The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi

The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, India. The Museum at Teen Murti House primarily developed as a personalia museum is a National Memorial to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and was established in the year 1966.

Mission and Objectives:

The Nehru Memorial Museum and was established under the following objectives

  1. To maintain a Museum of Jawaharlal Nehru personalia, memorabilia, mementoes and other objects pertaining to his life and the Indian freedom movement.
  2. To acquire, maintain and preserve papers of nationalist leaders of Modem India and other eminent Indians who distinguished themselves in any field.
  3. To establish and maintain a library on the history of Modem India.
  4. To organize, undertake, conduct, encourage and promote study and research in the field of modem Indian history.
  5. To institute and award fellowships and to foster academic contacts within India as well as with other countries through exchange of personnel and research materials.

Inside the museum some of the rooms, such as the bedroom, the drawing room and the study room have been preserved as they were at the time of Jawaharlal Nehru’s death.

The Museum portrays through visual media the life and work of a heroic individual, who was the leader of India’s struggle for freedom, the architect of modern India, and a passionate champion of world peace. It gives an intimate glimpse of Nehru’s rich and complex personality; the radical nationalist and world statesman; the scholar, idealist and historian; the man of strong family affections, who also bestowed his love on the common people of India. The Museum is not only a place where people come to pay homage to the departed leader; it also tells them of his achievements and highlights the ideals cherished by him.

A massive granite rock put up in the front lawn is inscribed with excerpts from the historic “Tryst with Destiny” speech delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru in the midnight session of the Indian Constituent Assembly on August 14-15, 1947. Excerpts from the “Will and Testament” have also been inscribed in Hindi and English on two marble tablets which visitors see as they walk up to the main building. The “Will and Testament” is more than a will; it is a moving testimony to his deep love for India and her people.

A series of interlinked exhibitions have been mounted in the Museum which provide a vivid account of the life and work of Jawaharlal Nehru, against the background of the struggle for political freedom in India through contemporary photographs, photocopies of manuscripts, letters, newspapers, periodicals and other documentary materials. Significant events portrayed in the exhibitions are India’s response to the West; Revolt of 1857; genesis of the Indian National Congress; Home Rule Movement, emergence of Gandhi; Non-cooperation Movement; Civil Disobedience Movement; demand for Pakistan; Cripps Mission; ‘Quit India’ Movement; formation of the Indian National Army; Cabinet Mission; events leading to the independence and partition of India in 1947 and the process of framing of the Constitution of India.

Another attraction is the gifts gallery which displays some of the most beautiful gifts received by Nehru during his travels in India and abroad. In addition to the permanent display in the Museum, special exhibitions are arranged periodically to depict different facets of Nehru’s life and phases of the Indian national movement.

The old Museum Sales Counter which has been converted into a new Souvenir Shop in the ground floor of Teen Murti House has souvenirs, books, photographs and audio cassettes of the selected speeches of Nehru.

The campus has a protected monument called ‘Kushak Mahal’ which was probably used as a hunting lodge (shikargah) and was built during the reign of Firuz Shah Tughluk (A.D. 1351-88)

The Nehru Museum remains open from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm on all days, except Mondays. Guides are provided free of cost to conduct visitors in groups around the Museum. On an average, more than 10,000 visitors throng these galleries daily to know and experience our struggle for freedom and the making of a resurgent India.

Millions of admiring and grateful countrymen, from all walks of life and different parts of India, international dignitaries and tourists have passed through the legend-filled rooms and corridors of the Nehru Museum at Teen Murti House and its lawns.

It is a matter of pride that the Museum continues to maintain its popularity even after four decades of the passing away of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Will and Testament

I have received so much love and affection from the Indian people that nothing that I can do can repay even a small fraction of it, and indeed there can be no repayment of so precious a thing as affection. Many have been admired, some have been revered, but the affection of all classes of the Indian people has come to me in such abundant measure that I have been overwhelmed by it. I can only express the hope that in the remaining years I may live, I shall not be unworthy of my people and their affection.

Will Testament

To my innumerable comrades and colleagues, I owe an even deeper debt of gratitude. We have been joint partners in great undertakings and have shared the triumphs and sorrows which inevitably accompany them.

I wish to declare with all earnestness that I do not want any religious ceremonies performed for me after my death. I do not believe in any such ceremonies and to submit to them, even as a matter of form would be hypocrisy and an attempt to delude ourselves and others.

When I die, I should like my body to be cremated. If I die in a foreign country, my body should be cremated there and my ashes sent to Allahabad. A small handful of these ashes should be thrown into the Ganga and the major portion of them disposed of in the manner indicated below. No part of these ashes should be retained or preserved.

My desire to have a handful of my ashes thrown into the Ganga at Allahabad has no religious significance, so far as I am concerned. I have no religious sentiment in the matter. I have been attached to the Ganga and the Jamuna rivers in Allahabad ever since my childhood and, as I have grown older, this attachment has also grown. I have watched their varying moods as the seasons changed, and have often thought of the history and myth and tradition and song and story that have become attached to them through the long ages and become part of their flowing waters. The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever-flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga. She reminds me of the snow- covered peaks and the deep valleys of the Himalayas, which I have loved so much, and of the rich and vast plains below, where my life and work have been cast. Smiling and dancing in the morning sunlight, and dark and gloomy and full of mystery as the evening shadows fall, a narrow, slow and graceful stream in winter, and a vast roaring thing during the monsoon, broad-bosomed almost as the sea, and with something of the sea’s power to destroy, the Ganga has been to me a symbol and a memory of the past of India, running into the present and flowing on to the great ocean of the future. And though I have discarded much of past tradition and custom, and am anxious that India should rid herself of all shackles that bind and constrain her and divide her people, and suppress vast numbers of them, and prevent the free development of the body and the spirit; though I seek all this, yet I do not wish to cut myself off from the past completely. I am proud of that great inheritance that has been, and is ours, and I am conscious that I too, like all of us, am a link in that unbroken chain which goes back to the dawn of history in the immemorial past of India. That chain I would not break, for I treasure it and seek inspiration from it. And as witness of this desire of mine and as my last homage to India’s cultural inheritance, I am making this request that a handful of my ashes be thrown into the Ganga at Allahabad to be carried to the great ocean that washes India’s shore.

The major portion of my ashes should, however, be disposed of otherwise. I want these to be carried high up into the air in an airplane and scattered from that height over the fields where the peasants of India toil, so that they might mingle with the dust and soil of India and become an indistinguishable part of India.

21st June, 1954

‘Tryst with Destiny’ Speech in the Constituent Assembly at midnight of 14-15 August 1947 on the eve of independence

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future ?

Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our works will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work and work hard to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace has been said to be indivisible, so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.

I beg to move, Sir.

“That it be resolved that:

(1) After the last stroke of midnight, all members of the Constituent Assembly present on this occasion do take the following pledge:
At this solemn moment when the people of India, through suffering and sacrifice, have secured freedom, I, ……….., a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, do dedicate myself in all humility to the service of India and her people to the end that this ancient land attain her rightful place in the world and make her full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.

(2) Members who are not present on this occasion do take the pledge (with such verbal changes at the President may prescribe) at the time they next attend a session of the Assembly.”