Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu May 28, 2020 1:41 am

Apa Pant
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/27/20

While on her initial mission at the Tibetan camps in 1959-60, Freda also visited Sikkim where a number of Tibetan monks and refugees had settled. It seems to have been then that she first met the head of the Kagyu lineage, one of the four principal schools within Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa Lama had escaped from Tibet through Bhutan in the wake of the Dalai Lama's departure and had moved into his order's long established but near derelict monastery at Rumtek in Sikkim. Apa Pant, a senior Indian official, told Freda that she really couldn't come to Sikkim without calling on the Karmapa. Pant was an Oxford contemporary of the Bedis. He was from a princely family and had an inquiring mind about faith and religion; he went on to be one of India's most senior diplomats. At this stage of his career, Pant was India's political officer covering Sikkim and Bhutan, two small largely Buddhist kingdoms which lay on the hugely sensitive border with China, and also in charge of the four Indian missions in Tibet.23 Freda was keen to act on her friend's suggestion:
[Apa Pant] sent me on horseback -- there was no road at that point up to the monastery. And I remember the journey through the forest and it was most beautiful. As we neared the monastery, His Holiness sent people and a picnic basket full of Tibetan tea and cakes and things to refresh us. It's about twenty miles, the path up to the monastery. And when I went to see him, there he was with a great smile on the top floor of a small country monastery surrounded by birds, he just loves birds. ... There he was with his birds, sitting in his room, not on a great throne but on a carpet with a cushion on it. And just at that time, the Burmese changeover took place and the gates of Burma were shut. And I was feeling a great sense of loss that I can't see my Burmese gurus and so I asked the question that was in my mind that I was saving up to ask my guru when I met him. I asked it of His Holiness. And he gave me just the perfect answer.24

There is perhaps an allegoric aspect to much of Freda's shared memories of her relationship with her guru, as the 16th Karmapa became. But at this time political storm clouds were gathering over Burma, leading up to the military coup in March 1962 which sealed the country off from the rest of the world for a generation. The Kagyu school traced its lineage back to the eleventh century and alongside a monastic structure it emphasised meditative training and solitary retreats.25 That suited Freda. And above all she was impressed by the spirituality and personality of the 16th Karmapa, by his 'deep roaring laughter' and by a personal conduct and indeed appearance which put her in mind of the Buddha.

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

Pant continued in the diplomatic service, and as High Commissioner or Ambassador, he represented India in many countries. It was he who personally escorted the Dalai Lama to his refuge in India....

After legal training at London’s Inns of Court, he held long discussions with Gandhi. Rethinking his goals, Pant returned to Aundh where, as the only son, he was to be groomed for succession to the throne. Instead, in a remarkable achievement, he persuaded his father to renounce the throne, dismantle the central government, disband the army and police force, and convert Aundh into a land of village democracies. Pant became Prime Minister to administer the conversion. And so it happened. The changes were in process; all was working smoothly, when the central government in Delhi sent in the army and annexed Aundh. Pant understood that in this action Nehru had the good of India in mind, and Nehru admired Pant. The two became friends, and soon Pant was appointed to East Africa.

-- Apa Pant in East Africa -- Nehru's Protégé, Edited and Compiled by Benegal Pereira

Apa B Pant in Sikkim as Political Officer

When the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan delegation crossed the Sikkim border in November 1956, they were welcomed by the Chogyal of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal and the Indian representative in Sikkim, Apa Pant. For the following three months Apa Pant was in charge of organizing the Dalai Lama’s journey through India, visiting pilgrimage places, but also enabling the Tibetan leader to solicit foreign support for his people under siege.

Some thirty years later
my mother presented me with a little book entitled ‘Das Sonnengebet’ (Sun Prayer). I was just about to develop an interest for all things exotic, so I decided to give the seemingly simple yoga exercises a try. For several months I continued to practice the Surya Namaskars
and then I must have moved on to something else that was equally exciting and new, but the flavors of discipline and sanity that came with performing a regular exercise stayed with me for much longer.

Just recently, when researching Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s students in Sikkim, I found that Apa Pant had not only been the highest Indian political officer in Sikkim at the time, but also that he was an ardent practitioner of the Surya Namaskar. This stirred my memory and I phoned my mother to send me the book. Unbelievably she still found it sitting on some dusty shelf.

Sure enough the same Apa Pant who had requested Jamyang Khyentse again and again for the ultimate instruction on how to meditate (as described in chapter 5 of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) was the author whose instructions for yogic exercise I had followed with great curiosity many years before I even knew anything about Tibetan Buddhism.
PANT on AUNDH and his (Father) Baba or BalaSahib (PANT, Apa - Mandala: An Awakening)

... We reached Aundh at night, and laid him in a palanquin in the main temple. After the agony of those hours my stepmother broke down and wanted to offer herself as a Sati. It took me some time before I could dissuade her. Before dawn, singing and chanting, we took him to his favorite spot near the museum, half-way up the hill. As the sun rose I set fire to the pyre of this great sun-worshipper, and his remains returned to the dust of Mother Earth, and to air, water and ether within an hour.

-- Apa Pant in East Africa -- Nehru's Protégé, edited and compiled by Benegal Pereira

... In 1948, Apa Pant was chosen by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, to be India’s Commissioner in British East Africa. From 1951 to 1961 he was made political officer in Sikkim and Bhutan with control over Indian Missions in Tibet.

In 1956 Apa Pant helped facilitate the Indian invitation to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by way of the Sikkim Crown Prince Thondup Namgyal.

Jamyang Kyentse returned from his pilgrimage to India and Nepal around Losar 1957, just after HH Dalai Lama had returned to Lhasa via Gangtok. It was probably during this time that Apa Pant became a student of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. As Sogyal Rinpoche recounts in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:

“Apa Pant told me this story. One day our master Jamyang Khyentse was watching a “Lama Dance” in front of the Palace Temple in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and he was chuckling at the antics of the atsara, the clown who provides light relief between dances. Apa Pant kept pestering him, asking him again and again how to meditate, so this time when my master replied, it was in such a way as to let him know that he was telling him once and for all: “Look, it’s like this: When the past thought has ceased, and the future thought has not yet risen, isn’t there a gap?”

“Yes,” said Apa Pant.

“Well, prolong it: That is meditation.”

In the colophon to his teaching “Opening the Dharma” Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö writes:

“This ‘Opening the Dharma’ was written at the request of the Governor of Sikkim, Apa Sahib, by a Tibetan holding the name of Jamyang Khyentse’s emanation (from Dzongsar), stupid Chökyi Lodrö, who, with an extremely good heart, wrote uninterruptedly. May this virtue bring benefit to the Holy Dharma and to all those wandering in Samsara.”

...He authored several books some of which contain several references to Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, to whom he refers as the ‘Great Khentse Rimpoche’:

• Surya Namaskars: An Ancient Indian Exercise
• An Unusual Raja: Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment
• An Extended Family, or Fellow Pilgrims
• A Moment in Time (his autobiography)
• Undiplomatic Incidents

-- SIKKIM e.newsletter, edited by S K Sarda

His Excellency Apasaheb Balasaheb Pant, PS
Jomo Kenyatta, Apa Pant and Achieng Oneko
High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom
In office: 15 September 1969 – October 1972
Preceded by: S. S. Dhawan
Succeeded by: Braj Kumar Nehru
Personal details
Born: 11 September 1912, Aundh State, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Died: 5 October 1992, Pune, Maharashtra, India
Father: Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi
Alma mater: University of Bombay; University of Oxford
Occupation: Diplomat, freedom fighter
Awards: Padma Shri (1954)

Apasaheb Balasaheb Pant, also known as Apa Pant, Appa Sahib Pant, Parashuram Rao Pant, was an Indian diplomat, prince, Gandhian, writer and freedom fighter.[1][2] A philosopher by nature and a mystic at heart, who served for over forty years as a career diplomat for the Indian Government. He served as the Indian Commissioner at various African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and the Belgian colony of the Congo and, later, as the Indian ambassador to countries like Indonesia, Norway, Egypt, United Kingdom and Italy.[1] The Government of India honoured him in 1954, with the award of Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award for his contributions to the society,[3] placing him among the first recipients of the award.


Apa Sahib Bala Saheb Pant was born on 11 September 1912[4] in the princely state of Aundh in the British India, presently near Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra, as the second son of Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi,[5] the ruler of the state.[1] After schooling at local institutions, he graduated (BA) from the University of Mumbai and secured his master's degree (MA) from Oxford University.[2] He continued his studies in London and passed Barrister at Law from Lincoln's Inn and returned to India in 1937 when the Indian freedom movement was gathering pace.[1]

Pant married Nalini Devi,[6] a medical doctor and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1942 and the couple had three children, Aditi, Aniket and Avalokita.[2] He died, aged 80, on 5 October 1992,[4] succumbing to old age illnesses.[1]

Political and diplomatic career

Pant started his political and diplomatic career as the Minister of Education of the Aundh State in 1944 when his father was the ruler of the state.[2] His tenure lasted one year and during this period and thereafter, he was involved in the discussions related to the integration of the state into Indian Union.[1] After India's independence, he entered Indian Foreign Service, got deputed to Africa and worked in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and the Belgian colony of the Congo.[2] In 1954, he was appointed as the Officer on Special duty with the Minister of External Affairs when India's relationship with China was strained.[2] He represented India at Bandung Conference in 1956 for the formation of Non-Aligned Movement. He also worked as the Officer in Charge of the missions of Tibet and Bhutan and Sikkim,[7] and as Ambassador to Indonesia (1961–64), Norway (1964–66), Egypt (1966–69),[8] United Kingdom (1969–72) and Italy (1972–75).[1][4]

Literary career

Apasaheb Pant was a former judge for the Templeton Prize,[9] an international recognition honouring the entrepreneurship of spirit,[10] He published[2] eight books towards the latter part of his life.[1]

• Surya Namaskar, an Ancient Indian Exercise (1970)[11]
• Towards Socialist Transformation of Indian Economy (1973)[12]
• A Moment in Time (1974)[13]
Mandala: An Awakening (1976)[14]

A unique blend of political insights and philosophical reflection, this book covers a wide range of topics, thoughts and experiences in Ambassador Apa Punt’s career. It speaks of his early years on the princely state of Aundh, and comments on events in East Africa, Indonesia, the Himalayan states and Egypt, countries where he served as head of the Indian diplomatic mission.

The central core of the book, perhaps the part most significant in relation to India’s future, is his discussion of the Tibet-China-India relationship with reference to the years 1955 to 1961, which saw both the height of India’s amity with China, and the tense prelude to the 1962 war between them. Apa Pant, who was during that time India's Political Officer in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, asserts that India throughout had a policy of non-interference in Tibet’s political affairs, though deeply concerned with the preservation of its religious and cultural traditions.

Many unusual personal glimpses are given to us: the Dalai Lama and Jawaharlal Nehru; the rulers of Sikkim and Bhutan; Nasser dismayed at the 1967 war; the dour Chinese generals in occupied Tibet. The book concludes with u discussion of Western civilization and the Nation-State.

Pervading the book is Apa Pant's concern with man’s inner being, a consciousness that is never far from his writing, whether personal or political.

Mandala: An Awakening, by Apa Pant, by Amazon Kindle

• Survival of the Individual (1983)[15]
• Undiplomatic Incidents (1987)[16]
• An Unusual Raja – Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment (1989)[17]
An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims (1990)[18]


In 1954, he was awarded with Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award for his contributions to the society, placing him among the first recipients of the award.

See also

• Pant Pratinidhi family
• Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi
• India portal
• Politics portal


1. "Benegal". Benegal. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
2. "Apa Pant in East Africa". Awaaz Magazine. 1 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
3. "Padma Shri" (PDF). Padma Shri. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
4. "WMF Labs". WMF Labs. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
5. "Free Library". Free Library. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
6. Gaurav Desai, Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination, p. 75
7. "TH Library" (PDF). TH Library. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
8. "Middle East Institute". Middle East Institute. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
9. "The Templeton Prize – Judges. Previous Judges". Templeton Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
10. "Templeton About". Templeton Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
11. Apa Pant (1970). Surya Namaskar, an Ancient Indian Exercise. Sangam Books. ISBN 9788125013877.
12. Bhuleshkar, Ashok V.; Pant, Apa B. (1973). Towards Socialist Transformation of Indian Economy. Humanitites Press.
13. Pant, Apa B. (1974). A Moment in Time. United Kingdom: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 9780340147900.
14. Apa B. Pant (1976). Mandala: An Awakening. Sangam Books. p. 218. ISBN 978-0861310630.
15. Apa Pant (1983). Survival of the Individual. Sangam Books. ISBN 9780861314003.
16. Pant Apa B. (1987). Undiplomatic Incidents. Majestic Books. ISBN 9780861316908.
17. Apa Pant (1989). An Unusual Raja Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment. Oscar Publications. ISBN 9780861317523.
18. Apa Pant (1990). An Extended Family or Fellow Pilgrims. Oscar Publications. ISBN 9780863111099.

Further reading

• Apa Pant (1970). Surya Namaskar, an Ancient Indian Exercise. Sangam Books. ISBN 9788125013877.
• Bhuleshkar, Ashok V.; Pant, Apa B. (1973). Towards Socialist Transformation of Indian Economy. Humanitites Press.
• Pant, Apa B. (1974). A Moment in Time. United Kingdom: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 9780340147900.
• Apa B. Pant (1976). Mandala: An Awakening. Sangam Books. p. 218. ISBN 978-0861310630.
• Apa Pant (1983). Survival of the Individual. Sangam Books. ISBN 9780861314003.
• Pant Apa B. (1987). Undiplomatic Incidents. Majestic Books. ISBN 9780861316908.
• Apa Pant (1989). An Unusual Raja Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment. Oscar Publications. ISBN 9780861317523.
• Apa Pant (1990). An Extended Family or Fellow Pilgrims. Oscar Publications. ISBN 9780863111099.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu May 28, 2020 1:59 am

Part 1 of 4

Apa Pant in East Africa -- Nehru's Protégé
Edited and Compiled by Benegal Pereira
Accessed: 5/27/20

While on her initial mission at the Tibetan camps in 1959-60, Freda also visited Sikkim where a number of Tibetan monks and refugees had settled. It seems to have been then that she first met the head of the Kagyu lineage, one of the four principal schools within Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa Lama had escaped from Tibet through Bhutan in the wake of the Dalai Lama's departure and had moved into his order's long established but near derelict monastery at Rumtek in Sikkim. Apa Pant, a senior Indian official, told Freda that she really couldn't come to Sikkim without calling on the Karmapa. Pant was an Oxford contemporary of the Bedis. He was from a princely family and had an inquiring mind about faith and religion; he went on to be one of India's most senior diplomats. At this stage of his career, Pant was India's political officer covering Sikkim and Bhutan, two small largely Buddhist kingdoms which lay on the hugely sensitive border with China, and also in charge of the four Indian missions in Tibet.23 Freda was keen to act on her friend's suggestion:
[Apa Pant] sent me on horseback -- there was no road at that point up to the monastery. And I remember the journey through the forest and it was most beautiful. As we neared the monastery, His Holiness sent people and a picnic basket full of Tibetan tea and cakes and things to refresh us. It's about twenty miles, the path up to the monastery. And when I went to see him, there he was with a great smile on the top floor of a small country monastery surrounded by birds, he just loves birds. ... There he was with his birds, sitting in his room, not on a great throne but on a carpet with a cushion on it. And just at that time, the Burmese changeover took place and the gates of Burma were shut. And I was feeling a great sense of loss that I can't see my Burmese gurus and so I asked the question that was in my mind that I was saving up to ask my guru when I met him. I asked it of His Holiness. And he gave me just the perfect answer.24

There is perhaps an allegoric aspect to much of Freda's shared memories of her relationship with her guru, as the 16th Karmapa became. But at this time political storm clouds were gathering over Burma, leading up to the military coup in March 1962 which sealed the country off from the rest of the world for a generation. The Kagyu school traced its lineage back to the eleventh century and alongside a monastic structure it emphasised meditative training and solitary retreats.25 That suited Freda. And above all she was impressed by the spirituality and personality of the 16th Karmapa, by his 'deep roaring laughter' and by a personal conduct and indeed appearance which put her in mind of the Buddha.

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

Table of Contents:

• Apa Pant in East Africa -- Nehru's Protégé
• Early Life On Aundh:
• Apa on Nalini: ©
• Pant’s tenure as India’s first Commissioner for East and Central Africa, as it relates to Kenya:
• Background Pant arrived in Kenya by ship on August 15, 1948
• III. Evolution and Evaluation of Pant’s tenure
• INITIAL PHASE (August, 1948 – June 1952)
• TERMINAL PHASE (January 1952 – February 1954
• REMINISCENCES OF APA PANT: By Professor Robert Gregory
• The Koinange Story:
• Nazareth on Nehru:
• Pant on Pinto:
• APA PANT Associations with Suryakant and Leela Patel:
• PANT on AUNDH and his (Father) Baba or BalaSahib
• Compiler Benegal Pereira
• Bibliography

I have sought to focus this compilation essentially on Apa Pant’s period in East Africa. To this end, the material includes details about his life and work before his assignment, and there is little dealing with the long period thereafter. I would like to thank all the following persons who assisted me with producing this compilation: Zahid Rajan who as publisher of Awaaz first suggested this topic to me several months ago, then gave me the benefit of several postponements because of other work pressures and finally pushed me to complete the task; Mrs. Leela Patel, a very close friend of Pant together with her late husband Suryakant starting with his period in East Africa, who was kind enough to provide me with many of the photographs supporting this commentary; Aditi and Aniket Pant who put up with my constant barrage of emails and requests for photos. Robert Gregory and Peter Wright for meeting with me and sharing their first hand experiences, having had long standing personal contacts with Pant before and after his East African tenure for their contributions as well as many interesting conversations over past years; and Angelo Faria who had lived in Kenya during Pant’s tenure, with whom I had a substantial interaction during this compilation, and for the substantial analytical piece (and rebuttals) that he prepared at relatively short notice and within tight deadlines.

In August 1948, less than a year after the attainment of Indian independence, a still deeply British colonial Kenya colony with its Asian minority who were almost wholly British rather than Indian citizens, made its first acquaintance with an engaging and charming couple, an aristocratic Indian and his medical surgeon wife – Apa and Nalini PANT. Although their arrival was marked by high positive expectations among the Asians and a distrustful respect by the local colonial authorities, by its end about 5 3/4 years later in February it was to be a valuable learning experience for both parties. Sri Apasaheb Pant, an Indian prince and son of the tenth Pant-Pratinidhi and ruler of the kingdom of Aundh, moved by the idealistic calls of Gandhi to national service and of Nehru to diplomatic duty, left his father's state of Aundh to become the first Indian Commissioner for East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar); within a couple of years, his mandate would be extended to cover British colonies in Central Africa (Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland) and eventually the Belgian colony of the Congo.


Apa Pant

Sri. Apa Sahib Pant was born on 11th September 1912.

Educated: at University of Bombay (BA) and Oxford University (MA); Barrister-at-Law, Lincoln's Inn; return to India in 1937.

Award: Padma Shri 1954. Married: 1942 Nalini Raje, M.B, BS, F.R.C.S

Children: Aditi, Aniket and Avalokita Interests include: Photography, yoga, tennis, skiing and gliding.

Died: Apasaheb Pant died 5th October 1992.

Diplomatic Career:

Pant's training in the arts of diplomacy began much before his arrival in East Africa. Indeed, before Indian independence he had already served as Education Minister and Prime Minister of Aundh State (1944/45) under his father's tutelage, and immediately thereafter he had been deeply engaged in the discussions leading to the integration of his state within the Indian Union. He wrote: “life is a constant arrival and departure, whether the journey is from one room to another or from one continentto another”. His subsequent diplomatic career spanned some three decades, during which time he was drafted into increasingly delicate and senior diplomatic assignments. These covered: Officer on Special Duty, Ministry of External Affairs 1954/55 when he worked directly with Nehru on matters relating to the Nonaligned country group resulting from the Bandung Conference in 1956; Officer in Sikkim and Bhutan with control over Indian missions to Tibet (1954/55) when relations with China were tense, especially after the defection to India of the Dalai Lama; followed by ambassadorships to Indonesia (1961/64), Norway (1964/66), Egypt (1966/69), United Kingdom (1969/72) and ending with Italy (1972/75).

Apa Pant

Pant is the author of several books, all of which offer glimpses to his time in East Africa, these include:
An Unusual Raja - Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experimen, Hyderabad: Sangam Books, 1989.
Surya Namaskar, an ancient Indian exercise, Bombay, Orient Longmans, 1970.
A Moment in Time, Bombay: Orient Longman, 1974.
Mandala: An Awakening, Bombay: Orient Longman, 1976.
Survival of the Individual, London: Sangam Books, 1983.
Undiplomatic Incidents;. Bombay, Orient Longman Limited, 1987
An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims,. Bombay, Sangam Books, 1990

Early Life

On Aundh:

Aundh a small princely kingdom, now situated in the state of Maharashtra, about a hundred miles south east of Poona. The story of Aundh goes back more than four hundred years back to the middle 17th century in about 1630. Its founder, Trabak Pant Pratinidhi, a poor Brahmin, turned warrior during the period of Sambhaji Raje and Rajaram Maharaj. The story of Aundh ended almost four hundred years later in 1951, with the death of Raja Bhawanrao Pant-Pratinidhi, also known as Balasaheb, the last Raja of Aundh (Apasaheb’s father). At the earlier urging of the Mahatma, Aundh was absorbed into free India on March 8, 1948. Apa Sahib Pant, a prince of the Pant dynasty was the second son of Raja Bhawanrao Pant. Bhawanrao or Balasaheb, was Apa Sahib’s father, and referred to him affectionately as his Baba. Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas about how he envisioned democracy in India took root in Aundh. Discussion between the Mahatma and Pant's father, Raja Bhawanrao and later Pant himself later evolved into ‘Aundh experiment’, designed to experiment with decentralization of democratic decision making in Aundh. After Apa Sahib returned home from his studies in England, Maurice Frydman, who Apasaheb referred to as genius, a saintly social worker, engineer and friend of Pandit Satwalekar, urged Balasahib to give up all power to the people of Aundh. Apa Sahib recounts a conversation with the Mahatma in the context of Aundh. The Mahatma said: “tell me, after being called to the bar and spending the money of the poor peasants of Aundh on yourself for five years, are you going to migrate to a city such as Bombay or Delhi and make money by exploitation? Or have you any sincere sense of obligation, of doing your duty, dharma, by serving the poor people of Aundh, who have until now, fed and clothed you?” Apasaheb’s quite taken aback by this direct question replied: “Bapuji, what can I say? I would certainly like to help my old father, and stay on in Aundh. At least such is my present inclination”. The Mahatma smiled, and said, “Look Apa, you are dealing with me now. My old friend Pandit Satawalekarji has written to me that your father wants to hand over the kingdom of Aundh to his people. I hope this intention is genuine. It would be truly in keeping with our ancient customs which follow by those good rulers who knew what their dharma was……” Peter Wright, a long standing and close English friend of Pant from their university days at Oxford until Pant's death, and followed him to India during the II World War period through Indian Independence and Kenya in the early 1950s,and after his deportation in 1952 back again to India,, wrote: “I am well aware of Apa's feelings with regard to the absorption of the small state of Aundh into the Bombay Presidency and subsequently into the state of Maharashtra. I visited Aundh when Apa himself was the Chief Minister and had, with enthusiastic local support, transformed it into a tiny model democratic state -- an outstanding success -- with the full support of his father. He [Pant] has never been given the recognition he deserved for doing this; incidentally it also led to a number of Indians from outside, who were "wanted" by the British authorities for political reasons, taking refuge in Aundh State. Also I am not aware that Apa has been given adequate recognition for his hard and in the circumstances painful work that he did in helping to persuade other Maratha princes to surrender their sovereignties to the newly forming Indian Union Government in the interests of constructing a truly united and democratic state. Pandit Nehru was, of course, well aware of this when he selected Apa for the Nairobi position”. The clash between Shivaji's militaristic views and Gandhiji's pacifism, inevitably affected both Apa and his father, with the Gandhian views finally triumphing (as they did with Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the NWFP). I personally felt immensely privileged v to know and to have the love and friendship of this great duo, father and son, and to learn from them something of the great Maratha history and traditions.

On Leaving Aundh for East Africa (1947 – 1951): © Pant, Apa; An Unusual Raj, Sangam Book, 1989


Apasaheb’s expressed his emotional feeling at the start of his diplomatic career, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru offered him his first diplomatic assignment – as first ambassador of free and independent India to colonial East Africa. It was in December of 1947 that Apa Sahib was summoned to go meet with Nehru in Bombay. Pant said, “Doors that open unexpectedly are not always easy to pass through”. His energies had been in a state of dull suspension, given the prospect and dissolution of Aundh, but were stirred again as Nehru asked him “Apa, go to East Africa and be our first representative”. He later recounted: “ To be a representative, a Pratinidhi as in our family tradition, was not only exhilarating in a personal way but something I had felt my father would welcome for his son, an honor that would be his as well as mine. But the merger of Aundh had left many problems for the family, and not all of them had been settled”. Later, in New
Delhi, when taking leave of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Pant told Nehru that he knew nothing of diplomacy, or of Africa. “Never Mind”, Nehru said jokingly, “Go and shoot a few lioApa and Nalini Pantns!” Pant said he did, many of them with a camera, of course. In this and in every way it was a terrific experience. And he wanted his father to share in it; In 1950 Pant’s father paid a visit to Nairobi. Apasaheb’s speaks:

Apa Sahib speaks:

“By the end of 1947, Nalini and I left Aundh. That last day in Aundh is still vivid in my memory. I could not believe that I was leaving Aundh for good. All the pots and pans, beds and cupboards and chairs were loaded on to a state-red number plate truck.

Baba, with his red cap, had come out of the palace to bless his daughter-in-law and me, and our little, sweet four year old daughter, Aditi. Baba was happy and also sad. Happy because his daughter-in-law was to start practicing medicine and surgery in Poona - She had built a house there on the plot given to her by her father and mother. And sad because little Aditi was also leaving.

I tried to settle down to a routine in Poona at the end of 1947. I did not know what to do. Someone suggested that I stand for the constituent assembly from the Deccan state constituency. I did, but failed to get in by one vote. Shri Munavalli won against me. So I retired even more into my minuscule ego.

It was Raosaheb Patwardhan who, like the affectionate elder brother that he was, dragged me out of my hole, and forcibly took me to see Jawaharlal Nehru in Bombay. I was of course, very hurt that the congress, and the high command had completely forgotten what Raja Bhawanrao had done for the freedom struggle and I secretly hoped that Baba would at least, be made a raj pramukh if not given a ministership.

But who would care for Aundh when even the Mahatma was forgotten? So when Raosaheb ushered me into the presence of the shinning, smiling, extremely self-assured first prime minister of independent India, I was aggrieved.

Panditji however could charm anyone, any time, with hardly any effort. He was then at the height of his power.

When Raosaheb asked him if he had forgotten me, he said, “No, I was just thinking of him just the other day.” Then turning to me he said, “Apa, go to East Africa as our first ambassador there.”

Ambassador? I was to be an Ambassador? I should have shouted for joy, but didn’t feel like it then. My ego would take a while to assert itself again.

I asked, “What do I do there as an ambassador, sir?” Mischievously Panditji said, “Oh, nothing much! Giver dinners, and perhaps shoot a few lions (With a camera, of course).” So I sailed alone by the S.S.Khandala, the oldest ship of the P & O line. Baba and the rest of the family were there to bid me farewell. Was Baba proud that I, his second son was now an ambassador of free India?

Was I happy and proud? Hardly, I was disgusted with myself. I did not like leaving Baba all alone.

As I boarded the ship, I wept. Tatya Inamdar was to accompany me as my private secretary. It was Nalini’s idea and she had persuaded Jawaharlal to agree to it. It was quite unusual for a person outside the I.F.S. or the secretarial cadre to be appointed to go abroad at the Government of India’s expense, and everyone must have thought that it would serve me better if I had a wiser person to guide me. Tatya, as usual, did so with care and affection. I missed Aundh, Baba, Nalini, Aditi and little Aniket, our son who was then just a year and a half old.

Understandingly, Nalini scarified her own career as an honorary doctor ate the Sassoon Hospital in Poona, not to mention her professorship and budding practice, to join me in 1949. Thus Aditi and Aniket grew up amongst lions, rhinoceros and zebras. Those five and half years in Africa where glorious for us.

Once again I was filled with new motivation. My ego re-inflated itself and I wanted Baba to see me confident once more. So Baba came to stay with us for a while. He travelled widely.

in East Africa and was happy. He was especially fond of little Aniket. Aditi was too volatile for his liking.”

Apa on Nalini © Pant, Apa; An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims; Sangam Book, 1990

Nalini Pant

The longevity and synergy of the Apa –Nalini partnership, and its resulting legacy, is a tribute to the symbiotic relationship between Apakaka and Akka, respectively (as they lovingly referred to each other).
Apakaka’s initial encounter with Akka was at her eldest brother’s small two room flat in Bombay. It had been preceded by a meeting he had with Natesh Appajii Dravid, Akka’s father, who had first come to meet him as an eligible bachelor in Poona the previous year to make a proposal of marriage. At this time, after having secured her fellowship in Surgery (F.R.C.S.) in Scotland, she had been appointed to head of a women’s hospital in Rajasthan. Curiously, Apa and Tai Dravid, Akka’s mother, had a brief letter exchange five years earlier, when she wrote him stating that she had: “watched (my) career with interest”, so Apa appears to have been tagged much earlier as a potential son-in-law for the well suited and educated Nalini.
Apa confesses that at this very first meeting with Akka he was “…deeply impressed by her apparent calm and dignified bearing, her high intelligent forehead, her sharp, steady, critical, non smiling, even stern, but kindly eyes..” But the spell was broken when “going to the kitchen, she banged into a wooden screen in front of the door”.

Apa Sahib speaks:

“Each one of us, whether it was Africa or elsewhere, looked at the same event or people from different angles. In any case no two people can even share the same point of view of life. Our view points were different – often clashed – but our objectives were the same: making friends for India and building a world network of mutual understanding. It was, of course, a fascinating task. It was very joyful and fulfilling too. At the end of it, we both felt we really had lived.

From Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, to Aditi, Aniket and Avalokita, all felt that what I said or did had to have the final stamp of Akka’s approval! In fact in 1958, Pandit Nehru whilst staying with us in Gangtok, asked Akka whether she had read ‘that stupid report of your journey in Tibet by Apa?.’ He also asked her, ‘Do you approve what Apa does or write?’

Indira had a especially soft corner for Akka as did all the various ministers, such as Swaran Singh, Jagjivan Ram, Subrahmanyam and others. All the foreign secretaries would, in half-joke half-serious, manner, ask Akka to control me!! She did, magnificently.’

They spent the first five years prior to 1946 in the Aundh, where their two first children were born, Aditi and Aniket, and later their third child Avalokita. After a short interval in Poona where Nalini had to give up her job at the Sasson Hospital as well as her private practice, for the start of the Pant’s first diplomatic assignment, and as commissioner for East Africa.

Apa Sahib speaks:

“Akka can be merciless in her criticism. Her objective is not to put down or show one in a derogatory light, but to help one correct oneself: to help one to strive even harder. People like me are over generous with compliments and approvals. Our approval therefore has little value. People like Akka on the other hand are frugal, sparing in theirs, therefore all seek them and feel fulfilled when they receive them”.

“Akka has been the greatest, the most persistent, ceaseless but loving, image smasher of all! Pretence, inadequacy, hypocrisy, falsehood of any kind, she could never tolerate, and said so openly and instantly. What a fellow Pilgrim she has been” (Pant).

As one lives and experiences same or similar situations, one’s mental and intelligent vibrations start to respond to the person most intimate to oneself. Words then become unnecessary. Between Akka and me it has been so far for the last so many years. Thoughts, feelings, just get transferred spontaneously. It is great fun!! It is also a discovery of some aspects of that unified mind-energy in which we exist. Akka of course has helped me tremendously in this self-discovery.

Pant’s tenure as India’s first Commissioner for East and Central Africa, as it relates to Kenya: a personal interpretation. (Personal Communication from Angelo Faria: November 2007)

Angelo Faria

Angelo Faria was born to Goan parents in Mombasa and completed his secondary schooling in Kenya. He went on to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics, respectively, as a Kenya Government Bursar and Leverhulme Undergraduate Scholar at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom in the 1950s (where President Mwai Kibaki was his exact contemporary) and as a Ford Foundation Fellow in the U.S. at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in the 1960s. He was first employed as a senior official within the erstwhile East African High Commission (EAHC)/East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) in Nairobi for just under a decade. Thereafter, and following a short two-year spell with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Lusaka, Zambia, he was for about 30 years a staff member of the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC. He retired from it in 2003 and currently resides in Washington DC. He remains keenly interested in, and is a perceptive private commentator on, the East African political environment, through continuing personal contacts and periodical visits.

I. Introduction

My evidentiary background in preparing this piece is relatively modest and somewhat informal in character, being limited essentially to prior information on the evolving political environment in Kenya especially as it impacted on Asians acquired, inter alia, from having lived in Kenya both before and after independence, engaging over several decades in wide-ranging conversations with others, and reviewing cursorily earlier academic books published in the 1980s including : Dana Seidenberg (Uhuru and the Kenya Indians, 1983 and Mercantile Adventurers, Ch. 6; 1996) out of the University of Syracuse in the United States and J.M. Nazareth (Brown Man, Black Country,1981).

It is also buttressed by my more recent reading in March/April this year through incomplete sets of past Kenyan newspapers covering the period 1949-54 (East African Standard, Colonial Times, Daily Chronicle, Goan Voice and Daily Mail) that I found serendipitously in the US Library of Congress here in Washington. This was piqued by a spate of recent “revisionist” academic books published in the last three years: James Franks (Scram from Kenya, 2004); Caroline Elkins (Britain’s Gulag, 2005); David Anderson (Histories of the Hanged, 2005); and Zarina Patel (Unquiet, 2006) and an incomplete set of material copied to the UK India Office titled: “Kenya Colony Intelligence and Security Summaries Reports (1947-49”) which was released in 1998, and received recently during several interesting discussions with Pyralli Ratansi. More recently still, through the personal courtesy of Benegal Pereira, I have read through the relevant sections relating to Pant’s tenure in East Africa weaved by him in his four books: A Moment in Time (1974; Chapter Four); Mandala (1978; Chapter 2); Undiplomatic Incidents (1987; Chapter 1); and An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims (1990; Chapter 11); these have helped me to enable Pant’s own words, as reflected in numerous quotations (in which errors in the spelling of proper names are left unchanged) to be inserted in the text, so Pant could, as it were, be allowed to speak for himself with the benefit of considerable hindsight..

The outline of political developments in Kenya generally are thus well known from published sources; that relating to the impact of such developments on the Asian community is perhaps less well explored (apart from Seidenberg’s books), and in particular the role played by Pant which is of course the central concern of this piece. In this respect, Pant’s own evaluation interspersed through his books, although profiting modestly from the passage of time, is curiously more anecdotally than substantively reflective. As a result, I have had to try and first to sketch out with a broad brush the political environment Pant faced on his arrival and its evolution during his tenure; my effort is, therefore, counterfactual in the sense that it attempts to understand Pant’s private thinking of political developments as these evolved, as if Pant was a central player which of course he was not.

I am fully conscious that this is not the standard “scholarly” contribution, annotated by fuller reference to the extensive relevant literature that has emerged, and backed by associated citations (other than for quotations from books written by Pant noted above, which are specifically referenced by year of publication and page). These quotations are useful as providing some indication of Pant’s thinking at the time, but they provide in my view little indication regarding his perceptions about whether his exhortations were influencing the racial groups (especially Africans) to whom they were addressed at the time. Moreover, with one notably short exception (see my conclusions section), there is very little by way of balanced reservation arising from a consideration of subsequent developments in his ex-post analysis of his thinking of the period.

If the piece is not scholarly, it is only because, for several personal and time-related reasons, I have been unable to commit myself to an authoritative survey of the relevant materials. As such, this piece constitutes an entirely personal and somewhat inferential interpretation exclusively from Pant’s supposed perspective, but limited essentially to Kenya rather than to the wider geographical sphere to which he was accredited. I believe that the modestly revisionist case I make out is at least plausible on its face. I fully recognize that there is, however, always the distinct possibility that some of the inferences from an admittedly modest factual base that I draw may be prospectively invalidated by more knowledgeable contributors and even from the discovery of countervailing factual information.

In this first section, the emphasis is on delineating in general terms the environment that Pant, a diplomatic neophyte, would have found when he first arrived in Kenya in mid August 1948. In the second or evaluation section the emphasis shifts to consider more specifically Pant’s strategy and activities as these evolved during his tenure in Kenya, so far as I have been able to gauge these from his writings and my own inferences.
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II. Background

Pant arrived in Kenya by ship on August 15, 1948 to much fanfare on his initial appointment as Commissioner of India to East Africa, his mandate gradually being widened to include Central Africa in 1950 and the Belgian Congo in 1952, and his designation concurrently being upgraded to Commissioner General; he was eventually to vacate his appointment under much less auspicious circumstances some 5 ½ years later at end February, 1954. While Pant’s remit grew wider over the term of his assignment and the paths traversed by these countries resulted in the same outcome of eventual political independence from British rule, there were important differences as between them; these related to both the nature and speed of this process, tied to the presence in their populations of white immigrants, as well to their legal status of colony (e.g. Southern Rhodesia and Kenya) versus protectorate or UN mandated Trust territories e.g. Uganda and Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi).

Jomo Kenyatta Apa Pant Acheing Oneko

Two factors were, I believe, nevertheless critical in explaining why Pant’s own diplomatic activities should have been centered largely in East Africa, and within it mostly to Kenya. First, the relative numbers of residents of Indian descent in Pant’s remit (hereinafter Indians or Asians), although the number of them actually holding Indian rather than British nationality was, at best, rather miniscule. The numbers of people of Indian descent at end 1952 (as reported by Nehru in a response to a question in the Indian Parliament in 1953) were estimated as: Kenya: 152,000; Uganda: 33,367; Tanganyika: 56,499; Zanzibar and Pemba: 15,812; Northern Rhodesia: 2,600; Southern Rhodesia: 4,150; Nyasaland: 4,000;

Belgian Congo: 720. What this suggests is that Pant’s leverage in the British territorial regions outside the East African, premised on the number of their Indian residents, would have been at best exiguous. Moreover, even within the four distinct East African territories, it was clear that the issues which bedeviled the interactions in racial terms between European or native British citizens and Non European or non-native British citizens were present to a much less significant degree in the other three East African countries as compared with Kenya. This was attributable initially to the former’s somewhat different legal status as protectorates or trust territories relative to Kenya as a colony, and later to the broadly satisfactory progress that was being made within them towards constitutional reform leading to self government and eventually to full political independence.

Kenya’s case was, of course, an entirely different one, for reasons that are already too well known in the published literature to warrant being extensively detailed here. Briefly put, Pax Brittanica provided the bedrock assurance to emigration for long term settlement in the 20th century from both the United Kingdom and the Indian sub-continent, stemming largely from intrinsically economic motivations. This applied to the successive waves of European immigrants in the 20th century, accentuated for periods immediately following upon the ending of the First and Second World Wars, who engaged in agricultural, larger business and higher level government-related activities. It extended also to a steady stream of Asian or Indian immigrants that flowed in, starting with the construction of the Kenya/Uganda Railway and expanding into associated retail trading lower level governmental cadres, and the service sector generally.

Second, the interaction between Europeans and Asians on inequitable terms -- the numerically dominant Africans being treated at this stage in purely residual terms for policy purposes – had produced inter-racial flash points already in the 1920s especially in Kenya. (There were contemporaneously, of course, some minor difficulties associated with the ginning of cotton in Buganda by Indians). It has since been suggested that to head off any incipient agitation by Indians, at the request of the “settler” Europeans the United Kingdom government issued the notorious British White Paper in 1923 (also known as the Devonshire Declaration) which led to the defiant nonpayment of poll tax by several Indians in 1924. It asserted baldly the paramount nature of safeguarding the interests of the African majority as the overarching objective of colonial policy in Kenya. Later in 1934, then Colonial Secretary Ormsby Gore would even go on record as stating that he regarded Indians as “mere interlopers in a country that belonged only to Africans and Europeans”.

Jomo Kenyatta, Apa Pant

Indeed, it was precisely such considerations that, long before their own political independence in 1947, attracted the interest and concern of the British Imperial Government as well as the solidarity of (non Muslim) politicians in India. Initially, this resulted in several Indian ICS officials (Srinivasan, Menon) coming out in the early 1920s out to examine and report on the conditions faced by Indian labour in Kenya. Eventually this would lead even to the presidency of the East African Indian National Congress (EAINC), modeled on that of the Indian National Congress (INC), being offered on a non residential basis to first Mrs. Sarojini Naidu (1924 and again in 1929) and subsequently Pandit H.N. Kunzru (1928 and 1929). It is moreover sometimes glossed over that the decision to nominate Pant as Commissioner of India for East Africa represented a direct response by Nehru to the formal request made earlier to the INC by the EAINC in September, 1946 during its 18th annual session in Mombasa.

It seems to me upon reflection that the evaluation of Pant's almost 5 1/2 years tenure in Kenya can be regarded as being largely influenced by the continuing interplay of five factors whose very rank ordering in importance understandably changed during the period of Pant’s tenure:

First, the degree of interest shown by India and specifically Nehru in speeding up the process of decolonization – a task for which the Labour Government was to prove a most accommodative partner, as this was the chief foreign policy tenet of the Fabian socialist creed with which it was imbued. In this context, I believe that as far back as 1937 Nehru, as the principal foreign policy spokesman of the Indian National Congress, had come to see that Indian emigrant minorities in colonial territories needed to be suitably sensitized to the importance of respecting and identifying with the aspirations of the majority population. One comment of Nehru to Pant bears quoting: “We Indians are in the middle…and we have a chance, a duty, to try and prevent the growth of a racial conflict” (Pant 1974, p.50). But while decolonization may well have been Nehru’s primary foreign policy preoccupation soon after Indian independence in August 1947, nevertheless by the early to mid 1950s and as India’s world role grew, this gave way gradually in his mind to a greater focus on political solidarity within a wider, so-called non-aligned comity of developing nations, some of which were former colonies.

This change of focus crystallized in India’s formulation of the regional Panchsheel principles with China over Tibet in June 1954 and the Bandung Non-Aligned Conference in April 1955, in which Pant was to play a prominent advisor’s part. It represented Nehru’s evolving philosophy of searching out for an independent “third way” for the newly emerging developing world away from the consuming rivalries of the United States and the Soviet Union as leaders of the two super power political blocs; in the nonaligned movement, while Nehru was undoubtedly the principal initiator, he came soon to be joined by presidents Nasser of Egypt, Soekarno of Indonesia and Tito of (then) Yugoslavia.

Second, the nature of the interaction, varying from initial tacit acquiescence or indifference to subsequent heightened tension, as between the United Kingdom and Indian governments relative to the assumption by India of this anti-colonial, nonaligned role --- in particular, its repercussions on Pant’s activities in at least their East African colonies. For his part, Nehru, as Pant has noted, Nehru always viewed the state of his relations with the Commonwealth Relations Office as a constructive part of his foreign policy. In practice, however, this interactive variance turned upon which among the two UK political parties, Labour (November 1945 – November 1951) or the Conservatives (November 1951 to the end of Pant’s term and beyond), were in power in London.

On the political front, Labour, influenced by its Fabian intellectuals, was clearly more anticolonial and pro-independence minded than the Conservatives, and their recent experience with granting of political independence to India and Pakistan had imbued them with the desire to hasten the process in their African colonies also; on the other hand, the Conservatives, in part from sentiment and in other part from having observed the effects of Partition on the Indian subcontinent, seemed still emotionally unprepared to contemplate an unseemly rush to dismember the British Empire, on which at one time their proud boast was that the sun never set completely on the whole of it.

On the economic front in addition, Labour held fast to the so-called Fabian socialist tenets about production and distribution, income and wealth, and the role of the government versus that of the private sector in providing economic with social justice for the common man; in marked distinction, the Conservatives emphasized individual freedom and liberty over intrusive government in economic matters, underpinned by minimally regulated free enterprise, price setting in open markets rather than artificial price fixing, and production incentives for risk-taking entrepreneurs. In many ways, the ideological struggle brought about by Labour’s first ever election victory in the UK was initially transmitted to the administration of its colonies also.

Third, the extent of local European reaction in the colonies was generally influenced on the “official” side in principle by the philosophy of the incumbent UK government (in particular, the persona of its Colonial Secretary) and in practice of course by the personality of the incumbent Governor charged with implementing stated policy; in a very real sense, therefore, colonial policy formulation and its implementation thus reflected the interaction between them. The “unofficial” side, of course, incarnated the beliefs of the white "settlers" against any dilution of their power through any equity-based power sharing agreements with the other two numerically larger races. In this connection, the Asians in particular were always perceived, by virtue of their older culture and more pronounced economic wealth, to be far and away the more imminent threat, relative to the vastly more numerical but unorganized and less well-off Africans. Moreover, European dislike of the Asians accentuated after 1947, now characterized by a greater distrust of the intentions of non-Muslims relative to Muslims largely because India and Nehru were viewed with greater distrust amounting to fear than were Pakistan and Jinnah.

It is striking in retrospect to establish that in 1949 the relative numbers in each of the four East African territories of European and Asian residents, respectively, were (multiples of Asin/European in parenthesis): Kenya: 29,660 and 152,000 (5.1); Uganda: 3,448 and 33,367 (9.7); Tanganyika: 10,648 and 54,499 (5.1); Zanzibar and Pemba: 548 and 15,812 (28.8). Asians to Europeans was a multiple of 3 or greater total population. Much more striking of course, other than in Zanzibar and Pemba where Arabs predominated), the combined population of Europeans and Asians represented some fraction of 1 percent of the total population, thereby pointing up starkly the sheer numerical predominance of the indigenous African population and their corresponding virtual absence from representation in the political and economic life of these four countries.

Fourth, initial expectations formed among the local Asian political and business representatives about Pant’s role. While it was almost euphoric at the start of his tenure, as Pant himself noted (Pant 1987; p. 16/17), it remained of course to be seen to what extent they would duly buy into Nehru’s message, quite appropriate and consistent for him but unsettling for them, which was to entail a radical re-ordering of their objectives. Here of course, in addition to the perennial problem about European/Asian relations from the early days, there were the likely consequences of the creation of India and Pakistan as new nations carved out of the subcontinent in 1947, based at least for the latter on a theocratic principle. This could only exacerbate communal tensions, previously relatively muted, in the form of separate communal rolls that would undoubtedly benefit the divide and rule policy of the British administration, notwithstanding the fact that about 80 % of the Muslim residents (including Ismailis) hailed from post-Partition India. In any event, Pant by virtue of his much earlier arrival became effectively the sole Asian sub-continental diplomatic representative during his whole tenure because the first Pakistan Commissioner (Siddik Ali Khan) did not arrive until December 1954, long after Pant had left. Curiously though, in late 1948, perhaps as a reaction to Indian independence, Portugal for the first time saw fit to appoint a Consul General (Jose de Neiva) to provide consular services to, and look after the general interests of, the Goans who were overwhelmingly Portuguese citizens by birth or registration.

Fifth, the degree to which local African politicians looked to India (rather than Pakistan) and thus to Pant for ideological and material support in their colonial struggle for political independence. At Pant’s arrival, there would appear to have been a somewhat superficial albeit non-tribal organizational cohesion, as represented by the Kenya African Union (KAU) which in 1945 had been broadened from the decades-old Kikuyu Central Association (KCA). This had been undertaken with the active support of the then Paramount Kikuyu Senior Chief Koinange-wa-Mbiyu so as to attract a wider base, including especially non-Kikuyus, in the face of the intransigence displayed by the British administration on the land tenure issue in the area (essentially the Kikuyu heartland) which later came to be known as the “White Highlands”. It was galvanized into action by the return in late 1946, after a self-imposed exile in Europe of some 15 years, of Jomo Kenyatta who took up its leadership in 1947 and married Koinange’s eldest daughter in the same year, thereby insinuating himself into the center of the Kikuyu land struggle. Apart from Kikuyu leaders like Gicheru and Kaggia, however, there was also a coterie of other non-Kikuyus such as Oneko, Kali, Josiah, Khamisi, Kasyoka, Mbotela, and Odede. Nevertheless, the agitation remained a narrowly tribal one -- essentially among the Kikuyu and grounded in their claims to Kikuyu tribal land. While India through Pant may initially well have provided a psychological boost to the African cause and some journalistic material and financial assistance in publicizing the land issue, once the struggle turned violent it is not clear what became the nature and extent of Indian support and of its channeling. In this connection, Pant cryptically notes: “ .. the colonial government could not pin onto the Indian mission any specific act of iciting the Africans against British rule, through a public speech or a secret gift of arms or ammunition to the Mau Mau”, (Pant 1987; p.25).

Whereas in principle the focus still remained on Kikuyu tribal land issues, operational activities extended to the recruitment of some cadres in the rural areas, and a modest degree of cyclostyle-type pamphleteering and vernacular newspapers, to advertise an extended range of issues to a wider African audience outside the Kikuyu heartland. The expansion of such dissemination activities were initially constrained by financial means as well as the very close monitoring and circumscription by the authorities.. Later by early 1952, the focus would change towards a more violent, and very tribally limited, uprising that moved from around the greater Nairobi area into the Aberdare forests in the Kikuyu heartland, when it came to be better known as Mau Mau.

III. Evolution and Evaluation of Pant’s tenure

Against this background, it seems to me not implausible to suggest that Pant's tenure as Commissioner can be distinguished broadly (but not neatly) into two time-demarcated phases --- an initial phase, of a longer and markedly positive period of about 4 years from August 1948 through June, 1952, during which all the factors noted above seemed to work in Pant’s favor, thereby permitting him to walk a diplomatically fine line fairly successfully between his overarching Nehruvian mandate and the more parochial expectations and fears of the other local actors. This was followed was followed by a shorter terminal phase, of about 1 ½ years from July 1952 through February 1954 when the stars would have appeared all to have turned away from him leading him to be much less successful in his mission; indeed,, during this period, his influence inexorably drained away, culminating mercifully I believe in his sudden recall.

Pant comes across as a man with a very genuine sense of mission; as he notes, “Nehru had said ‘Befriend Africa’ and I, with my usual impulsive over-enthusiasm went about it with missionary zeal”. (Pant, 1987; p.19). The essence of Pant’s somewhat romanticized view in the matter was expressed as follows: “India and East Africa may seem to be distanced from each other by salt water. But they are, and always have been ‘next shore neighbours’, and surely their future lies in the direction of mutually profitable co-operation. From the very first day that I set foot on this ‘Continent of Dawn’ I dreamed of a harmonious special relationship between our two civilizations and peoples… and I have lived out my Gandhian dream under the skies of East Africa” (Pant 1978; p. 30 and 35). Pant was thus ideally suited to his task: that being Nehru’s hand-picked instrument --even if he brought to it a somewhat naïve Gandhian dimension or what he termed as the “Nehru-Gandhi inspired ideal of making friends” (Pant 1987; p.22) not envisaged or particularly appreciated by Nehru -- for fostering the attainment of his vision of an end to racial discrimination and colonialism, denoted as the involuntary subjugation by colonial master powers of subject peoples, both of whom were racially and culturally distinct.

In carrying out his mission, however, Pant had indubitably to tread a very fine line owing to the somewhat anomalous quasi-diplomatic nature of his office. Nehru, with his overarching objectives, had idealistically envisaged for it the remit of a broad, almost super-representational role over a wide geographical area, with some trade considerations thrown in for good measure. This ambitious role had to be reconciled in actual practice with a much lower level operational role, reduced to serving as a mere listening post or conduit to report on political developments, as well as engaging in consular activity almost wholly covering travel arrangement for the mostly British citizens of Indian descent traveling on customary temporary familial visits to India. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of such persons had little intention to acquire Indian citizenship, and this was fully exposed during the Asian exodus in 1968 when the bulk of them offered the choice opted to migrate to Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, rather than return to India.


INITIAL PHASE (August, 1948 – June 1952)

In this phase as previously noted, there was a happy confluence in the interplay of all factors noted above which made for a distinctly positive sum game for Pant in carrying out his mission --- Nehru still remained fully engaged in the decolonization exercise, in particular as it related to the British African colonies; Labour was in power for virtually the whole period, being voted out only in November 1951; Governor Mitchell’s assignment had been extended for six months in order to organize the Royal visit in February 1952 as well as to oversee the general election that would usher in the new multi-racial legislative plan in June 1952 . More importantly, he still had good relations with both Asians and Africans -- the latter, notably the Kikuyus through the Koinange family, and with them and also other tribes as represented in the labour movement -- both thanks largely to Pio Gama Pinto. They were still receptive to the general thrust of his mission, in large part because the authorities were still ambivalent about confronting the emerging signs of what later on became well known as the Mau Mau uprising.

On the work front, Pant began peripatetically by making extensive familiarization visits to both the authorities and their residents of Indian descent who were generally not Indian citizens, in the far-flung British territories under his watch; he relished these trips greatly because these opened up new vistas for him.. He did place his greatest focus, however, on delivering activities in east Africa especially Kenya, engaging in public addresses within Kenya (but never, as far as I have been able to ascertain, formally to the EAINC), as well as in private dialogue. Although these were never officially published, Pant himself realized that the details were being duly reported by informants, and subsequent intelligence reports confirm that he was correct in this assessment. He even found the time to make extensive visits through the East African countryside, in February, 1950 leading the first private Indian mountaineering team (including his wife) on a climb of Mt. Kenya (17,040 feet), where he reached a height of about 16,000 feet before retiring, and later also climbed up Mount Meru (14,000 feet) near Arusha in Tanganyika. (Pant 1987; p.30/31). Later in 1950 in the context of a visit from India by his elderly father, as well as on several occasions thereafter, he visited the various game parks to “shoot lions with my camera”, as he humorously remarked. On the commercial front, although such matters were handled by a separate Indian Trade Commissioner’s office in Mombasa established in 1950, Pant may well have played a catalytic role in January 1950 by securing the introduction of regular weekly air flights between Bombay and Nairobi by Air India; by early 1954, he likely had a hand also in strengthening ocean-going transport connections between Mombasa and Bombay through setting in train the New Eastern Passenger Service steamer using the steamer, “State of Bombay”.

Pant consistently hewed to a standard Nehru line in all his suitably nuanced public and private presentations, albeit he added his own Gandhian gloss to it.(Note that he titled the relevant chapter in one of his books as “Gandhian Dream in Africa” (Pant 1978; p.20). Following Nehru’s mandate, Pant genuinely believed that it was quite feasible to work towards a prospective multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society in East Africa if Asians were prepared to open their educational institutions to, and share economic power with, Africans; but he advocated it not merely as a form of Nehru-type political realism, but also as the basis for a Gandhian type morally- based “pilgrimage” towards the brotherhood of men of goodwill among the three races. Two quotes from Pant should suffice to capture the essence of his nuanced feelings, unchanged through time: “To me, it seemed that the immediate problem of relationship between Kenya’s Indian residents and the Africans had to be considered in the wider context of African aspirations for freedom, and of the relevance of our experiences in India to such a struggle (emphasis supplied), and “The enthusiasm of all the meetings, talks, and plans that followed was kept going, for many of us, by a feeling that the victory of harmony and enlightened co-operation over exploitation and conflicts was just around the corner”. (Pant, 1974; p. 51/52).

To this end, he counseled straightforwardly that prospective security for Asians wishing to continue to reside permanently in a future independent Kenya was crucially time-contingent, so they must remain patient and confident that positive change would come about sooner rather than later. In the meanwhile, however, they had to identify as fully and quickly as possible with the underprivileged African majority; this entailed, as a practical matter, that they should redirect themselves from their traditional quest of decades to become privileged coequals with the Europeans, who he considered largely as birds of passage, and seek new ways of participating with the majority Africans in all areas to help them to realize their full potential.

With the tenor of Pant’s general message having been clearly set out for him by Nehru himself thus permitting little creative wiggle room, Pant was effectively reduced to continually making repetitive exhortatory addresses both public and private to local Indians of all communal stripes (and perhaps even African leaders, although this is much less clear from his reporting!!) and serving as a listening post and conduit for information from the region to Nehru, when he was not traveling to “show the Indian flag” in his wide parish, as it were. There was clearly very little of substance that he could provide for the Asians in Kenya which would have corresponded to their own parochial but important concerns such as the prevalence of colour bar in service establishments, the right to freely obtain land titles for urban and rural land, and above all to secure parity in representation and treatment within the executive and legislative organs of central government and also the public administration.

Against this background, he had probably had to resort – and he would be in his element in doing this -- to maintaining very cordial social relations on an individual or small group basis with selected Asian and African leaders, exchanging with them (in particular, the Asian journalist fraternity directly or through his adept Information Officer, Shahane) snippets of information and more general assessments that could then be forwarded confidentially in his periodic reports to Nehru; indeed, it would in retrospect provide a fascinating glimpse, in generating a more accurate assessment of his thinking, if one were able to access these reports in the governmental archives in India.

Pant was evidently aware very early on of what the Asians expected from him. To quote him:“I quickly got the general drift of what the Indian population looked for in its ‘own’ Commissioner. I was to be the ‘strong man’ who would bring down the pride and exclusiveness of the Europeans and ensure equal privileges for the Indians. I must fight for more Indian seats in the Assembly and more Government posts. I must do everything, above all, to enable the Indians to make more money.” (Pant 1978; p. 22-24). What is more to the point, Pant instinctively refused to adopt this suggested role for himself, noting prophet-like “For myself, I could only shout day and night at my Indian friends that the dawn of African freedom was near and that they should wake up while there was still time to prepare themselves for it. Only a few, I’m afraid, really did wake up and even then they did not clearly see the shape of the part they would have to play in the new life of this continent.” (Pant 1978; p.24)

Asians in their turn had clearly misjudged what Pant should be able, or more importantly would choose if able, to do specifically for them on the issues noted above. This was illustrated very much earlier from the reported comment made by S.G. Amin, the EAINC President through August 1948, at one of these public meetings with Pant in October 1948. Amin had ventured to suggest that henceforward the heavy burden carried by Indian politicians and the EAINC would rest on his (Pant’s) shoulders. Pant gently but firmly took refuge in a convenient technicality by reminding his audience that he had been sent by the Indian Government to look only after Indians residing in East Africa while continuing to retain their citizenship of India.

He would expose his motivation (deriving from Nehru) much later as follows: “The existence of these populations of Indian origin was the obvious justification for my job. At the same time it was natural that the representative of an independent India would not see this job with the same eyes as a servant of the former British Raj, which had also an official concern with overseas Indians, in Africa and elsewhere. One could not forget that Gandhi had begun his life’s work as champion of the Indians in South Africa against discriminatory laws, that he had done so as a citizen of the British Empire appealing to the rights which he believed it guaranteed; and that later he had hoped and foretold that national freedom for India would open the way to liberation of the weaker peoples of the earth.” (1974; p. 49/50). There is here, in my view, a purposefully breathtaking, if somewhat specious, conflation of situations and roles that Pant apparently felt to be self-evident.

In pursuing his mission, therefore, Pant was likely able initially with his personal charm to court with substantial success most of the Asian communities’ leaders of the day, be they politicians, businessmen, journalists, and professionals. Among such political leaders were: the presidents of the East African Indian Congress (EAINC) during his tenure such as D.D.Puri and J.M. Nazareth, as well as former presidents such as A.B.Patel, N.S. Mangat, S.G. Amin, Chanan Singh, Chunilal Madan; Muslim leaders such as Shams-ud-Din, Eboo Pirbhai, Chairman of the Muslim Central Association and Ibrahim Nathoo (both Ismailis), Bhagat Singh Biant of the East African Ramgharia Board (Sikhs)t, Dr. A.C.L de Souza of the GOA (Goan), and Messrs. A.H. Nurmohamed and Y.E. Jivanjee (Ithanasheri/Bohra). His courtship also extended to businessmen and professionals such as: Suryakant Patel, the Chairman of the Seva Dal, G.L.Vidyarthi, Mohamedalli Rattansi, Inder Singh Gill, Muljibhai Madhvani, Nanji Kalidas Mehta, R.B. Pandya, R.K. Paroo, J.M. Desai, Dr. S.D.Karve, Dr F.C. Sood, John Karmali and many others. Not surprisingly because of Makhan Singh’s political peruasion and his security status, Pant appears to have had only a perfunctory and marginal contact with him, although in a sense Makhan Singh was the only Asian-born politician whose views matched up anywhere close to those of Pant himself. Nor from his books, is it clear that Pant had met with Ambu Patel, who in a Gandhian fashion “single-handedly publicized the unjust incarceration of Jomo Kenyatta.” (Seidenberg 1996, Ch. 6; p. 25). It is understood, however, that he encouraged the setting up, and assisted at the opening of, the Republic High School by Dr. A.U.Sheth in Mombasa in September, 1951 as a multi-racial school with fees underwritten on the basis of need, based on the earlier attempt with John Karmali with what developed later into the well-known and still existing Hospital Hill School.

Pant’s approaches, as noted above, initially found a very receptive ear among Asians as a whole, in part because they had no reason or alternative for not giving him the benefit of the doubt. One of the first signs of concern, however, comes in April 1950 when, at the first joint meeting of KAU (headed by Kenyatta) and EAINC (headed by Nazareth), one of the speakers quotes provocatively from an earlier statement of Nehru to the effect that Indians in Africa must generally regard themselves as “guests” of the Africans – as noted later, a climacteric personal moment for Nazareth. In addition, Hindu/Muslim agitation for separate voting rolls, although simmering below the surface especially among the Punjabi Muslims (Dr. Rana and Allah Ditta Qureshi), had not yet fully infected Asian leaders in Kenya who continued to operate largely within the cooperative harmony engendered by an earlier generation of Asian leaders. Even the Aga Khan had reportedly advised his Ismaili followers in March 1948 not to create Hindu-Muslim quarrels by bringing India’s, Pakistan’s and Hindustan’s quarrels into East Africa but rather to live as one in unity and be known as East Africans as therein would lie their salvation. In line with this position, in March, 1950 Ibrahim Nathoo roundly criticized Qureshi, the Secretary of the Muslim Central Association, for having on his personal initiative sent an unrepresentative memorandum purportedly on behalf of all Muslims in Kenya directly to the Pakistan government; he followed this up in the same month reception for Pant by stating that it was undesirable to import disunity from the Indian subcontinent to Kenya. The traditional, decades-long, obstacle for all Asians had remained, since the founding of Kenya Colony and Protectorate, the racial attitudes of the European farmer/settler, who had refused pointedly to entertain the Asians legitimate claims for racial nondiscrimination in social and economic life as well as parity of representation in the organs of government.

Pant also initially exerted a great charm on the general social circuit in Nairobi, in particular with Europeans who viewed him somewhat romantically as a different type of Indian, a suave Oxford-educated prince no less. But this soon faded, as Pant notes: “My well-known alleged --and real—sympathies and friendships with Africans (emphasis supplied) had made me almost an outcast in the social life of the white inhabitants. Except for a few real friends like Sir Berkeley Nihill, the chief justice of Kenya, Derek Ersikin, a big landowner, Sir Vaisey and a few others who could be counted on the fingers of one hand, the official circles had decided to boycott all functions at the Indian Embassy (sic) and did not invite me to theirs.” (Pant 1987; p.23). Moreover, and below the surface, as the intelligence reports suggest, the local European community of officials and settlers exhibited growing alarm about his activities, incorrectly but fearfully viewing him as a essentially a stalking horse for the introduction into Kenya of the growing worldwide influence of India and Nehru.

That nothing came of their protests was probably due to the fact that a Labour Government was in power in the UK through November 1951 and its leaders had strong personal connections to Nehru and an overarching interest in reformatting the British Commonwealth to enable India upon becoming a republic in January 1950 to stay within it, and Nehru was the key to the success of this endeavor. This bias was complemented at the local level by the then Governor of Kenya, Sir Philip Mitchell, in office during his Pant’s first four years perhaps because the former was no doubt aware of the stakes in London, and with whom Pant in any case apparently had, at least on the surface, a good working relationship, as two former Oxford men notwithstanding the considerable difference in their ages. Pant notes, for example, that the Governor looked with reserved favor at his setting up (with John Karmali and Hassan Nathu) a private school for all races in his own house, although balking at a larger and more permanent establishment of this nature (Pant 1978; p.54)

This visceral fear among Europeans for Indians was linked to India’s growing importance in the world and is amply exposed by short quotations from four statements made much later in October, 1954 in the context of the introduction of a more balanced multi-racial government and a “truce” agreement between the three major groups of European opinion (the European Electors Union, the United Country Party, and the Federal Independence Party and that arch anti-Asian politician from a previous generation, octogenarian Colonel Ewart Grogan) to resist the deepening multi-racial legislative plan drawn by the new Colonial Secretary Lennox Boyd:. The last mentioned, in a letter to the Economist, in December 1954 wrote to the effect that: “We resent the blatant inconsistency of imposing part Indian rule over our Africans and Arabs without our consent…. If the straight issue ‘Are you willing to be ruled by Indians?’ could be put to (them), the answer would be an universal and emphatic No!!”. Another similar statement came from the Earl of Portsmouth who baldly asserted in October 1954: “There is really only one real cleavage between us: to what extent shall India’s influence carry here?” Mr. S.V. Cooke also asserted: “I am all out for racial cooperation. That does not mean I am determined or prepared to give authority to Asians in this country – and more particularly the Indians”. Mr. Coller-Hallowes echoed this line with: “Unless we say that we are going to join up and go forward to help the African and the Arab in this country at every opportunity, we are going to face the issue that this country has been handed over to the Indians”.

As noted above, Governor Mitchell fully cognizant of London’s standpoint exerted a countervailing presence at the local level, helping to contain the settlers protests.. During his eight year tenure ending with his retirement from the Colonial Service at end June 1952, Mitchell identified closely with all communities in Kenya. I believe that he had gradually developed a confident and prescient multi-racial cast to his thinking born of some 40 years of prior colonial experience in the East African countries themselves (1919-40) and subsequently with countries with mixed populations, notably with Indians in Fiji from where after 8 years he had come to Kenya in 1944. There are some who hold to the view from an exchange of telegrams between the first Labour Colonial Secretary (Creech Jones) and Governor Mitchell soon after they had come to power in November 1946, that the new authorities had grave reservations about Mitchell’s attempt with Sessional Paper No.3 of 1945 to increase the executive responsibility of Europeans to the detriment of Non-Europeans generally, and to follow this up by attempting to dilute the Asian representation through the specific acknowledgement of Hindu/Muslim disunity.

If this were his initial motivation, however, once the Labour government was more fully in the saddle, he would had to have fallen into line with the new more strongly anti-colonial thinking coming out of London from his new political masters, inasmuch as Colonial 191 reserved final responsibility for the overall policy and administration of the East African territories firmly in the hands of the Imperial Government. I thus believe that he would been compelled to accept Labour’s thinking onin the need for communal rolls and not a common role in helping to bring about an eventual multi-racial society in Kenya based on majority rule and governance by moderates of all three races. Where he may undoubtedly have differed from London would be less on the direction of the change (over which he had no control) and more on the pace of change (over which he had control), designed to ensure that the process, whilst it could be accelerated in policy terms, should not be unduly rushed in operational terms.

In the event, and with London’s backing in those financially austere years, he helped push through a raft of administrative and logistical proposals to undergird an evolving multiracial society in Kenya. These included: the formation of the East African High Commission (1947) and East African Legislative Assembly (1948); the founding of the Muslim Institute (MIOME) in Mombasa in March 1950; the establishment of the East African Court of Appeal in January 1951; encouraging the formation of the United Kenya Clubs in Nairobi and Mombasa (July 1951) open to all races by allocating choice land; laying the foundation stone of the multi-racial Royal Technical College in April 1952; and finally and perhaps most importantly, agreeing to a six month extension of his term to shepherd through the run up to the general elections in early June 1952, based on the multi-racial Lyttleton Plan hurriedly put together by the new Conservative Secretary Humphrey Lyttleton after a visit to Kenya in January 1952, which accepted for the first timed for the first time a parity between Europeans and Non Europeans at the “unofficial level”. On the other hand, his biggest mistake was probably to downplay in reports to London the severity of Mau Mau secret oathing threats that had commenced over a year before he left. --- even to the extent of permitting, against the advice of his security officials, the visit to Kenya of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in early February, 1952 --- because he did not want to have to deal with the Mau Mau threat on his watch. Upon retirement and following two months of paid leave in September 1952, he chose not unsurprisingly to settle on his farm in Kenya until his passing away in 1964.

I believe too, as previously noted, that Mitchell had a fairly comfortable working relationship with Pant, favoring him with a fair degree of access and relatively free rein within the bounds of quasi-diplomatic propriety. This relationship was especially tested --as Pant ruefully notes -- when Lady Mountbatten, as Superintendent-in-Chief of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, a member of the British Royal Family by marriage and a close confidante of Nehru, first visited Kenya in February 1951 and was invited by the Governor to stay at Government House. (Coincidentally, I believe that at that material time her younger sister Mary was in fact still married to the 4thBaron Delamere, and could in principle have been invited to the reception). At a reception in her honour, she pointedly noted to the Governor and Pant that the invited guests were largely of European “official” and “unofficial” groups, with only a miniscule number of handpicked non-Europeans. She then remonstrated that because of her charitable activities she needed to meet a much wider representative and balanced racial cross section of the population, which the Governor suggested would not be feasible at short notice. To his and Pant’s huge surprise and discomfiture, she thereupon calmly announced that in these circumstances she would move out of Government House and into the Pants’ residence for the last couple of days of her stay. As Pant himself notes, this short notice created considerable logistical difficulties for him; moreover, at a subsequent party in his house to which Pant invited 25 prominent representatives each from the European, Asian and African communities, only one European, the chief of the security police, turned up!!

Pant’s dealings with African leaders undoubtedly represented the main thrust of his activities in Kenya and East and Central Africa more generally. The message he brought them from Nehru was naturally music to their collective ears, although here too his real contact was limited to the Kikuyu, and specifically to Kenyatta and the Koinanges. It seems very likely that beyond this, and given his diplomatic position, he could only keep abreast of the evolving situation not through any Asian politician but through the conduit of the lone Asian operator, Pio Gama Pinto. At the international level, and in order to buttress the representations made by India, as the recognized leader of the anti-colonial and nonaligned world, Nehru had apparently arranged for Pant to be co-opted into the Indian delegation to the United Nations led by its internationally known ambassador Krishna Menon, starting in 1951 in Geneva and Paris, and then New York in 1952 onwards. With his unrivalled knowledge of local conditions on the ground It would appear that Pant’s role would be to participate in both the Decolonization and Trusteeship Committees at the United Nations.. Two significant indications of India and Pant’s indirect influence through Nehru’s connections, as these applied to Tanganyika as a UN Trust Territory, were: first, the new Conservative Government respected an earlier Labour government undertaking and in July 1952 permitted Sir Edward Twining, the Governor of Tanganyika, to give evidence for the first time before the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations; second, Julius Nyerere, as the newly elected President of the Tanganyika African Union (TANU) was also permitted to give direct evidence for the first time to the Council in late 1952/early 1953.

Complementing his indirect international activities on behalf of the African cause, Pant also showed his concern in several direct ways at the local level, while at all times having to be extremely careful because he was being closely monitored, despite his relationship with Governor Mitchell. This enabled him, for example, to arrange on June 23, 1951 for Jomo Kenyatta and Mbiyu Koinange to be officially welcomed and feted in Mombasa on board the visiting Indian warship HMS Delhi. Later, following the arrest in October 1952 of Jomo Kenyatta and six other associates and the proscribing of the Kenya African Union (KAU), Pant no doubt arranged for Joseph Murumbi, Acting Secretary of KAU who had fled from Kenya into exile in March 1953 to escape arrest, to meet the Indian President and Prime Minister as the external representative of KAU and to be financially supported for several years in the UK, and for Nehru to send Dewan Chaman Lall to take part in Kenyatta’s legal defence team.. He also arranged for a scholarship scheme (up to 30 in number) at Indian universities to be instituted for deserving African students (e.g those expelled from Makerere University College in June, 1952 after a student strike such as Dr. Joseph Karanja, who later rose Vice President of Kenya, Omolo Okero who became a Minister, and Joseph Gataguta, a Member of Parliament); in this endeavor, he was aided by his close and long-standing friend Peter Wright, who after he had been deported in November 1952 from Kenya, was invited by Nehru on Pant’s recommendation to create and head an African Studies program at Delhi University.

The thrust of Pant’s activities on behalf of African freedom, however, came from his direct support of the liberation fight. Very soon after his arrival in October 1948, he had been introduced by S.G. Amin to Peter Mbiyu Koinange, the brother in law of Jomo Kenyatta and eldest son of Senior Chief Koinange-wa-Mbiyu. When Pant’s father visited him in Nairobi in 1950, Pant had taken him along to meet with ex-Senior Chief Koinange at his home in Githinguri. Much later in August, 1951, just after he had returned to Nairobi from an extended visit to India in connection with the death of his father in Aundh, the progressively closer personal relationship with Pant with the Koinanges would be deepened by his “adoption” as a Koinange; it would be fully consummated in a subsequent dead-of night ritual ceremony when he was inducted with the assistance of Pinto, as an elder into the Koinange clan.(1987; p.27/28). Much later, but with less secrecy on their part and less weight attached to this on his, Pant would also be inducted as an elder into the Kamba and Luo tribes.

In any case, at this stage, the African political and trade union leadership, both within the Kikuyu heartland and elsewhere, was desperately in need of all kinds of assistance from whatever quarter it came. More ominously in the Kikuyu heartland secret oathing had commenced, encouraged it was suggested not by the Koinange family or Kenyatta through KAU, but by the more radical elements (such as Fred Kubao, Bildad Kaggia) who they could not control, through the formation of the so-called Kiambaa Parliament. By its very nature, support for such activities from whatever source had to be provided in a surreptitious manner, and there is little concrete information of whether this took the form of money and/or materiel (arms), and if so to whom and how it had been channeled; it is reported, however, that in the early 1950s Pinto did help to organize and sustain a secret Mau Mau War Council, as it was termed, in Nairobi. In this connection, it is interesting to note Pant’s mention that when he was away visiting the Belgian-Congo, a security detail was able to gain access to his basement in a fruitless search for arms stored, and later also that both Nehru and Indira Gandhi privately knew how much Pinto had done for the African cause. (Pant 1987; p. 25-27) There appears, on the other hand, to be some plausible indication that Pant focused on building up African capability in journalism by persuading existing Indian newspapers to help out and through provision of equipment and materials (for example, it has been suggested that he persuaded The Daily Chronicle to assist Asya Awori with the printing of his vernacular newspaper).

It is incontestable, and this is confirmed by Pant himself, that starting in about late-1950 and through the rest of his tenure, a central figure in Pant’s ability to operate under cover with the African (mainly Kikuyu) leaders was Pio Gama Pinto because of the latter’s extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the African trade union movement and political groupings through continual interfacing and his remarkable discretion. Working out of the EAINC office with Pant’s tacit support, Pinto was able to acquire such knowledge and acquire their unquestioning loyalty and support by sheer dint of exhibited commitment and prodigious effort that he was able to muster. Indeed, it is probably safe to say that without Pinto’s willingness to assist Pant in developing his mission to promote the African cause, while remaining the soul of discretion and thus entirely trustworthy, Pant’s forays into this area would have been greatly minimized, especially from the second half of 1951 onwards.
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Part 3 of 4

TERMINAL PHASE (January 1952 – February 1954)

By the first quarter of 1952, the situation that confronted Pant had changed quite swiftly in an entirely adverse direction ---. Nehru was increasingly turning his attention away from anti-colonial matters in Africa and towards developing firmer links with the non-aligned world (including China); the Conservatives under Churchill had ousted Labour from the government of the UK in November 1951, and Oliver Lyttleton had been appointed Colonial Secretary with Alan Lennox-Boyd as his junior Minster committed to introducing some form of a multi racial legislative system in Kenya; Governor Mitchell was focusing exclusively on the introduction of this system following a general election scheduled for June 1952 after which he would proceed on retirement; Asians had come slowly to realize that their earlier expectations about Nehru and Pant were overblown and that India had always been more interested in helping the African majority attain independence than helping Indians in their perceived predicament; amongst Africans (especially Kikuyus) -- and indeed for the whole of the country generally – Mau Mau had begun to exert its deleterious effects on all aspects of life, and Pant’s main contacts were shortly to be imprisoned as the British fight back assumed major proportions. In this environment, Pant appeared more than ever to be reduced to being an utterly reactive spectator rather than a modest proactive player, because he was wholly unable to influence any other of the major players in either official or unofficial political circles in Kenya.

The central phenomenon for the rest of Pant’s stay and even beyond, in regard to which he became a mere onlooker, would be the trial of strength between a largely Kikuyu-based tribal onslaught and the massive British response; it would lead in due course to a significant reordering of interactive relationships between all the players on the Kenya political scene dividing tribal clan from clan, tribe from tribe and even race from race. It even produced unusual tension between a realpolitik pragmatist like Nehru and a Gandhian idealist like Pant. As Pant notes wryly: “ The terrorism and violence of the Mau-Mau campaign came as a personal shock to me, as well as an obstacle to our efforts … I did not conceal my reaction to them and in consequence earned a reprimand from Nehru ..(who).. exploded in anger at my failure to distinguish between “imperialistic” violence and that of the “freedom struggle”. Once or twice he nearly threw me out of his office because I was harping, unnecessarily as he judged, upon outrages committed in the name of freedom” (Pant 1978. p.26). Pant goes on to state: “ ..I talked often before their internment about tribal life in all its aspects, above all in reference to the freedom struggle. Many of our discussions centered upon the question of violence: was it necessary, was it avoidable, was it profitable? I feel sure that if cross fertilization of Indian experience in this context had taken place ten years earlier the struggle in this part of Africa would have been different”.(Pant 1978; p.28). This quote is revealing because Pant does not provide any indication of the reactions, which certainly could not have pleased him, hence the escape from the real “what has to be” to the more counterfactual fantasy of “what might have been, if.”

By mid 1952, the escalating extent of Kikuyu oathing could no longer be swept under the rug; the local authorities and the incoming Conservative government in the UK, somewhat paralyzed into still focusing in a pro-forma way on the holding of a general election leading to the introduction of multi-racial government, was soon overwhelmed by events they could not control As previously noted, the situation remained in a holding pattern through the summer of 1952 until a new Governor, Sir. Evelyn Baring arrived on September 29, 1952. Shortly thereafter, on October 20, 1952, he declared a State of Emergency and under Operation Jock Scott had Jomo Kenyatta and seven associates arrested on October 20, as well as the Koinange family and hundreds of other Kikuyu sympathizers in the rural areas. As a result, there appears to have been a general movement of the hardcore element back to the Aberdare Forests to continue the fight, resulting in several further ritual murders of European farmers (about 100 Europeans, three quarters of them security forces personnel) were reported killed, in total). The battle was thus joined, and by June 1953 the East Africa War Command was set up separately with General Erskine as Commander in Chief and with it a War Cabinet (March, 1954). Various other military Operations followed such as Hammer (January 1953), First Flute (April 1953), Anvil (April 1954), and Hyrax (November, 1954). By October, 1954, the level of security forces had risen sharply to about 36,000 (of which 7,100 were British regiments, and 511 Asians were also called up of which 160 were in combat units). Bt the end of 1954, it was estimated that the security cost of combating the Mau Mau uprising had cost attained a level of 26 millions British pounds sterling.

Any credibility that Pant had earned with Asians dwindled rapidly as the full realization had sunk in among them that India had no real interest in their fate and thus would not intervene to assist them because it preferred to focus exclusively on the African plight. The first prominent indication of this realization came in 52 when J. M. Nazareth, a recent past president of the EAINC which had been renamed in June as the Kenya Indian Congress (KIC), met with Nehru in August 1952. In his own recounting of that meeting, Nazareth claims to have told Nehru respectfully that his practice of referring to all Indians residing in Kenya as “guests”, irrespective of whether they had been in Kenya for more than one generation and had decided to make Kenya their permanent home, had been unfortunate but Nehru significantly heard him out and said nothing. Later, Dewan Chaman Lall, when he came at Nehru’s personal request to defend Kenyatta at Kapenguria in April, 1953, suggested at a public meeting in Nairobi that “the final solution to the colonial problem is for both Europeans and Asians to return to their own countries”. Shortly thereafter, A.B. Patel is reported to have said at a public meeting that “The government of India is not correctly informed about events in this country and it is the function of the Indians here to see that the facts are understood.”

– an indirect rebuke to Pant. Finally, Murumbi, as noted above, met Nehru in March 1953 when he escaped from Kenya; he reportedly advised him that, while the majority of the Indian community appeared to have no particular sympathy with the African cause, “.there are, however, very many young Indians, particularly lawyers, who have come out and undergone sacrifices to help the Africans.” In a long, somewhat stern and uncompromising statement, Nehru reportedly said in September, 1953: “The Indians (in Africa) will not get any support from the government of India in any claims that may be advanced against the Africans. We have told them: you are there as guests. The interests of the African must be dominant. If you can serve them, then well and good; if not, pack up and go because we will not protect you there”.

Against this background, the effect of the violence associated with the Mau Mau must have deeply shocked the traditionally conservative and nonviolent Hindu community (and other Asians) and have served as a wake-up call that they would probably be the next racial group to be attacked by Africans and that there would be realistically no long term future for Indians in an independent Kenya. The June 1952 general election had incarnated the principle of separate communal rolls as between Hindus and Muslims, but now the Muslims themselves were split further between the Ismailis and the Punjabi Muslims. The former appeared to have moved, under their leader Sir Eboo Pirbhai who was unexpectedly knighted by Mitchell in January 1952 and nominated as a LEGCO member in June 1952, to assert their separate status from the Punjabi Muslims through establishing their own social welfare institutions and community organizations such as the Pomegranate Club.

Pant appeared to have gradually lost his credibility with the Indians, and his usefulness to the African cause was about to suffer a significant blow, even though Pinto was still around to help him at the margin. Pant appears to have scheduled to be away in New York at the United Nations General Assembly for about two months from late September, but apparently cut short his trip after hearing about the declaration of the Emergency and the arrests of Kenyatta and the Koinanges and arrived back in mid November to discover that his long-standing personal friend Peter Wright had also just been deported on November 13 as an undesirable immigrant with no reason being provided. But he had clearly and irrevocably lost his principal African interlocutors whom he was never to meet again. First, Peter Mbiyu sensing imminent danger of arrest had not returned from a visit abroad in late 1951 to and had settled in London where he would be joined in March 1953 by Murumbi. Then, following the declaration of Emergency on October 20, Kenyatta was arrested with others for managing Mau Mau, as were also ex-Senior Chief Koinange and his four sons on suspicion of complicity in the murder of Senior Chief Waruhui on October 7; the letter allegation had its basis in a purported blood feud between the two families since 1949 when the Paramount Senior Chief Koinange had been demoted and replaced by the loyalist Waruhui. In the event, although the eminent British criminal lawyer, Dingle Foot, had been able to secure the Koinanges formal acquittal of murder charges on conflicting evidentiary grounds, they were all detained under the Emergency Regulations and sentenced to long terms of restriction.

Within a few months into early 1953, therefore, Pant’s relationships with both Indians and Africans had irretrievably suffered, the first from a lack of credibility and the second because of the disappearance of his interlocutors, and he was now to experience an alienation from the local administration and even the UK government.. Governor Baring, although also an Oxford man like Pant but with a much smaller age difference than Mitchell’s, was by nature much more reserved and aloof than Mitchell had been, and in any case had walked straight into a crisis which he was desperately trying to stage manage. The fight against the Mau Mau had assumed major dimensions, leaving little time for Pant to interact with the local authorities, nor in any case would they even contemplate doing so. After all, Pant had been suspect to the authorities for some time over his connections with Koinange in Kenya and Nehru in India; Lyttleton had in fact pointedly in a press interview in Nairobi in November 1952 accused the Indian Commissioner’s office of acting “far beyond the bounds of diplomatic propriety”. A further complication was the strong personal relationship Pant maintained with the Kabaka of Buganda which led to three times yearly visits by Pant to Kampala and occasionally unplanned visits by the Kabaka to stay with Pant in Nairobi. One such led, as Pant noted, to “the Governor of Uganda (asking) over the telephone whether I was really going to welcome these ‘absconders’ ..and I said in my usual enthusiastic manner ‘Do not worry please; the Kabaka will be given a very good time’ .. so I brought two disgruntled African leaders (Kenyatta and the Kabaka) together …at a hugh picnic party in Githungiri”. (Pant 1987; p.21). But with the Conservative government now firmly in the saddle in London, the several requests to Nehru for Pant’s recall could no longer be contained by London and thus blithely ignored by Nehru.

There is apparently little discreet evidence about the nature and mode of Pant’s activities in Kenya during his last 18 months, and in particular of his interactions with Pinto (who would be arrested only 4 months later in early June 1954), but it is clear that the direct links with both Indians and Africans so assiduously cultivated over the past 4 years had been irreparably broken. Both the Conservative Government and their surrogates the local Kenya authorities were clearly baying for his blood, for as Pant puts it “incessantly interfering in the internal affairs of a friendly power and their policies of governing a British colony. (Pant 1987; p.22). In the event, I discovered that his formal recall without a precise date appears in the East African Standard (EAS) edition of January 15, 1954, with no official pronouncement from the Indian Commissioner’s office to confirm or deny it. Later, Pant was to confirm that: “.this actually did happen without my knowledge till much later in Delhi. The Indian government had to telegraphically transfer me to a post which did not exist, with no work to do, not even a place to sit in or a place to live.” (Pant 1987; p. 22). In this connection, Pant sadly recalls that the telegram of recall came as “a bolt from the blue” in early February that “.. he had no full sense of achievement. My dream of creating a bond of friendship between Indians, Europeans and Africans had not been realized. I saw African independence coming, but without a major Indian contribution” (Pant, 1978; p.36). Indeed, in the EAS of February 9, 1954, R.K. Tandon was designated as First Secretary/Counsellor. Pant probably spent the next couple of weeks paying farewell calls on the authorities of the country over which his remit extended. His departure from Kenya sometime in February was very low key indeed to the extent that I have yet to find in the local newspapers of the time a mention of the exact date of departure, much less any final statement from Pant or from anyone else of note. The relative suddenness of his recall was also pointed up as much by a delay of almost eight months before his successor (Gopala Menon), a more traditional civil servant, formally replaced him at end October, 1954. but before his arrival the Indian Commissioner’s office was forcibly trashed by a KAR unit, purportedly by accident for which a pro-forma formal apology was proffered.

Kenyatta Pant


In the following decade, Nehru would continue to use Pant for increasingly important assignments related to his growing interest in strengthening the nonalignment movement. Until his own death in May 1964 He designated him first as the point person for China-related special duties in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet (the latter eventually associated with the flight of the Dalai Lama), followed by full ambassadorships in two key non aligned countries (Indonesia under President Soekarno and Egypt under President Nasser; after Nehru’s passing away, Pant had senior assignments in Norway, the United Kingdom and Italy before retiring.

I had noted earlier that Pant’s books are quite minimal for their retrospective self-evaluation of his tenure, even with the benefit of hindsight. What is striking, however, is that even three decades later -- when he is putting together his books and following two visits in 1961 and again in the 1970 -- Pant refuses to let go of his unvarnished enthusiasm of before. Much later towards the last period of his life in August 1987, he could still comfortably state, driven by a one-sided sense of dharma, that his task in East Africa had been to promote: “peaceful multiracial cooperation in pursuit of stabilizing relations between Indians and Africans. Indians in East Africa had a special task to perform, expressing their debt. The Indians left India with no capital. By 1948 they had done well, many with big houses and money. My work was to make them conscious of their dharma or duty to vie back what they had been given”. (Seidenberg 1996; Ch.6; p. 162).

Moreover, he does not even to attempt to qualify it somewhat on the basis of subsequent developments particularly those relating to the Indians exodus migration of September 1968, the summary Uganda deportation by Amin of Asians in August 1972, or the inherent tribal animosities that manifested themselves after independence at least in Kenya and Uganda – indeed, he has an anodyne, almost dismissive, comment about the Uganda episode “I believe that it is only the recognition of a community of interest that can prevent the wasteful and dangerous tensions from increasing in the way that the experience of Uganda in 1972 has shown us”. (Pant 1974; p.58). It strikes me that he perhaps feels strongly that for him to do so would tantamount to a case of “think some evil; see some evil; and speak some evil.”, which, ever the Gandhian, he is not prepared to do. He makes only modest mention about some disappointments (e.g. Gandhi Memorial Academy, United Kenya Club) under the tumultuous tide of African nationalism.

The startling exception comes in his 1978 book (p. 26), where Pant provides his own ex-post valedictory on his Africa experience, which I quote in extenso for its no doubt personally painful, if transparently and naively honest, mea culpa: “Looking back from a distance on all those events, it seems to me that what some of us were up to was not, after all, so mad or so revolutionary. Whether it had a chance of success is another question. Was the tide of nationalism too strong for the state of affairs that we desired? It may be that all societies, all cultures have to establish themselves in changing circumstances before they can absorb new values and patterns of thoughts and behaviour. There is in each society the impulse to prove its own power in relation to others, before it can accept from them whatever may be good or beneficial. A society which feels itself weak and inferior may have the least, rather than the most, capacity for synthesis… To imagine, as some of us did in Kenya, that an example (India) with millennia of growth behind it, could be of service for the task of a single generation, was expecting a great deal. But the acceleration of history in our own day makes it possible, indeed necessary, to adjust our thinking” It seems to be a case of “What is truth’ said jesting Pilate, and did not wait for an answer”!! Whoever be the visionary persons involved (Nehru and Pant) in terms of the unquestionable nobility of their motivations and visions, and whatever be the degree to which they were self-inebriated with the exuberance of their own politico-moral philosophies, in the limit all is trumped by a remarkable lack of pragmatic realism, both as seen at the time and even more surprisingly so when seen with hindsight.

Fifty years on, however, the definitive verdict of history on Nehru’s policy and Pant’s faithful implementation of it has yet to really emerge, -- will it be a case of “Good Riddance” from the African perspective or “Thank Goodness” from the Asian perspective, or just somewhere in between?. Has the cumulative sum of the gains (whatever these might be) through time exceeded those of the losses (howsoever deemed) for the countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) and for the individuals concerned departing Asians? The answer to the first question is less clear, certainly in economic terms, although a majority of Africans would naturally see it as clearly positive, and perhaps this has even become necessarily acceptable for that relatively small number of original Asian residents currently living in the East African countries as citizens. African society and civilization still remains more tribally fragmented in its reactions to change than perhaps Nehru and Pant would have wished. As for the second question, few Kenya Asians, even those who were deemed automatic citizens by birth, stayed thereafter in the country beyond the first decade. Most of them saw what was coming in the starkest adverse terms and chose to migrate to politico-economic “open” democratic societies for several decades now; furthermore, in looking back on their decision to migrate they appear to feel strongly that it has been vindicated fully for both themselves and their progeny, albeit they do admit though to a persisting nostalgia for the “good old days in East Africa”!!. Perhaps then, from a longer term perspective, Nehru’s admonition from July 1953 – “if you can serve them (Africans) well and good; if not pack up and go” – and Pant’s Gandhian style implementation of it, may served a purpose -- of a clarion call that helped Africans to realize that they could, would, and should, be able to go it on their own without dependence of Europeans or Asians in the final analysis, and also helped the large majority of Asians (whether Indians or not) to decide to take the plunge and migrate. Whether what has resulted for both parties is that for which Nehru and envisaged or have truly wished for, remains to be seen!

Kenyatta Pant



by Professor Robert Gregory

Robert G. Gregory is professor of history at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. He heads the African section of the University’s Foreign and Comparative Studies program. He is the author of India and East Africa: A History of Race Relations within the British Empire, 1890 – 1939 (Oxford 1971), other publications include; Rise and Fall of Philanthropy in East Africa: The Asian Contribution (Transaction, 1992); South Asians in East Africa: An Economic and Social History, 1890 -1980 (Westview Press) and Quest for Equality Asian Politics in East Africa, 1900-1967 (Orient Longman Limited, 1993). Gregory has also contributed articles in learned journals on the role of Asians in East Africa. His works are based on numerous archival sources and extensive interviews, and have provided a comprehensive study of the East African Asian, giving indication that the history of East African needs considerable revision to adequately acknowledge the Asians’ true role.

Professor Robert Gregory

“I first became acquainted with Apa Pant in the early 1980s when engaged in research on the Asians of East Africa. I was struck by the importance of his leadership as the first Indian High Commissioner to East Africa at a critical time in the history of the Asian community. Strongly influenced by Gandhi, his personal friend, and representing Nehru, another friend who appointed him, Pant was welcomed by the Asians who hoped he would take the lead in helping them to secure equality with the highly privileged European community. But when he addressed the crowd of thousands who welcomed him at Mombasa, he startled the Asians by advising them not to think only of their own grievances, but to become spokesmen for the Africans. Then and later he stimulated a close association between leaders of the two communities that had never existed before.

It was an exciting time. African grievances soon culminated in the Mau Mau rebellion. For his role in publicizing the African demands and in actually assisting rebel leaders, Pant incensed the British and, at their instigation, was recalled. But his term of office was a turning point in the history of the Asians who thereafter coupled African grievances with their own and assisted in the winning of African independence.

Pant continued in the diplomatic service, and as High Commissioner or Ambassador, he represented India in many countries. It was he who personally escorted the Dalai Lama to his refuge in India.

I was attracted to Pant principally by his role in East African history, but also by his remarkable achievement in his father’s kingdom of Aundh just south of what is now Pune. After legal training at London’s Inns of Court, he held long discussions with Gandhi. Rethinking his goals, Pant returned to Aundh where, as the only son, he was to be groomed for succession to the throne. Instead, in a remarkable achievement, he persuaded his father to renounce the throne, dismantle the central government, disband the army and police force, and convert Aundh into a land of village democracies. Pant became Prime Minister to administer the conversion. And so it happened. The changes were in process; all was working smoothly, when the central government in Delhi sent in the army and annexed Aundh. Pant understood that in this action Nehru had the good of India in mind, and Nehru admired Pant. The two became friends, and soon Pant was appointed to East Africa.

In the 1980s I began to correspond with Pant who was anxious to assist in my research. He sent me copies of his books which I still read and treasure. I had one last manuscript ready for publication, and he advised me to approach his own press, Orient Longman in Delhi. The result was publication of a book on the political history of East Africa, Quest for Equality, which recounts Pant’s East Africa experience and is dedicated to him.

To further express my own appreciation and further recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, I persuaded the Chancellor of Syracuse University to grant Apa Pant an honorary degree. The university brought Pant and his wife Nalini, a medical doctor who was with Pant in Africa, from India. Their son, Aniket, and his family came from their home in Canada. On May 15, 1988, Pant delivered a stirring address to an audience of several thousand students, parents, and faculty, and received a standing ovation. He was conferred a Doctorate of Laws degree. Later at a dinner attended by at least 200 dignitaries, Pant gave another moving speech, and again was accorded a standing ovation. Afterwards the chancellor confided to me that he had been skeptical about honoring Pant, but had to admit that he had lost all reservation while listening to Pant speak. It was characteristic of Pant that during this visit to the campus, he took over a meeting of my undergraduate class on the history of Africa, and, of course, he charmed the students, many of whom were African Americans. He did not talk about ordinary things. His words seemed eternal truths.

Two or three years later Pant suffered a heart attack or stroke. It came as a great surprise, for he had always taken pride in his physical fitness and every day had followed an exercise program developed by his father. Within a few months he had a recurrence and died. During the interim he and I exchanged several letters. He wrote about the meaning of life. I felt very close to him. His son Aniket went to Pune and sent me a moving account of his feelings before the funeral pyre.

About two years later my wife and I visited Nalini and her daughter Aditi, a chemist, at their home in Pune and there met the other daughter, Avalokita, and her family. Nalini was in a wheel chair as she had been at the graduation ceremony, and she was to die a short time after our visit. The high point for us was a drive with Aditi to the capital of Aundh. She showed us the palace and took us through a museum full of many great works of art, European as well as Asian. Her grandfather, the Raja, had personally collected the paintings and sculpture and constructed the spacious museum. Near the palace is a high hill. Steps lead to the top where there is a small stone temple which houses the family deity who is seated in a dimly lit alcove. The idol is about half human size and looks at the visitor with glowing, luminous eyes. The experience of being there in the spot where Apa had his family had worshiped, overlooking the capital and the palace of Aundh, was indeed a moving experience.

I correspond now very infrequently with Aditi, and I have lost touch with Aniket. But I shall always remember these experiences and continue to revere Apa Pant, the greatest man I have had the privilege to know”.

by Peter Wright

Peter Wright

Peter Wright's connection with Pant which spanned over six decades through association in both India and Kenya stems from their meeting more than 60 years ago as undergraduates at Oxford. Wright followed Pant to India as a result of several of his Indian friends urging him to take up work there; this was before his World War 2 service in the Indian Army. Later he followed Pant to Kenya in early 1951 as teacher and Vice Principal of the Technical High School for Asians in Nairobi (the first new non-academic craft school built in Kenya for Asians). During his relatively short stay in Nairobi, he was soon able to get involved with local Indian political groups and started a study circle with Pio Gama Pinto in cooperation with several Kikuyu enthusiasts. This was where Pio and Wright leaned to know each other and to become good friends. It was the study circle activities in mid-November 1952, which led to Wright’s deportation from Kenya by the British authorities and summarized as a "prohibited immigrant" before the expiry of his contract, and without any prior hearing or stating of the grounds -- the first and possibly the only European to be so treated.

Wright remained in close contact by mail with Apa Pant and returned to India in mid 1954 to head the Catholicate college in Pathanamthitta in Kerala However in December 1954 he was appointed at Pandit Nehru' s request, Organiser of the Postgraduate Division of African Studies in the University of Delhi for a three and a half year contract period. Wright left in mid 1958 and served a one and a half year contract as a senior civil servant in newly independent Ghana, and then moved to Nigeria to assist Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Premier of the Eastern Region, in the establishment of the new University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Wright worked there for 15 months and then moved to a teaching position in Jamaica until1964. In March 1965 Wright moved to the State University of New York in New Paltz, New York to be Head of the Division of Area Studies and Geography. Wright served with the University until his retirement in 1980. Wright now reside in Seattle in Washington State. His wife died 10 years ago. Wright has three children and six grandchildren and continues to be active within the local community at the age of 93.

Apa wrote that almost all Indians students at Oxford were convinced that Peter was ‘spying’ on them, and giving information about them to government authorities back in India. Pant described Peter as; “ a thin, hooked nose, deep set twinkling blue eyes, a sarcastic smile on his lips as if he was all the while pulling your leg, peter had perfect manners of a well bred English gentleman and always talked courteously to Indians. He was one of the very, very few under-graduates who cared to take any notice of his own brown fellow students” Peter Wright now at the ripe age of 94 lives in Bellevue, a Seattle Washington suburb where I met with him recently. Peter wrote:

“I joined the University of Oxford as an undergraduate student and a member of Exeter College in 1932. Soon after this I made the acquaintance of Apa Sahib Pant, a member of Brasenose College, which is next door to Exeter. We very soon became fast friends, a friendship which lasted until Apa’s death in 1992. Thanks to Apa’s influence and that of several other good Indian friends I was persuaded to start my career in India and I owe a great debt of gratitude to Apa and his family for their friendship and support during my years in India. Indeed I became a member of Apa’s “Extended family” and later he became the godfather of my daughter Romola. I spent 20 wonderfully happy years in India and then, thanks to Apa’s urging I moved to the British colony of Kenya, where he was then India’s diplomatic representative, and worked in the colony’s education department. In India and in Kenya, and years later in the United States, we continued to meet and I had a very enjoyable visit to India and to Apa and Nalini and their family in Pune and Aundh shortly before Apa’s death in 1992 (?) Now in 2007, I still maintain contact with his children. I have great memories of a wonderful and loving friendship dating back to 1932. Apa has been a remarkably positive influence in most of my life.

My totally unexpected deportation from Kenya Colony in 1952 was, I suspect, largely due to misinformation supplied to the colonial authorities by a close colleague and supposed friend of mine, a Commander John Miller, who was in fact an official “informer” with, I suspect little or no training, who had, I imagine, volunteered to report on my activities, and those of Apa Pant, to the Kenya Intelligence authorities. He deliberately posed as a liberal, who sympathized with African demands for their civil rights, whereas, in fact, as his later activities in Central Africa indicated, he was a diehard conservative and racist. Inevitably his views colored his intelligence reports and in consequence he conveyed a very false impression of my activities and objectives to the authorities and sometimes submitted reports that were totally false. A deplorably weak and biased and incompetent intelligence service failed to check on the accuracy of reports received and in consequence, with no adequate knowledge the Kenya authorities, disregarding my rights as a British citizen, arranged for my sudden deportation without any charge being brought against me until after my departure. The treatment of Africans suspected of working for civil rights was incomparably worse and resulted in appalling atrocities that have severely damaged Britain’s reputation and of Kenya’s subsequent development”.
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Part 4 of 4

The Koinange Story: (PANT, Apa – ‘An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims’ and ‘An Unusual Raja’)

Mbiyu Peter Koinange

Pant's connection with the Koinanges dates back to very soon after his arrival as he notes in several of his own books. In October 1948 through the efforts of S.G. Amin, who had just completed his two year term as EAINC President in August 1948 when he was succeeded by D.D. Puri, Pant was introduced to Peter Mbiyu Koinange, the eldest son of Senior Chief Koinange, Peter (Mbiyu) Koinange in October, 1948 at Githinguri in Kiambu District.

Apa Sahib speaks: (How the Pants became Koinanges)

“This miraculous ‘extension to the family’ into Africa was sudden and unexpected.

In Kenya and throughout East Africa, Senior Chief Koinange was recognized as a great leader. He was the senior most ‘elder’ of the Kikuyu, Wakamba and Nandi tribes, residing in the fertile Highlands of Kenya, at the foot of Mt. Kenya, bang on the Equator.

Senior Chief Koinange had four wives and innumerable children. His eldest son, born by the senior most wife, was Mbyu Peter Koinange.

Peter was a student of the great sociologist – anthropologist, Prof. Malinowsky of the London School of Economics. Jomo Kenyatta, the leader of the Mau Mau, was also in England then, and was a student of Malinowsky.

In 1947 Peter (Mbiyu) returned to Kenya and started to organize ‘Independent’ African Schools. ‘Independent’ because he did not ask for and he refused when offered, any grant from the Christian Missionaries or from the Govt. of Kenya. By 1949 Peter had organized throughout the Kikuyu land, over two hundred independent schools. The training college for the teachers of these schools was established at a beautiful spot, nearly 8000 ft, above sea level, the midst of the Highlands, with Mt. Kenya towering behind as a magnificent back drop.

It was at Githanguri that Apakaka and Akka first met Peter and his very charming first wife, Margaret. Peter had several more wives later on. It was Shivabhai Amin, one of the ex-Presidents of the East African Indian Congress, who took Apakaka and Akka there, in October 1948, to meet Peter Koinange.

Peter and Margaret made a great impression upon Apakaka and Akka by their simple, sincere friendliness, and their ‘Africanism’. Both of them were proud of being African, and were obviously keen on African independence.

After this first meeting in 1948, Githanguri became a place for picnics and social and cultural get-togethers for Indians and Africans. Every important guest from India was taken to Githanguri to meet the ‘real’ people.

At one such social gathering, Apakaka and Akka met the Senior Chief. Later they were often invited to his Shamba, farm house.

Senior Chief Koinange was a dignified person of few words but great presence. During the innumerable political, economic and cultural discussions between Jomo Kenyatta, the great Kikuyu leader and the later President of Kenya, Peter, and Apakaka, the Senior Chief sat silently. It was not all clear whether he understood all that was said in English. But when asked a question or stated something, it was precise and to the point. The Senior Chief was a ‘wise’ person.

In 1950 Apakaka took Baba to visit Githanguri. He was given a grand reception in Githanguri, and later received by the Senior Chief Koinange at his Shamba where al Kikuyu, Wakamba, Nandi and Masai ‘elders’, nearly fifty of them, had assembled to meet Raja Bhawanrao of Aundh. Baba was then eighty-three years old.

Baba passed away soon afterwards in India (13thApril 1951), and Akka and Apakaka were in India for nearly four months. Almost immediately after their return to Nairobi, Peter came to visit them and passed on to them ‘an invitation’ from his father ‘for tea’ at his Shamba, with all members of the family, and friends.

So one cold, misty day in August 1951, Apakaka and Akka, along with Aniket and Aditi, Tatya (Inamdar), Vahini, Suryakant Patel and about ten other Indian friends and their families, arrived at the Shamba of the Senior Chief Koinange and were surprised to find a large gathering there of Kikuyu ‘elders’ and other important personages.

Before the party began, the venerable old senior chief Koinange made a speech, which was translated into English verbatim by his eldest son (he had twelve children from four wives). The senior chief said:

“I am welcoming this young man from India today, not as ambassador of a great country. I am welcoming him as a foreigner. This young man has just lost his father in India. God I am sure will take care of his soul, I am sure. I welcome Apa Pant now as my own son from today.”

In front of this distinguished gathering Senior Chief Koinange official adopted Apakaka as his son, and ordered his family to respect his wishes and asked the assembled ‘elders’ to register the fact for all posterity. The senior chief Koinange ordered his children and brothers: “you have to give Apa and his family their rightful share in the land and forests whenever he claims it.”

So I lost a father in India to find another one in Africa.

This story has been recounted elsewhere also. It was a grand experience to see the Pant ‘tribe’ being accepted into the Koinange family of Kenya. The family ‘extended’ into the African Hinterland”.

This induction to the Koinange clan was consummated when in early 1952 through another ceremony in the Abardare mountain forest, where Pant was taken by Pio Gama Pinto at dead of the night, in true cloak and dagger manner. Pant recounts this episode in his publication; ‘Undiplomatic Incidents’ Protocol and Beyond:

“There were no greetings; no shake of hands; no one got up. Without a word, I sat down on an empty stool set in the middle of the hut. Near it, was a foul smelling skin of a white Columbus monkey, as also a panga, a sword like hatchet…. … The ceremony ended with a powerful drink, a brew of maize with strong herbs served in bamboo cups. I hoped that the burning in my throat would not be noticed these kind people. Pio Pinto came out of the darkness and rushed me back to Nairobi before I could pass out, feeling quite a martyr in the service of my motherland”. (Pant, Apa)

Koinange Apa Pant

Nazareth on Nehru: (Nazareth, JM - Brown Man Black Country)

John Maximian Nazareth was born in Nairobi in 1908, studied at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay (1916-29) and graduated with first class honors and was awarded the St. Francis Xavier Gold Medal for best performance. Nazareth was called to the Inner Temple (193033) and was awarded the Special Prize of Council of Legal Education in Criminal Law (1931), the Poland Prize of the Inner Temple in Criminal Law (1939); the Profomo Prize of the Inner Temple (1932) and was called to the Bar (January 1933. After 1934 Nazareth enrolled as an advocate in the Supreme Court of Kenya, became president of the East African Indian National Congress (1950-52), served as Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya (1953) and became president of the Law Society of Kenya (1954). Was elected Member of the Kenya Legislative Council for the Western Electoral Area (1956-60), president of the Gandhi Memorial Academy Society and Chairman of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Trustee at the University of Nairobi. He delivered the Gandhi Memorial Lectures at the Universirt of Nairobi (4thseries) the subject being TODAY’S CHALLENGE OF THE STUDENTS. He is the author of Brown Man-Black Country – On the foothills of Uhuru. Nazareth died in Nairobi in 1985 aged 77 years.

JM Nazareth

Regarding a reference made by Nehru when he designated Kenya Indians as ‘Guests of the Africans’, something that J.M. Nazareth took issue with. Here is what Nazareth wrote:

“at a huge meeting at Nyeri, which was addressed by the newly-elected President of the Kenya African Union, Mr. Jomo Kenyatta, one Mr. H.S. Gathigira read Pandit Nehru’s message that drew attention to the part which called Indians the guests of Africans and expressed himself unable to accept the contention that either the Indian or the European had come to stay. “the time would come”, he said, when they would have to get out and leave the African in full enjoyment of self-government.” (Nazareth)

Further to this occurrence, Nazareth stated: “The Indian community strongly dissented from Nehru and was deeply critical of his references of Indians in Kenya as guests of the African”. Furthermore Nazareth stated. “But Nehru’s native, idealistic, tragic blindness to reality and the claims of ordinary humanity seemed to receive a warm welcome from the Africans. This reference to us as ‘guest’ carried obvious implications”. (Nazareth)

The reader will appreciate the aspect of this digression from Apa Pant, only in part because there is a connection.

In August 1952 Nazareth made a visit to India, and although he held no political office he was able, with the assistance of Apa Pant who provided him with a letter of introduction, to secure an audience between Nehru. Nazareth wrote “Nehru when I met him at Delhi was good enough to give me something like 40 minutes of hard pressed time. He avoided all ostentation, going to the secretariat in a small car, a proceeding which in modern Africa, would be absolutely infra dig., inconceivable to most even minor M.Ps”. (Nazareth) Nazareth wrote:

“Nehru listened to me attentively, but very quietly, almost impassively, with scarcely any interruption. The subject to which I devoted most of my time was his practice of referring to Indians in Kenya as “guests”. Kenyatta, as I have said earlier, had taken up with alacrity and enthusiasm and not infrequently referred to the Indians in Kenya as “guests”. I tried to convey to Nehru that Indians living in Kenya fell in two classes: those who had made their homes in Kenya and intended to remain there, and those who were birds of passage andcould rightly be referred to as “guests”. I made it clear to him that he was doing Indians in Kenya a disservice lumping them all together and referring to them as guests”. (Nazareth)

Angelo Faria, who had some personal interaction with JM Nazareth in the early 1960s and late 1970s, offered this reaction to Nazareth on Nehru:

The Nazareth episode bears some further reflection for several reasons. First, had Nazareth sought a letter of introduction to, and an appointment with Nehru, or was it Pant that suggested it? My own feeling is that Nazareth had felt very strongly on this issue – indeed, in the first page of his book published in 1981 there is a very poignant self-written poem titled: To the African: “No Guest am I”. So it is reasonable to suggest that Nazareth must have sought it, and Pant may well have felt that given Nazareth’s previous standing and Pant’s own close connection with Nehru, it could not hurt and might even help. Second, Nazareth may have felt that he, a second generation Kenyan of Indian descent and the first local born President of the EAINC, could best marshal to an idealistic Nehru why his position was incorrect and what unintended use was being made of it by the Africans. Third, from Nazareth’s own recounting he spoke fully for a self-admittedly long time of 40 minutes laying out the case in his no doubt precise lawyerly style that concealed substantial emotion, but that Nehru uncharacteristically just listened to him but kept his own counsel and made no comment at all. What should one make of this reaction? It is my sense that Nehru may have felt that Nazareth in his clearly narrower perspective and emotional state either could not or would not see the broader perspective from Nehru’s and India’s standpoint, and that there was thus no point to trying to convince him about it, much less attempting a rebuttal. We shall never know.

Peter Wright provides the following reflective evaluation on this episode as described Nazareth:

Guests of the Africans! This little fuss is an excellent indication of the racist attitudes which the British rulers were encouraging, nay imposing, on Kenya, not only upon the white invaders, who unfortunately did not see themselves as guests, but on the Indians too, and I am truly surprised that my friend, John Nazareth should have yielded to this. It was indeed excellent that Jawaharlal, as India's first prime Minister, should have emphasized that Indian immigrants were the guests of the indigenous Africans of Kenya. Had the British shown the same wisdom Kenya's, and Britain's subsequent history would have been far happier too. It is unfortunately true that the Indian community in general was probably in agreement with John Nazareth because they were primarily concerned with their own welfare and anxious not to offend the far more powerfully placed Europeans. But there was always a small Indian minority that was more courageous, people in India could be proud of. Apasaheb and I often discussed the Indian attitudes and were in full agreement with Jawaharlal's policies which Apa was doing his best to carry out. Jawaharlal was never offensive to the British and he did nothing to encourage anti-British movements, yet he was clearly in sympathy with all movements towards further justice and freedom for colonies. Readers can judge for themselves whether Nehru's or J.M. Nazareth's attitude regarding ‘guests’ was the wiser or the fairer! I think time has already told us!

On a separate note: My own impressions in East Africa were that many Europeans found both Apa and Nalini a very charming couple whom they liked and then, alas, increasingly distrusted, believing that they were in fact instruments of Indian imperialism striving to win over the considerable Indian immigrant population and make it an instrument of imperial ambition. Knowing both Nehru and Apa, I was aware that this was nonsense. On the other hand I was well aware of the major aim of both men which was to convince the Indian community that they were indeed guests, not of the British invaders but of the indigenous inhabitants, the African population and should never seek from the British rulers any special treatment or advantages that they did not simultaneously urge for the African population. I warmly supported this myself; but of course this did hit at the root of the local white ambition to dominate.

Apa and Nalini Pant

Pant on Pinto: (Pant, Apa - Undiplomatic Incidents) [extract]

Pio Gama Pinto was Independent Kenya’s first political martyr, a socialist and freedom fighter dedicated to the cause of African Nationalism in Kenya. Sometime soon after 1949, Pinto became involved in local politics aimed at overthrowing colonialism. He turned to journalism and worked with the Colonial Times and Daily Chronicle. In 1954, 5 months after his marriage, he was rounded up in the notorious Operation Anvil and spent the next four years in on Manda Island with the so called “hard-core” Mau Mau. He was kept in restriction early 1958 until October, 1959 at remote Kabarnet. On his release he once more immersed himself in the struggle for Kenya’s Independence and the release of Jomo Kenyatta. In 1960 he founded the KANU newspaper ‘Sauti ya KANU’ and later Pan African Press of which he subsequently became Director and Secretary. Pio Gama Pinto, a Goan Indian, an African patriot had been foully murdered in broad daylight by assassins who had sold their own conscience and their countrymen.

“Pio Pinto, an Indian who was deeply involved with the African freedom movement in Kenya and who knew all the important underground leaders, called one night to announce that the Kikuyu elders wanted to elect me as one of them. Elected elders are a feature of all African tribes, especially those with a strong democratic tradition such as the Kikuyu, Masia, Busaga, and Ankole. The Buganda too have elders but the Kabaka as their king ruled over them., though not even he could openly transgress the explicitly express advise of the elected elders.

To be asked to become a Kikuyu elder at the height of the Mau-Mau rebellion was, to say the least, quite astounding. As usual, not thinking of consequences, diplomatic or otherwise, of my action, I agreed.

Pio Pinto was quite a character. To look at, no one would have dreamt that he was a revolutionary. He stammered and stuttered when speaking his Goan English. The colonial authorities clearly ignored him. He was not thought to be a nuisance. It is unlikely that he was ever watched, or that there was a file on him with the Secret Police, whereas a platoon with a D.S.P. watched me continually, keeping incriminating official records. But what diminutive, brilliant, highly affectionate Pio Pinto did for India and for the Indian community in Kenya during those critical days of Mau-Mau rebellion can never be forgotten.

The South Africans, the colonial powers and even Israel would have liked the anger, frustration and hatred of the Mau-Mau to be diverted against India and the Indians. Serious and persistent attempts were indeed made to do so. Even the Church joined in the smear campaign, with sermons in Swahili and passion plays depicting Africans as criminally exploited by Indians.

Pio Pinto was largely responsible for having prevented the wrath of Mau-Mau from being vented on the Indian community. He had been able to enter the secret conclaves of freedom fighters unnoticed, and had he not won the trust of leaders such as Stanley Mathenge, Jomo Kenyatta, Senior Chief Koinange and Tom Mboya for his sound and clear advise, thousands of Indians may well have been murdered and their property looted. Nehru and later, Indira Gandhi, knew what Pio Pinto had done for the Indians and in those tumultuous days. After the independence of Kenya, when destiny’s strange ways led to Pio being murdered in broad daylight for being a friend of Tom Mboya, the family sought refuge in India and later migrated to Canada. It is appropriate to offer homage to Pio Pinto – a great freedom fighter, a staunch friend, and a humanist”. (Pant, Apa)

Peter Wright, a long-standing and close friend of Apa Sahib, offered this response on Pant on Pinto:

“Pio Pinto was a highly valued and dear friend of mine, a man with a very real mission -- justice and fairness above all for all Kenya Africans, in fact apart perhaps from Bildad Kaggia and his colleagues, the most ardent African patriot I met. He was indeed so devoted to his mission that he had little time to discuss personal or other matters. He was politically left-wing, a communist perhaps, but that was of minor importance; it was as a champion of freedom and justice that he excelled. Frankly some of Apa's comments quoted in what you sent me astonish me. I was never aware that Pio stammered or stuttered, and I knew him well, and I found no fault with his English. I do know that the Kenya intelligence authorities were watching him and were using John Miller to some extent to spy upon him; recently published intelligence reports make this clear. But it is surprising that Pio was not more harshly treated, although his years in detention were neither so gentle nor in any way justified! Apa's description of him as diminutive seems extraordinary to me. I never thought of him in those terms; to me his stature seemed normal and average. Brilliant he certainly was. What he really did for the Indian community I really have no idea. I believe he was an efficient paid secretary of the Kenya Indian Congress, but what impressed me more than anything else was that he gave his whole loyalty and every spare moment to the cause of freedom and justice for the Africans. Frankly I would like to learn much more of any efforts he made to serve the Indian community”.

Pio Gama Pinto

Angelo Faria, who had some personal interaction with Pio Gama Pinto in the early 1960s before he was assassinated, offered this reaction to Pant on Pinto:

To view Pinto, as Pant apparently indicated later in his book with evidently a great personal affection, as a somewhat inarticulate Goan politician of slight build who can be credited with “preventing the wrath of Mau Mau from being vented on the Indian (sic) community” strikes me as, to say the least, somewhat curious on several counts. First, Pant’s earlier view of his personality may have had some basis, given the substantial variance in their relative standings at that time. But based on a limited number of my own conversations with him several years later in the early 1960s after he had emerged from about 5 years in detention, Pinto’s apparent soft-spoken style of speaking almost amounting to diffidence was a protective mask that he put on generally to draw out the other person without revealing his own stance; once he trusted the person unconditionally, he clearly became very clear, articulate and decisive. His wiry build resulted from years of serious training to become a top flight athlete. Second, one has only to read the six oaths that all Mau Mau adherents had to swear at their induction in order to realize that their sole objective was to recover ancestral Kikuyu lands form the Europeans by driving them out; there is absolutely no mention of Asians. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, by late 1954 at the height of Mau Mau activities only 21 Asians had been murdered, none ritually, including a couple of members of a security team and the others mostly traders in the remoter rural areas of Central Province who were victims of straightforward robberies. Nothing in the details that I have seen released since about Mau Mau practices would suggest otherwise. In that sense, I believe Pant to be grossly overstating Pinto’s importance relative to the fate purportedly not suffered by the Indian community. In retrospect, I often wondered if it could represent some form of a delayed mea culpa on Pant’s part, if only because I feel confident that Pinto, who never saw himself as an Asian in such matters, would also never have subscribed to this characterization to describe the result of his efforts. Third, the reference to Tom Mboya is plainly incorrect, because it was well known that Pinto and Mboya were philosophically and organizationally rivals for the soul of the African independence movement. If, however, Pant had meant to refer to Pinto’s connection with Odinga as a factor in his assassination, this makes the reference relatively more plausible. In this connection, I should perhaps point out that Wright by his own verbal admission to me when I met him in Seattle in 2006 had little day to day contact with Pinto before, and none whatsoever after his deportation in November 1952, but his views on Pinto’s personality certainly ring true to me.

APA PANT Associations with Suryakant and Leela Patel:

Apa Sahib Pant in his publication ‘An extended family or fellow pilgrims’ writes about family and friends.

“Frankly, I have never accepted the view that relationships should be strictly restricted to a particular, limited group called father, mother, son, daughter, wife, husband, brother sister, uncle, etc. Yes, if you are born into a particular family you have some important duties and obligations towards this group, and those duties you must do diligently, joyfully and affectionately. If you do not perform those duties properly, you cannot go ‘ahead’ on the path of life.

Suryakant Patel Apa Pant

Apasaheb remembers a fellow pilgrim in Kenya, Suryakant and Leela Patel who remained special friends of the Pants to very end of his life. Suryakant and Leela had shared a large and intimate part of their Pants lives during the whole period of their stay in Kenya , and even when the Pants returned to Kenya on visits in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Whether for picnics, journeys, meetings or visits of dignitaries, Suryakant was always there to organize and manage at the shortest possible notice, said Apa Sahib. Suryakant was born in Nairobi in 1920, studied in Bandhani Gujarat India and returned back to Kenya in 1939 help in his hardware business. He built a veritable business empire in Nairobi, covering real property and extending to many other spheres of commerce such as the timber, construction, and furniture making industries. Suryakant wrote: “the first African leader I met was Mr. Harry Thuku. He was one of my customers and we used to visit each other at home during the war period. He was not a politician at the time. Because of my association with the Pants I came into contact with other African leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta, Mbyu Koinange, etc. These contacts were lost during the emergency period, from between 1951 to 1961. However, after he was freed from detention, Jomo Kenyatta invited me to his Gatundu home, through our common friends Mr. Pio Gama Pinto and Dr. F.R.S. DeSouza. We all went to Gatundu and met Jomo Kenyatta. He requested me to find an accommodation in the city from where he could carry out his political activities. At the time nobody was willing to give him the premises. I could see his problem and offered him my premises Solar House which I had built in 1958 in the City Square. He used the premises until he became the Prime Minister in 1963……”

Suryakant Patel Leela Apa Pant

Suryakant Patel was president of Nairobi Seva Dal and a member of the reception committee which organized at the time of Dr. Radharkrishan’s visit to Nairobi for the opening of the Mahatma Gandhi memorial academy Society, in July 1956. The closeness of the relationship between Suryakant and Apa Sahib, is shown in many ways, Suryakant recalls when Sri Apa Pant went to Bandhani (Suryakant’s native place in Gujarat) to visit his father in his absence, showing his real love and affection for the family. Suryakant visited Aundh when Apa Sahib’s father died. When Akka and Apakaka where contemplating the writings the story ‘An extended Family or Fellow Pilgrims’ and of their long friendship, they received as trunk-call from Suryakant’s parents in Baroda, to tell them that Suryakant had suffered a ‘massive’ heart attack and passed away the night before on 3rdSeptember 1986. Apakaka wrote: “ It was a terrible shock! For thirty-eight years Suryakant had been a ‘brother’ working together with Apakaka to remove suspicion, fear, anger, hate between individuals, races and nations in Africa, Europe and elsewhere”....

PANT on AUNDH and his (Father) Baba or BalaSahib (PANT, Apa - Mandala : An Awakening)

With the merger of the State of Aundh, its disappearance as a unit, what seemed to be my career had come to an end? For my wife Nalini, who had given herself to hospital work in the State, a career had now opened as a surgeon in Poona, where in 1947 we built ourselves a house. Aditi, our firstborn, was getting on for five, and Aniket was a crying, highly sensitive bundle of nerves just two years old. We packed our belongings and moved to Poona with the children, leaving the old wooden palace at Aundh that had been my birthplace and the base for my later adventures. It was the end of my life as a prince, and it was like leaving a sinking ship. The deepest wrench, the real agony, was to know that I was leaving my father, who had helped me to be myself, in his old age, in the hour of his loneliness and perhaps of his greatest need. The loss of his State which his family had ruled for three hundred years had been conveyed to him in the brusque manner of bureaucratic communication; nor was there any recognition of his services to free India by the lighting of a beacon in Aundh. Nobody offered him a post, a distinction, even a gesture of acknowledgement. His ego was depleted, and mine, which had sustained itself on him, had no base to function.

So why did I leave Aundh and forsake him in his eighty second year? What was the compulsion? I have been asking that question of myself for the last twenty-seven years without finding an adequate answer. If there is one it is probably to be sought in the fact that I, who for so long had seen him as the steady rock of continuity and confidence, the loving guide of my destiny, was in reality more lost than he. In his state of mental and emotional confusion, I could do nothing but be more confused and uncertain of myself. It was only when a new door was suddenly opened for me, with the unexpected summons to see Pandit Nehru, as Prime Minister of India, when he visited Bombay in 1948, that a sense of life and purpose flowed back into me. Did Nehru, as we sat on the lush lawn of Raj Bhavan, remember the dusty villages of Aundh and the fire of enthusiasm of 1941? I thought he did, and that this was in his mind in offering me a field of completely fresh activity as free India’s first representative in Africa. And I thought also that my father would be pleased and proud, and somehow refreshed by what was opening for his son.

This feeling had a history. The Pratinidhi of our family title signified a viceroy. It derived from the act of Rajaram, the second son of the great Maratha hero Shivaji, in making one of our ancestors, Parashuram Trimbak, the first Pratinidhi of the Maratha Empire. When my grandfather Raja Rishi “Thorale” Maharaj Shrinivasrao Pant was compelled in 1848 to give up to the British the town of Karad, which had been the capital of the Pratinidhi’s for a couple of centuries, he transferred his seat to Aundh, near the temple where he thenceforth performed his daily rituals and meditations. This Pratinidhi’s great spiritual attainments, combined with service to his people, had strengthened my father’s belief that the Pratinidhi’s were somehow destined to be the worthy representatives of the whole of India. And as such my father, with his simple grace and dignity, often thought, felt and behaved. For my part I hoped and prayed that my appointment as the first “ambassador” of India in Africa might appeal to him as a natural fulfillment of his dream. He was still under the shock of what had happened, after all his sacrifice, to the State of Aundh. But I think there was happiness mixed with the sadness of parting when in July 1948 he came to Bombay to see me leave for Mombasa in the B.I.S.N. ship Khandala.

As the ship slowly ploughed its way for twenty-three days across the Indian Ocean, whatever thoughts I had of the mission ahead of me were coloured by my own limited experience and by the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi. I was absorbed with the ideals and philosophy of his soul-force, the non-violence with which I had experimented in Aundh, and which I was convinced held the answer to all the problems, conflicts, tensions and exploitations that I might meet. The Indian spirit of friendship and the non-violent dynamic represented what I felt I should be carrying to the Continent of Dawn, the Africa that had provided the preliminary testing-ground of Gandhi’s faith. The influences that had shaped me were contradictory in this sense, that my father, with all his respect and regard for the Mahatma, never had much time for the non-violent ethic. Indeed, he used to say openly that India had been damaged by the teachings of the Buddha and of the Jains. The true Indian tradition was represented for him by Shivaji, as a protagonist of the belief that evil must be courageously and sacrificially combated with material weapons. Since he held that the Gandhian way was a travesty of this tradition, it was nothing short of a miracle in my eyes that he had gone to meet the Mahatma in 1937, and had followed his advice regarding the new constitution for Aundh. In all the dejection and disappointment that had come to him later, I never heard him say that that advice had been wrong. But when he came to visit us in Nairobi in 1950, bringing with him my much loved stepmother, I could see that something had gone out of him. And in the following April I was called back to Bombay to watch him breathe his last in Room 9 of St. George’s Hospital.

We took him back to Aundh, his head resting in his Rani’s lap as she sat, red-eyed and tearless, in the back of the big black Chrysler. My nephew Bapusaheb, the son of my deceased brother and thus the heir to the empty title of Raja, was in the driving-seat. I knew that since I had left India for Africa I had “freed” myself from my father, in the way that we all must do, and that I was in that sense alone now and independent. But through the eight hours of that 220- mile drive to Aundh, over four escarpments of the Western Ghats and through dusty, familiar villages, I lived again the sight, the sound, the smell of thirty-nine years of my life with him. I suddenly felt myself as a three year o1d in the Rangachi Kholi, his painting-room, playing at his feet with the palette and the heavy brushes that smelt of turpentine, while he sat on his stool, with his tongue jutting out a little, carefully dabbing paint on the canvas. Life was such splendour of colours and smells and security and harmony. When he was pleased he would often sing softly to himself, and then wave after wave of sheer joy would overwhelm me. I felt like eating him up at such moments. As he lay dead in the back of the car I could hear his high baritone voice, singing and acting those Hari kirtans which he performed twice a year, taking up a moral and metaphysical theme from the epics, or perhaps from the life of Shivaji, and illustrating it with song, speech and story. On those days I used to be all excitement, tense with hope and expectation, wanting my father to move the audience to tears or laughter, piety or fervour. And when he did so, as usually happened, the cup of my pride and peace was full. The total experience of his unfailing trust, affection and care for me flowed through me on that last journey.

We reached Aundh at night, and laid him in a palanquin in the main temple. After the agony of those hours my stepmother broke down and wanted to offer herself as a Sati. It took me some time before I could dissuade her. Before dawn, singing and chanting, we took him to his favorite spot near the museum, half-way up the hill. As the sun rose I set fire to the pyre of this great sun-worshipper, and his remains returned to the dust of Mother Earth, and to air, water and ether within an hour.

When the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan delegation crossed the Sikkim border in November 1956, they were welcomed by the Chogyal of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal and the Indian representative in Sikkim, Apa Pant. For the following three months Apa Pant was in charge of organizing the Dalai Lama’s journey through India, visiting pilgrimage places, but also enabling the Tibetan leader to solicit foreign support for his people under siege.

Some thirty years later
my mother presented me with a little book entitled ‘Das Sonnengebet’ (Sun Prayer). I was just about to develop an interest for all things exotic, so I decided to give the seemingly simple yoga exercises a try. For several months I continued to practice the Surya Namaskars and then I must have moved on to something else that was equally exciting and new, but the flavors of discipline and sanity that came with performing a regular exercise stayed with me for much longer.

Just recently, when researching Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s students in Sikkim, I found that Apa Pant had not only been the highest Indian political officer in Sikkim at the time, but also that he was an ardent practitioner of the Surya Namaskar. This stirred my memory and I phoned my mother to send me the book. Unbelievably she still found it sitting on some dusty shelf.

Sure enough the same Apa Pant who had requested Jamyang Khyentse again and again for the ultimate instruction on how to meditate (as described in chapter 5 of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) was the author whose instructions for yogic exercise I had followed with great curiosity many years before I even knew anything about Tibetan Buddhism.

-- Apa B Pant in Sikkim as Political Officer, by SIKKIM e.newsletter, edited by S K Sarda

This was indeed the end of an era. All of us, brothers and sisters and my nephew Bapusaheb, recognized it; but at the same time all of us felt the impulse to maintain in some way my father’s personal mystique and the tradition that he had embodied. During the mourning period of forty days we had many discussions of how this could be done, and my cousin Balamaharaj was there to help. We had, I had, fantastically unrealistic dreams, resolving to meet at least once a year in Aundh to commemorate the passing of that Great Spirit. We wanted everything to be kept as it was the palace, the painting-room, the library, the museum, the temples. In that moment Bapusaheb, joined with us in memories and sorrow, promised everything. We initialed a family arrangement, drafted by Balamaharaj, about the disposable property, and as we all left it seemed to me that the Aundh of our memory and imagination would be preserved for ever. We even agreed to keep my father’s precious films and slides (over five thousand of them) safely at Aundh and to look at them together from time to time when we met there.

Perhaps the dream would have faded of its own nature. But as it turned out, Bapusaheb went back on his promises, took to the bottle, and brought all ideas of perpetuating that private Aundh to ruin with himself. That which is indestructible, the spirit that broods over the temples at Aundh and at Kinhai, the village of our origin, has had a transcendental influence on all of us, wherever we may be: an influence so profound and powerful that any member of the family who breaks any of the significant traditions-you could call them the rules of the game—comes to destruction. This has been our experience for generations.

Jai Jagadamb!


Benegal Pereira

Benegal Pereira was born and raised in Kenya during the height of the Mau Mau uprising and Pant’s tenure as India’s first Commissioner to East and Central Africa. Benegal migrated to the US in 1986 and is currently based in New Hampshire, USA. Through his own father's [Eddie Pereira] active interest and involvement with both Kenya and Indian independence political movements, Benegal has been able to recall vividly the tensions and racial divisions associated with the movement of the East African countries to full political independence. In 1998, he founded the internet East Africana forum, Namaskar-Africana, that has since attracted a worldwide participation of former East African Asians His avocation over a number of years has been collecting printed material on East Africa, born out of a love for his birthplace and what he believes is a largely untold story of the Asian contribution to the development of East Africa; as a result, he now possesses perhaps one of the world’s largest private collections of books and materials devoted solely to this subject.



Faria, Angelo. Personal Communication . Washington, DC, USA : September 2007, 2007.

Offered a strictly personal perspective by connecting the dots, through evaluating the impact of external development on Pants role in EA that related to the evolution of the external political environment he has offered his personal view of the period of Pants the in East Africa, and has made the particular point.

Peter Wright. Bellevue, WA, USA: Oral Conversations, 2007.

Nazareth, John Maximian. Brown Man Black Country. New Delhi: Tidings Publications, 1981.

Pant, Apa. —.

A Moment in Time, India: Orient Longman, 1974. —.

Mandala : An Awakening, India: Orient Longmans, Ltd, 1978. —.

Undiplomatic Incidents, London: Sangam Books (India) Pvt. Ltd., 1987. —.

An Unusual Raja, Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment. London: Sangam Books (India) Pvt. Ltd., 1989. —.

An Extended Family of Fellow Pilgrims, Bombay, India: Sangam Book (India), Ltd., 1990
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu May 28, 2020 7:38 am

Apa B Pant in Sikkim as Political Officer
by SIKKIM e.newsletter, edited by S K Sarda
July 23, 2010

While on her initial mission at the Tibetan camps in 1959-60, Freda also visited Sikkim where a number of Tibetan monks and refugees had settled. It seems to have been then that she first met the head of the Kagyu lineage, one of the four principal schools within Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa Lama had escaped from Tibet through Bhutan in the wake of the Dalai Lama's departure and had moved into his order's long established but near derelict monastery at Rumtek in Sikkim. Apa Pant, a senior Indian official, told Freda that she really couldn't come to Sikkim without calling on the Karmapa. Pant was an Oxford contemporary of the Bedis. He was from a princely family and had an inquiring mind about faith and religion; he went on to be one of India's most senior diplomats. At this stage of his career, Pant was India's political officer covering Sikkim and Bhutan, two small largely Buddhist kingdoms which lay on the hugely sensitive border with China, and also in charge of the four Indian missions in Tibet.23 Freda was keen to act on her friend's suggestion:
[Apa Pant] sent me on horseback -- there was no road at that point up to the monastery. And I remember the journey through the forest and it was most beautiful. As we neared the monastery, His Holiness sent people and a picnic basket full of Tibetan tea and cakes and things to refresh us. It's about twenty miles, the path up to the monastery. And when I went to see him, there he was with a great smile on the top floor of a small country monastery surrounded by birds, he just loves birds. ... There he was with his birds, sitting in his room, not on a great throne but on a carpet with a cushion on it. And just at that time, the Burmese changeover took place and the gates of Burma were shut. And I was feeling a great sense of loss that I can't see my Burmese gurus and so I asked the question that was in my mind that I was saving up to ask my guru when I met him. I asked it of His Holiness. And he gave me just the perfect answer.24

There is perhaps an allegoric aspect to much of Freda's shared memories of her relationship with her guru, as the 16th Karmapa became. But at this time political storm clouds were gathering over Burma, leading up to the military coup in March 1962 which sealed the country off from the rest of the world for a generation. The Kagyu school traced its lineage back to the eleventh century and alongside a monastic structure it emphasised meditative training and solitary retreats.25 That suited Freda. And above all she was impressed by the spirituality and personality of the 16th Karmapa, by his 'deep roaring laughter' and by a personal conduct and indeed appearance which put her in mind of the Buddha.

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

When the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan delegation crossed the Sikkim border in November 1956, they were welcomed by the Chogyal of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal and the Indian representative in Sikkim, Apa Pant. For the following three months Apa Pant was in charge of organizing the Dalai Lama’s journey through India, visiting pilgrimage places, but also enabling the Tibetan leader to solicit foreign support for his people under siege.

Some thirty years later
my mother presented me with a little book entitled ‘Das Sonnengebet’ (Sun Prayer). I was just about to develop an interest for all things exotic, so I decided to give the seemingly simple yoga exercises a try. For several months I continued to practice the Surya Namaskars
and then I must have moved on to something else that was equally exciting and new, but the flavors of discipline and sanity that came with performing a regular exercise stayed with me for much longer.

Apa Pant, 1998 (1970), Surya Namaskars, Mumbai: Disha Books.

Apa Pant was a successful diplomat in the new India, and the son of Bhavanrao Pant (below), the King of Aundh–a quasi-independent kingdom that was dissolved upon the attainment of nation status for India after 1947. Also a small book it includes some wonderful stories, philosophical perspectives and a basic outline of the Sun Salutation practice with both photographs and drawings....

The Raja of Aundh, Bhavanrao Srinivasrao Pant Pratinidhi, 1989 , Surya Namaskars

This is the king who had SN [Surya Namaskars] taught throughout his land in the 1920s and 30s. It is the first book on the practice in the modern age (reprinted).

-- Further Resources On Surya Namaskar: The Sun Salutation, by Eric Shaw, Jan. 17, 2012

Just recently, when researching Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s students in Sikkim, I found that Apa Pant had not only been the highest Indian political officer in Sikkim at the time, but also that he was an ardent practitioner of the Surya Namaskar. This stirred my memory and I phoned my mother to send me the book. Unbelievably she still found it sitting on some dusty shelf.

Sure enough the same Apa Pant who had requested Jamyang Khyentse again and again for the ultimate instruction on how to meditate (as described in chapter 5 of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) was the author whose instructions for yogic exercise I had followed with great curiosity many years before I even knew anything about Tibetan Buddhism.

PANT on AUNDH and his (Father) Baba or BalaSahib (PANT, Apa - Mandala : An Awakening)

... We reached Aundh at night, and laid him in a palanquin in the main temple. After the agony of those hours my stepmother broke down and wanted to offer herself as a Sati. It took me some time before I could dissuade her. Before dawn, singing and chanting, we took him to his favorite spot near the museum, half-way up the hill. As the sun rose I set fire to the pyre of this great sun-worshipper, and his remains returned to the dust of Mother Earth, and to air, water and ether within an hour.

-- Apa Pant in East Africa -- Nehru's Protégé, edited and Compiled by Benegal Pereira

Parshuram Rao Pant ‘Apa Sahib’, Padma Shri [1912-1991]

Apa Pant was born in 1912 as the eldest son of the Raja of Aundh. He took his M.A. at Oxford, and was called to the Bar before his return to India in 1937. For the next ten years he was involved in an unusual constitutional experiment by which his father Bala Sahib, aided by Mahatma Gandhi and Maurice Frydman, handed over power to the people of Aundh as an early test of village-level self government in British India. [see also Aundh Experiment]

HH Meherban Shrimant Raja BHAVAN RAO SHRINIVAS ‘BALA SAHIB’, Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh [1868-1951]

Many credit the Raja, Apa Pant’s father, for popularizing Surya Namaskars as a simple physical exercise by introducing it to schools as a form of education for the all-round development of an individual. He was not only a benevolent ruler, but also an avid painter know for his beautiful illustrations of the Ramayana

In 1948, Apa Pant was chosen by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, to be India’s Commissioner in British East Africa. From 1951 to 1961 he was made political officer in Sikkim and Bhutan with control over Indian Missions in Tibet.

In 1956 Apa Pant helped facilitate the Indian invitation to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by way of the Sikkim Crown Prince Thondup Namgyal.

Jamyang Kyentse returned from his pilgrimage to India and Nepal around Losar 1957, just after HH Dalai Lama had returned to Lhasa via Gangtok. It was probably during this time that Apa Pant became a student of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. As Sogyal Rinpoche recounts in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:

“Apa Pant told me this story. One day our master Jamyang Khyentse was watching a “Lama Dance” in front of the Palace Temple in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and he was chuckling at the antics of the atsara, the clown who provides light relief between dances. Apa Pant kept pestering him, asking him again and again how to meditate, so this time when my master replied, it was in such a way as to let him know that he was telling him once and for all: “Look, it’s like this: When the past thought has ceased, and the future thought has not yet risen, isn’t there a gap?”

“Yes,” said Apa Pant.

“Well, prolong it: That is meditation.”

In the colophon to his teaching “Opening the Dharma” Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö writes:

“This ‘Opening the Dharma’ was written at the request of the Governor of Sikkim, Apa Sahib, by a Tibetan holding the name of Jamyang Khyentse’s emanation (from Dzongsar), stupid Chökyi Lodrö, who, with an extremely good heart, wrote uninterruptedly. May this virtue bring benefit to the Holy Dharma and to all those wandering in Samsara.”

It was this very teaching that HH Sakya Trizin’s sister Jetsün Kushok Chimey Luding happened to hear on radio while playing with her transistor in Sakya.

When, just after Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö had passed away, all of Gangtok was suddenly lit up by a strange, unearthly light, hours after dark, Apa Pant was the first to call and inquire what on earth it could be. (See also the recollections of HH Sakya Trizin in the film: A Tribute to Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö)

Later Apa Pant held diplomatic appointments in Indonesia, Norway, the UAR and as High Commissioner in London from 1969 to 72. As the Indian ambassador to Italy he welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama once again who, visiting Europe for the first time, had made it his priority to meet Pope John Paul VI.

He authored several books some of which contain several references to Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, to whom he refers as the ‘Great Khentse Rimpoche’:

• Surya Namaskars: An Ancient Indian Exercise
• An Unusual Raja: Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment
• An Extended Family, or Fellow Pilgrims
• A Moment in Time (his autobiography)
• Undiplomatic Incidents

Apa Pant passed away in 1992.

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 29, 2020 12:06 am

Buxa Fort
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/28/20



While based at Misamari, Freda also visited the other principal Tibetan camp, at Buxa just across the state border in West Bengal. This was both more substantial than Misamari and more forbidding. It was initially a fort built of bamboo and wood, but had been rebuilt in stone by the British and used as a detention camp -- and as it was so remote, it housed some of what were seen as the more menacing political detainees. When the buildings were made available to the Tibetans, they were in poor repair. All the same, these were allocated for Tibetan Buddhist monks and spiritual teachers. Freda referred to it rather grandly as a monastic college. And unlike Misamari, which was open for little more than a year, Buxa was intended as a long-term camp. It's estimated that at one time as many as 1,500 Tibetans lived there. Conditions were so poor that many monks contracted tuberculosis but it remained in operation for a decade.11

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

Buxa Fort
Alipurduar district, West Bengal
Buxa Fort is located in West Bengal
Coordinates 26°45′17.86″N 89°34′49.04″E
Type Hill Fort / Prison
Height 867 metres (2,844 ft)
Site information
Controlled by: (formerly) British Raj
Open to the public: Yes
Condition: Ruins
Site history
Built by: British Empire
In use: Abandoned in 1951
Materials: Bamboo (original), Stone
Battles/wars: Bhutan War

Buxa Fort is located at an altitude of 867 metres (2,844 ft) in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, Alipurduar district, West Bengal. It is located 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Alipurduar, the nearest town. The Bhutan King used the fort to protect the portion of famous Silk Route connecting Tibet with India, via Bhutan. Still later during unrest in Occupation of Tibet, hundreds of refugees arrived at the place and used the then abandoned fort as refuge.

View of Buxa Fort used as Bengal Native Infantry Barrack and later as prison camp by the British Government. India used it as camp for Tibetan refugees.

Its origin is uncertain. Before the occupation of the fort by the British, it was a point of contention between the King of Bhutan and the Cooch Kings.

British occupation

The British on invitation of the Cooch King intervened and captured the fort which was formally handed over to the British on November 11, 1865 as part of Treaty of Sinchula.[1] The British reconstructed the fort from its bamboo wood structure to stone structure. The fort was to later be used as a high security prison and detention camp in the 1930s;[2] it was the most notorious and unreachable prison in India after the Cellular Jail in Andaman. Nationalist revolutionaries belonging to the Anushilan Samiti and Yugantar group such as Krishnapada Chakraborty were imprisoned there in the 1930s. Forward Bloc leader and ex-Law Minister of West Bengal, Amar Prasad Chakraborty, was also imprisoned at Buxa Fort in 1943. Besides, some communist revolutionaries and intellectuals like the poet Subhash Mukhopadhyay were captivated here in the 1950s.

Tibetan refugee crisis

Drepung was one of the most celebrated monasteries in Tibet, and with over 10,000 monks before the Chinese invasion. But in March 1959, Chinese troops tasked with quelling the Tibetan uprising moved aggressively against the monastery; Only a few hundred monks escaped to India. These expatriate monks, representing all the diverse Tibetan orders, first set up a monastic study center and refugee camp in Buxa Fort, on the grounds of the jungle-bound former prison camp.[3]

In 1966, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs was alerted to the conditions of the Buxa refugee camps, and it became apparent that the Tibetan refugees would have to be relocated to a more hospitable place. Initially reluctant, a message from the Dalai Lama, urging them to think of the future and to strive for sufficiency, and the option of settling near other Tibetan refugees convinced the monks to move, and in 1971 the monks moved to their new locations at Bylakuppe and Mundgod in the state of Karnataka.[4]


Grace Assembly of God Church Santalabari

The following routers are popular among tourists and nature lovers –

• Santalabari to Buxa Fort 5 kilometres (3.1 mi)
• Buxa Fort to Rovers point 3 kilometres (1.9 mi)
• Santalabari to Roopang valley 14 kilometres (8.7 mi)
• Buxa Fort to Lepchakha 5 kilometres (3.1 mi)
• Buxa Fort to Chunabhati 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)


1. Singh, Nagendra (1978). "Appendix VII – The Treaty of Sinchula". Bhutan: a Kingdom in the Himalayas : a study of the land, its people, and their government (2 ed.). Thomson Press Publication Division. p. 243. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
2. "West Bengal Forest Development Corporation". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
3. "About The Re-establishment of Drepung Gomang Monastic University in India". Drepung Gomang Monastery. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
4. "Buxa Refugee Camp" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2012.


Religion & Culture -- Tibet's Heritage [Buxa Transit Camp]
-- by Tibet Documentation,
Accessed: 5/28/20

August, 1959: a refugee camp for monks was started in August of 1959 at the Buxa Transit Camp which had earlier housed Tibetan refugees from Bhutan. It was able to accommodate 1500 monks and nuns from the four Buddhist schools and Bon.

The Buxa Duar Lama Ashram was built on top of an ex-British fort and former prison which had housed some of the leaders of the Indian Civil Disobedience Movement such as Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It is also said that the monks were placed in the house where Nehru was imprisoned and the nuns were housed in Gandhi’s prison.


Oct, 1967: At the meeting of the religious heads of sects, a resolution which was passed was the conversion of Buxa Lama Ashram into a centre for learning Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy for all. With this goal in mind, His Holiness the Dalai Lama approached Pandit Nehru in 1964 and this was realized in October 1967 with the enrolment of 108 students at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), a special constituent wing of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University.


1970: From 1959 to 1969, monks of Gaden Shartse were based in Buxa Transit Camp and in 1969 a total of 132 monks left Buxa for the Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod which was established in 1966. With support from local Tibetans and the Indian Government, the first Gelug monastery Gaden Shartse Norling monastery was re-established in exile in 1970.


Buxa Chogar: Saving Tibetan Buddhism in Exile
by Robyn Brentano
50 Mandala
January - June 2019



Many students of elder Tibetan Buddhist geshes may be familiar with the name Buxa Duar, the area in West Bengal, India, where 1,500 monks and nuns lived and studied after escaping Tibet in 1959. The actual camp was informally called Buxa Chogar, which roughly trans lates as “the Dharma camp at Buxa.” Robyn Brentano, an American long-time student of Tibetan Buddhism, has spent the last three years doing research and oral history interviews about Buxa Chogar and shares the story of this critical chapter of Tibetan history.

When His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 80,000 Tibetans fled the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959, they sought refuge in India, Bhutan, and Nepal, thinking it would be only a matter of months before they could return home. Among the refugees were thousands of Tibet’s greatest scholars, spiritual masters, reincarnate lamas, and aspiring students from the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and from the Bon tradition.

Some Tibetan monks and nuns found refuge in sister monasteries in Sikkim, Bhutan, and Nepal, but thousands of others had to work on road-building projects in India in order to survive. This labor proved deadly for many who were already suffering from trauma, inadequate food and shelter, and exposure to disease and the heat of subtropical India. Recognizing that Tibet’s unique scholarly traditions would perish in a generation if there were no place for the monks to continue their studies and for the monasteries to regroup, the Dalai Lama negotiated with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to establish a nonsectarian educational institution for 1,500 monks and nuns in a former British prison camp in Buxa Duar in a remote area of West Bengal.

For the next ten years, as the systematic destruction of 6,000 monasteries and temples and the genocide of the Tibetan people continued in Tibet, the Buxa abbots, teachers, monks, and nuns endured the harsh conditions of refugee life to sustain their monastic education and way of life. Their story of personal sacrifice and perseverance in the face of inconceivable loss is an important chapter in the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism and its eventual transmission around the world. For the first time in Tibetan history, monks and nuns from the four monastic lineages lived together under a single institutional roof. Due to the Dalai Lama’s tireless efforts to revitalize the Tibetan monasteries, the rigors and high standards of monastic education have survived the terrible rupture in Tibetan Buddhism’s long history. Tibet had safeguarded and refined the wisdom culture that it inherited from India’s great Nalanda University. Through the rebuilding of Tibet’s monasteries in exile, including the great three Gelug monasteries of Drepung, Ganden, and Sera, the Nalanda tradition has been restored to its birthplace in India.



Tibetan Buddhism has touched and transformed the lives of countless people and is changing modern society through the spread of Dharma centers, academic programs, and secular applications of the Buddha’s profound wisdom and methods. Since Buxa closed in 1969, several generations of geshes have been trained, and many have gone on to teach in international Dharma centers and academia. Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who both lived and studied in Buxa until they moved to Altomont Villa in Darjeeling, began teaching Western students in 1967. In 1975 they founded the Foun - dation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Since then, dozens of geshes have served as resident teachers in the more than 160 international centers affiliated with FPMT. As students of Tibetan Buddhism, we have much to be grateful for: If not for the resilience and dedication of the abbots, high lamas, and young scholars, and the concerted efforts of Tibetan and Indian government officials, lay people, and international aid agencies, Buxa would not have helped set the stage for the flourishing of Dharma in the modern world.



On March 31, 1959, the Dalai Lama and members of his party were granted asylum in India and taken by train to Mussorie, where he was welcomed by Prime Minister Nehru. They discussed the future of the refugees, who by then had begun pouring into India. For various reasons, including the evolving political relationship between India and China, Nehru took personal interest in the Tibetans’ situation. He also served as Minister of External Affairs and created a special Tibetan Refugee Section in that department to ensure that the refugees’ affairs would be handled at the highest level of government. Soon after that, the non-governmental Central Relief Committee-India (CRC-I) was formed to coordinate aid from scores of relief agencies based in India and abroad. The Tibetan government administrators and the Dalai Lama’s Private Office faced complex bureaucratic and logistical challenges, but the Indian government officials were supportive and worked closely with them to manage the refugees’ needs.

The Indian government set up two reception camps: One at Missamari in Assam for the refugees who arrived through Mon- Tawang and the other at Buxa Duar for those who came through Bhutan and Sikkim. The camps opened on May 16 and processed about 60,000 refugees over the next year.

Missamari and Buxa Duar were unbearably hot and humid for the Tibetans, who were used to the cold, clear air of the Tibetan plateau. They arrived exhausted, injured, sick, and destitute. The camps’ make-shift bamboo huts offered little respite from the heat. They were forced to shed their woolen and sheepskin clothing and wear lightweight, Indian-style pants and shirts that one geshe described as looking like a prison suit that stripped everyone—men and women, monastics and lay people— of their personal identity. As Geshe Lhundub Sopa recounted, “Mentally we were sad and disoriented, physically we were miserable. We wondered, ‘Where are we going from here?’ We had no idea what would happen next. We just knew that we were a long way from home.”

The Indian authorities did their best to provide for the refugees’ needs, but overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, polluted water, and minimal medical care meant that hundreds succumbed to dysentery, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and other diseases. The monks conducted pujas for the deaths that continually occurred. Within a year, 167 children and sixty-five adults died in Missamari alone.

As the situation worsened in Tibet, it was clear the refugees would not be returning any time soon and they would need some form of employment to survive. The Indian government decided to send all able-bodied refugees to work on road construction in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kullu, Manali, and elsewhere in the Himalayan region. It was agreed that everyone under the age of twenty-five should go to school. To retain Tibetan language and identity, the Tibetan government-in-exile began to set up its own schools and kindergartens. The elderly would be sent to old age homes, and those who had relatives or other connections in India were free to leave the camps.


In addition to the refugees’ immediate welfare, the Dalai Lama was very concerned about sustaining the religious and cultural legacy of Tibet. More than 6,000 monks and nuns had escaped from Tibet by early summer. Many, including thousands of young monks whose philosophical studies had been disrupted, were already joining the road crews. The Dalai Lama saw that the scholarly traditions of Tibet’s great monasteries would be lost unless the monks could continue their education and the monasteries could rebuild. “If the abbots, tulkus, and monastics are scattered and mingled with the rest of the refugee population, this will be a huge loss not only for Tibet, but for the world of Buddhism in general,” he said. He envisioned a nonsectarian monastic institution where monks and nuns from all the Tibetan lineages could study, so he traveled to Delhi to petition Nehru for help.

Elements in the Indian government had been critical of Nehru’s decision to admit the Tibetans into India, resulting in some pressure to put all of the Tibetans to work, including the monks, so that aid could be reduced as quickly as possible. Responding to the Dalai Lama’s appeal, the Indian government agreed that 500 monks could stay in Buxa Duar to continue their studies based on the ancient cultural and religious ties between India and Tibet. This was hardly enough to reestablish the monastic structures that would be needed to support the monks’ long-term education or to produce a sufficient number of graduates to sustain the monasteries in the future, so the Dalai Lama asked for more. Indian officials were unfamiliar with the rigorous form of scholarly training in the Tibetan monasteries that required up to twenty-five years of study to earn a geshe degree. After considerable discussion, the Indian authorities agreed that 1,500 monastics could live in Buxa Duar and 500 in Dalhousie.

Thardoe Chosum Chogar Ling, commonly called Buxa Chogar by Tibetan officials and monks, was formally established in August 1959. In September, abbots and scholars of the four Tibetan Buddhist sects and the Dalai Lama’s representatives held a week-long meeting in Kalimpong to decide where each of the monasteries would go. They agreed that Gyuto and Gyudmed tantric colleges, Namgyal Monastery, and elder abbots, tulkus, and geshes would stay in Dalhousie, while 200 from the Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu monasteries along with 1,300 abbots, teachers, and “dedicated learners” from the three great Gelug monasteries, would go to Buxa. Twenty-one Kagyu nuns who had escaped with their abbot, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, also would stay in Buxa. Since thousands of lay people already were living in the Buxa camp and thousands of monks were in Missamari, Kalimpong, Bomdila, Gangtok, and areas where road construction was under way, the Tibetan administrators and abbots had to begin the arduous process of sorting everyone out and verifying the identities and eligibility of the monks. To be admitted to Buxa Chogar, the Gelug monks had to be screened, pass an improvised exam, and prove they had at least begun the first year of Collected Topics (a preliminary subject for formal monastic education) in Tibet.

Buxa Duar sits 2,800 feet (850 meters) above sea level in northwest Bengal, near the border with Bhutan. The camp itself occupied the ruins of an ancient fort that had been seized by the British in 1865 and converted into a high-security prison for political dissidents during India’s independence movement. Gandhi and Nehru were rumored to have been incarcerated there, but no contemporary records confirm this. The two-story-high outer wall, covered with barbed wire, and long concrete barracks with barred windows were still standing when the Tibetans arrived in 1959. A large metal gate and police post guarded the single entrance where the monks had to obtain permits even to visit nearby Alipurduar. The compound sat on a flat promontory perched over a river 1,000 feet (300 meters) below. Thickly wooded mountains on three sides sealed the camp’s claustrophobic atmosphere and trapped the cold, foggy winters, unbearable summer heat, and torrential monsoon rains. Watchtowers built by the British at points along the ridges of the mountains served as an ironic reminder of the constraints on the monks’ lives.

The compound was scarcely large enough to hold everyone, yet the monasteries did their best to divide the buildings equitably, set up communal kitchens, and designate spaces for debate, teachings, and ceremonies. The nuns were given a small house in the center of the compound next to the Indian administration building. With only two small windows high up in the walls, the interiors of the long, narrow barracks were dark and stultifying. Lama Zopa Rinpoche described the living arrangements in the building where he initially stayed: thirty beds lined up on each side of the central door. He, some geshes, and the Sera Me monks lived inside. The Sera Je monks built new bamboo houses outside in the courtyard. Lama Yeshe’s house was over the drain for the water pumps, making it quite smelly and unpleasant.

Indian officials were unfamiliar with the rigorous form of scholarly training in the Tibetan monasteries that required up to twenty-five years of study to earn a geshe degree.

“Sera Je and Sera Me monks would gather in that same building to do pujas,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche said. “The older monks would sit on the beds, while the abbots and incarnate lamas sat up front and other monks sat on the floor.” The monks replaced the toilets at the ends of the buildings with altars that they fashioned out of bamboo. Sharpa Tulku recalled, “Some of the monks were so talented and creative. They made beautiful bamboo furniture, not only altars, but beautiful bamboo beds with crushed bamboo on top, so you didn’t need a mattress. It was so soft.” Poisonous snakes living in the bamboo overhead would drop down on the monks’ beds, but as one of the geshes explained, the snakes kindly took care of the rodents under foot. The monks hung curtains between the beds for privacy so they could study and do their practices, but that did not stop TB and other illnesses from spreading like wildfire.

The environment in and around the camp was exceedingly unhealthy. The water looked clean, but it was polluted by runoff from a military installation upstream. It darkened the monks’ skin and clothes and caused gastric problems. Bed bugs and other vermin made it impossible to get a good night’s sleep. When the monks took walks in the forest to relax, they got terrible blisters from poisonous trees. Since they could not afford shoes, they made sandals from old car tires. For robes, they pieced together whatever scraps they could find including wheat flour bags donated by the United States. On his first visit to Buxa Chogar on Ganden Ngamchoe, the anniversary of Je Tsongkhapa’s death, a wealthy benefactor from Kalimpong, Tehor Gyurmey Sadutsang, saw the monks debating in lay clothes, which was considered inauspicious, so he donated cloth for each of the monks to make a full set of robes.

Most of the monks had difficulty adjusting to the Indian diet. The Indian government provided basic rations of rice, lentils, corn flour, oil, potatoes, sugar, and goat meat. International aid organizations sent wheat, milk powder, and tinned meat. In the beginning, the rations were good quality, but corrupt local officials began intercepting incoming supplies and replacing them with poor quality rice and pulses infested with insects and full of stones. Between the bad food and dysentery, many of the monks and nuns suffered from lengthy bouts of diarrhea.

By mid-1960, the government began to reduce the already meager rations, which caused considerable anxiety among the monks. The Tibetans pressed government leaders to continue the promised level of support, which they did for the time being. The camp faced a food shortage again in 1966 due to famine in Bihar. In 1967 when a Naxilite Maoist insurgency in West Bengal cut off the supply route to Buxa Duar, everyone went without food for twenty days. The Dalai Lama appealed to Indian officials for help, “These scholars constitute the nucleus of our learning. Our strongest hope in the preservation of Buddhism and our culture lies in these people, and for this reason I have always considered their welfare of utmost importance.”

In the early days of Buxa Chogar, a one-room clinic was set up and staffed by local doctors who lacked equipment and medicine to properly treat all the ailments that were occurring. Quite a few of the geshes remembered a particularly bad-tempered health worker who used the same hypodermic needle over and over again. When it became dull, he would sharpen it on a stone, all the while cursing at his patient.

Hundreds contracted TB. Those with severe symptoms were sent to Indian hospitals where they underwent surgery to remove parts of their lungs. Ganden Tri Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin was treated at a Christian hospital in Rajasthan that had so many Buxa monks it built a special section for them. “Every two weeks, we would have the monks’ confession ceremony and do pujas and prayers together at the hospital,” Rinpoche said. Sharpa Tulku recalled, “Of those who were fortunate enough to return to Buxa, many were missing a rib and did not live very long. It seemed like every few days there would be a cremation. It was a real demonstration of impermanence.”

Hundreds contracted TB. Those with severe symptoms were sent to Indian hospitals where they underwent surgery to remove parts of their lungs. ... “It seemed like every few days there would be a cremation. It was a real demonstration of impermanence."









TB continued to spread unchecked. Adding to the trauma of their escape and loss, the monks were disturbed by the sound of stones dropping on the barracks’ roofs at night, which they attributed to the troubled spirits of prisoners who had been executed by the British. As the reality of their situation sank in—that they would not be returning to Tibet any time soon and that the international community would not recognize Tibet as an independent nation—some of the monks succumbed to despair and mental illness. A few committed suicide. The abbots and Tibetan officials repeatedly requested of the Indian authorities to move the monks to a cooler place and to set up a separate TB ward, but nothing was done until 1966. By then 309 monks (twenty-six percent of the population) had TB and another 203 had already died. The CRC-I finally sent a special medical team to Buxa and built a separate TB barrack. Tibetan officials continued their search for a more conducive location for the monks. They found a property in Palumpur near Dharamsala, but the Indian government, international aid agencies, and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) could not finance the purchase of the land. The Tibetan government-in-exile launched an urgent fundraising campaign in the settlements, and the refugees gave whole heartedly, but their donations fell short of the goal.

Despite the difficult living conditions, the monasteries resumed their daily schedule of study, classes, debate, prayer sessions, and common rituals. Geshe exams began in 1962. As news of the destruction of monasteries in Tibet continued to arrive at the camp, the monks realized just how much the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism depended on them. They threw themselves into their studies. They were aware, Sera Je Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Gelek said, that the Indian government was providing long-term support, “so the abbots advised the monks, if we just take the food that the Indian government is giving us and we don’t study, it would be a total betrayal of trust. It’s our responsibility to study as long as we can. The monks took that to heart and studied hard. … It’s especially important to note that in Buxa the monks didn’t have any other work to do at all, so the quality of study was very high. And it’s because of that that now the monasteries and the Dharma have been preserved in the way they have.”

While hundreds of important teachers had been unable to leave Tibet, many highly qualified and revered abbots and scholars did come to Buxa Chogar. The traditional process of teacher-to-student transmission, so crucial to the young monks’ intellectual and character development, was reestablished. In Tibet monks were free to choose their own teachers and would have done this within their own monastic college, but with all the monasteries so close together in Buxa, they could take teachings from any of the great scholars there regardless of lineage. Lama Yeshe, who was keenly nonsectarian, had many new students come to him for teachings and advice, so he studied texts from all the other traditions as well as his own.

The Dalai Lama was especially concerned about providing the best possible conditions for the monks’ education. “You could tell that the state of affairs in Buxa was constantly on his mind,” Sharpa Tulku said. “We were constantly receiving letters from him for all kinds of occasions. He requested his tutors Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to come when they were traveling in the vicinity. ... He was always trying to provide encouragement to officials like Phala [Thubten Woden, the former Lord Chamberlain of Tibet and Chief Secretary to His Holiness the Dalai Lama] and Kundeling [Woeser Gyaltsen, at the time the Director of the Council for Cultural and Religious Affairs of the Tibetan Govern ment in Exile], and he sent the great master Gyudmed Khensur Ngawang Lekden, who would give the most fascinating lectures and convey His Holiness’s advice, prayers, and support. This happened constantly, and it was very uplifting.” Later, the Dalai Lama sent Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen Rinpoche, a highly revered Buddhist master from Kinnaur, to give teachings on Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life and Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment.

The monks began their day at 6:00 A.M. with a rigorous schedule of memorization, teachings, class debate, and prayers, as Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained, so they could “purify, collect merits, and pacify obstacles in order to complete their studies, gain realizations, and achieve enlightenment. They would do Tara prayers, White Umbrella Deity, Heart Sutra, and so on. There were also many prayer requests for people who had died or were sick” and from the Tibetan government for success in its affairs. These were followed by one-on-one debate, lunch, more teachings, dinner, private study, and more debate that lasted many hours into the night.

In Tibet, the monasteries were distant from one another so there were not many opportunities for intramural debate except during the Great Winter Debate after the Monlam Chenmo festival. In Buxa, space for debate was very limited so the six Gelug colleges had to share three areas. The largest area, near Ganden Jangtse’s house, was where Indian prisoners had been executed. One of the geshes said, “It was a sad place, but we did a lot of prayers and gradually the presence of the ghosts was diminished.”

In the mornings and afternoons, the monks debated with members of their own college. In the evenings, the colleges debated together and the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya monks were welcome to join, which they often did. The effect on the monks was galvanizing. Sharpa Tulku recalled, “When we came together for debates, we were able to exchange ideas from all the monastic traditions, which was really fantastic. ... It was even more exciting than debating within our own monastic tradition because it presented a lot of challenges, different views, and ways of under - standing the same topic [whether] authored by Je Rinpoche, Khedrup Je, or the Indian pandits. They were all the same great masters. ... I think that’s what the scholars and teachers really enjoyed, looking forward to this common gathering and sessions.” While the monks debated together like this, the Dalai Lama asked each of the monasteries to take care to preserve their own unique debate manuals and scriptural authorities.

The largest debate ground was paved over with concrete and the monks sat outside, rain or shine. Eventually a large tent was erected. “When we first came to Buxa, the sutra classes followed the same schedule as in Tibet, with debating all night long,” Sera Je Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Delek explained. “When there was a geshe examination ceremony, we would start debate at 5:00 in the evening and go until 5:00 in the morning, but later His Holiness advised the monks not to stay up all night because it would harm their health.” The monasteries stopped the debates at 1:00 A.M., but as Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained, the monks would return to their rooms and continue to memorize texts. “After finishing hours of debate, Sera Je Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Delek would come back, drink some black tea, then put a seat outside his room and recite many of the hundreds of pages that he had memorized ... especially Lama Tsongkhapa’s famous text, The Interpretable and Definitive Meanings: The Essence of Good Explanation. ... It is a very, very important text and difficult to learn, but he had memorized hundreds of pages. … He would recite very loudly until about 3:00 A.M. Then he would go to sleep for two or three hours. In the early morning, he would get up and begin memorizing again. That is just one example of how the monks dedicated their lives [in Buxa] to study Dharma.”

“It’s especially important to note that in Buxa the monks didn’t have any other work to do at all, so the quality of study was very high. And it’s because of that that now the monasteries and the Dharma have been preserved in the way they have.”

Over the course of their studies, monks are expected to memorize a vast amount of material so they can argue decisively in debate. The twenty-to-twenty-five year geshe degree curri - culum covers the five great treatises, or philosophical topics of pramana (functioning of the mind and logic), prajnaparamita (the way to develop realizations on the path to enlightenment), madhyamaka (the view of emptiness), vinaya (monastic discipline), and abhidharma (phenomenology and psychology). Monks have to memorize the Indian root texts and commen - taries, the Tibetan commentaries of their particular lineage masters, and extensive study and debate manuals and liturgies of their individual monasteries. Reliance on these texts ensures that the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation will be accurate and vibrant.

A monastery in Bhutan and some lay Tibetans offered texts for study and memorization, but there were far too few in Buxa for all the students at all the levels of classes. The monks had to make do by studying a few pages at a time and circulating them among their classmates. Initially, those who could write trans cribed texts that their teachers and senior scholars knew by heart. They used any paper they could find—powdered milk and butter wrappers from overseas donations were especially prized for their durability.

Around 1962, Khensur Pema Gyaltsen, the abbot of Drepung Loseling monastery, sent three of his monks to Kalimpong to learn lithography from Dorje Tharchin Babhu, a Christian Tibetan intellectual and journalist who published the first Tibetan newspaper, The Mirror, in 1925 and began printing Tibetan Buddhist texts as early as 1944. The printing process was physically demanding and required considerable skill to set up and run, but after much trial and error, the monks were able to reproduce legible texts. For the next three years, they worked hard to meet the demand for texts. Eventually they brought two machines back to Buxa and set up a printing office where the other monasteries sent staff to create master copies of their texts to be printed.

Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was a renowned and beloved scholar and tantric master from Ganden Shartse monastery. He could easily have settled in Dalhousie, where most of the high lamas and tulkus were, or gone to live in comfort with well-off Tibetan benefactors in Kalimpong and other places, but he rejected many invitations and chose to live in Buxa instead. He knew that many tantric lineage-holders were still in Tibet and that the tantric teachings and practices would be lost in exile if they were not transmitted to the upcoming generation. He stayed in a barrack with the Ganden Shartse monks and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Despite his strict and imposing demeanor, he was immensely popular and hundreds of monks from all of the sects flocked to his teachings and initiations, which included Guhyasamaja, Hayagriva, Thirteen Deity Yamantaka, Solitary Yamantaka, and Vajrayogini. “He was so artistic,” Sharpa Tulku recalled. “The entire room where he stayed became a beautiful teaching hall. In lieu of butter sculptures, he decorated the offerings with the most creative wooden and paper ornaments. He even made portable play torma offerings for some of the young tulkus. It was always crowded in his room, so he developed a huge fan made from crushed bamboo and covered with cloth and then one or two monks in the back would pull it back and forth and it would cover the entire room!”

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained, in Tibet the monks had to complete their studies before they could engage in tantric practices, but in Buxa, “so many monks were able to do retreat because of Zong Rinpoche’s kindness. He advised, don’t do only sutra and debate, but take time to practice, take initiations and practice, and prepare for the next life. Have some realizations and achieve enlightenment.” Zong Rinpoche presided over many of the major rituals, including the torgyag after the Monlam festival at the end of the year to cast out evil influences. He would remind his students: “Right now, people in Tibet are experiencing hell on earth and don’t have any rights. We weren’t able to aban - don the materialistic world by ourselves, but now the Chinese have separated us from worldly ways. We are lucky to have freedom here. If Dharma practitioners think carefully about this, then there’s no need to be attached to anything.”

As the senior-most abbot in Buxa, Drepung Loseling Khenpo Pema Gyaltsen worked with the abbots of all the sects to carry out the Dalai Lama’s instructions that Buxa function as “a new college … [offering] the curriculum of all four schools of Tibetan Dharma.” While each of the schools sustained their own courses of study, the historic juncture of all the lineages living side by side at Buxa opened a new horizon for intra-monastic relations. Sharpa Tulku observed, “The monks from the different colleges came together for daily prayers, monthly sojongs, and Monlam Chenmo. It was amazing that out of the 19,000 monks from the three great Gelug monasteries in Tibet, here were a thousand all meeting in this one small place. ... I’ve never seen such a united spirit of sharing—just the feeling we are all just the same, Tibetan Buddhists. It was the best part of being in Buxa.”


By mid-1960, as the Indian government and the Tibetan admin - istration solidified plans to move the refugees to permanent settlements, the Dalai Lama began to consider the long-term prospects for the Buxa Lama Ashram, another name for Buxa Chogar. The Indian government raised concerns about having to support the monks beyond the usual period of two to three years for humanitarian assistance. They proposed that the monastic system be converted into a university-style system that conformed to modern educational standards and pedagogical methods. If the Tibetans agreed to this, the Indian government could rationalize their support of the monks as students under the government’s Education Department.



Once again, the Dalai Lama sought Prime Minister Nehru’s advice. They agreed on the idea of establishing a Tibetan institute of higher education that would serve the refugees and people from the Himalayan regions who share religious, cultural, and linguistic ties with Tibet. The Dalai Lama had already conceived of Buxa as a single institution encompassing all the monastic lineages, so he thought that the Indian government’s proposal to convert Buxa’s course of studies to a modern academic framework would be worth trying. According to Samdhong Rinpoche, who helped facilitate early-stage discussions about the conversion, when the Dalai Lama presented the idea to the abbots, they were generally open to it. Their main concern was that they would have to abandon the centuries-old teacher-student relationship, which enshrined the deep process of transmission that sustained the Dharma as a living tradition. Under the new system, the monks would have a different teacher for each topic.

Over the next six years, the Dalai Lama, the abbots, Tibetan scholars, W. G. Kundeling, and other Tibetan government officials undertook the complex process of planning the conversion. In November 1963, at the first meeting of the heads of all the Buddhist and Bon schools, a formal resolution was passed to transform Buxa into a unified center of learning. In May 1964, the Dalai Lama met with M.C. Chagla, India’s Minister of Education, to reaffirm the Tibetans’ intentions for a higher learning institute. Chagla asked for a detailed plan and budget for the Indian parliament to review that September. On July 13, 1964, the Dalai Lama convened a week-long meeting with the abbots, scholars, and Tibetan government officials to develop the plan. He presented his ideas for a modern-style university: It should be open to lay men and women and foreigners, have monthly and annual exams, and teach Hindi, science, and other modern topics. Sampurnanand Sanskrit University representatives gave a presentation on their university’s system. The final plan for the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) was approved in December 1965. It was agreed that it would be implemented in Buxa and at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University and that all the monks would gradually shift to the CIHTS in Varanasi.

In the meantime, a Teacher Training Center was launched in May 1965 in Mussorie for fifty-six senior scholars from Buxa to learn modern teaching methods, curriculum development for traditional subjects, and other topics. The Dalai Lama requested Zong Rinpoche to be the center’s principal and Khunu Lama Rinpoche to be the head teacher. After six months of training, the teachers returned to Buxa and began the new program. The monks attended eight forty-five-minute classes per day covering topics from the five great treatises. Many were in the early years of studying logic or the prajnaparamita when they escaped from Tibet. Under the new system, they also had to study madhyamaka, vinaya, and abhidharma. “The way we studied in Tibet,” Sera Je Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Delek said, “was that we memorized the root texts for each of the five treatises. But under the new system, we could only get a rough understanding of the topics because there was not enough time to memorize the root texts. ... After a year or two, the monks were asked which way they preferred to study, and they said they preferred the way before because they could memorize the root texts and get a good understanding of one topic before moving on to the next. So after two years, they changed back to the system as it had been in Tibet.”

On January 1, 1968, the Dalai Lama formally inaugurated the CIHTS at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University. Initially 116 monks were enrolled, but there was no capacity to accept more than fifty monks per year after that. With 927 monks from the three great monasteries in Buxa at that point, it would have taken many years for all the monks to shift to Varanasi. By then, the Tibetan administration had exhausted its search for a new location so another solution was needed.

The CIHTS represented an important development in the emergence of Tibetan Buddhism in the modern world and in the revitalization of the Nalanda tradition in India. Today it is a renowned university-level center for higher Buddhist studies. However, bringing the monasteries together under one roof with a common curriculum risked losing each monastery’s unique commentarial tradition and liturgical texts. For this and other reasons, the Dalai Lama decided that it would be best for the monasteries to move to the settlements in South India where they could rebuild as separate institutions. When this was announced in Buxa, many of the monks objected on the grounds they would be living too close to the lay communities and their time would be taken up with clearing the land and farming rather than study. The abbots conveyed the monks’ objections to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He gave an impassioned response that was tape recorded and played for the monks in Buxa. They had never seen a tape recorder before so when they heard his message, they were riveted. He explained the need to begin a new life in self-reliant communities. They could not live on donated rations forever. As long as the monks remained isolated in Buxa, no new monks would join to revitalize the monas teries. He reminded them that, as the future abbots of the monasteries in exile, the survival of Tibetan Buddhism depended on them. They were persuaded, and the first batch of monks departed for South India in November 1969.

The Karnataka state government gave the monasteries land in the two largest Tibetan settlements in South India; the Drepung, Ganden, and Sakya and Nyingma monks went to Mundgod, and the Sera and Kagyu monks went to Bylakuppe. After making the 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) train trip south, the monks arrived to find themselves either in the midst of a dense forest or in barren fields with nothing more than tents for shelter. Drepung Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Yeshe remembered, “At that time we had very bad storms that destroyed the tents, which were old and tore easily. The monks didn’t have any mats under them. They just slept on the ground. They got a salary of one rupee and fifty paisa to work all day cutting down and uprooting the trees. They didn’t have any breakfast and only a small amount of food for lunch. That’s why these days we say the Buxa monks are very kind.”

From these inauspicious beginnings, the monks gradually cleared and ploughed the land; built beautiful Tibetan-style prayer halls, dormitories, and kitchens; and resumed their studies. Since then, the monasteries have grown under the leadership of their great abbots and scholars, attracting monks from the exile community, newly arrived refugees, and others from the Himalayan region. Today almost 11,600 monks live at Drepung, Ganden, and Sera, and these monasteries have opened branches in India and the West, bringing the benefits of the Dharma to countless people.

“Buxa was extremely important [to the continuity of Tibetan Buddhism],” Ganden Tri Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin observed. “If Buxa hadn’t been there, then the monks who were scholars ... would have gone their own way, some to make roads, some to other places. All that knowledge and tradition would have been lost. Instead, through the kindness of His Holiness and the Indian government, it was possible for the 1,500 monks to stay together in one place and for this tradition of education to continue and flourish.”

Robyn Brentano has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1975, when she attended the eighth Kopan lamrim course and met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Since the mid-1980s, she has worked extensively with the Tibetan community on cultural preservation and humanitarian aid projects in exile and in Tibet, and she has directed an array of documentary and cultural productions related to Tibetan Buddhism. She has served as an executive and philanthropic advisor at various nonprofit organizations dedicated to inter national development; refugee resettlement; contemplative-based education; the environment and climate change; and the arts. She has been a trustee of the FPMT-affiliated Foundation for the Development of Compassion and Wisdom since 2008.


I was inspired to write about Buxa Chogar by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose amazing stories shed light on Buxa’s important role in “rescuing the Buddha Dharma from the ashes” as many of the elder monks said in our interviews.

Research for this article and the forthcoming book, Buxa: Saving Tibetan Buddhism in Exile (Wisdom Publications) was made possible by the kindness and expertise of many people. I am deeply grateful to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, His Holiness the Sakya Trichen, Ngari Rinpoche, Samdhong Rinpoche, Sharpa Tulku Rinpoche, Doboom Tulku Rinpoche, and forty-one former abbots and elder geshes from Drepung, Gaden, Sera, and the Nyingma monastery in Mundgod, as well as to Pencho Rabgey, Judy Pullen, and many others for their stories shared in extensive interviews.

I am also indebted to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s archive; the Central Tibetan Administration’s archive; the Tibetan Department of Religion and Culture; the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives; Zong Labrang; Wisdom Publications; Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive; the Tibet Fund; Geshe Dhonden for his book, A Life Story; our amazing interpreters Geshe Nyima Tsering, Geshe Tenzin Namdak, Ven. Lhundup Jampa, Ven. Tenzin Legtsok, Ven. Tenzin Tsomo, Jeffrey Allen, and Joshua Cutler, and translators Dawa Tenzin, Kalsang Tsering, Tenzin Norphel Lama, and Tenzin Sonam; our hosts in India; and the generous donors, whose support has sustained our work.

—Robyn Brentano
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Dalhousie, India
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/28/20

Dalhousie Hill station
Dalhousie is located in Himachal Pradesh
Coordinates: 32.53°N 75.98°ECoordinates: 32.53°N 75.98°E
Country: India
State: Himachal Pradesh
District: Chamba
Elevation: 1,970 m (6,460 ft)
Population: (2011)
• Total 7,051
• Rank 25 in HP
Time zone: UTC+5:30 (IST)
PIN: 176304
Telephone code: +91 1899
Vehicle registration: HP-47

GPO Post Office at Dalhousie India 1930's

Dalhousie is a hill station in Chamba district, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated on 5 hills and has an elevation of 1,970 metres above sea level.[1]


Dalhousie Town was named after The Earl of Dalhousie, who was the British Governor-General in India while establishing this place as a summer retreat.[2]


Dalhousie has a humid subtropical climate. Late summer and early spring see torrential rainfall due to monsoonal influence. The city sees over 90 frost days per year and 45-50 snow days.


1. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 177.
2. "Dalhousie: perfect summer getaway". Bangalore Mirror. 4 March 2010. Archived from the original on 6 March 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
3. "Climate of Himachal Pradesh" (PDF). Climatological Summaries of States Series - No. 15. India Meteorological Department. January 2010. pp. 36–42. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2020.

External links

• Dalhousie, India travel guide from Wikivoyage
• More information about Dalhousie.


Best Places to Visit in Dalhousie
by Sharp Travels (India) Limited
Accessed: 5/29/20

Find the most gorgeous places to visit Dalhousie that is a great escape for the honeymooners looking for some quiet and beautiful time. One can find the most enchanting sites, the most gorgeous landscapes, the sparkling rivers, colonial charm, vintage experiences on Dalhousie Tour packages.

Best things to do in Dalhousie:

One can try various colonial charms being here, enjoy trekking, shopping, various adventures and thrills and also try the most lip smacking food of Dalhousie.

1. Khajjiar


Khajjiar is famous for its Deodar and Pine trees that one can find, this place has the amazing snow capped Himalayas that form the backdrop, this is a great spot for friends and family. Find the most enchanting Khajjiar Lake that is the best place to visit in Dalhousie.

How far is it from Dalhousie?: This place is 22 km away from Dalhousie.

2. Dainkund Peak


Also named as the ‘Singing Hill’ this is the best place to visit for the views of the valleys, green hills, and plains, also fall in love with the view of the three rivers – Chenab, Ravi and Beas, that enhance the beauty of this place.

How far is it from Dalhousie?: This place is 10 km away from Dalhousie.

3. Kalatop Wildlife Reserve


Also famous for housing the Himalayan Bear, this is the best wildlife sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh and a really popular place to visit in Dalhousie. The beautiful river Ravi provides this place with the water supply. Also find the famous deodar, blue pine, & oak trees here.

How far is it from Dalhousie?: This place is 6 km away from Dalhousie.

4. St. Francis Catholic Church


Established in the year 1894, this magnificent church has European architecture and décor. The church is a major tourist attraction and a popular place of worship. It’s distinguishing charm is the reason it is counted among the eminent tourist places in Dalhousie.

5. Panchpula


Panchpula is renowned for its waterfalls, find the sparkling streams, samadhi of the famous freedom fighter Sardar Ajit Singh. This is an important place to visit as it is a main source of water supply to the town as well as nearby villages.

6. Ganji Pahari


Ganji Pahari is in the Bakrota Hills, and doesn’t have any vegetation on its top. One can find the best views of the surroundings as well as the fresh mountain air that create some great time for children.

How far is it from Dalhousie?: This place is 5 km away from Dalhousie.

Satdhara Falls is on the Panchpula route and is a classic example of nature and natural wonders. This water has a lot of healing and medicinal properties, one can find the out of the world beautiful view of the seven streams on

7. Rang Mahal


The Rang Mahal is one place exciting place that has a lot of historical significance. One can find the influences of both Mughal and British architecture in Rang Mahal. Find a lot of vibrant wall paintings that portray the life of Lord Krishna and is a major tourist attraction.

8. Chamera Lake


Chamera lake is an artificial lake and is an important part of Chamera Hydroelectric Project, visiting to this lake and dam are must on your Dalhousie trip. This lake is known for its extra ordinary beauty and has the dense pine forests of Bhandal Valley where one can try some great activities such as motor boating, river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, etc. Make sure to pay a visit to the famous Bhalei temple.

How far is it from Dalhousie?: Chamera lake is 25 km away from Dalhousie.

9. Mall Road


Mall road is one amazing place to shop from being in Dalhousie, one can enjoy some of the best activities in Dalhousie being here such as rejuvenation, witness the Pir Panjal mountain ranges etc. from here.


10 Places to Visit in Dalhousie for Traveller's Delight!
by Veena World
April 8, 2020


A pristine and gorgeous hill town on the Dhauladhar Range, Dalhousie is peacefully nestled amidst green pine and oak trees in the foothills of the Himalayas. One of the most well-known destinations in India, Dalhousie is often referred to as the Switzerland of India. It is characterized by its lush green mountains, beautiful scenic views, colonial architecture, and glistening rivers, and some of the best tourist spots. What’s quite interesting about Dalhousie is that it has managed to retain its serenity and natural beauty and till date elicits a vintage charm that is hard to miss out on.

1. The Best Time to Visit Dalhousie


If you’re planning to book the best resorts in Dalhousie¸ the best time for you would depend on your plans. The summers last from April to June, so you can visit anytime from March to May to make the most of sightseeing in Dalhousie. The weather starts getting warmer towards June and this time is considered to be the best time to visit, offering you the opportunity to take the most scenic walks around this hill town. If you are more of an adventure enthusiast and are searching for a different experience, you can head to Dalhousie to enjoy its snowy winters from December to February.

2. The Best Places to Visit in Dalhousie

There are several attractions within the town as well as amazing places to visit near Dalhousie which will keep you engaged throughout your trip. That being said, here is a list of the top 10 places you cannot miss out on when you visit Dalhousie: –

2.1 Khajjiar


Fondly known as the mini Switzerland of India, Khajjiar can be counted among the top places to visit near Dalhousie. It is a heaven for nature lovers with vast expanses of verdant meadows, views of the snow-covered Kailash, and the dense deodar forest. Khajjiar Lake adds to the beauty of the place, making it one of the most favored spots in the area. It is also the commencing point for several trekking routes and is the perfect destination for a day-long exploration trip. Khajjiar can be a great spot to enjoy a picnic with your family and friends. With a small plateau and a freshwater lake, Khajjiar offers a rare destination that brings together three ecosystems – lake, forests, and pastures – making for a sight that is amazing to behold. The best time to visit Khajjiar is in December. Exploring the best tourist places near Dalhousie will be incomplete without a trip to Khajjiar.

2.2 Kalatop Wildlife Reserve


One of the best places to visit in Dalhousie, the Kalatop Wildlife Reserve is where you can enjoy a jungle safari, trekking, and bird watching here. Home of the wild, you might even be able to spot the Himalayan Bear when here. This reserve is counted among the best wildlife sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh and is a great place for sightseeing in Dalhousie. However, apart from the abundant wildlife, there’s a lot more that the park has to offer. The park is supplied with water by the beautiful river Ravi that flows nearby. Then there are the blue pine, deodar, and oak trees that dot the Kalatop hills and wild daisies that cover the park, all of which make it one of the most delightful tourist spots in Dalhousie.

2.3 Satdhara Falls


One of the most beautiful places to visit in Dalhousie, the Satdhara waterfall is located at a height of 2035 meters above sea level. One of the reasons behind the popularity of this waterfall is the tranquil and peaceful ambiance that it offers to all visitors. The name Satdhara means a “blend of seven streams” and the waterfall truly offers a great sight to behold. Another reason why the waterfall is one of the well-known tourist places near Dalhousie is because people believe that the water of this fall has medicinal and healing properties. Satdhara Falls is located on the Panchpula route, this is a destination that showcases natural artwork. This picturesque spot where seven streams blend into one is a very beautiful place and can be called one of the best places to visit in Dalhousie for couples and honeymooners to spend some quality time together.

2.4 Sach Pass – The Trekker’s Paradise


One of the top places to visit in Dalhousie, Sach Pass is located in the Sach Town in Chamba District. The destination is a very picturesque place to head to and is blessed with a rugged terrain that yields to some of the most picture-perfect landscapes. It doubles up as an amazing trekking trail and is among the best tourist places in Dalhousie for adventure enthusiasts. The trail leads all the way to the Pangi Valley, which is also one of the remotest and most enchanting valleys that you can visit in Himachal. If you plan to get to Sach Pass, you will need to drive through snow-covered crests, thick woods, and verdant rolling plantations. It is among those places to visit near Dalhousie where even the trip itself to the destination offers a very fulfilling experience. Located at an elevation of 14500 feet above sea level, the destination is ideal for a road trip, photography, and activities like trekking and hiking.

2.5 Tibetan Market


Every trip must include a stop at the local markets where you can indulge even more fully into the local culture; and while sightseeing in Dalhousie will take you to the Mall Road for some shopping, Dalhousie has other places as well. Make sure you give the Tibetan Market a look as well. One of the lesser-known tourist places in Dalhousie, this tiny, beautiful market is a must for your itinerary. If the Tibetan culture and handicrafts pique your interest, you are bound to fall in love with this place. The market is located at Gandhi Chowk and is one of the best places to visit in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, for buying the finest Himachali and Tibetan handicrafts, Chamba slippers, beautifully carved jewellery, colourful hand-woven carpets, souvenirs, home decor items, and woollens and shawls.

2.6 Norwood Paramdham


This is one of the most famous places in Dalhousie if you want to witness a glorious sunset. Also known as Tapo Bhoomi, Norwood Paramdham is located on the Bakrota Hill. Swami Satyanand breathed his last at this place in 1960, after which it was also known as Param Dham. This is one of the best places to visit in Dalhousie if you are looking for a religious and cultural experience. The house is today managed by Bhagat Hans Raj Ji, a follower of Swami Satyanand who holds regular satang and semi-annual meetings at this place. There’s a certain serenity surrounding it.

Apart from the soothing and peaceful aura, this place is also one of the best places in Dalhousie to see a breath-taking sunset, which will leave you speechless as you marvel at the unparalleled beauty that nature has to offer. You can spend some great time here reveling in the surroundings and enjoying some of the best views.

2.7 Dainkund Peak


One of the very worthwhile places to see in Dalhousie, thanks to the snow-covered peaks and lush greenery that surrounds the place, Dainkund Peak is one of the most visited spots for sightseeing in Dalhousie. Dainkund is Dalhousie’s highest peak and gets the maximum amount of snowfall during the winter season. While there is a motorable road that will take you to this destination, it is also one of Dalhousie’s famous places for trekking. The route to Dainkund Peak offers some astonishing views that make it worth the effort. The whole stretch has so much natural beauty to offer that you will not be left wanting. Many times referred to as the ‘singing hill’, a trip to Dainkund Peak is highly recommended. While you can enjoy refreshing views of the plains, valleys, and hills, what really makes this place stand out is the enchanting sight of the three rivers, the Beas, Chenab, and Ravi, as they weave through the green landscapes, enhancing your experience here.

2.8 Francis Catholic Church


Another one of the famous places of Dalhousie, the St. Francis Catholic Church was established in 1894 and till date stands as a paradigm of art and architecture. The church is a very well-known attraction in Dalhousie and a very popular place of worship. It is counted among the best places to visit in Dalhousie for the distinguished charm it exhibits. When you have had enough of the adventure activities and would like to explore what makes Dalhousie such a charming destination, your sightseeing can take you towards the St. Francis Catholic Church, which is a spiritual sanctum that offers the perfect respite for visitors. This is a Dalhousie tourist place where you can embrace the essence of spirituality and experience the serenity that the hallowed walls have to offer.

2.9 Ganji Pahari


This is one of the places to visit in Dalhousie for some stunning panoramic views. The Ganji Pahari is a scenic hill near Dalhousie town on the Pathankot Road. The term Ganji means bald and Pahari means hill in the local language, and the name of this destination has been derived from its salient feature, which is the complete absence of any flora on the hull. This creates a natural landscape that makes it an amazing trekking trail, and thanks to its accessibility, it is one of the top places to visit in Dalhousie for a picnic. During the winters, the trail is covered with snow which makes the views even more stunning. While you will be able to see some amazing landscapes during any time of the day, the Ganji Pahari is among the best places in Dalhousie to see misty sunsets and sunrises. It’s the perfect place to explore during your trip to Dalhousie.

2.10 Rang Mahal


One of the most splendid places to visit in Dalhousie, Rang Mahal is a very popular attraction among all kinds of tourists. This is a magnificent palace that showcases a fusion of British and Mughal architecture. It was established by Raja Umed Singh in the 18th century to serve as the residence of the women of the royal family. The walls of the palace are decorated with Punjab hill style paintings that narrate the stories of the life of Lord Krishna. One of the top tourist places in Dalhousie, the Rang Mahal is located in the Surara Mohalla area. The palace is nestled amidst the most picturesque settings of lush greenery and is one of the largest monuments in the area. The palace also houses a handicraft shop, which is a popular place to visit in Dalhousie, where you can find woollen shawls, ethnic slippers, and more too take home as souvenirs.

These are some of the best places to visit in Dalhousie. However, this barely scratches the surface of all that the small town in the Himalayas has to offer. There is so much to witness and experience at this cosy hill town that your Dalhousie tour package will never have a dull moment!


His Holiness to grace CST Dalhousie’s Golden Jubilee
by Jamphel Shonu
Central Tibetan Administration: Restoring Freedom for Tibetans
April 25, 2013

A view of the Central School for Tibetans at Dalhousie in northern India

DALHOUSIE: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Sikyong and Education Kalon Dr Lobsang Sangay will grace the golden jubilee celebrations of Central School for Tibetans (CST), Dalhousie, scheduled for 28-30 April.

Preparations are on full swing for the landmark event, which will be attended by former students and staff from different parts of the world. The alumni include those who hold leading position in the Central Tibetan Administration and other major institutions in exile today.

Established in May 1963, CST in Dalhousie located some 143 km from Dharamsala, is one of the oldest Tibetan schools under the Central Tibetan Schools Administration (CTSA).

Talking to TibetNet, school rector Dawa Tsering said: “More than 4,000 have passed through this school over the years. Former staff and students include some of the most prominent personalities in the Tibetan community. The golden jubilee celebration expects to draw hundreds of former staff and students.”

The school currently has more than 240 students and 36 staff with classes from kindergarten to Class 12.

He said as requested, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay has graciously accepted to grace the occasion.

His Holiness will arrive at Dalhousie on 27 April.

The main function of the three-day event will be held on 28 April during which His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay will address the public, he said.

As a mark of gratitude, the school will present souvenirs to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the government of India, and former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, who was the school’s second principal.

Other highlights of the event include cultural performances by Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), performances by Aakama Band, and traditional Tibetan dances by school students and local Tibetans.

Schoolchildren taking part in a rehearsal for the golden jubilee celebration of the CST Dalhousie/Photo by Sangjey Kyab/TibetNet


The Marsden Murders, or the tragic lives of three brewing brothers
by Martyl Cornell


There are stories you come across while researching the history of beer, sometimes, that set the mind boggling on its springs. Such a tale is the one we can call The Marsden Murders.

It centres on Arthur Eagles Marsden, born in 1849 in Pimlico, London to a dynasty of operative brewers. His father, Robert, was a brewer, possibly at Watney’s brewery in Pimlico, his grandfather, George Eagles Marsden, was a brewer living in Lewisham, then in Kent, according to the 1841 census, his uncle George Eagles Marsden junior was an operative brewer living in Heather Street, Kingston upon Thames in 1851 and his mother Anna was the daughter of John Hector, owner of the brewery in Blandford St Mary, Dorset that was later taken over by Hall & Woodhouse.

By 1861 Robert Marsden had moved with his family to the village of Stapenhill, on the edge of Burton upon Trent, where he was undoubtedly working at one of the many breweries in Burton, quite likely, given later history, the Meakin family’s Abbey brewery, in Abbey Street. Arthur, Robert’s oldest son, very likely learned the brewing trade in Burton, but by the early 1870s he was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, working as a brewer.

There he met a young woman named Catherine “Kate” Vaughan, three years his senior, daughter of Patrick Vaughan and Mary Sullivan, both from Cork in Ireland, who had arrived in Halifax around 1844. One source claims that Catherine’s parents “took her away from school” because they were afraid she was about to convert to Catholicism, and forced her “against her will” to marry the Protestant Arthur Marsden. This clashes with the known facts: Catherine was baptised in the Catholic cathedral in Halifax, and she was 26 or so, when she met Marsden, so not “at school”.

Arthur Eagles Marsden: photograph courtesy of Colleen Murphy

Indeed, Arthur and Catherine were actually married in Manhattan, New York in January 1873, suggesting there were difficulties about them marrying in Halifax, possibly because of the difference in religion. If there were problems with Catherine’s family about her marrying an English Protestant, they could not have been that severe, as one of the witnesses at the Manhattan wedding was her brother John. Arthur Marsden later claimed to have brewed in the United States, so it may be that he was working in New York

Exactly nine months later, in October 1873, Catherine was back in Halifax, where she gave birth to a son who was given a set of Marsden family first names, Robert, for his grandfather, and Eagles from Arthur Marsden’s great-grandmother, Anne Eagles. Soon after the new family returned briefly to England, and then, in December 1874, sailed from Southampton for India, where Arthur had evidently been offered a post as a brewer by the brewing entrepreneur Henry Meakin. Henry was nephew to George Meakin, owner of the Abbey brewery in Burton, and his father, Henry senior, had worked as a brewer in the town before switching to farming. Doubtless Meakin knew Arthur Marsden from the time when the Marsden family were in Burton.

Henry Meakin junior had come out to India in 1869, aged 25, to take control of the Simla Old Brewery, in the Himalayan hill station now known as Shimla, which had been founded in 1860. Its height, almost 7,500 feet above sea level, made it vastly cooler than the Indian plains and thus very popular with recuperating Europeans – and also one of the few places in India where brewing beer was possible without expensive cooling equipment. (There were, eventually, nine or so breweries running in a thousand-mile arc along the foot of the Himalayas, all at 5,000 feet or above, built to supply the garrisons of the British Raj with beer.)

By October 1871 Meakin had taken over another established brewery in Kasauli, 20 miles to the south, to run alongside the Simla Old Brewery. The “Kussowlie” brewery had been started by a former East India Company officer called Captain Robert Beavan in 1850 to serve the troops in the settlement. In 1874 the Times of India reported that “Her Majesty’s troops in the Hills and at Umballa” (a garrison town 120 miles north of Delhi) had “taken kindly” to the beer from Henry Meakin’s brewery in Kasauli, and “actually prefer it to the beer supplied to the Commissariat from home [i.e. Britain]. This is a strong test, for Her Majesty’s forces are the keenest of critics everywhere … and find faults in such things as beef, bread and porter, which are frequently beyond the ken of their Commanding Officers.”

The same year Meakin took over a third brewery, which had been opened in 1863 at Jeolikot, on the road three miles from Nainital, a hill station 6,800 feet up in the outer Himalayas, 180 miles south-east of Simla and 215 miles east of Delhi. The water at the brewery “resembles more that of Burton than does any other source in India,” it was claimed in 1882. However, the brewery passed through “several” owners, before being acquired by Meakin. He placed Arthur Marsden in charge as manager and brewer, and Marsden “obtained a contract to supply the troops at Naini Tal [sic], which tripled his operations.”

The Naini Tal Brewery Company was brewing XXX double stout at three rupees for a dozen pints in 1876 and two rupees a gallon in casks, as well as pale ale and XXX strong ale: “Customers supplying their own coolies can obtain their Beers at the Brewery by applying for Delivery Orders from the Agents.”. The brewery looks to have been rebuilt in 1877, as Marsden advertised in July that year “to Parents and Guardians” for a pupil “to learn Brewing and Malting,” starting from October 1, when “the spacious new premises, both Brewing and Malting, will then be in working order.” If required, “the Pupil can be taught the English, Canadian and American, in addition to the Indian System of Brewing, at a slight increase of premium, the advertiser having brewed in some of the largest Breweries in each of these countries.”

Ad Marsden Naini Tal 1876

The Marsdens lived at Nainital until at least the latter half of 1881, with Catherine giving birth to six more children, two of whom died. Some time before October 1879, Arthur was joined at Nainital by his younger brother Hector Lionel Marsden, born in 1858, who had also trained to be a brewer. By 1883, Arthur had moved to Henry Meakin’s Simla Old Brewery, where in December that year his wife gave birth to another son.

A third Marsden brother, the youngest, John Cecil, born in Stapenhill in 1862, had also come out to India as a brewer, and in 1882 he was put in charge of Henry Meakin’s one-year-old brewery at Panch Pool, Dalhousie. This was a cantonment named for the Marquess of Dalhousie, British governor-general of India from 1847 to 1856, 125 miles north-west of Simla and 6,500 ft up. In September 1884, after two years in Dalhousie, and at the age of 22, John shot himself, an act that led the Civil and Military Gazette to editorialise about the pressures on “a European in this country living alone a dreary cheerless existence among uncongenial surroundings, who has rushed upon a fate which those more fortunately situated think he might have escaped if he had the safeguards of society and companionship.”

Hector Marsden moved on to the Lucknow Brewery, 260 miles east of Delhi in the plains of North India, one of several breweries run by Henry Meakin’s big rival Edward Dyer, which had been opened in 1882. The Lucknow brewery, which used refrigerating machinery to help make beer in a climate where even in the coldest month, January, average highs were 76ºF/24.5ºC, was the first successful brewery in the plains. Hector was there by July 1886, when he was advertising for sale in a local newspaper “one silver pedometer, only used on one or two occasions.”

Arthur Marsden and his family look to have continued living in Simla until 1890, when they moved to Dalhousie, for Arthur to take charge of the brewery where his youngest brother had committed suicide six years earlier. The children had all been educated at Catholic schools in Darjeeling, but Arthur had become a Freemason in 1878, and was increasingly anti-Catholic, which was causing strains in the household. The strains became worse when Catherine and her two oldest children, Robert and Mabel (who had been born in Nainital in 1876) began attending mass at a Catholic chapel in Dalhousie run by Belgian priests. Arthur’s fellow Masons in the Dalhousie lodge were under-impressed, and one allegedly told him: “Listen, Marsden, if your wife was mine, I would lodge a bullet in her skull this instant.”

From then, it was claimed, Arthur began to threaten to murder his family, and in September 1893 his wife told one of the Belgian priests: “I am certain that one day or other he will kill us all.” The following month, on the evening of October 10, an argument between Arthur and Mabel saw Catherine try to intervene. A furious Arthur hurled an ink bottle at her head. Robert, who had just had his 20th birthday, tried to defend his mother, and Arthur grappled with his son, dragged him out of the house and threw him down a small ravine on the steep hillside. Robert was bruised but otherwise uninjured, and the two returned to the house. Arthur went upstairs, and Robert and Mabel, attempting to act as if all were well, sat at the family piano and played, while their mother wept in an adjoining apartment.

The brewery at Panch Pool, Dalhousie, built, like most breweries in the Himalayan foothills, on a steep slope. The brewer’s house is presumably the two-storey building in the middle distance, centre-left

Suddenly Arthur reappeared, went into the apartment where his wife sat, and the horrified youngsters heard two loud reports. Their father had just put two bullets into the head of their mother. Robert rushed into the room, and Arthur shot him in the head, two or three times. He held the revolver close enough to both his victims that they suffered powder burns to their faces. Mabel stood in the doorway, hands clenched, looking at the horror before her, as her father raised his arm and shot her too, the bullet passing through her cheeks. She rushed bleeding out of the house, pursued by her father, and when, in the darkness, she fell, despite the family syce, or coachman, who had appeared, pleading with Arthur not to kill the girl, Mabel’s father bent over her and shot her in the head again, declaring: “Now you are sure to die.”

After this carnage, Arthur returned to the house and prepared a telegram to be sent to Henry Meakin to tell him that another manager would be needed immediately for the brewery. He then wrote several more letters, including one to Lieutenant Barton, the Assistant Civil Commissioner, detailing the events of the evening and declaring himself ready to be arrested. The messages were handed to his coachman to deliver to the post office, and Arthur then went out to the brewery and calmly set in motion the necessary actions for the next day’s brewing.

Robert Marsden, photographed aged 15 or 16. Courtesy of Colleen Murphy

The coachman, whose name was Abdul Gafar, was on his way to the post office when he found Mabel lying on the path, and rushed to the house of Captain Donnelly nearby. The girl was carried to the Donnellys’ home by servants, and a doctor, who happened to be the Donnellys’ son-in-law, examined her and found that the second bullet her father had fired had glanced along her skull and lodged in her neck. She was still alive, but death had been very close, and initial reports said she was not expected to live.

Meanwhile, Arthur’s letter having been delivered to Lieutenant Barton, a squad of police led by the assistant commissioner, together with the civil surgeon, Dr O’Neill, had arrived at the brewery. There they found Catherine and her son lying dead where they had been shot. The police, amazingly, were unarmed, and all were thus unwilling to go hunting in the dark a madman with a revolver. Lieutenant Barton was getting ready an urgent appeal to the officer in charge of the local army depot to send 100 or 200 men to scour the countryside the next day and, if necessary, shoot Arthur down, when a policeman came up and said that the murdering father had surrendered, quietly and calmly. He was taken away to the hawalat, or jail, where he remained under a strong guard while awaiting interrogation.

Arthur’s version of events, as related to the investigators, was that on the evening of the murders he had been threatened by his son, whom he was constantly upbraiding and finding fault with, and Robert had attempted to shoot his father, unsuccessfully. Arthur then shot his son, he claimed, in self-defence, and went on to shoot his wife and daughter in a fit of madness.

The inquiry into the murders accepted that there was “corroborative evidence” that Robert had levelled a gun at his father but that it had “snapped on an exploded cartridge”: Dr O’Neill, who had seen the bodies, stated at first that he was positive there was a gun on the floor beside Robert on the floor. As a result Arthur was sent to the Chief Court in Lahore to face charges of murdering his wife, the attempted murder of his daughter and “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” in the case of his son, though later Dr O’Neill said in court only that there “might have been” a gun on the floor. The trial was delayed until Mabel was well enough to give evidence. Meanwhile one newspaper in India wrote, ten days after the murders, that “popular feeling is turning round in sympathy” with Arthur: his wife, it was claimed, was “a shrew”, and “the evidence elicited in the trial goes a long way to show the miserable life his family has led him at home. His troubles seem to have dated from the day they were converted from Protestantism to Catholicism; and the subject of Masonry, Mr Marsden being a strong Mason, has always been a bitter bone of contention.”

Mabel Marsden, photographed aged 14 or so. Picture courtesy of Colleen Murphy

At the trial, Arthur insisted that after he had argued with his son over Robert’s laziness, Robert had threatened to shoot him, he had run for his own revolver, and when Robert aimed a gun at him, he fired his revolver in self-defence. Mabel repeated her original statement that Arthur had shot her mother first and then her brother, and denied that her brother was lazy. She gave evidence that her father used to throw chairs and bottles at her mother, and had “a very bad temper, which used to get worse about the time of the new moon.”

The judge, in his summing up, emphasised the gun that might have been on the floor, as apparent evidence that Arthur’s account was believable, and stressed that Mabel’s evidence might not be completely reliable, after she had been shot in the head. He also suggested that it was possible Arthur was sane when he shot his son, believing he was defending himself, and insane when he shot his wife and daughter. The jury, evidently swayed by these arguments, found Arthur not guilty of murdering his son, on the grounds of self-defence, and guilty of causing the death of Catherine and of wounding Mabel, but they acquitted him of murder and attempted murder because of being temporarily insane, the last two verdicts possible under Indian law but not English law.

After the verdicts were announced, lawyers and members of the public went up to Arthur and gave him “hearty congratulations”, a reaction which appalled one Indian newspaper: “That the sober and educated members of an Anglo-Indian community should be offering congratulations to a man whose hands are stained with the blood of his whole family, and who could be regarded best as an irresponsible homicide would have seemed a week ago inconceivable.”

Arthur was not freed, however: the presiding judge, Sir Meredyth Plowden, said that he should be kept in custody in the Lahore Central Jail pending the orders of the Punjab government, to which the case would be reported. In February 1894 the Punjabi government, showing sense rather than sympathy, ruled that Arthur was a “dangerous criminal lunatic, who is sane except when in the least excited,” and orders were issued that he be detained in the Bhowanipur Lunatic Asylum, Calcutta. In 1902 he was sent to Port Blair, in the Andaman islands, where the Indian government often exiled dangerous political prisoners, though he was apparently allowed to roam about: in 1906 he was trying to marry “a native Christian girl”. In 1907 there were proposals to transfer him to a lunatic asylum in England, but the following year he was moved instead to the lunatic asylum in Lahore. He was still apparently being held in a lunatic asylum in 1914: what happened to Arthur over the next 17 years before his death in Lahore in February 1931, aged 85, I have been unable to discover.

Meanwhile there was one more tragedy to be played out among the Marsden brothers. Hector Marsden moved at some point to Solan, 15 miles to the south of Shimla, where he was manager from at least 1894 at the brewery opened there by Edward Dyer in 1877. A young subaltern in the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was stationed in Solan, wrote admiringly in June 1894: “Mr Dyer and his manager Mr Marsden at the Brewery here dispense hospitality with a lavish hand whenever we go over and as they have an excellent billiard table some of us are generally to be found there in the afternoon.” Hector was still in Solan in December 1895, when he was advertising a Webley revolver for sale, “in excellent condition”. Soon after this he returned home to England, where he was apparently living for a while in Derbyshire, possibly with or near his three sisters, who were lodgers in a house in the village of Baslow, in the Derbyshire Peak District. [Update: there appear to be Marsden family links with Derbyshire – see comments from Peter Moynihan and Colleen Murphy below.]. In July 1897 Hector and one of his sisters arrived in Seaford, on the Sussex coast, presumably on holiday, and were staying at a house in Carlton Terrace, Broad Street. On the night of Sunday July 18 Hector retired to his bedroom, apparently well. The next morning he was found on the floor of the bedroom with a revolver wound to the head. He was 39 years old.

Alfred Marsden’s daughter Mabel stayed in India, and went on to have a long career as a teacher, working at convents in Darjeeling and Simla, finally dying in 1960, aged 84. Of the four other children of Arthur and Catherine still alive at the time of the murders, who were all apparently away at Catholic schools in northern India themselves in 1893, Arthur junior, born 1878 in Nainital, became a professor of history and taught at St Xavier’s College, a Catholic establishment in Calcutta, dying in 1959 aged 81; Charles, born in Simla in 1883, died of smallpox about 1909; Cecil, born in Nainital in 1879, fought in the First World War in East Africa with the Calcutta Volunteer Battery, an artillery unit, and died in Calcutta in December 1929, aged 49 – he had been badly disfigured by a tiger at some time, and was looked after by his brother Arthur until his death; and Ethel, born in Nainital in 1880, who married a civil servant working for the Indian government in Simla in 1914, died in 1939. Ethel was the only one of Arthur and Catherine’s children to have children herself: those children were brought up in India, and educated by nuns, who told them that Catherine and Robert had died on the same day of cholera, a story the family continued to believe.

With many thanks to Colleen Murphy for her researches into the Marsden family, without which this tale would have been very much poorer.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 29, 2020 7:20 am

Part 1 of 2

A Promise Kept: Memoir of Tibetans in India [Excerpt]
by Germaine Krull
©  2018 by Germaine Krull and Marilyn Ekdahl Ravicz, Ph.D.

Chapter 1

Yes, like everyone of my generation in Europe, I had heard and read about Tibet, the Roof of the World, where people lived high up in the mysterious Himalayan peaks. It was said that there were Lamas in Tibet who passed all the years of their lives in prayer and meditation. They were the keepers of their age-old Buddhist wisdom.

Strange tales were told about these holy men: that they would live for many hundred years; that they could walk without touching the ground; that they could appear simultaneously in different places; and that they could stop the thunder or command the rain to fall.

And then there was also the mysterious Dalai Lama -- the reincarnated Buddha -- who lived in the golden Potala, high up in Lhasa. where no one could reach him. He too was a Keeper of the world's Wisdom. Tales about his miraculous birth and reincarnations were told from time to time in books or popular magazines.

Those tales from my childhood were recounted and later confirmed in books about Tibet; however, none of them ever increased my real knowledge of that country. Yet, The Roof of the World remained in my mind as the holy site where Wisdom and Spirituality were kept alive.

Also like my countrymen and the world, I had heard about the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese Communists. I had even read about how the Tibetan people were fleeing their country. and even how the mysterious Dalai Lama left his golden Potala and took refuge in India too.

Newspapers had told us all about these events. However, our war-weary Europe was still so full of tragedies. and so full of refugees who were all so sad. that the tragedy of Tibet, an unknown for so many of us, disappeared quickly from the front pages of newspapers. And with that disappearance, once the subject was out of our minds, I -- like most others among us -- forgot about the Tibetans for the moment, and even until something happened to me.

It happened during one of those cold winter days in New Delhi, India, in 1962.

The Thai ambassador, whom I had met in Thailand where I still lived, invited me to attend a reception he was giving for a group of young Tibetan monks. These particular monks were said to have been identified as special young reincarnated Lamas of importance. I was told that this small group of Lamas was to be honored by a Thai reception. These young Lamas had been carefully identified and selected as tulkus by an English lady, Freda Bedi. They were selected from among Tibetan refugees working by the thousands in construction gangs along the roads of northern India.

The young Lama refugees being honored by the Thai Ambassador were to be enrolled in a school in Dalhousie. where they would learn English. Hindi. and how to deal with the ways of the Western world as special refugees. Their Buddhist studies would continue to be taught by selected Tibetan Lamas, in a manner consistent with their statuses as tulkus, and future adept-teachers, according to the established custom in Tibet.

The Thai ambassador wanted to entertain and honor the young Lamas, who were mostly ten years old to early teenagers. They were all refugees who had recently arrived in New Delhi. They had never seen countries outside of Tibet -- until they escaped, and were still viewing their country of exile with 'new eyes.' For this reason, the Ambassador had decided to show them movies of Thailand, and also give them Christmas presents.

As guests, we sat in the large reception room of the Thai Embassy in Delhi. This room had an elaborate marble floor inlaid with green and yellow designs, partly covered by beautiful carpets. The windows were closed and covered by drapes and curtains of Thai silk emblazoned in a golden flame design. The walls were high and topped by a dome-shaped ceiling that gave the room a sort of Byzantine air. Opposite the entrance, a life-size gold-framed portrait of the King of Thailand hung next to a similar framed portrait of his lovely Queen Sirikit. The corners of the room were occupied by heavily carved gold Thai vitrines, each of which held displays of Thai handicrafts and dolls. One wall of the room had been arranged so the projected film could be shown, and a row of chairs stood ready to receive the young Tibetan Lama guests.

As we sat around, I studied the Indian ladies. They wore gorgeous silk saris embroidered with gold and silver. I also saw that, since it was cool, they kept their sophisticated soft Kashmiri shawls wrapped around their shoulders. The European ladies mostly wore their fur coats. Only the Thai ladies, garbed in shiny Thai silk dresses with long skirts and a large front fold, seemed not to feel the cold. Their skirts touched the ground, and were topped with tightly fitted silk blouses that were closed from waist to neck by a row of round gold decorative buttons.

In the usual Asian way, the ladies were sitting together apart from the men. They were engaged in the usual gossip while drinking the usual martinis or fruit juices. On the other hand, the gentlemen remained standing, whiskey glasses in hand, and were attended constantly by white-gloved servants. from time to time, the ambassador's louder laughs hinted that the mood of the gentlemen was improving.

Suddenly the doors were opened and two young monks, no more than perhaps ten years of age, arrived. Perfectly calm, and in no way disturbed by the sophisticated surroundings or richly dressed ladies and gentlemen, they entered with folded hands and downcast eyes. They were followed by thirty or forty slightly older monks, all garbed in traditional red-burgundy robes. Without any commotion, they approached the Thai Ambassador in a group, and he greeted them with folded hands. After this greeting, they marched directly to their chairs and, with smiling faces, accepted the lemonade and cookies provided for them by the servants.

In no way did these young monks appear to be disturbed or to feel out of place. On the contrary, it was we who more or less seemed out of place. The very entrance of these young burgundy-clad monks had charged the atmosphere and made a difference. With their intelligent faces, bright dark eyes and calm acceptance of their new surroundings, something new had entered the reception room. Another world had suddenly opened (among and for us).

For me, that evening had initiated a strange sentiment of subtle potential involvement. I felt myself drawn to this group of monks, and somehow already realized that I might want to keep close to them. That evening ended, but not before I had made an appointment with Freda Bedi to visit the Tibetan refugee camp in Delhi on the following morning.

The following morning, a sophisticated white-clad chauffeur drove me to old Delhi in the Thai embassy car. On the way, we passed the famous Red Fort and followed the Ring Road until we finally reached a neighborhood of shabby huts. Many of these structures were made of mud mixed with straw into adobe. They had mostly palm roofs weighted down with stones to keep them from drifting away in the wind. Here, people were huddled in outdoor areas where they tried to warm themselves under the few rays of sunlight that could reach them. They were also trying in this way to avoid the cold winds that blew off the nearby river (the Yamuna River).

"Nothing good here," remarked the chauffeur repeatedly. We continued to drive until we reached the Buddhist Vihara where a large group of Tibetans had already gathered. Once stopped, I descended from the car and tried to make my way through the dense crowds of mostly Tibetan people.

I had already seen multitudes of refugees in Europe, and had even visited a few concentration camps during and after World War II; however, somehow the refugees gathered here seemed especially tragic, although in a different way. Their faces bore expressions of extreme bewilderment. They seemed entirely lost and out of place. There were old and young women, children, and many old men. They sat hunched on the cold black earth. or huddled together on the cement stairs inside of the Vihara courtyard.

The Vihara itself comprised a spacious compound situated along one bank of the river from which an icy cold wind blew periodically. A kind of gallery or walled cloister surrounded the entire vihara compound, and many children were curled up in this protected area. The Tibetan men and women were dressed in similar darkish long robes, and their black hair was arranged in long plaits, which either hung down their backs or were coiled around their heads. Here and there the burgundy-red robes worn by the young lama refugees appeared. It was impossible for me to place my feet on the ground without trodding on an arm or a leg, and I didn't know where to direct my faltering steps in this sea of humans. where was Freda Bedi, and how could I find her?

In one far corner, I could see a commotion developing. Lorries loaded with bags of rice and wheat had pulled up, and these were immediately being off-loaded by Indian Officials. The workers tried valiantly to make themselves understood by the mob of gesticulating and screaming hungry Tibetans; however, it appeared their Hindi was not understood.

At last - in the midst of this confusion where I stood helpless and not knowing where to go - I caught Sight of one of the child Lamas I had met the previous night. He was emerging out of the crowd. Paying little attention to where I placed my feet now, I ran up to him, grasped his robe, and tried to make him understand that I was searching for Freda Bedi.

At first his face remained expressionless, but when he heard the name 'Mrs. Bedi,' his face came alive. I was immediately rewarded with a large smile and nod. After this, running like a small mouse, and weaving among the people without seeming to touch them, he led the way up and down several corridors. I followed him as best I could. People were huddled everywhere, and the entire compound seemed to be a sea composed of massed people in deep misery. At the end of this erratic search, I was virtually pushed into an untidy room where, in front of me, stood Freda Bedi. My little Lama disappeared as quickly as he had appeared, even before I could thank him.

"How sweet of you to come," Freda said. "It's an awful mess here today, but come and meet my daughter, Gulhima, and one of my two sons."

A charming Anglo-Indian girl looked up at me with shining eyes, and a very handsome youth standing nearby smiled. He resembled an Indian more closely than did the daughter.

"It is truly difficult here today," Freda continued, "because a brand new group of Tibetan refugees must be taken care of. They have only recently crossed our border from Sikkim, and apparently had been walking in the wintry cold for days and weeks before. They've walked through several snowstorms from their home areas in Tibet, and are now extremely exhausted and hungry

"Come and I'll show you around, Germaine Krull, but before that, let me give you the Tibetan blessing we learned to give to all our friends."

Freda took a tiny sculptured Buddha figure from a small shrine, touched it to her forehead first. She next touched it to the heads of her daughter and son, after which she touched it to my forehead too, ''This is the way we would give blessings to our friends in Tibet," she explained with a smile, "so why not do the same thing here?"

Next, we were shepherded along a corridor and entered a room that appeared to be a classroom. I saw some of the young Lamas from the previous evening seated here, along with an older Tibetan Lama. He was obviously serving as their teacher.

Freda explained the situation. "These young lamas are all reincarnations of high ranking spiritual previous Lamas in Tibet. With Nehru's consent and support, I have been helped to identify and pick them out from among the many refugees working along the roads in northern India. We intend to enroll them in a special school as soon as possible. They will need to learn what will help them understand about living in the Western world, since they will become special spiritual teachers in the future. We've also been able to identify and pick up many learned older Lamas too. They will now continue to teach the young Lamas their studies, which were interrupted by their collective flight from Tibet. We shall try to help them learn new subjects while maintaining the important spiritual aspects from their Tibetan heritage. In short, they will also learn to adapt to new ways of living as refugees in the Western world, but they will remain Tibetan tulkus as identified, and will teach and guide others in the future."

She turned and added, ''This is Lama Thuthop Tulku, Germaine. He is a reincarnated Lama who comes from a monastery high up in the mountains of Tibet. He is gifted, already picking up English quite well, and is even writing it correctly. This is his brother Chivang Tutku. They are both happy, because their parents were able to escape safely with them. They all escaped at the same time as part of a larger and therefore somewhat safer group."

I looked into the classroom and noticed my little Lama guide who assisted me today. He was sitting at the feet of his teacher, looking up at us and smiling.

Freda Bedi nodded to him and explained, "He is the reincarnation of the Abbot from one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. Now, in this incarnation, he will continue to be placed in charge of many thousand souls whom he will guide and teach when he is an adult.

"There are more young Lamas studying in another room. The whole group of these Lamas and their teachers will be leaving very soon for the north of India. They will settle for the present in Dalhousie, on the edge of the Himalayan lower mountain ranges. There, we have been given a very large house which will serve as our first Lama Home-school. To establish this school, we shall assemble as many special young tulku Lamas as we are able to identify. We also hope to find volunteers from various other countries who will come to India and help us by volunteering to teach them English."

Freda Bedi continued to explain how different groups of Tibetan Friendship Societies were being created around the world, especially in the neutral countries of Europe. She ended with: "I hope, Germaine, that you will come and visit us in Dalhousie. I look forward to showing you our school. It will be the result of two plus years of personal planning and effort."

We were shepherded back down the same corridors, and entered the sea of humans gathered outside around the Vihara. We continued making our way along the riverbank where bunches of Tibetan women were huddled or squatting on the ground with their babies. They were trying to feed them in spite of the cold wind. One of the older English-speaking Lamas had accompanied us, and he translated the many requests for aid from Freda Bedi being made by the Tibetan refugee women.

"You see," he explained, "some of these babies were born along the way from Tibet, and a few were actually born here. This tiny one was born yesterday morning," he pointed, "and we still don't have enough milk for it. The Indians themselves often find it difficult to get milk for their own children, although cows are roaming around everywhere. We still have some powdered milk that friends have given us, but it is never enough for our growing needs."

In spite of their suffering, the women looked at us with warm smiles, apparently relieved to see kind and interested people. At least there was no more wading through snowstorms or rains, and no more fear of Chinese soldiers. At least those dramas were behind them now.

I followed Freda through the camp, and saw many old men in ragged robes twirling their prayer wheels. others were chanting prayers. Some were holding their malas (rosaries) in their left hands, while twirling their prayer wheels with their right hands. The old men had wrinkled faces and faraway expressions on their faces under their plaited hair. They wore ragged clothes, but never stopped twirling their prayer wheels or chanting prayers, as they huddled in small groups. I would see similar sights often in the future.

We noticed that some of the women had already started what would become a kind of national refugee-occupation: knitting wool sweaters. As we circled and approached the front of the Vihara, the crowd became even more densely packed. Questions rose softly or in shouts, and were put to Freda from all sides. She pointed out persons who had suffered frozen toes, legs, and hands, as well as others who still had large open unattended wounds. I recall seeing one man whose face appeared to be half eaten-up by something.

"A leper, perhaps?" I asked Freda.

"Yes, possibly." she answered with a sigh. "Or perhaps some other undiagnosed disease that we might not have seen before. Tibetans were isolated a long time, and have little or no resistance to fight against certain physical problems - like chronic infections or tuberculosis."

The Indian officials had by then discharged all their bags of rice and wheat. They also assured Freda that a team of doctors would arrive later that day to attend those who needed additional care among already treated refugees, as well as to help the newly arrived patients.

I left the refugee camp and Vihara about noon that day; however, I also promised Freda Bedi that one day I would visit her in Dalhousie. This is a promise I knew I would certainly keep, even if in the somewhat distant future.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 29, 2020 7:21 am

Part 2 of 2

Chapter 2

After this visit with Freda, I planned to return to Europe for several months. I had only planned to stop briefly in Delhi on my way to Europe from Thailand, where I still lived and worked. I sometimes returned to Europe via Delhi, since good direct transport to Europe is still scarce in Thailand. Now I had already stayed more time here than planned, and was anxious to leave as previously arranged.

I had again returned to Thailand, but not to work for too long, and eventually traveled on to India. On this return to India [1965?], I was accompanied by a young Siamese companion: a girl named Leck. She was a friend who had often worked for me while I lived in Bangkok, during my twenty or so years of living and working in Thailand, before I decided to retire in 1966.

During this trip to India, I wanted to avoid the usual manner of tourist travels. During previous visits to India,. I had been in the controlling orbit of tourist organizations. I stayed only in the recommended big tourist hotels, and used only tourist guides. Even my visits to the South of India had been in privately hired cars with drivers and guides. During this trip, I was determined to escape the same tourism orbit. Therefore, somewhat courageously I purchased two seats on the Kashmir Express -- first class sleeper -- all the way to Pathankot, the terminus of the railway. From there, a local bus or shared taxi would carry us on to Dalhousie, where I hoped to visit with Freda Bedi. I wanted to see how her work was progressing with the Tibetan tulkus whom I had met at the Thai reception in Delhi (in the winter, near the end of 1962.

The Kashmir Express was actually quite a comfortable train. Clean bedding was provided for first class passengers, and the four private compartment ventilator fans all worked properly. According to the schedule, having left Delhi about midnight, we were to arrive in Pathankot by 8:00 AM., the next morning. I had a sound sleep that night, but when I awakened my companion Leck said, "You know, Germaine, it seems we are almost about eight hours late."

"What do you mean eight hours late? That's impossible!"

"But I think that is what the porter man said."

I soon found that Leck's statement was unfortunately true. I learned that we were indeed nearly eight hours late. Apparently our train had run into another train on the same rail track, but going the opposite direction. Thus, a wait of several hours to correct this flaw was inevitable. Now we were very late. Soon enough, it started to become very hot inside our compartment. An Indian gentleman, a neighbor in the next compartment, had passed our door several times. He appeared especially interested in my little Thai companion, and therefore proved very helpful to us about securing our breakfast.

I complained to this gentleman that I was worried about our schedule. There was only one daily bus to Dalhousie, and now it would have left long before our late arrival. I asked, "Is it possible to hire a taxi in Pathankot?"

But now the Indian gentleman was of little help. It appeared that he was a high official in the railway administration, so he tried to convince me to return to Delhi later by the same train. As an alternative, he also suggested that we could travel on to Simla, Mussoorie, or some other 'more modern' hill station. Indeed, he insisted that Dalhousie was not interesting to visit for any reason, let alone for tourist activities.

Finally, by somewhat after noon we arrived in Pathankot. There were hundreds of people crowding the quay, and screaming porters came barging into our compartment. This time, I think we would have been lost without our Indian gentleman's help. With a few words, he instructed one porter what to do. He placed our luggage on the head of that porter, and instructed him and us to follow him out of our compartment, and to continue on to the train station to wait.

We followed our helper, and were guided into the station waiting room. We found it to be clean, furnished appropriately, and even air-conditioned. Our luggage was stashed in a corner and waiters - in uniforms that had once been clean - served us a good breakfast of tea, toast and eggs.

During the meal, our Indian gentleman once more suggested that we board the same train and return to Delhi. However, I insisted that I was intent on traveling on to Dalhousie to visit a good friend. I also asked him if there was somebody responsible with whom I might talk about this arrangement in English.

"None of these workers speaks English, only the Station Master. But it appears that today he is absent for an all-day meeting."

"Well then, is there a taxi I could hire to take us to Dalhousie? Or another bus that we could take tomorrow morning?"

"I can offer you my room here, which has an adjoining bed and bathroom. And I'll also see what I can do for you. I'll be in a meeting myself meanwhile, but I'll return later today. I assure you again that my compartment on the train will be vacant, and it's at your disposal if you change your mind and decide to return to Delhi." He was indeed a thoughtful and helpful man, but we didn't want to return to Delhi without seeing Freda. It was also becoming too hot on the plains of India, and would be cooler in Dalhousie anyway.

After he left, we went out on the platform, which was by that time truly 'burning hot.' I started to search for someone who could speak English. At last, in one of the booking offices, I found a clerk who also informed me that the Station Master was out for the day at a meeting. However, he then added that we should stay in the station room provided for us as travelers, and explained that our needs would be met by the staff, while we waited here in Pathankot overnight.

Time passed slowly that day. We were trapped in Pathankot, and it was too hot to go outside. Fortunately by late afternoon, I was able to verify that we indeed had a reserved room with bath. It was on the first floor of the train station, so we then moved our things into that room for a sound overnight sleep later.

By late afternoon, when the Indian gentleman returned, he was quite disappointed that we weren't prepared to return to Delhi. Although he suggested he had made arrangements for the bus, in fact he had not. Also by late afternoon, it was much cooler. I looked around the station again, and realized that fascinating scenes lay all around and in front of us below.

Our balcony overlooked the train platform, so we watched the people hurrying about below. We saw there was a train about to embark for somewhere, and hundreds of people were boarding it. They were mostly carrying their bedding on their heads. Personal bedding consists of a blanket, sheets and whatever is needed for the night, all rolled up in a canvas cover.

We saw men, women, children and soldiers milling about. The latter had packs on their backs and canteens dangling from their belts. We also noticed that some of the men, oddly enough, boarded the train through the open windows! The whole station was a scene with much crowding, a multitude of shouts and screams, plus other unknown noises. There were also itinerant merchants selling all kinds of snack foods. These ranged from fried bananas to boiled eggs, along with a variety of mysterious dishes wrapped in banana leaves.

Along with the noises of the people was the added ruckus of hundreds of screeching parrots, which had settled like a colorful cloud in two big trees adjacent to the balcony. It was amazing how these birds found space to perch among the thick foliage, while screaming at each other and flapping their wings to fight for places. All this coming-and-going continued until the train below finally departed.

We decided we should find the place from which the bus was scheduled to leave, as well as a more exact time of its departure for Dalhousie. To accomplish our search we decided to leave the balcony and go for a walk in the streets below.

I had never before seen so many different but quite equally dirty shops. We couldn't learn exactly what it was they were all selling, but they must have all been selling something. The shops lined the streets in side-by-side rows. The streets were also packed with various kinds of vehicles: big military lorries; small hand-carts loaded with grass; and other larger carts loaded with what appeared to be home furnishings. Many of them, except the military lorries, were pulled by hungry-appearing horses. There were also bullock carts loaded with timber, and many tongas. These vehicles were all jam-packed with women, men and children.

There was also an interspersed sea of humans peddling their bicycles. Some used their handlebars as second passenger seats, while also carrying loads on their back racks. All these people were going or coming to and from other places. I wondered how we were ever going to find the bus stand in all this confusion. We looked around rather desperately now.

Every time I saw an army officer, I tried in English to ask directions. Finally, we arrived at a dusty and dirty location that we were told was the 'bus terminus for Dalhousie.' We were also told that the bus would leave at 4:00 AM. Since there was nobody from whom to buy tickets or take reservations, we were simply told to be at the terminal early the next morning, and we would 'surely be able to find two seats.'

I wasn't satisfied with the answers we were given, and began to wonder if we would ever reach this mysterious Dalhousie. While we managed to return to the safety of our room in the station, our next problem was to find someone who would awaken us at three in the morning, and also help us carry our luggage to the bus terminal we had found.

That evening, a rather surprisingly elaborate dinner was served to us in our room. I made one last attempt to see the Station Master, and was finally able to contact the Assistant Station Master. He informed me the Station Master was still absent at his meeting; however, he seemed to be a very kind Indian man, and told us not to worry. The night watchman would awaken us on time, and would also help us with our portage problem. He also insisted he was certain we could find seats in the very early morning bus to Dalhousie.

That night passed quite well, except for the noises from nearby water pipes, which every now and then broke into piping screams. At three in the morning, the night watchman, who was obedient and dutiful, awakened both of us. We dressed in the dark, since the electricity had failed, and we had no flashlights with us. We managed to load our luggage onto the head of one porter, and ventured into the pitch-dark streets below. Our only guide was the glowing tip of the cigarette in our porter's mouth, so we dutifully followed it.

I don't know exactly how far we walked, but in the end our porter put down our luggage and squatted beside it. There was no bus in sight. Inside the nearby hut - which I saw served as part of the office - we could see several people stretched out on the floor. They were fast asleep, but soon started to stir. Gradually life erupted in and outside the hut. There was nothing to do but wait. Dawn came with its dim light, and things slowly took shape. At last, an old rattling bus arrived. It was powered by an infernally noisy engine. Once parked, all the people immediately rushed toward the bus. It was a wonder that both of us managed to grab window seats. Our porter stowed our luggage under our feet, and we gratefully settled down for the next part of our fateful trip to Dalhousie.

Our bus sported the rather pompous name: 'Kashmir Tiger.' Our driver was a lean and lanky chap. He had long bony arms, long legs, and a high forehead partly covered by a turban, which is called a 'pugri' in its Indian name. He also had a long hooked nose, twin dark eyes and a large mouth partly covered by a reddish droopy moustache. He wore khaki trousers with black patches, and a kind of dark khaki vest and coat. Worn proudly on one shoulder was pinned a small metal badge stating: 'Kashmir Tiger.' He was as long and rattling as his bus, and managed, by shouting and pushing people around, to make some kind of order in the bus. At last - off we went!

We took off with tremendous speed, leaving behind clouds of scattered dusty smoke. Very soon the plains slowly disappeared and we started to climb. The first portion of the road was quite good, and the curves were not too bad. Our Kashmir Tiger took us along all of them, puffing and screaming loudly. Eventually we stopped at a roadside teashop for a break. The shop had been part of a former British rest-house, and we were grateful for the tea and toast served to us there. After that, we climbed back into the bus, creeping over legs, hands, and luggage to reach our seats.

From that point onward, our road became a dreary one-lane passageway. For the next few hours, our ride was on a narrow mountain road, full of treacherous curves and sharp turns. This nightmarish part of the journey remains forever fresh in my mind. As the bus rattled along, it seemed at every curve we might scrape or bump against the mountain on one side, or find ourselves hanging in the air on the other side. I'm still not sure how we managed not to bump into the mountain of rocks in front, or fall over the edge of a cliff in our back during that wild ride!

Inside the bus, passengers were thrown from side to side, no matter how hard we tried to cling to our seats or the windowsills. The bus soon became a terrible mess: water spilled on the floor; luggage fell or slid everywhere; women moaned; children cried; and many leaned out of the windows to be sick. The only one who seemed to enjoy the ride and the passengers' discomfort was the driver. The worse the situation became in the bus, the happier he seemed to be as we throttled along.

I don't know what might have happened if our way had not been finally blocked by a military convoy. Our driver actually overtook one of the convoy trucks, and almost drove it over the edge and off the cliff. Obviously this contretemps forced the military convoy to stop. The convoy Commander, who was by that time quite angry, ordered our bus driver to: 'Fall in line behind my trucks and stay there!' This happenstance event forced our slow-down, and gave the passengers time to recover a little. Finally, after these few hours that felt much longer, we arrived in Dalhousie, a hill station situated at roughly near the seven thousand foot altitude level.

As porters crowded around to grab our luggage upon our arrival, my first impression of Dalhousie was dual: agreeable fresh air and fascinating scenery; and generally confusing with respect to town layout. We immediately saw two hotels in front of us. One was named 'Snow View,' and the other was called 'Mountain View.' To reach both we had to climb up numerous steps. By now, steep hills seemed to encircle us on all sides. Somehow we landed in Snow View, and immediately ate the very good breakfasts served to us in the hotel restaurant.

The view of the encircling mountains was absolutely beautiful. There were no snow-capped peaks visible at the present time, since the mountains were covered by a summery green sheen. A forest of tall pine and cedar trees covered most of the adjacent hilly slopes, and the landscape was entirely composed of a series of hilly ups and downs. Moreover, it actually appeared as if the entire scene was creeping steadily upward, which I later learned was generally true.

I begin to wonder how we would ever be able to find the Tibetan Lama School, since even the owner of the hotel spoke very little English. He seemed neither to know nor had he ever heard of any Tibetan Lama School when first asked. It appeared, as he noted, there were indeed several schools in the area, but how were we going to find out their exact names and where they were situated?

Then I asked, "Have you ever heard of an English lady named Freda Bedi who arrived here with many young Tibetan lamas?"

"No, never!"

I remembered another referral word, so I next asked: "Have you ever heard of a place called the 'Tibetan Kailash?'" The hotel man answered this query quickly in the affirmative. The word 'kailash' ticked his memory as an unusual school referred to in Dalhousie.

"Oh, yes," came his immediate answer. "It is way higher up, near the base of the mountains. There you will see that it's one really big house, now used for teaching young students. Actually, the Kailash might even have a telephone!"

The Kailash did indeed have a telephone, and I was able to speak directly with Freda Bedi. She informed us that she would send a Tibetan youth down to meet us at our hotel. She also added, "Since it is quite high up, it might be necessary to ride a horse instead of trying to walk all the way in this altitude."

We waited for some time, but finally a young Tibetan boy arrived. Surprisingly, he already spoke quite good English. Our luggage was loaded on the shoulders of a young Indian porter, and we set out for our hike up to the Kailash.

I must admit that I was not very courageous by now. My many years of living on the plains made it difficult now for me to climb.

In short, after a little while, I agreed to ride the horse that accompanied us. However, because I hadn't ridden a horse since early childhood, the steep climb onward was as hard for the horse as it was for me. Yet, the higher we climbed, the more beautiful the scenery became. We were surrounded by a mountain forest of tall green trees, while being fully encased in air that was extremely fresh and clean.

Near the end of this journey, we reached a kind of circular flat roadway where our party rested for a while. From this point on, a more level road led in a meander up to the Kailash, which I could see ahead and still above us. I decided to climb down from my horse. However. since I was unable to regain full use of my legs for some minutes, I must have made a grotesque sight staggering around! My girl Leck and the Tibetan youth burst into laughter. Indeed, it took quite a while for me to regain full and confident use of my quavering legs.

We finally reached the big wooden house. We saw that it had a large double front door over which was posted a large sign: 'Kailash Young Lama School.'

We continued down a narrow path and saw that this large house actually resembled a Swiss Chalet with its deeply pitched roof; however, at the same time it had the curious air of a small Indian castle with one small soaring tower. We next mounted more steps to a banked terrace where patches of colorful flowers surrounded us. Our Tibetan guide had already run up the stairway ahead of us, and disappeared into the house.

I was quite weary, and found it difficult to recover my breath in the higher altitude. I stopped in front of the house to view the scenery. It was unique, and appeared to consist of range after range of mountains, each succeeding the previous one in an apparently endless regression of higher peaks. Next to the Kailash were two tall cedar trees that spread their branches over the house like protecting arms or wings. Along the side, clusters of tall pine trees stood like watch towers. I was lost in dreams, but soon heard Freda Bedi's voice calling from somewhere in the house.

"Come in, Germaine, dear! Come in, dear Germaine! I'm so glad you were able at last to come for a visit."

Somehow I continued on, and stumbled up a narrow staircase into the protecting arms of Freda. I looked around and saw we were in a small entry room. On a low bench were several piles of mail. Obviously Freda was trying to catch up on her correspondence. Pushing aside a few bundles and parcels, I sat down heavily on the bench. I tried to recover my panting breath bit by bit.

As soon as we were truly settled in a room nearby, Tibetan servants hurried in to serve us tea and a variety of snacks. Freda began to tell us about the school for which she had worked so hard for more than two years.

"The Young Lama School is the first of its kind in India. There are now fifty young Lama Tulku students here, along with some other monks who enrolled to learn English. If they become better-educated, they will help with teaching others the Dharma. We soon expect many more will be coming, so we shall definitely need more teachers. The young Lamas continue their Dharma studies here under Tibetan Lamas, but also study English reading, writing and speaking every day. They are the best assurance that the Dharma and Sangha will endure into the future; therefore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in favor of this school. He also helped planning for it soon after his escape to freedom."

"We have set up the educational program here quite well," Freda said and then noted: "There are a number of young volunteers who have come from all parts of Europe and America to help us with the English teaching part."

At this moment, the door opened and Thuthop Tulku entered. Freda nodded at him and continued: "He has become very good in English, and is now able to help me with our voluminous correspondence. You see, Germaine, it's increasingly the case that we have Tibetan friendship groups forming all over the world. They help by volunteering, as well as by sending us clothing and sometimes some money too. Their gifts help to sustain us here."

We continued to converse for a few hours, interrupted only by servants who occasionally refilled our teacups. By now, and after this conversational rest, I had finally recovered my strength in spite of the altitude.

Freda Bedi added: "You can stay in the Guest House, which is just next door, Germaine. You'll have an Indian servant there who will furnish you with hot water for bathing and your tea. I'll send over Tibetan food for lunch or dinner, and you and Leck can come here anytime you want to visit. Rest yourself and stay as long as you wish in Dalhousie."

off we went again on that circular walkway. It appeared that Freda Bedi's 'next door' meant a walk of more than half an hour for Leck and me, mostly among the pines and cedars.

At last, the young Tibetan monk, carrying our bedrolls and baggage, pointed up the mountain to a small white house. It resembled an eagle's nest. This was Freda's 'next door' Guest House. As we continued to scramble and climb up this final steeper and rockier path, even my little Siamese girl, Leck, had to use her hands to grasp and hold on to the grassy edges to manage making it up the path. Frankly, I don't know how I managed to get up to the house -- by puffing like a steam engine, I guess.

Once we arrived and entered the house, I immediately felt its unique enchantment. A large covered verandah circled the house and overlooked the mountains and valley below. There, well below us, a river flowed like a silvery curving ribbon. Tall trees surrounded the little house like watchful sentinels, and patches of colorful wildflowers bloomed everywhere.

The first floor of the house consisted of one large room attached to a bathroom with running water. This room was furnished with two Indian beds covered with Tibetan rugs, and the remaining furniture included two overstuffed chairs. A large window with glass panes, partly replaced by plywood panels, overlooked the scenery below. That was our bedroom. Outside, the verandah was furnished with a table, two hard chairs and one easy chair.

Next to our big room I saw a smaller room. Our Tibetan helper told us that a young man named Peter sometimes stays in this room. He also said that the kitchen was situated on a lower level, that is to say, downstairs from our big main living and sleeping room.

We quickly installed ourselves in our room, and Leck decided to go down and inspect the kitchen. When she returned, she shuddered at what she had seen. Half in Thai and half in English, she reported her results. She had tried to communicate with the Indian woman there, hoping she would understand the need to clean up the place; however, she wasn't hopeful.

The first night passed without event. I slept from early evening until the next morning in one stretch. Early the next morning, I stepped out onto our verandah and looked down toward the valley below. The sight was breathtaking. The next impressive element was the many monkeys playing in the trees adjacent to the house. When standing upright, they were nearly the size of a man!

Leck soon came into our room almost screaming: "The monkeys are so big that I'm afraid of them."

Our young Tibetan boy, who was still present as a helper, insisted the monkeys were harmless and would never enter the house. Leck wondered about this, but decided instead to focus on washing the kitchen before it was necessary to use it.

Suddenly we heard sounds emanating from the room where Peter was supposedly staying ·sometimes.' I realized we had completely forgotten that he was 'sometimes' here, until we heard the chanting. It became louder and louder, but it was still unintelligible. Later we learned Peter chanted in Tibetan.

Hours later, when Peter came out of his room, we saw he was a tallish, rather pale young American. Peter, who seemed to be about twenty years old, was dressed in a pair of colorless trousers and a white shirt, open at the neck. A scarlet silk cape with a thick cotton lining hung over his shoulders... His feet were shod in worn Indian sandals. "Good morning," he said, "I hope I haven't disturbed you with my morning chanting."

"Oh, no," I shrugged. "I guessed that you would be Peter. Did you have your breakfast? You look so cold."

"No, thanks, but I will have a cup of tea. Actually I'm not cold. This cape, which is not mine but borrowed, is actually very warm."

Peter seemed generally quite absentminded - mostly as if absorbed in some mental questions or exercises of his own most of the time. I asked, "Peter, how long are you going to stay here? And are you going to be teaching the young lamas?"

"Not exactly. That is, I'm helping Mrs. Bedi with some translations, and may stay here for a while, but I really don't know anything for sure yet. You see - I just returned last night from the plains - and now I planned to go down to the Kailash to talk with Freda. Do you have any messages?" He glanced around at us with this question.

"Please tell Freda that I won't be coming to see her today. I wouldn't be able to make it up the hill once I got down after yesterday. I'm still tired from that hike, and need to get more accustomed to the altitude a bit."

Our daily routine took shape and continued in the same pattern for about a week or so. After breakfast, Leck would try to explain to our Tibetan helper that she should try to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables in the market at Dalhousie. Although it was summer, fresh food supplies were not easy to obtain. There were almost no vegetables in the market except some cabbage, poor potatoes and few dessicated carrots. Local gardens were scarce. After trying to buy a chicken that looked more like a sparrow, plus some really poor bony-looking mutton, we gave up pretty much. Fortunately we still had tea, Tibetan noodles, some biscuits and good jam. With these items we were more or less satisfied daily. Occasionally our Indian woman helper would bring us plates of wild raspberries, which were ripening everywhere on the mountain slopes. They were truly delicious.

At this point, Leck was busy trying to help solve our material problems, but I continued to be tired. It seemed a bad cold had taken hold of me, and I felt worse each day. Now the days seemed to drag by. Then one day I felt somewhat better, so we finally ventured down to the Kailash. We hoped to visit with the little Lamas, one by one if possible.

Thuthop Tulku accompanied us around the Kailash, and tried to explain everything for us while I took pictures. We saw there was one big room reserved for the volunteers to work in. We met a couple from Canada there. She was a tall blonde girl, and her companion was a broad-shouldered young man with a long black beard. They both seemed quite unconscious about the state of their clothes, and were both dressed mostly in rags. The young woman was barefoot, and the young man wore a pair of Indian sandals held together with string. Nevertheless, they were quite jolly, and full of fun and laughter. They seemed to be dedicated teachers for the young Lamas, who seemed to like them very much too.

I saw Peter sitting in one corner furiously typing on an ancient typewriter. In another corner, an Australian boy in Tibetan clothing was sitting on the floor. He was looking through Tibetan manuscripts and books, page by page. What an odd international collection had gathered here in the mountains of Dalhousie, India!

That was the first occasion that I actually saw and handled Tibetan books. I saw they consisted of long, loose leaves a little more than a foot in length and about four to five inches wide. Each page was hand-written with script on both sides, and the leaves were piled together into ordered groups about four to five inches thick as a 'book.' Each bunch was wrapped carefully in pieces of colored silk and tied with string.

We learned there were several volunteers working in the Kailash. many of whom were not in the volunteer room at the same time. This is because they were teaching the little Lamas in separate classrooms.

We also met the newly appointed Abbot of the Kailash on that day. He was a young and handsome Lama who spoke quite good English. Freda later told us that he was one of their most important tulku reincarnations. He had luckily left Tibet before the Chinese invasion, and was now devoted to working with the refugees. He had lived in Sikkim for several years, and learned considerable English while in residence there. I also saw several very old Lamas with deeply wrinkled faces, and sincerely hoped to have enough time to photograph some or all of them before leaving Dalhousie.

We later lunched with Freda, and I admitted to her that I was not feeling at all well. I even asked, "Is it possible to find a medical doctor around here?"

"I'm afraid, Germaine, that the doctors around here are not very good. And I'm sure there is no appropriate cold medicine available in Dalhousie. It would be better if you just stayed at home and rested. I'll send your food up to you. Use your own medicine if you have any, and just rest a few days. I realize this altitude and climate are difficult to become accustomed to."

We stayed on at the Kailash that afternoon. There was a special religious ceremony scheduled, and I wanted to take pictures of the monks gathered together.

The ceremony took place in the shrine room, which was a long relatively undecorated room in the main house. On the shrine altar, I noticed a newly painted statue of Buddha, wrapped in several layers of white prayer scarves in the typical Tibetan manner. A row of silver offering bowls was placed in front of the Buddha statue, and a bunch of colorful paper flowers had been heaped nearby. Next to the shrine altar, a large electric bulb shed its light into the far corners of the entire assembly room. I had been told that lights placed over shrines help to attract the attention of the spirits, along with the scents of food and other altar offerings, such as incense.

A row of torma cakes was also placed near the front of the altar. As usual, these torma cakes were made by mixing butter and barley flour into a dough that was sculptured into the usual round and pointed cone-like forms. These were quite simple, since none was decorated or painted with designs. I had learned that tormas were meant to serve as food offerings to the Buddha and/or particular spiritual embodiments for whom the altar was dedicated. The shrine altar also held a row of small bowls that contained the usual offerings: water, barley and rice. A row of butter lamps burned along the very edge, in front of all the other offerings.

Along the wall in back of the shrine altar hung three large thankas, as well as the usual large photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Two parallel rows of chanting monks sat on small Tibetan carpets placed in front of the altar. In all, there were about forty or fifty little Lamas being led in prayer by the Abbot, who sat elevated in the middle of the room in front of the shrine altar. Nearly all of the volunteers entered and participated by joining in as well as they were able.

I felt as if I were in another world where time did not count. It was nearly dark by the time we came out. While on our way up to our eagle's nest house, we were caught in a heavy and sudden rainstorm!

"Oh my, Leck, just look," I complained, "how far we truly are from Western civilization's promises! My trench coat, which was supposed to be waterproof, has absorbed water like a sponge."

Drenched, cold and shivering, we arrived at our little perch-house again. It seemed as if that night might finally be the end of me! My cold now settled inside me in earnest, and it lasted for more than five days without improvement.

On the fifth day, when I was sitting on the verandah wrapped in my fur coat and all the blankets I could find, I saw Freda Bedi. She and Thuthop Tulku were wending their way up the steep and winding path toward us. Once they arrived, Freda announced: "We have come to pray for you. Do you mind?"

"No. Why should I mind?" I replied glumly.

Without further delay, they sat and started chanting their prayers. I sat in my chair and listened calmly to their chanting. About half an hour later, a sharp pain slashed through my chest and body and I felt quite odd. After minutes of this odd sensation, I felt relieved for the first time in almost two weeks. Even my breathing had become much easier for me.

After Freda and Thuthop Tulku left, I exited from all my wrappings and slipped into my warm bed. While I felt strangely like someone who had awakened from a very bad dream, I also felt as if my cold had almost disappeared. who knows ...

Chapter 3

The rain finally stopped, and I could see the entire valley spread out in front of us the next day. We decided to go down to the Kailash, and slowly wended our way down along the familiar circular path. While walking, we saw the usual scenes: Tibetan nuns carrying heavy loads of bundled leaves or wood; young Tibetan men or groups of young monks carrying tools; and as we neared the Kailash, more and more Tibetans engaged in coming and going. Near the Kailash itself, everyone seemed busy working in the gardens. A tree had been felled. and the logs were being trimmed and oiled carefully. Even placid Thuthop Tulku was running from one to another group, gesticulating and talking.

"What do you think is wrong here?" I asked. "Something must have happened, because there's an unusual amount of activity going on."

Just then Freda came running down the stairs and called out to us: "Germaine, something big is happening to us. It's a very lucky thing! We shall have a visit from one of the most important Lamas of all! His Holiness Sakya Trizin is coming to see us! Next to the Dalai Lama. he is one of the most important spiritual lights in Asia. His Holiness Sakya Trizin is supposed to be an emanation of Manjusri, the Boddhisattva of Accomplished Wisdom! What luck for you both to be able to meet him while you're here in Dalhousie!"

During the following two days of preparation, the entire place was like an ants' nest of activities until the big day came. Once the important Lama arrived, conch shells and drums sounded from early morning onward. I was told I should wait in our perch house, and that we would be summoned when it was possible to meet His Holiness Sakya Trizin.

The day passed slowly, and nobody came to our eagle's nest to visit. Our Indian lady told us, with many gestures and broken English, that the great Lama was very young, quite chubby, and did not wear the same robes other lamas wore. He dressed in a white robe, and had a deep red shawl wrapped around his shoulders. He wore his hair in long braids and has a long golden earring with blue stones hanging from one ear. Indeed, she suggested that he looked more womanish than mannish, especially with these odd accoutrements and his long braided hair style and jewelry.

By now we were very curious and waited impatiently to see him. Finally, in the late afternoon, a monk came to fetch us. He said that he would accompany us to the nunnery where the Great Lama was now teaching.

Once in the nunnery, we waited in a large dimly lit room where everything seemed wrapped in an air of mystery. Nuns I had never before seen were rushing to and fro from room to room, and many monks sat around waiting with us too. The entire place seemed both shrouded in mystery and full of excitement at the same time. From behind closed doors came the sound of chanting, interrupted only by the occasional ringing of hand-held bells and hand-drums.

Then Freda called me in a hushed voice, I entered a room lighted only by one dim light bulb. In one corner was a shrine altar from which lighted butter lamps flickered beams of illumination that morphed into nebulous shadows. There were many people in the room, but I saw only one figure before me. This was a sturdy person of medium height who seemed less a human being than a spiritual presence to which I felt deeply drawn.

Strangely too, His Holiness made an instinctive gesture directly toward me. I approached, and we looked into one another's eyes for more than a long second.

It was only when Freda, who was standing beside me, introduced us that I returned to a normal focus and reality. Then, I somewhat awkwardly presented my white prayer scarf or kathak to His Holiness, as one should. I held it out to him with both hands.

I was unable to speak a single word when presenting my scarf. It was only after a few minutes, as I was readying myself to leave, and His Holiness had placed his hands on my head to bless me that I returned consciously fully to myself again. Then, I asked softly: "May I please see you again?" He nodded yes, silently.

This was an impressive and important meeting for me. I felt strangely happy afterwards, although I could not say or define exactly why. I felt that this was a meeting with someone whom I had known all my life; or maybe someone I had known forever, even somehow known before time itself existed.

The next morning I returned to the Kailash again.

"You must have a very happy karma, Germaine," said Freda, "since it brought you so close to His Holiness yesterday."

"Yes, I felt as if I had known him always. Moreover, I think he too felt that I was not a complete stranger."

We waited together in the entry room for a while. We again heard drumming and chanting from the shrine room. After a while, Lama Thuthop came out. He made a gesture to us that His Holiness was waiting to see us again.

His Holiness greeted us with a big smile and folded hands. He made a gesture that signaled I could sit by his side on his bench-chair if I wanted. However, I felt more at ease sitting on a carpet on the floor in front of him.

Now, in the light of day, His Holiness appeared more human. His bright eyes peered at me from behind his round spectacles, and looked straight at me. His long braids were wound around his head today, and his gold and turquoise earring was suspended from a red woolen string that was wrapped around one ear. It shook whenever he moved his head.

His Holiness was not too tall but definitively of a sturdy build. The most striking part of him was not his round face or bright eyes, it was his hands. His Holiness' hands were small and delicately shaped, like the hands and fingers of the Buddhas depicted in old Tibetan paintings. They were graceful and almost childlike hands, with long and slender fingers. These hands were actually fascinating and attractive. They moved with such unusual grace when making mudras, or even simple gestures of any kind.

Our conversation started quickly and informally. The initial shyness I had experienced the previous day had left me, and His Holiness seemed more like an old friend. We talked for a long time that day. He wanted to know about France, about me and my life, and about European history. He asked many questions. His English was still somewhat limited, so Lama Thuthop translated for us when necessary. His presence helped the flow of our conversation.

At one point, Lama Thuthop interrupted with, "His Holiness says that you should come and visit him in Mussoorie."

"My next planned journey will take me back to Europe for some months," I told him; "however, if you or His Holiness will send me a note with news from time to time, when I return to Asia, I shall surely visit him in Mussoorie."

After this, I took many pictures of His Holiness. Lama Thuthop then told me that I should come into another room and meet His Holiness' 'Aunty.' ''This 'Aunty,' as we all call her, was more or less like His Holiness' mother," Lama Thuthop added with a smile. "I was also told that it was she who helped rear him after the early death of his birth mother, and somewhat later when his father's early death interrupted his education as a youth. She is important to all of us, and still cares and plans for this family, including his sister whom you will meet."

'Aunty' was a small lady whose sparse hair was parted in the middle and tied up into a gray knot. Large gold earrings dangled from her small ears. She had a fine, straight nose, tiny mouth, and a very kind smile. That smile matched the sympathetic look in her dark grayish eyes. She sat alone on a carpet-covered bench in a room that was normally reserved for His Holiness' personal use.

A large thermos of hot Tibetan tea was placed at the foot of 'Auntie's' bench, and every time her cup was emptied or cool, a Tibetan servant hurriedly refilled it. Lama Thuthop explained to 'Aunty' who Leck and I were as visitors. She nodded brightly and presented me with a large red apple. I took several photographs of her too. Then, since it was already evening, we left and climbed up to our eagle's nest. I realized then that I would meet' Aunty' again when I visited His Holiness in Mussoorie. In fact, I certainly intended to make that visit one day during a future trip to India, which I was now certain to make again.

Throughout that evening and night, Leck and I heard the steady throb of drums and the hooting sounds of conch shells in the distance. When Peter returned to the house later that night, he explained: "His Holiness is giving some special teachings to the monks." Then he added, "You've been very lucky today, Germaine, since His Holiness seemed pleased when he met and talked with you."

"I thought so too. Somehow I felt as if I had known him for a long time, and perhaps he might have felt that way too."

"Yes. I saw the meeting, and think he must have felt the same way you did."

During the same evening, we heard a rash of worrisome news over the wireless radio. It reported that political trouble was brewing again between Pakistan and India. The problem, as usual, was about the border between these two countries. When we heard this rumor too repeatedly for comfort, we set the next day for our departure from Dalhousie. Even Freda was troubled about the rumors, since we had both noticed several Indian military planes flying over our peaceful area.

Under the circumstances, it did not seem to be a good idea to stay on, and perhaps become involved in troubles whose origins and resolutions would be problematic for us. This was not the first time I had experienced similar border problems in my life. Moreover, I had already planned to return to Europe after this side-trip from Thailand.

Early the next morning, as I was finishing the last of my packing, a monk arrived with a message from Freda. Apparently that day was being dedicated to a very important religious Buddhist celebration. The message also said that this ceremony was rarely held, and that we should not miss the opportunity to witness such a rare puja to he held nearby. We agreed.

The single jeep in Dalhousie had been made available to His Holiness, and we were told to wait for its arrival too. We walked down to the main road and waited. After some time, the jeep arrived with a white-turbaned Sikh as the chauffeur. Sitting next to the driver was His Holiness, and piled in back were two attendants, a personal servant and Lama Thuthop. There was barely room for Freda and me, along with our pile of luggage and other odd packets.

Arrangements had to be made. Therefore, almost immediately Freda asked for the jeep to stop. She arranged to have our luggage offloaded at a nearby hotel where we would stay for our last night in Dalhousie. She then instructed the driver to return after delivering us to pick up Leck who would wait here, and drive her to where the ceremony was being held.

So off we went again. Our first stop was to visit a very old Lama who was unable to attend the ceremony due to his advanced age. The jeep next maneuvered down a steep hill, even though the road had become almost too narrow. The chauffeur often found it difficult going, especially because so many people were running alongside our jeep to receive a blessing or quick touch from His Holiness Sakya Trizin.

It took considerable skill in driving before we arrived at our destination, which turned out to be another small house. We saw several monks and another 'ancient' Lama awaiting the arrival of His Holiness outside. We all entered the house together, and His Holiness was soon seated on his special high chair. The rest of us sat on long benches with small tables in front of us. We were first served the traditional guests' small dish of sweet rice and tea.

Later, for the first time in my life, I was formally served Tibetan butter tea. It was poured from a great silver kettle into a tiny cup placed in front of me. I didn't think it had a bad taste. Instead, I thought it was a strange but not disagreeable drink that resembled an amorphous too salty hotel soup. It was different from any normal tea I had ever known or been served before, but I could see its value here.

After our tea, we were again guided on our way. We climbed back into the jeep, only to discover the chauffeur had a very difficult time turning it around. We finally returned to the main road, and discovered that following it was every bit as perilous as our original downhill descent had been. All along the way, the road was crowded with Tibetans. There were young and old men twirling their prayer wheels and reciting the beads of their rosaries while walking. There were women walking with hands folded and holding burning incense sticks. Those with children held them up near the jeep for His Holiness to bless them in passing. We continued on our pilgrimage. but stopped once more to visit other very old lamas who were unable to attend the main ceremony. His Holiness blessed them in passing.

Finally, the jeep climbed upward again; however, when the road became even more steep and narrow, we were asked to descend and walk the remainder of the way.

We finally came to the location for the ceremony, which was to be held outdoors. It consisted of a large grassy meadow with row upon row of monks and lamas sitting cross-legged on the grass. Each one held a flower in his hand. There was also a crowd of lay people sitting in back of and around the monks. There were many women dressed in traditional Tibetan chubas worn under their colorful striped aprons. Most sat holding their children. There were long-haired Tibetan men of all ages, as well as a number of local Indian people from Dalhousie. A large group of various foreigners had also come to see and hear the great Lama deliver his teaching. Among this group, the majority were garbed in the usual casual 'hippie' fashion.

A white open-sided tent had been erected in one part of the meadow. In the center of the tent stood a high wooden chair (in lieu of a Lotus Throne) for His Holiness Sakya Trizin. Nearby was placed a large gold-framed photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Near this photo, a large thanka of the Buddha had been pinned to one of the tent walls. On the table in front of His Holiness' throne-chair, a Vajra, a special Bell, and several other ritual or ceremonial objects were readied for use.

The ceremony in the meadow began immediately. As His Holiness started to chant the opening prayer, most of the monks and lamas joined with him. His Holiness combined the chanted prayers with specific and intricate hand movements or mudras.

I observed that the ritual hand movements resembled a dance of raised arms and hands, plus joined, flexed and released fingers. The prayer delivered was long. Once the chanting and prayers ended, His Holiness blessed everyone present by touching the Vajra to the head of each passing participant. This blessing was followed by additional blessings given by three lamas. The first lama placed a red or green string around the neck of each person; the second one poured some lotion from a silver chabai into the hand of each person, some of which was swallowed, and the rest was swiped across the head. The third lama gave each person a tiny barley cake to be eaten later. This procedure sometimes follows certain ceremonies as a special physical blessing that is thus related to the body, spirit and mind.
I waited to receive my blessing until all the monks and lay people had been served theirs. After receiving this final blessing, I felt strangely free and very happy once again.

We noticed that His Holiness had finally stepped down from his raised seat and disappeared into the crowd of lamas. After this, Leck, who had arrived during the ceremony, and I left the meadow. We were driven back to the hotel to spend the last night before our departure in the morning.

We left the next morning for Delhi, but somehow I knew I would visit His Holiness again, either here or in another place in India. I also hoped to see Freda again.

This time our return bus trip up and down the hills back to Pathankot was not in the 'Kashmir Tiger,' but in the 'Hill Express.' While I could not say that the trip was easier or more pleasant, the current political border problems meant that the roads were heavily occupied by military trucks and convoys; therefore. the forced slower speed of the bus made the return ride much less back-breaking for us packed-in passengers. Even the aisles were used for seating. since the news of possible strife was ominous.

Once back in the crowds of Pathankot, we returned to that other world in feeling: that of being among hectic crowded activities. We quickly learned that the political border crisis had become even worse than we had imagined. Most adolescent Indian boys wandered about with transistor radios dangling around their necks. Their faces had grim expressions from the news they were hearing. The atmosphere was permeated with an explosive feeling of tension, and the Pathankot area was filled with a military presence. We were told that we should take the next train to Delhi, since it might well be the last one to leave Pathankot for a long time.

By the time we finally arrived in Delhi, I realized just how serious the border problem had become. Because of the touchy situation between Pakistan and India, we were advised to depart India on the next possible international plane. We made rapid departure arrangements and, in fact, ours plane was the last one to leave India and not be grounded when flying over Karachi.

We left, but I continued to worry about the friends and refugees left behind in Dalhousie. After all, that area was not too far from the troubled spots. Later I received the good news that no harm had come to the Kailash, or to anyone living nearby it in Dalhousie. I was much relieved.



Dalhousie is situated in the northern Himachal Pradesh area, actually only about forty some miles from Pathankot, or about three hours (theoretically) by bus or taxi on a difficult road. Dalhousie was home to one of the earliest Tibetan refugee communities about the 1950 exodus of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Tibet. After his successful flight from Tibet, the roads and trails were immediately flooded with as many refugees as could muster the courage to escape. Hundreds wanted to free themselves from Chinese occupied Tibet, and most directed their steps toward areas of northern India. Thus, one of the earliest fully functional schools, the ‘Central School for Tibetans,’ was founded in this community. Perhaps consulting a map is suggested here, because visualizing the different hill station locations makes it easier to understand the cluster of Tibetan refugee centers situated in these northern to more central areas of India. The editor was unable to find a single map which locates all the settlements noted in the Memoir.

Dalhousie was founded by Lord Dalhousie in 1854, during the early days of the nearly century-long Raj colonial occupation of India. Like other hill stations, Dalhousie became a popular place to which British government or military commands often moved their offices during the summer, since it is at the on-average 6,463 foot level of elevation, and thus avoids the numbing heat of the Indian plains and capital of Delhi. It still remains a popular summer resort, and is renowned for its Victorian left-over houses and hotels constructed during the Raj. Some of these buildings became schools, and others became small hotels.

Dalhousie is also known as the place where many educational schools of quality were situated, some of which are still operative. The favorite British shopping stores and restaurants were located in the central part of this station. As in other hill stations, the popular Raj-favored Indian restaurant chefs early learned to cook the inevitable British-preferred non-spicy meat and potato dishes, drab first-served soups, and post entrée puddings the Raj colonials preferred for dessert.

It is amusing to read the few Indian-Raj cookbooks that eventuated during that long Colonial occupation. The editor found and bought one copy as a kind of ‘collectors’ item. While it might have once been popular as a guide for Indian colonial cooks, who were typically men, I doubt it would have ‘many takers’ among Indian chefs today. The recipes are nothing traditionally Indian, except by name. They are bland and compulsively repetitive, and with too many ‘toned down’ sauces to be interesting.

For those interested in actual Indian cookery, there are now many excellent Indian recipes given online, some of which can be visited under Raj-styled Indian dishes or recipes, with pictures to visualize the dish. Indian food is often of interest to vegetarian-prone eaters, because of its many non-meat traditional dishes that have spicy sauces without chilis, which makes them flavorful, but not too hot.

Dalhousie, like most hill stations, has many beautiful gardens, lovely mountain vistas, and a moderate climate, except during the cool rainy season. Its good central location was another factor that contributed to its early popularity as a Raj hill station. The surrounding land is more suited to animal shepherding than farming, since the soil is stony and not well suited for most crops. Hunting was also good in the Dalhousie area, so the military enjoyed the city and its environs for their ‘sporting’ potential too….

The first school for Tibetan Lamas as tulkus was established with Nehru’s express permission, and supported primarily by Christopher Hills, a British-born author, philosopher and scientist. The first Abbot of the school was Karma Thinley Rinpoche, and Chogyal Trumpa assisted him as the spiritual Advisor. Although more Kagyu in its early orientation, as was its leader, Freda Bed, the school later directed its educational programs toward all four Tibetan Schools of interpretation, and became a growing fountain of productivity through the decades. As it grew, it accepted Indian aid, and other than Tulkus and Tibetans as students. Finally, it thereby gained a much larger enrollment, including local Indian students.

It should be noted that the Kailash School for Lamas in Dalhousie continued to operate under the leadership of Freda Bedi for some more months. At that time, the new post-Freda leadership changed its orientation and student body to include a wider spectrum of students, since Freda wanted to return to Gangtok. Under new leadership, the school continued.

When Freda left Dalhousie to study in Gangtok, Sikkim, with Karmapa, she was later declared to be a ‘high and special status Kagyu nun,’ and became known internationally as ‘Sister Palmo,’ or ‘Kechog Palmo.’…

The summer 1965 and later border skirmish was series, but was ultimately mitigated through diplomacy, and the assistance of the United Nations to which India had referred this recurring problem. It did last until late September with threats from both sides; however, ultimately the controversy was resolved without any seriously anticipated military engagements.

It was shortly after this period that Freda Bedi ended her work at the Kailash for Tibetan Tulkus. She had apparently decided to return and study against with Karmapa in Gangtok Kagyu monastery and temple in Sikkim. She was already a nun, but wanted to focus more on Buddhist philosophy. Thus, the school continued, but was refigured to include a wider spectrum of students as suggested.

Meanwhile, sometime in 1966, Germaine decided to sever her ties with the Oriental Hotel, of which she had been a part owner and developer since after World War II. When she returned to Bangkok from a few months in Europe, she sold her shares in April of 1966 [Wikipedia says 1967]. She planned to travel and spend part of her time in Europe (Paris mostly), as well as occasional trips to Asia, including India. However, she apparently knew by this time that she would eventually return to north India to be near Sakya Trizin and his family as well.
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