Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November 1889 in Allahabad in British India. His father, Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), a wealthy barrister who belonged to the Kashmiri Pandit community, served twice as President of the Indian National Congress during the Independence Struggle. His mother, Swaruprani Thussu (1868–1938), who came from a well–known Kashmiri Brahmin family settled in Lahore, was Motilal's second wife, the first having died in child birth. Jawaharlal was the eldest of three children, two of whom were girls. The elder sister, Vijaya Lakshmi, later became the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly. The youngest sister, Krishna Hutheesing, became a noted writer and authored several books on her brother.
The Nehru family ca. 1890s
Nehru described his childhood as a "sheltered and uneventful one." He grew up in an atmosphere of privilege at wealthy homes including a large palatial estate called the Anand Bhawan. His father had him educated at home by private governesses and tutors. Under the influence of a tutor, Ferdinand T. Brooks, Nehru became interested in science and theosophy. Nehru was subsequently initiated into the Theosophical Society at age thirteen by family friend Annie Beasant. However, his interest in theosophy did not prove to be enduring and he left the society shortly afterwards Brooks departed as his tutor. Nehru wrote: "for nearly three years [Brooks] was with me and in many ways he influenced me greatly." Although Nehru was disdainful of religion, his theosophical interests had induced him to the study of the Buddhist and Hindu scriptures. According to B.R. Nanda, these scriptures were Nehru's "first introduction to the religious and cultural heritage of [India]....[they] provided Nehru the initial impulse for [his] long intellectual quest which culminated...in the Discovery of India." Nehru became an ardent nationalist during his youth. The Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War intensified his feelings. About the latter he wrote, "[The] Japanese victories [had] stirred up my enthusiasm... Nationalistic ideas filled my mind... I mused of Indian freedom and Asiatic freedom from the thraldom of Europe." Later when Nehru had began his institutional schooling in 1905 at Harrow, a leading school in England, he was greatly influenced by G.M. Trevelyan's Garibaldi books, which he had received as prizes for academic merit. Nehru viewed Garibaldi as a revolutionary hero. He wrote: "Visions of similar deeds in India came before, of [my] gallant fight for [Indian] freedom and in my mind India and Italy got strangely mixed together."
Nehru dressed in cadet uniform at Harrow School in England
Nehru went to Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1907 and graduated with an honours degree in natural science in 1910. During this period, Nehru also studied politics, economics, history and literature desultorily. Writings of Bernard Shaw, H.G Wells, J.M. Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Lowes Dickinson and Meredith Townsend moulded much of his political and economic thinking.
Nehru at the Allahabad High Court
After completing his degree in 1910, Nehru went to London and stayed there for two years for law studies at the Inns of Court School of Law (Inner Temple). During this time, he continued to study the scholars of the Fabian Society including Beatrice Webb. Nehru passed his bar examinations in 1912 and was admitted to the English bar. After returning to India in August 1912, Nehru enrolled himself as an advocate of the Allahabad High Court and tried to settle down as a barrister. But, unlike his father, he had only a desultory interest in his profession and did not relish either the practice of law or the company of lawyers. Nehru wrote: "Decidedly the atmosphere was not intellectually stimulating and a sense of the utter insipidity of life grew upon me. His involvement in nationalist politics would gradually...