genuine administrative control and resigned in protest as Governor General, later returning to the Government's headquarters in Rangoon.[69][70]

On the Indian mainland, an Indian Tricolour, modelled after that of the Indian National Congress, was raised for the first time in the town of Moirang, in Manipur, in north-eastern India. The adjacent towns of Kohima and Imphal were then encircled and placed under siege by divisions of the Japanese Army, working in conjunction with the Burmese National Army, and with Brigades of the INA, known as the Gandhi and Nehru Brigades. This attempt at conquering the Indian mainland had the Axis codename of Operation U-Go.

During this operation, On 6 July 1944, in a speech broadcast by the Azad Hind Radio from Singapore, Bose addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the "Father of the Nation" and asked for his blessings and good wishes for the war he was fighting. This was the first time that Gandhi was referred to by this appellation.[71] The protracted Japanese attempts to take these two towns depleted Japanese resources, with Operation U-Go ultimately proving unsuccessful. Through several months of Japanese onslaught on these two towns, Commonwealth forces remained entrenched in the towns. Commonwealth forces then counter-attacked, inflicting serious losses on the Axis led forces, who were then forced into a retreat back into Burmese territory. After the Japanese defeat at the battles of Kohima and Imphal, Bose's Provisional Government's aim of establishing a base in mainland India was lost forever.

Still the INA fought in key battles against the British Indian Army in Burmese territory, notable in Meiktilla, Mandalay, Pegu, Nyangyu and Mount Popa. However, with the fall of Rangoon, Bose's government ceased to be an effective political entity.[citation needed] A large proportion of the INA troops surrendered under Lt Col Loganathan. The remaining troops retreated with Bose towards Malaya or made for Thailand. Japan's surrender at the end of the war also led to the surrender of the remaining elements of the Indian National Army. The INA prisoners were then repatriated to India and some tried for treason.

18 August 1945: Death

The last aeroplane journeys of Subhas Chandra Bose.

A memorial to Subhas Chandra Bose in the Renkōji Temple, Tokyo. Bose's ashes are stored in the temple in a golden pagoda.

In the consensus of scholarly opinion, Subhas Chandra Bose's death occurred from third-degree burns on 18 August 1945 after his overloaded Japanese plane crashed in Japanese-ruled Formosa (now Taiwan).[1][4] However, many among his supporters, especially in Bengal, refused at the time, and have refused since, to believe either the fact or the circumstances of his death.[1][25][26] Conspiracy theories appeared within hours of his death and have thereafter had a long shelf life,[1][z] keeping alive various martial myths about Bose.[2]

In Taihoku, at around 2:30 pm as the bomber with Bose on board was leaving the standard path taken by aircraft during take-off, the passengers inside heard a loud sound, similar to an engine backfiring.[72][73] The mechanics on the tarmac saw something fall out of the plane.[74] It was the portside engine, or a part of it, and the propeller.[74][72] The plane swung wildly to the right and plummeted, crashing, breaking into two, and exploding into flames.[74][72] Inside, the chief pilot, copilot and Lieutenant-General Tsunamasa Shidei, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Japanese Kwantung Army, who was to have made the negotiations for Bose with the Soviet army in Manchuria,[75] were instantly killed.[74][76] Bose's assistant Habibur Rahman was stunned, passing out briefly, and Bose, although conscious and not fatally hurt, was soaked in gasoline.[74] When Rahman came to, he and Bose attempted to leave by the rear door, but found it blocked by the luggage.[76] They then decided to run through the flames and exit from the front.[76] The ground staff, now approaching the plane, saw two people staggering towards them, one of whom had become a human torch.[74] The human torch turned out to be Bose, whose gasoline-soaked clothes had instantly ignited.[76] Rahman and a few others managed to smother the flames, but also noticed that Bose's face and head appeared badly burned.[76] According to Joyce Chapman Lebra, "A truck which served as ambulance rushed Bose and the other passengers to the Nanmon Military Hospital south of Taihoku."[74] The airport personnel called Dr. Taneyoshi Yoshimi, the surgeon-in-charge at the hospital at around 3 pm.[76] Bose was conscious and mostly coherent when they reached the hospital, and for some time thereafter.[77] Bose was naked, except for a blanket wrapped around him, and Dr. Yoshimi immediately saw evidence of third-degree burns on many parts of the body, especially on his chest, doubting very much that he would live.[77] Dr. Yoshimi promptly began to treat Bose and was assisted by Dr. Tsuruta.[77] According to historian Leonard A. Gordon, who interviewed all the hospital personnel later,

A disinfectant, Rivamol, was put over most of his body and then a white ointment was applied and he was bandaged over most of his body. Dr. Yoshimi gave Bose four injections of Vita Camphor and two of Digitamine for his weakened heart. These were given about every 30 minutes. Since his body had lost fluids quickly upon being burnt, he was also given Ringer solution intravenously. A third doctor, Dr. Ishii gave him a blood transfusion. An orderly, Kazuo Mitsui, an army private, was in the room and several nurses were also assisting. Bose still had a clear head which Dr. Yoshimi found remarkable for someone with such severe injuries.[78]

Soon, in spite of the treatment, Bose went into a coma.[78][74] A few hours later, between 9 and 10 PM (local time) on Saturday 18 August 1945, Bose died aged 48.[78][74]

Bose's body was cremated in the main Taihoku crematorium two days later, 20 August 1945.[79] On 23 August 1945, the Japanese news agency Do Trzei announced the death of Bose and Shidea.[74] On 7 September a Japanese officer, Lieutenant Tatsuo Hayashida, carried Bose's ashes to Tokyo, and the following morning they were handed to the president of the Tokyo Indian Independence League, Rama Murti.[80] On 14 September a memorial service was held for Bose in Tokyo and a few days later the ashes were turned over to the priest of the Renkōji Temple of Nichiren Buddhism in Tokyo.[81][82] There they have remained ever since.[82]

Among the INA personnel, there was widespread disbelief, shock, and trauma. Most affected were the young Tamil Indians from Malaya and Singapore, both men and women, who comprised the bulk of the civilians who had enlisted in the INA.[29] The professional soldiers in the INA, most of whom were Punjabis, faced an uncertain future, with many fatalistically expecting reprisals from the British.[29] In India the Indian National Congress's official line was succinctly expressed in a letter Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.[29] Said Gandhi, "Subhas Bose has died well. He was undoubtedly a patriot, though misguided."[29] Many congressmen had not forgiven Bose for quarrelling with Gandhi and for collaborating with what they considered was Japanese fascism. The Indian soldiers in the British Indian army, some two and a half million of whom had fought during the Second World War, were conflicted about the INA. Some saw the INA as traitors and wanted them punished; others felt more sympathetic. The British Raj, though never seriously threatened by the INA, tried 300 INA officers for treason in the INA trials, but eventually backtracked.[29]


Bose was featured on the stamps in India from 1964, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2016 and 2018.[83] Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, formerly Ross Island and many other institutions in India are named after him. On 23 August 2007, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe visited the Subhas Chandra Bose memorial hall in Kolkata.[84][85] Abe said to Bose's family "The Japanese are deeply moved by Bose's strong will to have led the Indian independence movement from British rule. Netaji is a much respected name in Japan.[84][85]

The following words are inscribed on a brass shield in front of the chair.

"Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in order to free India from the shackles of British imperialism organized the Azad Hind Government from outside the country on October 21, 1943. Netaji set up the Provisional Government of Independent India (Azad Hind) and transferred its headquarter at Rangoon on January 7, 1944. On the 5th April, 1944, the "Azad Hind Bank" was inaugurated at Rangoon. It was on this occasion that Netaji used this chair for the first time. Later the chair was kept at the residence of Netaji at 51, University Avenue, Rangoon, where the office of the Azad Hind Government was also housed. Afterwards, at the time of leaving Burma, the Britishers handed over the chair to the family of Mr. A.T. Ahuja, the well known business man of Rangoon. The chair was officially handed over to the Government of India in January 1979. It was brought to Calcutta on the 17th July, 1980. It has now been ceremonially installed at the Red Fort on July 7, 1981."

Bose on a 1964 stamp of India

Bose on a 1964 stamp of India
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