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Reminiscences of the Nehru Age
M \J MllIUM
'JM.O. Mathai, Nehru's Special Assistant and alter ego between 946 and 1959, was reputed to be the most powerful man after the Prime Minister during the years that he served Jawaharlal. •
For over a decade that he was at the very hub of the decision-making process, Mathai was the only one to know everything about Nehru, most especially the first Prime Minister's private thoughts about Politics,
Congress leaders, Bureaucrats, Money, Women, Sex, and Alcohol, along with much else that attracted his attention off and on.
The author reveals all, with candour and sincerity, and says, , ''Before 1 started writing this book I suspended from my mind>U personal loyalties of a conventional nature; only my obligation to history remained."
So we have completely new information, never before published, about Nehru's style, Krishna Menon's personal habits, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit's extravagance, Feroze Gandhi's ambitions, and Mountbatten's weakness for titles and honours. In the process, new light is thrown on Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Patel, Kidwai, TTK, Maulana Azad, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad, Radhakrishnan, Churchill, Shaw, and Lady Mountbatten.
This work is a major contribution to modern Indian history as it gives an insider's view of how the powerful often tried to manipulate Nehru for purposes that were not always conducive to nation-building.
M.O. Mathai, Nehru's Special Assistant till 1959, when he resigned his post on account of unfounded malicious allegations by Communists against him for misusing power, is eminently qualified to write a full and authentic account of the Nehru years, which he has done in this book.
While he worked for the Prime Minister, the author was known for his determination to serve Nehru alone, just as he was also famous for his unquestioned personal integrity and honesty in dealing with political and financial matters.
Since his resignation in 1959, Mathai has been living a quiet life, collecting materia! for this book. The petty ambitions which sway most men never troubled him. He has played his part in building up free India and with deep sadness watched how Nehru's country was being weakened. But he knows that the foundations which Nehru laid will ever be safe even though his daughter administered a severe jolt to them.
At present M.O. Mathai is working on a companion volume to this work in Madras where he now lives.
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ISBN 7069 0621 7
REMINISCENCES OF THE NEHRU AGE
Reminiscences of the Nehru Age
VIKAS PUBLISHING HOUSE PVT LTD New Delhi Bombay Bangalore Calcutta Kanpur
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Copyright © M,0. Mathai, 1978
ISBN 7069 0621 7
First Published, 1978
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Fourth Impression, 1978
Fifth Impression* 1 978
Sixth Impression, 1978
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To Priya, two, and Kavitha, five — two lively neighbourhood children who played with me, often dodging their parents,
during the period of writing this book
This book is not history or biography, but chatty stuff containing my reminiscences. No doubt it contains historical and biographical data pertaining to a significant period of India's history.
When a number of friends urged me to write my reminiscences, I said "Either I shall write without inhibition or not at all" In writing this book I have been largely guided by the philosophy contained in the Introduction to Vol. V (1902) of his monumental thirteen- volume work, Napoleon et sa Famille, by Frederic Masson.
He states: "It is time to cease at last making this senseless distinction between the public man, whom history may claim arid the private person in whom she has no right. There is only the human being; a person's character is indivisible like his nature. As soon as a man has played a historic part, he belongs to history. History lays her
hand upon him wherever she happens to come across him, for there is no fact in his existence, however petty, no insignificant utterance of his sentiments, no microscopic detail of his personal habits which may not serve to make him better known. I am sorry for him if he has any vices, or abnormal inclination, or ugly sides to his nature, for history will tell; and also if he squints or is crippled, she will tell. She will collect his words, even those murmured in love. . . .She will question his mistresses as well as his physician, his valet and his confessor. If she is lucky enough to get hold of his cash-book, she will peruse it carefully and relate how his services were paid, how he enriched or ruined himself,
what fortune he left behind him. She will lift his winding sheet, to see of what illness he died and what was his last emotion when confronted with eternity. From the day he attempted to play a part in history he delivered himself up to her.
"This is how history shall be, no longer either political or anecdotal, but human; no longer a chronological arrangement of dates and words, of names and facts, but something which will remind you of life itself; which gives off a smell of flesh and bone, the sounds of love and cries of pain, in which the passions play their part and from which may at last emerge the lineaments of men whom we can meet as brothers.
"What! Shall poetry be allowed to appropriate the right to express all the passions of humanity, drama to show them on the stage, fiction to reproduce them from the imagination, and shall history, condemned to wear for ever the harness of a false modesty and an assumed dignity, strangled in the swaddling clothes in which the traditions of a monarchical historiography have wrapped her up be obliged, if she will not be regarded as frivolous and incur the strictures of the sticklers for deportment and the Philamintes, to keep within polite generalities and to speak about human beings as she would about heavenly bodies, shall history, which records mankind, only be allowed by dint of dexterous circumlo-
cutions, and of kindly suppressions, to suggest, in noble phrases, that this same mankind has known passion, love and sin? Political actions which had none but political motives— they do occur; but how rarely!"
I have also been guided by the exceptionally frank three-volume autobiography of Bertrand Russell.
Before I started writing this book, I suspended from my mind all personal loyalties of a conventional nature: only my obligation to history remained.
I have made no full-scale assessments of the historic persons with whom I came into close contact. It is for distinguished historians of the future to undertake that task.
If any reader feels aghast at some of the uninhibited disclosures in this book, I would like to refer him back to what is contained in this Preface.
M.O. Math a 1 Madras
1 Nehru and I 1
2 Attack On Me by the Communists 16
3 Personal Embarrassment of a Rebel 21
4 Obscurantists to the Fore 23
5 Mahatma Gandhi 26
6 Lord Mountbatten and "Freedom at Midnight'" 40
7 Earl Mountbatten of Burma 46
8 Churchill, Nehru and India 51
9 Nehru's Meeting with Bernard Shaw 58
10 C. Rajagopalachari 63
1 1 The Position of the President of India 66
12 Rajendra Prasad and Radhakrishnan 69
13 The Prime Minister and His Secretariat 74
14 The Prime Minister's House 80
15 Use of Air Force Aircraft by the PM 84
16 Rafi Ahmed Kidwai 88
17 Feroze Gandhi 93
18 The National Herald and Allied Papers 97
19 Nehru and the Press 101
20 Nehru's Sensitivity to his Surroundings 106
21 Nehru's Attitude to Money 111
22 G.D. Birla 118
23 Nehru and Alcoholic Drinks 123
24 Sarojini Naidu 126
25 Rajkumari Amrit Kaur 128
26 Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit 133
27 Some Books 143
28 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad 147 /
29 She 153
30 V.K, Krishna Menon—l 154
31 V.K. Krishna Menon— II 164
32 Krishna Menon' s Vote at the UN on Hungary 172
33 V.K. Krishna Menon—IU 175 J
34 V.K. Krishna Menon— IV 183
35 Was Nehru Arrogant? 191
36 Nehru and the Services 193
37 Nehru and Women 201
38 Nehru and the Socialists 212
39 More on Nehru 216
40 Govind Ballabh Pant 220
41 T.T. Krishnamachari 224
42 Kamaraj 228
45 ifl/ Bahadur 232
44 IVo Weather-Beaten Ministers 237
45 VaUabhbhai Patei 241
45 J>K#ra 248
47 MorarjiDesai 255
45 £/>/&£*«> 261
49 Postscript 263
APPENDICES 267 MMX 295
1 Nehru and J
Soon after Nehru was released from prison in 1945 I wrote to him from Assam, where I was then, saying that I would like to join him in the service of the nation. His reply did not reach me because it was intercepted by the CID. I wrote turn another letter. He replied promptly, and this time it reached me. His reply said, that he was soon coming to Assam and that I might meet him then. He had specified the place, date and approximate time. I met him. We talked in generalities. He said life with him would be hard and uncertain. I told him about my only experience in politics which was in college. There were no Congress movements in Travancore. But during Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar's oppressive regime I organized a public demonstration by students, defying prohibitory orders. The police chief of the area came to the college with instructions to arrest the principal organizer of the demonstration. He interrogated many students but no one betrayed me. I also told Nehru that after taking my degree from Madras University I had to work because I did not like to run away from my obligations to my parents, brothers and sisters. I added that I was a bachelor and had no intention of marrying, and further that what I was looking for was a purpose in life and that I was prepared to live dangerously. Before I took leave of him, I said that within a month I would be leaving Assam for Travancore for a short visit to my parents. He asked me to visit him in Allahabad for a few days and stay in his house and have some leisurely talks with him. At our meeting, neither he nor I had any thought of a change of govern-
ment in India, even though later it so happened that the change occurred in less than one year.
In December 1945, at Anand Bhawan, Nehru again talked in generalities. He talked about the bananas and coconuts and spices and lakes and lagoons of Kerala. I quoted to him a couplet from
2 Reminiscences of the Nehru Age Kalidasa in support of the theory that Kalidasa was a Malayalit "Yavani mukha Padma nam; t hatha Kerala yoshitham" He laughed. He said that barring the grandeur of the Himalayas, Kerala was the most beautiful place in India. I reminded him that the Vindhyas and the Western Ghats were older than the Himalayas and that there were one or two towns in Travancore at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. I also told him that Agasthyakoodam (abode of the sage Agasthya) was in Kerala, and so was Maruthua Mala (Medicine Hill) which Hanuman brought from the Kumaon in the Himalays and deposited in the ^Vestern Ghats. He did not know about these.
Before I was scheduled to leave Allahabad, Nehru told me, with a measure of sadness, about his inability to pay me anything and that he hated to spoil my future. I said I was in no need of money and, in order to satisfy him on this point, I disclosed to him the extent of my finances. He conceded that it was more than adequate. I told him that my future should be my own concern and gave him an inkling of my independence by saying, "in any event I am not
available to work for a cause on payment." He scrutinized me and said that soon he was going to Malaya and would have liked me to accompany him on the trip as his secretary, but that I must go to my parents first. He advised me to be in Allahabad early in February 1946, just before his return from Malaya. On his Malaya trip he took with him as his secretary his brother-in-law, Gunotham Purushotham Hutheesing.
I left most of my things at Anand Bhawan and returned to Allahabad after seeing my parents as arranged. At home I discovered that my father had already divided the family properties and set apart the lion's share for me. By a registered deed I wrote away my claims to the family properties in favour of my brothers before I left the place. My father and mother were opposed to my joining Nehru because they thought I would be in jail soon. And so did I.
Soon after my arrival in Allahabad early in February 1946, Nehru returned from Malaya. I had already told him during
my previous visit to Allahabad that only after a week of my being with him would I be in a position to say in what way I could be of any use. I took less than a week. I discovered that Nehru so far had not had any adequate secretarial assistance. He even had to file his own papers. Those connected with his books, royalties and general finances were in a hopeless mess. I told him that even a superficial assessment of the situation had convinced me that the best way I could be of help to him was to render him secretarial assistance and added that I had decided to do this disagreeable
work for a year. He was immensely pleased. Although I did not tell him so, it was my intention to employ one person at my expense before the end of the year and train him to relieve me of the routine work. Soon Nehru was relieved of all this needless burden
One day, in 1946, some Americans who knew me turned up at Anand Bhawan to have darshan (a meeting, an audience) of Nehru. On seeing me there, they yelled, "Hi Mac" in Nehru's presence. From then on, to Nehru and the members of his wider family I was Mac. The Mountbattens also picked it up later
Soon we were caught up with the British Cabinet Mission in Delhi and Simla, then the AICC in Bombay, where Nehru took over as Congress President from Maulana Azad, and then negotiations with Viceroy Lord Wavell on the formation of the interim government. In between there took place an impulsive visit to Kashmir where we were arrested at the border. So I had the honour of sharing Nehru's last imprisonment; but it was for a brief period of about a week.
r 0n * Se P tCmber m *> the day the interim government was formed, Nehru took me with him to the External Aifairs Department In the evening I told him that I had no desire to work in government. I refused to go to office the next day; and stayed away from government till 15 August 1947. Nehru was annoyed with me But there was plenty to do at bis residence where I organized a compact staff chosen by me as part of his official secretariat. Thus I got rid of all my routine work. Most of Nehru's important work was done at the residence until the formation of the dominion government on 15 August 1947.
Soon after he took office in the interim government, Nehru made an impulsive decision to visit the tribal areas of the North- West Frontier Province, These tribal areas were under the External .Affairs Department. The North- West Frontier Province at that time had a Congress government under that brave and magnificent man Khan Sahib. Even though advice from almost every quarter was against the visit, Nehru showed perversity and became more
determined to go. I accompanied him on this trip even though I had nothing to do with the government. I have referred to this in -
4 Reminiscences of the Nehru Age the chapter "Some Books." The results proved clearly that it was an ill-timed, ill-advised, and politically unwise step. The Muslim League gained vastly in the process.
The two years, from September 1946, proved to be an extremely difficult and dark period. It was all work and very little sleep. There were innumerable nights when I had to keep awake without a wink. There were telephone calls throughout the night, mostly from Muslims under attack by savage mobs of refugees. Once, after midnight, I received news on the telephone that B. F. H. B. Tyabji's residence was under attack. I ordered a police jeep and a small police party from the security squad near our house at 17 York Road. Nehru, who was still working upstairs, heard the noise of the jeep and the policemen and came racing down. He asked me where I was going. I replied that there was no time
to lose. He jumped into the jeep and I almost got crushed between him and the driver. In the jeep I explained the position to him. When we arrived at Badruddin Tyabji's place — Badr as he was known to me— we found Dewan Chaman Lall, who was staying in the next house, making a valiant effort to ward off the mob. Whatever were Chaman LalFs faults, he was a thoroughly non- communal person. On our arrival on the scene, the crowd bolted. We left after posting a small squad of security staff there. Badr, coming from an illustrious family which produced a Congress President, was shaken but not disheartened. He and Azim Hussain, who came from a distinguished family in West
Punjab, had opted to serve in India. They are ICS men, now retired. They are as true patriots as Zakir Husain, who narrowly escaped murder. They and persons like Brigadier Usman, who lost his life defending Kashmir against Pakistani aggression, and Abdul Hamid, the lowly but brave soldier from UP, who earned the Param Vir Chakra posthumously in the 1965 war with Pakistan, are heroes who kept the faith. Only an ungrateful nation will
fail to honour them.
In the summer of 1947 I received an anonymous telephone call at Nehru's residence to say that a Muslim girl was in danger in a small hostel in New Delhi. I took a pistol from the nearby police tent and got into a car which was driven by an old Muslim driver Khaliq who, as a young man, was in the service of Pandit Motilal Nehru. Khaliq, with his goatee, was not the man to be taken out; but no one else was available. In front of the girl's room sat a relatively^ young Sikh with a long sword and a menacing look. He looked at Khaliq with hatred in his eyes. He knew English fairly well. I asked him to get out of the place. He became aggressive and waved his sword at me. I took out my pistol and told him firmly, "If you don't get out, I will shoot the hell out of you." He fled. When he was safely away from Khaliq, I entered the hostel room and found a young girl sitting on her cot and shaking like a leaf. She was so petrified that she could not talk for a while. She was a Muslim girl from Nagpur and was working in the government. All her belongings were looted. She had one spare saree in a small box. I called Khaliq in so that she could see his goatee and feel reassured. I told her, "Don't be afraid, come •with me." I took her in the car to Nehru's residence and put her in Indira's room; Indira was out of town. After a few days, when she was normal, we sent her under escort by air to Nagpur. Later
I learnt that she returned to Delhi when the situation became normal and resumed her work in the government.
At about the same time the correspondent of the Free Press Journal — a south Indian Brahaman with somewhat kinky hair — was doing some voluntary work for me. He looked through the numerous newspapers and made clippings of important news items and comments which did not appear in Delhi newspapers which Nehru normally read. These clippings were put up daily to Nehru. One evening the correspondent went out for a walk. He was surrounded by a group of refugees with knives. To them he looked like a Muslim. He protested that he was a Hindu from south India. They refused to believe him and ordered him to undress. He was petrified and resigned himself to a violent death
because, for some reason unknown to him, he was circumcised while he was a little boy. Miraculously, a typical south Indian Brahman, looking somewhat like Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, with a pigtail and the Trishul mark on his forehead, appeared on the scene shouting, "He is a Brahman, I know him." The crowd melted away. My journalist friend was taken into the foreign service soon afterwards through the Special Selection Board.
He rose to be an ambassador and is now retired.
During those difficult days it was not always easy to get foodstuffs. Dewan Chaman Lall occasionally managed to send some eggs and mutton. Once our Goan steward, Cordiero, told me he could get a lamb and put the meat in the deep freeze. I asked him to do ° Reminiscences of the Nehru Age so. I was then doing the housekeeping as Indira was out of Delhi. Nehru heard about the lamb and got annoyed with me. He told me if I did it again he would refuse to eat the stuff. There was no need because I had already made standing arrangements with the controller of the Governor-General's household.
The saddest experience of my life was visits with Nehru to the undivided Punjab. We had to wade through the debris of destroyed houses and dead bodies of innocent people in Multan, Lahore and Amritsar. We witnessed the largest migration in history involving eighteen million people both ways. Some years later a friend asked me who were more cruel, Muslims or Sikhs? I replied, "Half a dozen of the one were equal to six of the other." Perhaps the Sikhs were one up; and the Hindus did not lag very much behind.
While we were at 17 York Road, I noticed for a week an excessively fat young girl coming there every morning and standing silently in front of the house looking very sad. Unlike others she did not make any attempt to reach Nehru to tell her tale of woe. One morning, after Nehru left the house, I asked the girl to tell me all about herself. She was from Mianwali in West Punjab; was a B.A., B.T. Her father was the president of the district Congress. He sent away his family along with a batch of other people in a (refugee special) train to Delhi. He said he would not leave until the last non-Muslim, in his area, who wanted to migrate, left.
When he was satisfied that he had done his duty, he boarded a train for Delhi. At Lahore he was dragged out of the train and brutally murdered. Tears flowed down her cheeks. I asked her where she was staying. She said, "Under a tree in the compound of a house near Connaught Circus." I took her by car and left her under the tree where her grieving mother sat. Before I left, I asked the young girl to come to 17 York Road early next morning and added that I
might have something to tell her then. That evening I told Nehru the story of the young girl. He was moved, and said that he knew her father who was a fine person. I told him that I would like her to be employed in his secretariat and. put to work at the residence mostly to meet and talk to the helpless refugees who came in increasing numbers in the mornings. He readily agreed. I was not in government then; but I managed, with some difficulty, to create a job for her. When she came the next morning, I put the proposal before her and told her that I would see to it that she received a
salary higher than that of a schoolteacher. She gratefully accepted the offer. She was appointed as a reception officer. That was the rotund Miss Vimala Sindhi who became a familiar figure in Delhi.
At about the same time I happened to see a little boy, almost a child, sitting on the roadside and weeping. He did not know English and I did not know Hindi. So I took him to Nehru's residence. With the help of Vimala Sindhi I found out that the boy was from West Punjab. He had no father. While*nigrating to Delhi he had become separated from his mother. I got some clothes made for him and kept him with me in my room for a month. The kindly owner of 17 York Road, who was a rich man with no children, requested me to hand over the boy to him and offered to get him
educated. He sent the boy to a residential school in Pilani, Later his mother turned up and was happy to learn of what happened to her little boy. The owner of 17 York Road also took a kindly interest in the woman and helped her financially. The little boy was not a bright student but managed to pass the matriculation examination. There appeared to be no point in sending him for higher studies. I was then in government. At my instance he was appointed in the PM's secretariat as a clerk for which post a vacancy existed.
That was Mohan who is still in the PM's secretariat and continues to embarrass me by calling me father. Both Nehru and I helped him to build a small house on a tiny plot allotted by the government to him as a refugee. He remains dutiful to his widowed mother.
Early in August 1947 Nehru said that he would like me to help him in his secretariat also. I told him I hated files and that I did not know what other work I could do in the secretariat. He said I could feel my way about and work would come. He added, "From the 15th of this month it is going to be our own government; most of my work will be done in the secretariat and if you stay away you won't know what is happening. Apart from that, I do not want to be surrounded by officials completely." I reluctantly agreed. At Nehru's instance, Secretary- General Girja Shankar Bajpai at the
External Affairs Department dropped in one evening on his way home and talked to me about my appointment in government. He said the idea was to designate me as Personal Private Secretary to the PM and that all papers for the PM would go through me. He added that I would be free to do such non-official work as the PM wanted me to. I said I did not want to be integrated into the secretariat; that my position should remain undefined as I proposed to create my own work in the secretariat eventually. I also laid down a condition that my appointment should be conter minus with that of the PM. All this was agreed to. He then said that Nehru had told him that my emoluments should be fixed only with my consent. He asked me what salary I wanted. I replied that I didn't need a salary. He said that in government it was not the usual practice to engage people without emoluments. I then said I would take Rs 500 per month and added that it should be an ad hoc salary, not in any grade. He was amused, thought I was a crank, and reported all this
to Nehru, who asked him not to make much variation upwards in the salary I had suggested. So Bajpai had my ad hoc salary fixed at Rs 750 per month without any further reference to me. It so happened that an official, who was designated as Assistant Private Secretary, was drawing almost double my "salary"; but it did not bother me because it never entered into my head that a man's usefulness was to be measured in terms of the salary he drew. I was
never asked to undergo a medical examination. Neither was I asked to sign the oath of secrecy.
When the Finance Minister appealed for economy in non-productive governmental expenditure, I stopped drawing my salary for a whole year. Soon after that, something which happened annoyed me. The question arose about my travelling by train. The administration man in the PM's secretariat told me that I was entitled only to second class fare. I said I wouldn't travel second class and asked him to get me a third class ticket. This was reported to the PM. He ascertained that the minimum salary entitling a person to travel first class was Rs 1,500 per month and ordered that my salary be fixed at that figure as an ad hoc one. Simultaneously, at my instance, toy official designation was changed to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. At that time no one in government had that designation. I cancelled the trip and have never travelled by train on government account from that day onwards.
When N. R. Filial became Cabinet Secretary, the PM asked him to keep in touch with me. FilJai sent me the personal files containing the efficiency reports of all the members of the lCS and other former Secretary- of-State services. He wanted me to read them as the background information would be useful to the PM. It took me over two months to go through them late at night daily. I was impressed by the objective reporting by senior Englishmen on their juniors— minus, of course, the political slant.
Nehru and I 9
Ever since I started work in the PM's secretariat, no file or paper reached the PM except through me — with rare exceptions, in which case they would come to me from him. Nothing went out except through me. 'This meant matching hours of work with Nehru, and sometimes surpassing him. In the PM's house, generally. I ate alone
in my study while working, sometimes at odd hours. I had come to the conclusion that the best way to help the PM was to inform his mind. For this I had to study specific issues and problems and jet advice from those who were in a position to advise — people in government and outside. Except in its broad aspects, I was not particularly interested in foreign affairs which, in detail, meant international pillow-fighting. In fact, I used to call Krishna Menon an "international pillow-fighter."
After the death of Vallabhbhai Patel, much to my embarrassment ministers, MPs and senior officials used to refer to me as "Deputy PM," "Power behind the throne" and the like. C. D. Deshmukh, in his autobiographical book, chose to refer to me as "the most powerful acolyte of the PM." Except for a few, I had only contempt for ministers who were nothing but a bunch of mediocrities or worse.
It is true that no file or paper containing a recommendation, reached the PM without my comments on a slip or a routine note if I felt that such comment was called for. Such slips and "routine notes" never formed part of the files. They were removed when papers came down from the PM.
One morning, during the 1952 monsoon, I received a telegram as I was waiting to go to the office with the PM in his car. The telegram announced lh,e death of my father who was eighty-four.
I put the telegram in my pocket and, without betraying any emotion, went to office with the PM and did the day's work. No one knew about it. In 1950, when I visited my home in Kerala for a couple of hours, I had told my brothers and sisters that in case anything happened to my parents, they should not expect me to come over because, with the then rudimentary air services, there was ho chance of my reaching home in time. Four days later, on a Sunday, as I returned from the office with the PM for lunch, N. K. Seshan handed me another telegram announcing the death of
my mother who was eighty- one. Seshan had opened the telegram and told everyone, including Indira. Foregoing lunch, I went straight to bed without changing. In the evening the PM and Indira came down and found me, as usual, in my study, refreshed and composed, attending to my work. I told them that my father had died four days previously and that my mother fainted immediately. She regained consciousness only once for a brief moment. It was raining torrentially then. She murmured, "He must be feeling cold" and again went into a coma, never to open her eyes again. My parents had been married for seventy years. They had their quarrels, sufferings, sorrows and joys. I have never seen a couple so devoted to each other. In fact, they died together. The PM remained silent.
Indira said, "Papu came to your room after lunch and found you fast asleep." In order to break the gloom in my study, I said, "That shows that I have a clear conscience," to which Indira retorted, to the amusement of her father, "It can also mean that you have none" and gave me a smile. I told her, again to the amusement of the father, "It is the only witty remark you have ever uttered in your life."
Nehru lost his temper with me only once— for no fault of mine. I was annoyed and I also lost my temper. For two days I sulked. Then he sent for me and smiled, which was his way of making up. I told him, "I am sorry; I should have shown more understanding. Your mind must have been upset about something at that time. I have seen you losing your temper many a time, but that has been at seeing stupidity or vulgarity." I then told him the story of a famous
Greek philosopher losing his temper and assaulting the librarian of the Public Library in Athens. The reason was that the library did not have a copy of a particular book on Socrates. I said I mentally approved of it. He smiled.
It was Nehru's practice right from September 1946 to work in his secretariat on Sundays and holidays. Those were hectic times and he hardly got more than five hours of sleep at night. The result was that he would doze off at meetings. I wanted him to get some sleep in the afternoons of Sundays and holidays. It was no use
telling him this because he was too proud of his health. So I chose to appeal to his sense of fairness. I told him that the PAs and others were married people with children and they would like to take their wives and children to a cinema or for shopping occasionally. I added, "In fairness to them you should stop going to the secretariat in the afternoons of Sundays and holidays. I shall arrange for one or two PAs to be in the house so that you can do your work there and, in any event, I will be there. Before agreeing to it he said, "Work never kills anybody." I replied, "Overwork makes a
person stale. You cannot afford to be stale." As I had expected, this led to Nehru taking some rest after lunch on Sundays and holidays. I authorized all PAs to take a full day off once a week.
I had a special allowance sanctioned for them, and for the PAs on night duty I arranged, in addition, rent-free quarters near the PM's residence. They all worked very hard without looking at their watches. Later, the PM got into the habit of having half an hour's nap daily after lunch.
Nehru, recognized as one of the world's five best English prose writers of his day, was loath to sign anything drafted by others except strictly protocol communications. The result was that he had to spend an enormous amount of time in dictating letters and drafting or dictating statements and speeches. He has signed more communications drafted by me than by all the others put together. That was because, when the signed letters and notes came from him, I would detain some that were dictated in his weariness late at night. These I redrafted for his signature.
Some of Nehru's finest speeches were either extempore or written in his own hand when alone, without any disturbance, and when he was emotionally stirred. The "Tryst with Destiny" speech delivered at the midnight meeting of the Constituent Assembly on 14-15 August 1947 was written in his own hand. When the typed copy and the handwritten draft were delivered to me by the PA, I consulted Roget's International Thesaurus and went to Nehru.' I said "Date with Destiny" was not a happy phrase for a solemn occasion because the word date had acquired an American connotation of assignation with girls and women. I suggested its replacement with "tryst" or "rendezvous," but cautioned that the phrase "Rendezvous with Destiny" was used by President Franklin Roosevelt in one of his famous wartime speeches. He thought for a moment and changed date to tryst in the typescript. The original handwritten draft with the word date remained with me all these years and was handed over recently to the Nehru Museum and Library along with innumerable documents and photographs.
The broadcast on the day of Gandhiji's assassination, with the sublime words "the Light has gone out," was made extempore, without the aid of any notes . At the end of 1951 I wanted S. D. Upadhyaya, who had worked for Nehru and his father for long years, and who was rotting, to be put up as a Congress candidate for election to the first Lok Sabha. In fact, I had advised Upadhyaya to find a suitable constituency and get the Provincial Congress Committee to sponsor him. One day, while I was going with the PM to N. N. Bery, the dentist, I spoke to him about Upadhyaya, He reacted strongly against the proposal. He asked, "What can he do in parliament? He is singularly unsuitable for parliament." I said, "He will be as good or as bad as fifty per cent of the Congress MPs; and it will be a fitting
reward for a man known for his loyalty though not ability." He kept quiet. Nehru was then Congress President. On our way home from Dr Bery's clinic he asked me to tell Upadhyaya to have his name sent to the AICC by a PCC. I said that this had already been done and his proposed constituency was Satna in Vindhya Pradesh. That is how Upadhyaya entered parliament and remained a member of either House for several terms. If any man deserved a
prize for never opening his mouth in parliament, it was Upadhyaya. I am glad the poor man, in his old age (he is now past seventy-eight), is now entitled to draw a pension of Rs 500 per month as an ex-MP.
Throughout my association with government I never asked for any favours from the PM or any minister or any official. I hated to be a supplicant before anyone. No relative of mine, near or distant, ever got a job or any favour from government. However, I did not hesitate to intervene directly sometimes, and mostly through the PM, in cases where injustice was done to individuals. It is true that I have been instrumental in the appointment of innumerable
ministers, governors and non-official ambassadors— none of them related to me. There was perfect understanding between Nehru and me. On some fare occasions he did question my judgment, but he doubted nothing else. He treated me as a colleague. Of course, he knew that I was not available to be treated in any other way. I have
also been instrumental in preventing some appointments. One such I shall relate. Soon after the appointment of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit as an ambassador, Nehru sponsored his brother-in-law, G. P. Hutheesing, for appointment as commissioner to Malaya. He had gone with Nehru to Malaya as his secretary in January 1946 and stayed back for a couple of weeks to study the position of Indians there. Two senior officials of the Commonwealth Relations Depart-
ment saw me privately and requested me to prevent the appointment if possible. I decided to resort to the indirect approach.
Nehru and I 13
I talked to Hutheesing, who happened to be in Delhi then, and told him that it would be infra dig to accept a diplomatic post which did not carry the rank of a first class ambassador, considering his education and background. I asked him, "Why do you, a rich" man, want to lower yourself?" He said, "I am going to tell Bhai this evening that I don't want it." Thus Gunotham Purushotham Hutheesing was talked out of a situation which would have resulted in Nehru being accused of nepotism. Some months later, while driving to Palam airport, I related the whole story to the PM; and also told him the story about the only son of my widowed sister who was old enough to be my mother. She sent him to me in Delhi for a job. There was then a vacancy in the PM's secretariat for which he was qualified; or I could have easily fixed him up elsewhere; but I gave him his train fare and some pocket money to return home. My sister was deeply hurt. Nehru told me that I was a fool to have done it. I replied that in some matters I would rather be a fool. I asked him, "Didn't you recently say that in public life one should not only be correct but should appear to be so?" Silence was the understandable reaction.
In the mid-fifties a minister of state foolishly got into trouble. He was sent as a delegate to the UN General Assembly. A rich man, and a married man with children, he took with him a youngish woman and stayed in hotels in New York, London and Paris, entering their names as "Mr and Mrs" in order to stay together in the same rooms. Much later the woman arrived at the residence of the minister in New Delhi with her baggage and demanded the right to stay there even as a servant— much to the embarrassment of the minister and his wife. She was thrown out; but she
managed to get a room in Western Court. She met many important people and registered her complaint with them. Finally, she waylaid the PM as he and I were going home from the office. She mumbled something to the PM. While driving home, the PM asked me to send for the minister and talk to him. I rang up the minister and he came in the afternoon to my office. It was a Saturday when parliament was not in session. He confessed to everything. I gave him a piece of paper and asked him to write out his resignation from the Council of Ministers addressed to the PM.
As I dictated slowly, he wrote, "I hereby tender my resignation from the Council of Ministers for personal reasons. I shall be grateful if you will be good enough to forward it to the President for his acceptance." I asked the minister to see me on Monday morning in my office in Parliament House with a common friend, U. S. Malliah, MP, who was aware of the incident. They met me as suggested. I told the minister that where hormones were concerned I had no right to pass judgment on anyone; but I added, "You have committed the inconceivable folly of entering your name and that of the woman in hotel registers everywhere as "Mr and Mrs." Some people have egged her on and sent her to Delhi
to blackmail you. I suggest that you buy her silence. Your good friend Malliah, I am sure, will succeed in persuading her to quietly go away from Delhi. Malliah should decide the amount to be given to her. Malliah decreed that, considering the minister's financial position, he should give her Rs 50,000. This was done within two days, and the woman left Delhi quietly. Later, I gave the PM all the facts and the letter of resignation of the minister. 7 he PM thought
over the matter for a couple of days and decided not to accept the resignation. And the minister survived and prospered. He became a Cabinet Minister in the Indira regime during which he proved to be the most servile of ministers. He was the first to take the little boy Sanjay around in his state, launching him into politics. At a public
meeting organized at government expense, the minister stood up on his haunches and said something very profound, "I have slaved for your grandfather and your mother, and I shall slave for you." I do not know for whom he is slaving now.
It was never in my nature to be a sycophant and a flatterer. I have irritated and annoyed Nehru in private more than H. V. Kamath, Ram Manohar Lohia or Raj Narain in public. Once, at a reception at the India House in London, to which Attlee and several other dignitaries came, Nehru stood in a corner chatting with Lady Mountbatten all the while. Krishna Menon turned to me and said that people were commenting on it and requested me to break in so that Nehru could move about. I told him that I had no locus standi, he was the host and it was his duty to make the PM
circulate. Krishna Menon did not have the guts to do the right thing. Two other similar parties were in the offing elsewhere in the next few days, and I did not want a repetition of the PM being glued to one person. Later, in the evening I sent the PM a handwritten note about the incident which, I said, resulted in unfavourable comment and needless gossip. I did not wish to embarrass him by talking to him personally about this matter. He was too big
Nehru and I 15
a man to take my note amiss. It had the desired effect and the other two parties went off well. In the ultimate analysis, I really did not care what Nehru or anyone else thought of me as long as I was true to myself.
After my resignation from government in 1959, I continued to do some personal work for Nehru. The last time I saw him was on 27 April 1964. 1 gave him a prepared note. He read it twice. He could not take in anything. I told him that he need not bother and that I would leave written instructions to his staff on his behalf. He was no longer in a condition to do any useful work. I felt immeasurably sad. I went off to Simla with the premonition that I would never see him again. On 27 May 1964, in the forenoon, I received a telephone message from a friend in Delhi that the PM was sink-
ing. The Lieutenant-Governor of Himachal Pradesh was good enough to arrange transport for me from Simla to Delhi where I arrived late at night. It was a hot and dusty day; and in Delhi there was an earthquake.
Though I have found it psychologically difficult to write some chapters of this book, it was this chapter that I found the
2 Attack On Me by the Communists
In the winter of 1958 some Communists chose to mount a virulent attack on me. I shall not attempt to give the details here. They are contained .in my letter of resignation dated 12 January 1959 to the Prime Minister and a letter dated 11 January 1959 to the Prime Minister from Rajkuniari Amrit Kaur, included in full as Appendix 3.
The Prime Minister did not want to accept my resignation and told me so. But I had made up my mind that, for all the world* I would not continue in a position where I could not defend myself- My resignation letter was not written in a huff. Once written it was never to be withdrawn. The Prime Minister kept my letter of resignation pending for six days. On 18 January 1959 I sent a note to the Prime Minister conveying my decision to stop work after two days and to move out of the Prime Minister's house. That night he sent me a handwritten letter reluctantly agreeing to
my request In fact, I gave him no choice in the matter. At 4 a.m. on 27 January, which happened to be my birthday,
I woke up to get ready to leave by car for Almora with my dear friend Boshi Sen, the agricultural scientist. At 4.45 a.m. Nehru came down to my room and sat down with Boshi Sen. He knew that it was my birthday; but he did not want to say "happy birthday" because there was nothing happy on that day either for me or for him. As I was leaving, he embraced me and told Dr Sen, "Boshi, look after him."
I was to learn later, with a considerable measure of happiness, that the servants and malis (gardeners) at the PM's house spontaneously went in a procession to the PM, the day after I left, to request him to ensure that I returned to the PM's house.
At his press conference on 7 February 1959, the PM said, "My broad appreciation of Mr Mathai was of efficiency, integrity and loyalty, at any rate loyalty to me; but also a person who. acted foolishly often in small matters; and sometimes rather threw his weight about. But I never doubted his integrity and I have had no reasons since than. . . connected as he was with me, a delicate position, which could have been misused very easily; all this time
I have no reason, not the slightest reason, that financially speaking it was in the slightest degree misused."
On 16 February Lady Mouhtbatten came to see me at the residence of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. She was exercised over the possibility of my having turned bitter as a result of the one or two unfavourable remarks the PM had made at the press conference She asked me if the PM had ever pulled me up for the matters he had mentioned. I said no. She commented, "Then he had no right to make those remarks in public." r told her that he must himself have been upset about my leaving him and the words might have escaped his lips unintentionally. I assured her that I was not
particularly hurt by them. Then I handed over to her a copy of my lengthy reply to a Cabinet Minister who had written to me disapproving of the PM's remarks about me at the press conference She took it with her to read. She mentioned to me that the PM had told her that soon after the press conference Secretary.
General N.R. Pillai of the External Affairs Ministry wrote a private note to him on behalf of himself and the three Secretaries of the ministry to say that at no time had I thrown my weight about m so far as they were concerned, and further that I was always helpful to them. She made it known to me that the PM was distressed at having made those remarks. I asked her to tell him to forget about the whole matter. She came the next day to tell the Cabfnet Minister S reatl y move d her and that the PM shed tears when he read it in her presence.
bJT f- 1 W - Sm Alm ° ra J received a c °nmmnication *om the PM that m view of the sustained noises by some opposition MPs m parhament he, in consultation with his colleagues, had decided to ask the Cabmet Secretary to ascertain the facts from me and submit a report to him. The PM advised me to come down to Delhi. So I came and stayed in Rajkumari Amrit Kaur's house.
On return to Delhi, I informed the PM that I would gladly cooperate with the Cabinet Secretary provided three conditions were met. I told him that I did not like any one-man business in a
18 Reminiscences of the Nehru Age
matter like this— in so far as the Cabinet Secretary and he himself were concerned. My conditions were:
1) The Chairman of the Central Board of Revenue should be associated with the Cabinet Secretary in the process of ascertaining the facts.
2) The Cabinet Secretary's report should be examined and commented upon by the Finance Minister.
3) An authority independent of the government should pronounce an opinion on the findings of the Cabinet Secretary. I
suggested the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India should undertake this task.
The PM consulted his principal colleagues and informed me that my conditions met with their wholehearted approval. Parliament was informed of this.
To provide facts and explanations about personal finances spread over a period of thirteen years was not an easy matter. However, I was able to collect the material and let the Cabinet Secretary and his colleague have it before the end of April 1959.
The following documents, which were placed before both the Houses of parliament on 6 May 1959, are given in full in Appendix 4:
1) PM's letter to Chairman/Speaker dated 6 May 1959.
2) PM's note dated 6 May 1959.
3) Finance Minister's comments dated 6 May 1959.
4) Comptroller and Auditor-General's comments dated 6 May
Notable Editor S. Mulgaokar wrote a brief editorial in the Hindustan Times of 8 May 1959, which I quote on the next page:
Attack On Me by the Communists 19
The statements of Mr Nehru and The statements of Mr Nehru Mr Morarji Desai on the result of »«d Mr Morarji Desai on the the enquiry into the allegations suit of the inquiry into the in Parliament of misuse by Mr ^legations .in Parliament of M.O. Mathai of his official posi- misuse by Mr M. O. Malhai of tion of Special Assistant to the hi* official position of Special Prime Minister can be left to Assistant to the Prime Minis speak for themselves. What may *« can be left to speak for strike the public as rather bewil- «mselves. What may strike dering is that the Communists, ifce public as rather bewilder who were so loud in their clamour «>g is that the Communists for Mr Mathai's blood and had "ho were so loud in their cla- claimed to possess unimpeachable "»»** for Mr Mathai's blood evidence against him, ran away, »nd ba<* claimed to possess un- when it came to the point, from impeachable evidence against the responsibility of substantia- h»«» r «» awa y* when il came t0 ting their accusations before the «>« point, from the rcsponsi- inquiry tribunal. Mr Nehru has Mty of substantiating their emphasised that the only infor- -causations before the inquiry mation which was offered to Mr iflbunal. Mr Nehru has em* Vishnu Sahay was a letter from a rtasized that the only infor-
person in prison who made some mXion which was offered *°
general charges without suppor- Mr Vishnu Sahay was in *'a
ting evidence and an anonymous Jmer frcm a person in prison
communication. Mr Desai has * ho mad * some 6 encral ****"
pointed out: "The fact that no- ?n without supporting evi-
body has come forward with *«• and an anonymous som-
any reliable information or evi- wtwawWon-'* Mr Desai has
dence is significant." We have ***** out; ' ,Thc faCt **
another word to describe the lAedy has come forward with
behaviour of people who make " fty r€liabie inio ; ma ]^ n * r
wide allegations from a position " ldence is W*"*" ™*
of privilege and then evade their ^ Bn0lhcr wo / d l ° ?*"*
plain duty to attempt to make *« * ha ^ of , peop, < who
their allegations stick The word £» W " «*! ^V
is DESPICABLE Wlion of privilege and then
tirade their plain duty to at-
fcapt to make their allega-
( l ext and Photostat of Hindustan tans stick. The word is
Times editorial, 8 May 1959) DESPICABLE.
"20 Reminiscences ofihe Nehru Age
The Prime Minister's seniormost colleague, Govind Ballabh
Pant, asked me if I would return to the Prime Minister's house
and office. I replied in one sentence, "Only a dog returns to its
vomit." He promptly reported this to the Prime Minister. Later,
the Prime Minister asked me if I would like to take up any posi-
tion in government in India or abroad. I said, "Not any office of
profit under the government."
Some time after the noise had died down, a friend asked me,
"Did that second-rate politician who indulged in wild allegations
against you day in and day out, with a hot potato stuck in his
throat, show a modicum of decency by expressing his regret to you
at least privately?." In reply I could only quote to him an old
proverb: "Cleanliness in a crow; honesty in a gambler; mildness in
a serpent; women satisfied with love; vigour in a eunuch; truth in
a drunkard; friendship in a king; decency in a second-rate politician
—whoever heard of these things?"
Personal Embarrassment of a Rebel
At the Viceroy House at U a.m., on 2 September 1946, on the
installation of the interim government, an acute personal embarras-
sment awaited Nehru. He had to affirm allegiance to King George
VI, Emperor of India and also to affirm that he would well and
truly serve "our Sovereign." Nehru was suddenly confronted with
these. He had no choice. He suppressed his embarrassment and
extreme annoyance and went through the affirmation of allegiance
and affirmation of office which read as follows:
Form of Affirmation of Allegiance
I, Jawaharlal Nehru, do solemnly affirm that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance to His Majesty, KING GEORGE THE
SIXTH, Emperor of India, His Heirs,and Successors, according
Form of Affirmation of Office
I, Jawaharlal Nehru, do solemnly affirm that I will well and
truly serve our Sovereign, KING GEORGE THE SIXTH,
Emperor of India, in the Office of Member of the Governor
General's Executive Council, and that I will do right to all manner
of people after the laws and usages of India without fear or
favour affection or ill-will.
For several days Nehru went on murmuring like a child, "I had
not bargained for these." The conscience of Sardar Pate!, Rajendra
Prasad, Rajaji and others was not pricked.
When dominion government came on 15 August 1947 the
Emperor of India automatically stepped down to become King of
India; and Nehru, the Prime Minister, corresponded directly with
the King. The British Government went out of the picture. Nehru
22 Reminiscences of the Nehru Age
soon discovered that his communications to the King had to be in
third person and in the form of "humble duty submissions." When
the first such submission was placed before him for his signature,
Nehru was annoyed and said, "Oh Lord" and pushed away the
signature pad. After some time he signed "the wretched thing."
Here is a later sample of the humble duty submission: ■
Ind.a. If New Deihl »
I fij 28th April 1948.
JAWAHAHLAL NEHRU presents his humble duty
to Your Majesty and has the honour to submit, for
Your Majesty's approval > the proposal of Your
Majesty's, Ministers in the Dominion of India that
Sri Chakravarty Rajagopalachari, Governor of West
Bengal, be appointed to be the Governor General of
India on the demission of that Office by His Excellency
Rear Admiral the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G.,
P.C., G.M.I.E., G.C.V.O., K.C.B., D.,3.0.
OP THE DOMINION 07 INDIA.
4 Obscurantists to the Fore
In the Constituent Assembly, which met in New Delhi on 9 Decem-
ber 1946 and concluded its deliberations on 26 November 1949, a
demand was spearheaded by Rajendra Prasad and some other obscu-
rantists that the name of the country should be Bharat and not India
in the Constitution. Nehru pointed out that in such a case, interna-
tionally India would loss all the benefits of a "succession state'* such
as original membership of the United Nations and various interna-
tional bodies, and all the embassy buildings abroad and so forth.
Pakistan was a new state seceding from India and had to negotiate
for membership of international bodies. Nehru told Rajendra Prasad
and others, "I do not want to put India in an absurd position inter-
nationally." He also told them that their suggestion would please
Pakistan most. Rajendra Prasad and others hummed and hawed;
but Nehru stood firm. Finally, he said he had no objection to
mention somewhere in the Constitution "India that is Bharat." When
Rajendra Prasad became President of the Republic, he ordered
that the armbands of his ADCs should contain the word Bharat
and not India. This practice continues.
Nehru had to give into the same set of people and agree to the
inclusion of cow protection and prohibition in the Constitution.
Left to himself, Nehru would not have cluttered the Constitution
with all these. His emphasis was on the "right to work"; but
obscurantists wanted to go backwards.
There was even a feeble demand for the protection of monkeys,
descendants of the mythical Hanuman.
Soon after Rajendra Prasad became President of the Republic,
on 26 January 1950, he released a number of hefty brown monkeys
into the President's Estate. One day a few of them came to the
Prime Minister's office in the secretariat through a door to the
balcony which was kept open. I happened to be in the room wit n
4 Reminiscences of the Nehru Age
Nehru and chased them away. One ran away with a paperweight.
I told Nehru, "This is the handiwork of Rajendra Babu." He
laughed. The monkey population was augmented by a substantial
number released at the Birla temple. They still come up to the
President's Estate where the monkey menace is very real; they take
away vegetables and fruits and also attack helpless women and
children even today.
A Victim of Obscurantism and Barbarous Intolerance—
B. R, Ambedkar
Through a friend of mine, P. K. Panikkar, who was a Sanskrit
scholar and deeply religious, B. R Ambedkar became interested in
me. I had told Panikkar about my admiration for Ambedkar, but
added that he just fell short of being a great man by inches because
he could not wholly rise above bitterness. However, I said that no
one had any right to blame him, having regard to the humiliations
and indignities he had to suffer throughout his life. Panikkar, who
was a frequent visitor to Ambedkar, obviously reported all this to
him. On a Sunday morning Ambedkar rang me up and asked me
to tea that evening. He said he. had asked Panikkar also. I turned
up at the appointed time.
After some pleasantries, Ambedkar told me good-humouredly,
"So you have found fault with me; but I am prepared to accept
your criticism." Then he talked about untouchability. He said that
the railways and factories had done more to combat untouchability
than Gandhi's personal campaigns. He" asserted that the real
problem of the untouchables was economic and not "temple entry,"
as advocated by Gandhi.
Ambedkar said, "Our Constitution will, no doubt, abolish
untouchability on paper; but it will remain in India as a virus
for at least a hundred years. It is deeply embedded in the minds
of people." He recalled the abolition of slavery in the United
States and said, "The improvement of the condition of the Negroes
is slow even after 150 years." I said I couldn't agree with him more
and told him the story of my mother. Despite almost 2,000 years of
Christianity behind her, she practised untouchability with as much
conviction as Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. She would not allow
a Harijan to draw water from our well in summer when water was
Obscurantists to the Fore 25
generally scarce. She would rush for a bath if an untouchable
came within twenty feet of her.
Then Ambedkar said with pride, "The Hindus wanted the Vedc.s,
and they sent for Vyasa who was not a caste Hindu. The Hindus
wanted an epic, and they sent for Valmiki who was an untouchable.
The Hindus want a Constitution, and they have sent for me." He
said, "The greatest tragedy of the Hindi belt in India is that the
people of the region discarded Valmiki and installed Tulsidas." He
expressed the view that the people of this vast region will remain
backward and obscurantist until they replace Tulsidas by Valmiki.
He reminded me that, according to the Valmiki Ramayana, "when
Rama and Lakshmana arrived at the ashrama of Bharadwaja, the
sage assembled a few fattened calves for Rama to choose from to be
salaughtered for the feast. So Rama and his entourage were fed on
veal; Tulsidas cut out ail this." I told him that Vatsyayana, in his
Kama Sutra, has prescribed that young couples should be fed on
veal for six months before marriage.
Ambedkar pointed his finger at me and said, "You Malayalis
have done the greatest harm to this country." 1 was taken aback
and asked him how. He said, "You sent that man Shankaracharya,
a dessicated expert at logic, on a padayatra (walking tour) to the
north to drive away Buddhism from this country." Ambedkar added
that the Buddha was the greatest soul India had ever produced. He
also said that the greatest man India produced in recent centuries
was not Gandhi but Swami Vivekananda.
I reminded Ambedkar that "it was Gandhi who suggested to
Nehru to invite you to join the government." This was news to him.
I amended my statement by saying that the idea struck Gandhi and
Nehru simultaneously. It was Ambedkar who piloted the Consti-
tution Bill in the Constituent Assembly.
Ambedkar confided in me that he had decided to become a
Buddhist and to advise his followers to do likewi