Letters from Prison


Jawaharlal Nehru fought for India’s independence together with Mahatma Gandhi, and later became India’s first prime minister. During the time when India was under British rule, he was imprisoned many times for resisting the colonial rule. Since he was imprisoned in Naini Prison, he wrote letters to his only daughter, Indira. He sent her about 190 letters for three years. Then what did he desperately want to say to his beloved daughter?

“On your birthday you have been in the habit of receiving presents and good wishes. Good wishes you will still have in full measure, but what present can I send you from Naini Prison? My presents cannot be very material or solid.”

Nehru made every endeavor in the prison to send a precious gift to his daughter. It was his hand-written story about world history. He wrote letters on world history on a vast scale, ranging from the history of the city-states of Ancient Greece to that of Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire. His letters were not just about historical records of a specific time or country. He explained to his daughter the right way to perceive history, what to learn from history, and taught her in detail moral guideposts that she should follow as a leader. It was all because he hoped that Indira would have the right view of the world and a well-balanced historical consciousness and so she would later contribute to the development of the country by practicing virtues.

“It is very interesting to think of the past story of the world and of the great men and women and of the great deeds that it contains. To read history is good, but even more interesting and fascinating is to help in making history.”

Since there was no library in the prison where he was imprisoned, it was not easy to find reference books or historical records. Fortunately, he had read many books for a long time and summarized them in several notebooks. Whenever he missed his daughter and was worried about the future of his country, he wrote letters by referencing his notebooks. When you read every single word he wrote for his daughter on the days like his daughter’s birthday and New Year’s Day, whether it be a special day or not, you can feel the love of a father.

“I do not know if my letters will interest you or awaken your curiosity. Indeed, I do not know when you will see them, or if you will see them at all. Strange that we should be so near and yet so far away!”

Nehru wrote letters line by line with love and knowledge without giving up hope even when he did not know whether the letter would be delivered to his daughter. By reading the letters, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, felt the love of her father even from a distance and was able to gain knowledge and practice virtues, and she later became the first female prime minister of India and contributed to the development of her country.

God’s children have similar experiences to that of Indira. From Genesis to Revelation, 66 books of the Bible are letters from God to His children. The letters, which Heavenly Father and Mother had sent us through many prophets for a very long time, contain Their infinite love for us. In addition, they contain the truth of life through which you receive salvation by keeping it with faith, the virtues that those who will inherit Heaven must possess, spiritual teachings, and a valuable vision of saving humankind.

Now it is our turn to reply to God’s letters. We’ve received endless love and good teachings from Father and Mother. Then what kind of person should we become?

… the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Ti 3:15–17

Nehru, Jawaharlal. 1942. Glimpses of World History. London: Penguin Books.