Indira Gandhi, the Iron Woman of India, was the first and only female Prime Minister of India. Daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, she was also the second longest-serving Prime Minister after her father. Born in 1917, Indira Priyadarshini was a complex woman whom some remember as a woman with an incredible sense of politics and other see her as a woman who unleashed the darkest period of India’s democratic history. Despite everything, she has left behind an unparallel legacy that continues to inspire generations. But have you ever wondered how the iconic leader ended up with the surname ‘Gandhi’? There are few theories that surround it.
Raj Kaul is the earliest recorded ancestor of Jawahar Lal Nehru whose house was located on the banks of a canal. The surname ‘Nehru’ was acquired from ‘Nahar’ meaning a canal. Later, the surname Kaul was dropped and ‘Nehru’ was adopted.
Indira met Feroze Khan, son of a Muslim father and Persian Muslim mother, who supplied wines to Motilal Nehru’s residence in Allahabad. Feroze was Indira’s fellow participant in the struggle for independence. They fell in love and wished to marry each other. Kamala Nehru was against the marriage as she felt Indira was too young. After Kamala Nehru’s demise, Indira and Feroze married at a London Mosque in 1942. After the marriage, Indira changed her religion and even the name and became Maimuna Begum. Nehru felt that the marriage would jeopardise his image and so he asked Feroze to change his surname to Gandhi.Theory Two
Nehru was against Indira’s marriage as he felt the inter-caste marriage would put the family’s reputation at stake and there was also a possibility of Indira would lose the possibility of becoming the heir of the future Nehru dynasty. It is said that there was a public outcry against the marriage. This is when Mahatma Gandhi, a close associate of Nehru intervened. He made a public statement that said, “I invite the writers of abusive letters to shed your wrath and bless the forthcoming marriage.” According to reports, Mahatma Gandhi adopted Feroze Khan and gave him his last name and Feroze got his name changed by an affidavit in England.Theory Three
According to this theory, Feroze Khan was born in a Parsi Family and his name was Feroze Jehangir Ghandy. His parents Faredoon Jehangir Ghandy and Ratimai lived in Mumbai. Feroze was an active participant in the Indian Independence Movement and considered Mahatma Gandhi as his idol. Thus he changed the spelling of his surname from ‘Ghandy’ to ‘Gandhi’.
Though there are many theories surrounding the origin of the surname ‘Gandhi’, the marriage was not a smooth journey. Reason Indira got busy in politics and became India’s Prime Minister in 1947 while Feroze got involved in extramarital liaisons. Feroze passed away in 1960.