Hardcover Princess: The Autobiography of Dowager Maharani of Gwalior by Vijaya Raje Scindia, Manohar Malgonkar, 1985
Hardcover Princess: The Autobiography of Dowager Maharani of Gwalior by Vijaya Raje Scindia, Manohar Malgonkar, 1985. Book is in good condition.
Princesses' memoires usually make interesting and lively reading and Indian princesses should normally have more to tell than most. Sadly, in the generation of India's princesses or maharanis who are now rajmatas, and whose memories go back to the days when Indian kings and queens were rulers as well, there are not many who are articulate or even literate enough to express themselves coherently about what was in many ways a charmed age.
The princesses of yesteryear were creatures who saw the world from behind the screens of the women's quarters and who ended up with either no point of view at all or one so limited as to be of no consequence. The two outstanding exceptions have been the rajmatas of the erstwhile states of Gwalior and Jaipur. The beautiful Gayatri Devi of Jaipur shared her memories with us a few years ago. and it is now the turn of Vijayraje Scindia of Gwalior.
Both women managed to end up leading quite extraordinary lives in their different ways. Whereas Gayatri Devi's fame came more from being a celebrated member of the international jet set than from her brief flirtation with politics, the rajmata of Gwalior's life has been mainly that of a political leader. It is therefore slightly disappointing that in her autobiography she has only touched briefly on her life as a politician.
Her original intention, according to a member of her family, was to do a book on the Scindias. It was Manohar Malgonkar who persuaded her to write about them through her own autobiography. This is probably why there is more on the Scindias than there is on her own political career. So we never find out why, for instance, she was attracted to an obscurantist organisation like the Hindu Mahasabha; nor are we told whether Nathuram Godsc did in fact get his pistol from the Gwalior armouries as was rumoured after he killed Gandhi.