FAMILY AND EARLY LIFE
September 8, 1914 was a memorable day in the life of Dibyadevi. On that day in the ancient and holy city of Kashi, on the banks of river Ganges, she gave birth to her first son Bisheswar Prasad Koirala. Dibyadevi was the second wife of Krishna Prasad Koirala. She had come to Kashi from Biratnagar to take care of heraged mother-in-law who had opted, following Hindu belief, to live in Kashi for the rest of her life. Performing the ritual of Kashivas in the last phase of one's life was a luxury those days which only the rich could afford. Krishna Prasad Koirala could afford it for his mother. He had Established a sound business in Nepal Terai. The youngest son of Nandikeshwar Upadhyaya (who died quite young) Krishna Prasad Koirala grew to be a self-made man.
From his ancestral home in Dumja, a village 36 kilometres east of Kathmandu, Krishna Prasad had migrated to Biratnagar, then a small hamlet in the south-east of Kathmandu.
Soon after settling there, he got a Kali temple built and then plunged into business, acquired large property and developed a network of business establishments. Knowledgeable people relate that it was Krishna Prasad who had converted, the hamlet Biratnagar, into a commercial and industrial centre. Later he had become Custom Collector of the whole Tarai belt. In those days, this post was auctioned to the highest bidder of Nepal. Later on, he had also become the sole agent for imported cigarettes in Nepal from Darjeeling across the Indo-Nepal border.
Those were the days when prosperous Nepali citizens used to journey to Calcutta and Kashi, but for different reasons. Calcutta provided exclusive tailoring, shoes Made to order best landau to ride, pleasure houses, theatre and a haven for the 'dandies'. To Kashi, it was a religious call, a dip in the holy Ganges, ride on an ekka or a tonga and Banarasi mithai, puri and kachauri to eat.
These cities held also fond memories for Nepali rebels against the ruling Ranas, who used to escape to India and take shelter in these cities during the late nineteenth century.
FATHER : A SOCIAL REFORMER
Krishna Prasad had every reason to be proud of his achievements. He had two wives, a flourishing business, nine children, and more wealth than a Brahmin could ever dream of. He was a father of six sons – Matrika Prasad Being the eldest, then Bisheswar Prasad, Keshab Prasad, Tarini Prasad and Girija Prasad. In between these was another son who died in infancy. He had four daughters – Nalini, Indira, soubhagya and Vijayalaxmi.
Once, while going on a business trip on his horse, he introspected on his won life and achievements.
He had done everything for his family, but he wondered, what had he done for his less fortunate countrymen? The thought kept haunting him for long until he announced to his family and friends that he wanted to construct a hospital and a school in Biratnagar. Many well wishers tried to dissuade him on the ground that it was an exclusive sphere of the state and if he went on this mission, the Ranas would certainly take umbrage at this sort of defiance to their authority. It would certainly have been unwise to incur the displeasure of the ruling Ranas.
Nepal under the Prime Ministership of Shri Chandra Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana was not a congenial place for any sort of civic activism. Reformist movements, like the one initiated by Shri Madhav Raj Joshi on the lines of Arya Samaj, were crushed in no time. Joshi himself was caned in public and put behind the suppress any reformist movement in Nepal. But these movements, howsoever small or ephemeral, had lasting effect on the minds of the common people.
In spite of repressive social conditions and despotic Rana rule, Krishna Prasad koirala went ahead with his plans. He went to Calcutta, looking for a teacher for his scholl and a doctor for the hospital in Biratnagar. The two-some who came with him eventually become his friends and helped Krishna Prasad koirala to renounce wordly pursuits for higher goal in life. He had also starte dwritting in Nepali on the political affairs of the country. Besides, he set up a women's organization in Biratnagar. His wife and sister become, respectively, its president and Secretary. At his initiative, a letter was sent to the Prime minister's wife in Kathmandu requesting her to become the patron of this organization. Naturally, the request was ignored.
All that Krishna Prasad was doing, other than his business, was not to the liking of the Ranas. At it seem, he was destined to incur the wrath of the Prime Minister. It so happened that on one winter morning in the early 1920, Krishna Prasad koirala saw man on his way to India in search of a job. It was bitterly cold morning and, in that biting cold, the haggard had only tattered clothes on him which could scarcely cover his body. Krishna Prasad Koirala was badly moved by the miserable condition of the man. The first thing he did was that he gave that man new clothes to wear and took his tattered ones. When he reached home, he requested his wife to make a parcel of the rags. He sent that parcel to the prime minister of Nepal, along with a letter. The letter stated " I am afraid, when the parcel is opened, it may create some consternation in the Durbar. But I wan tyour Highness to understand the conditions in which your subjects live." BP who narrated this episode in the seventies in an interview observed that his father " was a social reformer and not a rebel in the beginning. He just wanted the Governmnet to be aware of the miserable economic conditions of the people. It was farthest from his mind to go against the Government. But Circumstances willed otherwise and forced him to act in a manner which he would have willingly avoided."
When BP Spoke....
When BP Spoke....