Higher Education, Earning while Learning and Introduction to Marxism of JP

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.

Higher Education, Earning while Learning and Introduction to Marxism of JP

Higher Education

A violent revolution has always brought Forth a dictatorship oFsome kind or the other…. After a revolution, a new privileged class of rulers and exploiters grows up in the course of time to which the people at large is once again subject.

Jai Prakash Narayan decided to continue his studies further. He enrolled himself as a student in Bihar Vidyapeeth, an institution founded by the nationalist leaders. He passed his Intermediate examination with merit.

Jai Prakash Narayan wanted to join higher studies. But there was no teaching facility of science beyond Intermediate in the Vidyapeeth. He did not like to join the English Government Aided Educational Institutions. So, he decided to go to USA for higher education.

Jai Prakash confided to his wife, his future plans and told her of his intention to go to America. She readily gave her consent. Jai Prakash left Patna with a heavy heart.

His wife evolved to become a prominent freedom fighter and Gandhian in her own right. Prabhavati moved to Gandhi’s ashram when JP went to the US for his higher studies.

On the 16th of August 1922, he sailed for the United States via Rangoon, Hong Kong and Yakohama in Japan. He landed in California in the second week of October 1922. He had very little money with him.

He did several odd jobs to pay for his education there and these experiences made him aware about the difficulties faced by the working class.

On enquiries, he came to know that the new semester at the University of California at Berkeley was to start in January 1923. So he decided to work, earn his living and save a few dollars for paying his fees. With the help of one, Sher Khan a pathan foreman, he found a job as an agricultural labourer on a big farm.

Surprisingly as it may seem, young Jai Prakash worked for ten hours a day with only an hour’s recess in between for lunch. At the rate of 40 cents an hour, he used to earn about four dollars a day. Within a few weeks, he earned enough money for paying his fees. He thus enrolled himself for the second year in Science at the California University.

His struggles to make ends meet in a foreign land made him realize the difficulties faced by the working class. After being introduced to Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’, JP became convinced that Marxism was the way to alleviate the suffering of the masses.

Earning while Learning

Power comes invariably to be usurped by a handful of the most ruthless among the erstwhile revolutionaries when power comes out of the barret of a gun and the gun is not in the hands of the common people.

All this experience of “earning while learning” brought Jai Prakash in close contact with farm labourers in a country which was fabulously rich. For Jai Prakash who was bent upon securing a degree of an American University, physical labour had become a sheer necessity.

But at Berkeley, another difficulty arose. An increase in the amount of fees for the next semester was announced by the University authorities. Jai Prakash had to leave the California University and again go to a farm for making a saving for future. He then went to Iowa and joined the University there. He stayed there for one year. Jai Prakash and five of his Indian friends used to cook their own food together and share the expenses. He used to earn money on Sundays and holidays by taking odd jobs and even household chores. It was in Iowa University itself that Jai Prakash came to be called and known as JP, a nick name formed from his initials which has stuck to him since.

Even thereafter, Jai Prakash had to go from place to place in search of suitable work and had to leave one University to join another. He left Iowa and went to Chicago, where he stayed for two and a half year. Then he went to Wisconsin and also to Ohio.

It is surprising to learn that during this period Jai Prakash had to work as a waiter and even as a scavenger in hotels, cleaning toilets, as a shoe shiner and as an assistant in the barber’s shop. Many a time he had also worked as a casual labourer, undertaking to shovel off accumulated snow from the doors and gates of American house-owners. His readiness to do any kind of work showed how deep and strong was his urge for learning.

Jai Prakash Narayan who originally was a vegetarian, had taken to non-vegetarian in the difficult and changed circumstances that he had to face in a fpreign country, in a foreign culture. Once however, he was required to work in a factory where beef and mutton were being dressed up and packed for despatch. He was so shocked and overwhelmed by nausea at the sight of the huge mass of red raw flesh inside the factory that for a few weeks he could not eat non¬vegetarian food. He also asked for change of work and got a job in the electric power house of the same factory.

Introduction to Marxism

It (Communism) did not offer an answer to the question : Why should a man be good?

At the various American Universities Jai Prakash studied Natural Science, Economics and Sociology. He came into contact with American, Russian, Polish, German and French students. He had struck deep friendship with some of them. He was also drawn to some kindly professors.

One Jew, Abraham Landy-by name, who was both a post-graduate student and lecturer at the Wisconsin University, was a communist by conviction. As a card-holding member of the Communist Party of America, he used to run a secret cell at the university campus. Jai Prakash came under the influence of this friend of his and started attending the secret meetings at the cell and reading communist literature. Landy introduced Jai Prakash to Marxism. Under his and Manuel Gomez, a Mexican born leader of the American Communist Party influence, Jai Prakash studied Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

As a Marxist, Jai Prakash Narayan also believed that ‘political freedom must be accompanied with freedom from economic exploitation and poverty.

JP wanted to go to Russia from USA but he had to give up his desire to visit the land of the first Communist revolution in the world. He later continued his studies at Ohio University and took BA Degree in Sociology. He got a scholarship also and while continuing as a post-graduate student of Sociology, he started teaching some lower classes.

He passed his MA and was about to enrol himself as a student for PhD, when a letter from his home informed him that his mother was seriously ill. With the help of a Maharashtrian friend and with the money sent to him by his father, he returned to India in September 1929, via England, France, Italy, Port Said and Colombo. And he reached his home village Sitab-diara, his mother bathed him in tears of unsullied joy.

JP’s sojourn in the USA for full seven years in quest of knowledge was indeed a saga of patience, perseverance, hardships and hardwork. When he had set foot on the soil of the American continent in 1922, he was a callow youth of only twenty years of age, fresh from his feudal surroundings in Bihar, when he returned to India in 1929, he was a well experienced, wise young man. His father had then retired from service. His wife, Prabhavati was staying with Gandhiji at Sabarmati Ashram and had taken the vow of celibacy. JP respected the decision of his wife.