Motilal Nehru biography, history and facts

Pandit Motilal Nehru was an eminent lawyer and politician who was born on 6 May 1861. The Nehru’s hailed from Kashmir but later had settled in Delhi since the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Motilal Nehru’s grandfather Lakshmi Narayan became the first Vakil of the East India Company at the Mughal Court of Delhi. His father Gangadhar who was a police officer in Delhi in year 1857, when it was engulfed by the Mutiny. When the British troops shelled their way into the town, Gangadhar fled with his wife Jeorani and four children to Agra where he died four years later.

Three months after his death Jeorani gave birth to a boy who was named Motilal. Motilal Nehru spent his childhood at Khetri in Rajasthan, where his elder brother Nandlal became the Diwan. In year 1870 Nandlal quit Khetri, qualified as a lawyer and began to practice law at Agra. When the High Court was transferred to Allahabad, he also moved with it. Meanwhile Motilal Nehru has passed the matriculation examination from Kanpur and joined the Muir Central College at Allahabad. Athletic who was fond of outdoor sports specially wrestling, brimming over with an insatiable curiosity and zest for life, he soon attracted the attention of Principal Harrison and his British colleagues, in the Muir Central College, who took a strong liking to this intelligent, lively and restless Kashmiri youth. He decided to become a lawyer, topped the list of successful candidates in the Vakil’s examination in 1883, set up as a lawyer at Kanpur, but three years later shifted to Allahabad where his brother Nandlal had a lucrative practice at the High Court. Unfortunately, Nandlal died in April 1887 at the age of forty – two, leaving behind five sons and two daughters.

Motilal Nerhru

Young Motilal Nehru found himself, at the age of twenty – five, as the head of a large family, its sole bread-winner. In year 1889, his wife Swarup Rani gave birth to a son, who was named Jawaharlal. Two daughters, Sarup (later Vijayalakshmi Pandit) and Krishna (later Krishna Hutheesing) were born in 1900 and 1907 respectively. In 1900, he purchased a house at Allahabad, rebuilt it, and named it Anand Bhawan (the abode of happiness). His legal practice was meanwhile growing. A rise in his standard of living was paralleled by a progressive westernisation, a process which was accelerated by his visits to Europe in 1899 and 1900. Thorough going changes, from knives and forks at the dining table to European governesses and tutors for the children, ensued.

In May 1905, Motilal Nehru again sailed for Europe, this time with his whole family. He returned in November of the same year after putting Jawaharlal to school at Harrow. From Harrow, Jawaharlal Nehru went to Cambridge where he took a Tripos in Natural Science before being called to the Bar in 1912. He was having rational, secular, robust and fearless outlook on life. A brilliant lawyer, an eloquent speaker, a great organiser, a great parliamentarian he was one of the most notable and attractive figures of Indian nationalism in the Gandhian era.

Motilal Nehru born on 6 May 1861 was an early Indian independence activist and leader of the Indian National Congress. He was the founder of patriarch of India’s most powerful political family, the Nehru-Gandhi family Tree.

Motilal Nehru was born in Agra to Ganga Dhar Nehru in a Kashmiri Pandit family. He became first generation of young Indians to receive a Western-style college education. He attended Muir Central College at Allahabad but unfortunately failed to appear for the final year B.A. examinations. Later he was being qualified “Bar at law” from Cambridge and then enlisted as a lawyer in the English courts. Nehru became a barrister and then settled in the Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh). His suits involved civil cases and soon he made a mark for himself in the legal profession of Allahabad. On success of his practice he bought a large family home in the Civil Lines of the city and aptly named the house Anand Bhavan (lit. Abode of happiness). In year 1909 he reached the pinnacle of his legal career by gaining the approval to appear in the Privy Council of Great Britain. His visits to Europe angered the Kashmiri Brahmin community as he refused to perform the traditional “prayashchit” or reformation ceremony after crossing the ocean.

He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Leader, and a highly influential paper published from Allahabad. Nehru was a man with many elitist habits and had a westernized lifestyle. He was the moderate, wealthy leaders of the Indian National Congress. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi in year1918, Nehru became first to transform his life to exclude western clothes and material goods, adopting a more native Indian lifestyle. To meet the expenses of his large family and his large family homes (he built Swaraj Bhavan later), Nehru had to occasionally return to his practice of law. Motilal Nehru served twice as President of the Congress Party.

He was arrested during the Non-Cooperation Movement. Although initially when he was close to Gandhi, he openly criticized Gandhi’s suspension of civil resistance in year 1922 due to the murder of policemen by a riotous mob in Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh. In year1923, Nehru was elected to the new Central Legislative Assembly of British India in New Delhi and became leader of the Opposition. In securing that role, he was able to secure the defeat or at least the delay of Finance bills and other legislation.

He agreed to join a Committee with the object of promoting the recruitment of Indian officers into the Indian Army but this decision contributed to others and joining the Government itself. In March 1926, Motilal Nehru demanded a representative conference to draft a constitution conferring full Dominion status on India, to be and enacted by the parliament. This demand of Nehru was rejected by the Assembly and as a result Nehru and his colleagues left the Assembly and returned to the Congress.

The entry of Motilal’s glamorous, highly-educated son Jawaharlal Nehru into politics in year 1916, started the most powerful and influential Indian political dynasty afterward. When in year 1929, Motilal Nehru handed over the Congress presidency to Jawaharlal Nehru, it greatly pleased Motilal and Nehru family admirers to see the son take over from his father. Jawaharlal has opposed his father’s preference for dominion status and had not left the Congress Party when Motilal helped found the Swaraj Party.

Also Read 7 interesting Facts about Nehru Gandhi Family.