Freda Bedi was an Englishwoman who made her life in India and went to jail for supporting India’s freedom struggle against a colonial power which happened to her mother country. As a student at Oxford in the 1930s, Freda broke social convention by marrying a handsome Sikh fellow student B.P.L.Bedi. It was another year before she first set foot on Indian soil and by then she and her husband were prominent leftist and nationalists. After Partition, they moved to Kashmir and worked closely with Sheikh Abdullah. In the 1950s, Freda encountered Buddhism and when in 1959 thousands of Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama on the perilous trek across the Himalayas into exile, she persuaded Jawaharlal Nehru to send her to Assam to improve the conditions in the camps there. She went on to become a Tibetan Buddhist nun, set up a school for young incarnate lamas( at which her son Kabir Bedi , also taught) and helped Tibetan Buddhism reach out to new followers in the west.

Andrew will be in conversation with Dr Yasmin Khan, who is an associate professor of history at the University of Oxford. Her books include The Great Partition: the making of India and Pakistan and The Raj at War: a people’s history of India’s Second World War. She is an editor of History Workshop Journal.

The Lives of Freda: the political, spiritual and personal journeys of Freda Bedi
Andrew Whitehead

Book Launch: Nehru Centre, London

News credit : Nehru Centre