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Writer Malavika Sangghvi to discuss new book

Friday, May 24, 2019

Journalist Malavika Sangghvi is to host a public discussion with actor Kabir Bedi on Sunday about the book ‘The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi’ by historian, lecturer and former BBC editor Andrew Whitehead. Freda happens to be Kabir’s mother, and (as we have mentioned earlier in this column) was a British national who married Kabir’s father, BPL Bedi, while they were students at Oxford university in the 1930s. This lady, who lived on her own terms, took part, while in Lahore and Kashmir, in India’s Independence struggle despite being British herself and, in later life, was one of the first ordained Buddhist nuns of her sect. Says Malavika: “Inspired by Gandhi and the nationalistic fervour of pre-Independent India, Freda felt compelled to abandon her comfortable life abroad, embrace India, its customs and clothes, its people and causes. Once she married Bedi, Freda adjusted to her new environment and family, was actively involved in the Independence struggle, courted police arrest, did prison time, addressed gatherings and threw herself into a cause larger than herself.  Later in her life, she had the courage to leave her husband and three children to become an ordained nun, one of the first women and certainly the first Westerner to achieve this. It was a hard decision and as the book reveals, was not met with much enthusiasm, but nevertheless, following her inner voice and truth she went ahead. She was an extraordinary woman who lived in extraordinary times.” We also learn that there is something of a family connection between Malavika’s parents and Freda and BPL Bedi. Says Malavika: “My parents, who were exceptional story tellers, had known the Bedis from Lahore and Srinagar since they moved in the same leftist, anti-Imperialist circles in pre-Independent India. Later, in the late Sixties, or early Seventies, their son, Kabir Bedi moved from Delhi to Mumbai’s Juhu area, and was a neighbour of ours.  So, there is a lot of resonance and shared histories.” Concludes Malavika: “In participating in this launch, I am honoring my parent’s generation -- and what it had stood for.”
 

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