THE LIVES OF FREDA: THE BLOG
In 1963, Freda Bedi was the victim of a scurrilous and vindictive piece of journalism which deeply upset her. The article appeared on the front-page of a Bombay weekly, The Current, and was the work of its founder and editor, D.F. Karaka. He had been an Oxford contemporary of Freda and her husband - indeed thirty years earlier he had been the first Indian President of the Oxford Union debating society. By the 1960s, he had been reduced to tawdry, sensationalist journalism.
Karaka's article accused Freda of just about everything: financial irregularities, abusing her role as a civil servant, innuendo about her friendship with Sheikh Abdullah, and a suggestion of involvement in political skulduggery in Kashmir. At its heart, though, was the suggestion that Freda Bedi was using her Buddhism, and her support for Tibetan refugees, as a cover for the promotion of Communism.
This was twenty years after Freda had broken her links with the communist left and a decade after her husband had done so. Given that Communist China was the oppressor of the Tibetan people and the religion so central to their way of life, the suggestion that she was acting as a Communist agent was both deeply wounding and very damaging.
What particularly upset Freda - in the recollection of colleagues and family - was the suggestion that a fellow British convert to Buddhism was behind some of the smears. That suspicion seems to have been well founded. There's more in my biography of Freda, out in India soon:
The Lives of Freda:
the political, spiritual and personal
journeys of Freda Bedi
by Andrew Whitehead
to be published by Speaking Tiger in February
The Lives of Freda
- a blog about my biography of Freda Bedi