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New biography of Freda Bedi

Friday, March 08, 2019

A recently released biography, written by BBC journalist and historian Andrew Whitehead, is based on the life of a British woman who was a feminist, a spiritualist and a freedom fighter during India’s Independence movement. “The Lives of Freda’ by Whitehead is the third biography to be published on the life and times of Freda Bedi (1911-1977) within the last three years. Freda also happens to be actor Kabir Bedi’s mother as well as Pooja Bedi’s grandmom. When we got in touch with Pooja, she said: “My grandmother met my grandfather, Baba Bedi in Oxford. After fighting for India’s freedom during the Independence struggle, she entered the world of Buddhism under the guidance of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. She rose to being an ordained nun of the highest order. We have had four generations of strong women in our family starting with her -- my mom Protima, me and my daughter Alaia. Women who have lived life on their own terms and shaped society positively.” According to biographer Whitehead, Freda, who was a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, once declared: “India is my womanhood and my wife-hood. I am living in an Indian way, with Indian clothes, with an Indian husband and child on Indian soil, and I cannot feel even the least barrier or difference in essentials between myself and the new country I have adopted.” Throughout her life, this singular woman was determined not to be constrained by barriers of race, religion, nation or gender. She delighted in challenging convention and confounding expectations – thus, possibly, setting the tone for generations of women that will follow in her footsteps?

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