The I.V.U. Congress took place in Bombay in November 1957. . . the main development for us was totally unrelated to the conference: on that occasion we met the young rajkumar of Vizianagram, known as 'Vishy' to his friends.
Vishy's story fascinated me. His father, a rich maharaja, had owned a huge fortress in Vizianagram. Inside the fortress were six palaces. The maharaja had his own mounted guards, several hundred soldiers, and hundreds of servants - a nice little kingdom tucked away inside the fortress walls. He also had a wife and four children: two boys and two girls. The boys had tutors from England and the girls had English governesses. They were all educated at home. The old maharaja died when Vishy was a child. Vishy's brother became the maharaja and Vishy the rajkumar. At the age of fourteen he began to do as he pleased, that is to say, he smoked, drank, and had mistresses, including some white ones. I was told that the pale skin of white women excites Indian men. But Vishy still kept his tutors and continued his education, which included how to shoot tigers and other wild animals, and how to ride horse-back and play polo, tennis and golf. Vishy had been a busy young man to say the least. He had grown fat from too much eating and drinking, and his eyes and mastoid glands were giving him trouble. Discouraged, Vishy decided to change his reckless style of life. He stopped drinking and smoking, and married a good-looking, delightful and innocent Indian girl named Radha who was reluctant to marry such a crazy young man. The marriage, arranged by her parents, was quite successful. Radha happened to be a vegetarian and she influenced Vishy to move in that direction. Soon after meeting Woody, Vishy became a Sheltonian natural hygienist!
Woody and Vishy and I did everything together in Bombay, and when the Congress moved on to Madras we stayed with him and Radha. They had two little girls, and also three little Untouchable babies whom Vishy had brought into his home to educate. It was a comfortable house with a spacious garden, a swimming pool, and several cows, all right in the middle of Madras. Naturally, Vishy also had several cars and servants. As both his father and mother were dead, the six family palaces had been presented to the government to be converted into a university, but the family still had land and jewels. And in India when a maharaja has jewels, it can mean a couple of hundred million dollars' worth.
After that first [Indian] I.V.U. Congress, Woody and I went to India almost every winter and Vishy, then in his early thirties, often came to visit us in Paris, sometimes with Radha. Once Woody, Vishy, and I went to New York and had a wonderful time. Vishy was a marvelous dancer and he had become slim and graceful. Besides English, he knew French, Sanskrit, and several Indian languages. He was an eccentric young man, but was friendly, hospitable, generous, affectionate, and quite bright.
A few years later I asked Vishy about his mother who died when he was a young man. His mother has been an alcoholic and a drug addict; her lovers were legion. She had been a terible burden to her sons. Vishy had never had loving parents, and after I heard his story, I asked him if he would like to have us adopt him as our son. It would be great , he thought, so Woody and I took Vishy to San Antonio to fast with Dr. Sheltonand also to legalize his adoption. As American citizens we had to adopt him in the United States. A San Antonio lawyer arranged everything.
For a number of years Vishy had been having a lawsuit with his brother, the maharaja of Vizianagram, and not long after we adopted Vishy he won the case. Vishy took jewels instead of real estate, and said he wanted to show me the jewels next time I came to India. When we arrived in Madras the following winter, Vishy took me to his bank and opened a safe deposit box. I had never seen in Europe or America a personal jewel box of that magnitude. The box was a yard square, crammed with jewels wrapped in crumpled pieces of paper or silk. Some had their own special boxes. Vishy and I sat down on the floor and unwrapped them all. We opened paper after paper, box after box, of magnificent emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, pearls, and rubies. I was flabergasted.
All this time Woody had been sitting in a car outside the bank reading a book. Becoming impatient, he came into the bank vault, took one look at the jewels, and said, "When do we eat? I am going home to lunch."
I wasn't interested in lunch. I only wanted to sit there and look a those jewels. Vishy and I stayed until the bank closed, but even then I did not see everything. I particularly liked an enormous antique buckle, studded with diamonds cut very flat, which represented a lotus flower. Vishy put the gigantic buckle aside. I also liked a string of large baroque pearls, and a pair of pearl earrings, and several big emeralds. Vishy put them aside, too. I asked him what he was doing.
"You like them don't you?" Vishy said. "You're my mother, aren't you? I want you to have them."
I stopped admiring the jewels out loud and just looked at them quietly. Vishy finally had to help me from the floor. I felt wholly intoxicated, emotionally overwhelmed by all this beauty. He laughed and asked me if I liked the little trinkets.
"What can I say Vishy? They are simply fantastic. You must be hungry, but I am too happy to be hungry. When I look at those jewels I could die of joy."
Vishy picked up the jewels he had put aside for me and packed them in a big linen bag. He handed me the bag and said, "This is for you, my dear mother."
For the first time in my life I was speechless.
Back at the house, I showed Woody and Radha the jewels. They both looked at them rather indifferently and smiled. Amazingly there are women who are indifferent to jewels, which I find hard to understand.
Before we left India, Vishy also gave me some magnificent Georgian silver made for his grandfather: huge solid silver soup tureens - it would take a very strong man to carry in the soup - vegetable dishes, candlesticks and vases, and lots of wonderful flat silver. We had seven full size trunks packed full of silver when Woddy and I sailed home. In Paris when I showed my cynical, sophisticated French friends what my adopted Indian son had given me, they hinted that there may be filial affection, but that on so large a scale there's no such thing as filial jewelry. I just laughed, for I didn't care what they thought. Being a Russian, Vishy's generosity was something I understood perfectly.
Vice Presidents elected: . . . Rajkumar of Vizianagram (India),
Executive Committee: . . . Rajkumar of Vizianagram (India),
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: The following were re-elected:- . . . the Rajkumar
Vice Presidents: . . .The Rajkumar of Vizianagram (India).
Committee: . . . The Rajkumar,
HON. GENERAL SECRETARY'S REPORT - for the record we give the following
Indian Philosophy and Vegetarianism by the Rajkumar of Vizianagram (India);
Present:- ; Rajkumar of Vizianagram.
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