The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Childhood, Education, Marriage and Family of Lal Bahadur Shastri
Childhood and Education
That loyalty to the country comes ahead of all other loyalties. And this is absolute loyalty since one cannot weigh it in terms oF what one receives.
Lal Bahadur received his primary education at Mirzapur. He stayed at his maternal grandfather’s house till he was ten. By that time he had passed the sixth standard examination. There was no high school in that place so they sent him to Kashi (Banaras) for further education.
Lal Bahadur was only ten years old when he came to Banaras for his studies. His maternal uncle had been living at Banaras and that was what made him shift there for his schooling. He studied at Harish Chandra High School, Banaras and later at Kashi Vidyapeeth.
It was here at Banaras that Lal Bahadur for the first time saw Mahatma Gandhi. The great nationalist leader Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak also once visited Harischandra High School. He left an indelible impact on young Lal Bahadur’s mind. He was so much inspired by the speech of Tilak that he left the school although he was required to sit through just another month to complete high school career.
Lal Bahadur was then admitted in the famous Kashi Vidyapitha (now Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith) which was established by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. When Shastri was studying in Kashi Vidyapeeth, he used to work part time in a Khadi shop. Besides working in the shop itself, he used to sell Khadi from door to door and that too barefooted. By doing this, he not only promoted Khadi, but also saved ₹ 300/-, a big amount then, which was sufficient enough to meet the expenses of his sister’s marriage.
At Varanasi he came in contact with one Pandit Niskameshwar Mishra who taught him mathematics and roused his interest in philosophy, religion and teachings of Ram Krishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, and Ram Tirth. He also read some literature on Bertrand Russell, Hegel, Kant and Huxley.
In the year 1926, Lal Bahadur secured a first class degree of Shastri in Philosophy. Shastriji was very much impressed by the personality and spiritual greatness of the Principal Dr. Bhagwan Das of the Kashi Vidyapeeth. It had a lasting impact on his personality for all times to come.
Dr. Bhagwan Das imparted to him the principles of humanism. But his personal contacts remained confined to persons such as Kripalani, Sri Prakash and Sampurnanand. Nehru and Gandhi were rather remote, at the time.
Shastri had joined the non-cooperation movement by Mahatma Gandhi against British Government in 1921 when he was only seventeen years old. He was arrested during that movement but he was firm in his decision. He took part in that movement even after advice from his mother and relatives to not to do so.
In 1925, he met Lala Lajpat Rai and joined the Servants of India Society. On Rai’s death in 1928, Puroshottam Das Tandon took over the Society and Lal Bahadur shifted to Allahabad, where he got in touch with Jawaharlal Nehru and became a loyal Congress worker.
The Servants of India Society believed in not accumulating wealth but work selflessly for the public and remain the servants of the people. Mahatama Gandhi, Gopal Krishan Gokhle and Lala Lajpat Rai were all part of this community.
Marriage and Family
Those who govern must see how the people react to administration. Ultimately, the people are the final arbiters.
In the year 1927, Shastriji was married to Lalita Devi of Mirzapur (UP). He was such an ideal man that he refused to accept a single paisa towards dowry. When pressed, he reluctantly agreed to receive a spinning wheel and a few yards of Khadi that his father-in-law offered out of affection.
In the thirties, Shastriji joined service in the Municipal Board at Allahabad. He could remain there only for a short span.
Like others who took part in the freedom struggle, he had his share of suffering and sacrifice. But, the help and cooperation of his wife went a long way to make the burden bearable. Of his prison days Shastriji used to say that some of his fellow prisoners had begun to almost dread the days when their family members were permitted to visit them. Very often there used to be reproaches to the effect that they were sitting comfortably in jail getting two square meals a day, while the family and children were almost starving, and having a bitter struggle for’even bare necessities. But Shastriji said that on such occasions whenever he asked his wife whether she was facing any difficulty she used to smile broadly and say, “None at all. There is now one person less to eat”.
It was because of the wholehearted cooperation of Lalita Devi that it became easier for Lal Bahadur to jump into the fray of the freedom struggle.
But of suffering there was no dearth, which can be illustrated by just one instance. Shastriji was in jail when his little daughter fell seriously ill. The doctors said it was typhoid, and the child was unlikely to survive. Even so, Shastriji was unwilling to apply for parole; but at the intervention of some persons the jail authorities permitted him to visit his dying daughter.
Perhaps happiness at her father’s presence made the child linger on and on and delayed the inevitable end. Came the last night, when the next morning Shastriji had to return to prison. Smt. Lalita Shastri was faced with the terrible prospect of having to arrange herself for the funeral rites of her child.
As she said, “All that night I kept praying to my God. Other mothers pray for the long life of their children; I was praying for the death of mine. God heard my prayers, and the child passed away in the early hours of the morning, and Shastriji was able to perform the last rites before going back to prison”.
They had four sons and two daughters. His wife rarely appeared in public and never attended official functions.