Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hitler’s Guest from Pune dies at 103

Yes that was what the papers said  ”Hitler’s guest from Pune dies at 103

That sounded interesting and I read through. It said that Mahadeo Kashinath Gokhale who took part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a special guest of Hitler for four months as Hitler was impressed by his barefoot running. Mahadeo was sponsored by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda.

I remember reading about the Maharaja and his generous nature. When Dr B R Ambedkar did not have the money to study further, it was this Maharaja who sponsored his education in Britain for this brilliant student from the backward classes of the society which was unthinkable back then.
So I read a little more about the Maharaja and came up with this:
 Maharaja Gaekwad signed a secret pact with Hitler to get his support for India's freedom.

It was known as the Baroda-Berlin Pact. Gaekwad's personal assistant Vishnu Nene was sent to Germany to arrange the meeting. "Gaekwad believed an enemy's enemy is a friend. So, he decided to join hands with Hitler," says Dr Damodar Nene, who has written a new biography of Gaekwad.

To ensure that the British don't suspect anything, Gaekwad took their permission to attend the Berlin Olympics. "His box was placed right under Hitler's during the opening ceremony," Nene says.
Gaekwad is believed to have promised Hitler the support of all Hindu princes in case of a war in Europe. "It was agreed that Hindu princes would back Hitler during the World War II and Hitler would support India in its freedom struggle. The pact was kept a well-guarded secret as the British would have considered it an act of treason," adds Nene.
So all this explained Hitler’s hospitality towards the (non Aryan) athlets !!
Coming back to our sportsman Mahadeo, he had many records to his credit.
He has cycled from Pune to Delhi and Mansarovar.
He has cast his vote for elections 35 times (from the age of 21 till 103)
He is one of the few people who was alive to have seen the freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.
For teaching Marathi, Hindi and cross-country sport to the British governor between 1938 and 1941, he used to get 1 kg pedha and burfi as fees.

At 98, he used to consume 1.25 kg of shrikhand (yogurt cream dessert) and 90 jalebis (Indian sweet) if challenged at any wedding ceremony.
He visited Karachi to teach Balgandharva's songs to Jaddanbai (mother of late Bollywood actress Nargis), Begum Para and Husna Bano

He could play the Tabla and compose music.

As I read along I realized that I had met and photographed this multitalented man about 4 years ago, but I was not aware of his achievements then.

Here is one of the pictures that I clicked of Mahadeo after having a small talk with him. (he was a man of few words)
100 years and still going strong
Click on the above picture for more information.
So I met a man who met Adolf Hitler.


Harman said...

gr8...very nice..never knew about this man..and his capabilities..overall a perfect ten for this awesome post!

subu said...

Haddock, Good one..! I did not answer your earlier query about your encounter with a superstar.. The only close association I had with him was when I joined this office here in Sharjah, When some one compared me to Suresh Gopi!

Christine H. said...

What interesting stories he must have. He does not look chatty though, so I don't know what it would take to get him to talk freely. fascinating post!

kavita said...

Very interesting account .Thanks for sharing this .

Purba said...

A post that informs! Loved reading it.

Daisy said...

How fascinating! Very interesting post, Joe. I like the picture you took of him too.

Susan Deborah said...

The personal and the political come together in this post. It is quite wonderful to see that in some way you were connected to an obscure part of history which is special in its own way. I would like to know more about what were the words exchanged between the both of you. What did Mahadeo bhai think of Hitler. The picture tells only about him but what of his thoughts on Hitler. Oh, you didn't know all that then. Wished you had! Did he smile at him? Inspite of despising Hitler, I like him. Don't know why.

Joy always,

Neha said...

Amazing! He was a living history! And the kinds of his accomplishments make you marvel at him. Sadly, such men don't receive the accolades they rightly deserve!

RamMmm said...

Nice piece of historial note with a personal experience mixed. Makes this post come alive.

Bikramjit said...

very veyr interesting .. brings me to the topic of indians meeting and taking sides with hitler , I am jsut thinking that if india had not been silly enought to support the british nad gone with the german as our dear Subhash chander bose did, we might have had a differrtn story to tell..

I mean what did british give us for helping them win the war .. jallianwalla bagh, where the ymasaccred so many innocent punjabi's

There was a intersted program on BBC the last week, Sikhs in World war and its amazing to hear that british generals feel that if indians had not helped them they might have lost the war, we actually strengthened the british army

But anyway This MAn I salute him.. and as usual in our MAHAAN country the people who shud be given accolades never get any ... Hats off


Dorothy said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. This is an interesting post. I enjoyed the audio clip on your profile, too!

~G said...

Haddock, did you know he also climbed Parvati( hillock in pune) "upside down" multiple times. He actually did Shirshaasan and climbed Parvati with his hands. He walked to Lonavla and cycled to Khopoli just as a whim!
Hats off!

Anu said...

Great!!! this was so interesting!

Virtual Poona Blogger said...

Ahhh.... Life ! So much to do in such a short time before Age changes everything !

I have a few Musician and Artist friends who were legendary all over India and now are sickly and living in obscurity, worse off than your legend. His life was a Marathon of twists and turns, staying the course and leaving Hitler, Gandhi et al behind,,,,I'm guessing he was pretty aware of the speed at which the world was changing, since he had access to all those magazines.......,how wonderful that you have preserved his memory in your own special way !

Haddock said...

@ Harman, thanks for the perfect 10 (whenever I hear the perfect 10 I am reminded of the Bo Derek movie 10)
I thought so. I have to find someone else to reach the super star 
@ Christine H
Yes he was not at all chatty when I spoke to him. Answered in monosyllabic words.
@ Kavita
@ Purba
Good to know you enjoyed
@ Daisy
I have some more pictures but this is the best (showing him with his book stall)
@ Susan Deborah
You are right. I did not know all his talents / adventures when I met him 4 years ago.
As for Hitler, there are many who fall into that category of liking him. What baffles me is how could so many others toe the line and simply do what he commanded. That’s why I like Claus von Stauffenberg.
@ Neha
Very true, He looked very sad. What a contrast between the first picture and the last one. Maybe he was disillusioned with everything.
@ RamMmm
Yes, it’s a mixture of both.
@ Bikramjit
Agree with you partially. Hitler would have got his help from India, but after the deed was done he would have left us high and dry like he did to his other allies during the war.
The other half (about Indian’s help) is very true, be it war or peace. In every sphere of life (in any country) we have Indians working shoulder to shoulder (and sincerely)
@ Dorothy
Aha you liked the clip. Good to hear that. Very few click on that. In fact you are the second one to comment on the audio clip. What a lovely dance.
@ ~G
Aha, that means you did not click on the last picture. I had mentioned all that 4 years ago (as that was the only information I had then)
@ Anu
Good to know that you enjoyed it
@ Virtual Poona
You are one guy who still holds on to our great POONA.
Keep it up. Will be posting more on our beloved POONA.

dr.antony said...

This post deserves all the merit.Honestly I hadn't heard anything of this part of the story.There are so many of these kind of unsung heroes in our history.
Excellent post.Thanks for sharing.

zephyr said...

That was a wonderful story about a great achiever. Unfortunately we ignore such achievements in favour or those that are much lesser but somehow grab media attention. His physical activity had given him all the stamina to live a productive life, surely.

Thanks for commenting on my post. :)

radha said...

That is a very interesting story! And to think you had the picture of Mahadeo. Heil Haddock!

DUTA said...

Running barefoot...what a guy! Your post is a very nice tribute to this special man. I've enjoyed reading it, and also listening to your charming audio clip.

Kiran Bajaj Sawhney said...

Great informative post. Thanks for sharing.

Indrani said...

Very very interesting and informative.
Never knew about him, great that you could photograph him.

shooting star said...

interesting post!!!!!
what an exciting life he must have led!!!

walk2write said...

I love fascinating intersections with history like yours. We in America never hear about things like this in the news. You would think we live in the dark ages for all the lack of information. I'm so glad for bloggers who are interested in sharing their experiences. Thanks!

Just_because_today said...

what a personality this man was! thanks for the informative piece and thank you for the visit

Susie said...

Interesting post. I'm enjoyed scrolling thru your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed that you got to talk to him and take his picture.

Meera's World said...

U even got to take his picture!!

Canyon Girl said...

What an interesting story of a fascinating man. Your blog is great and I will sign up to be your latest follower. The first blog from India that I will read regularly. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you so much for checking in with me in my desert canyon.--Inger

knitwit said...

What a fascinating story. And I wonder what he thought of Hitler!
Great blog! Thanks for swinging by mine!

Sandhya said...

I never knew this information. Very very interesting story!

I have tweeted this, so that more people will read! Sent the links to my sons too!

Thank you!

CoconutPalmDesigns said...

That's kind of cool to say you met a man who met Hitler and kind of freaky at the same time. As for the picture of Mahadeo, he doesn't look 99 at all!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

Cheers :-)
- Rainforest Mommy

Amrita said...

May his soul rest in peace!What an amazing multitalented personality..
sports, music, tabla, and a foodie to boot :)Totally agree with the picture that you clicked 4 years ago, he does not look 99 at all!
Thoroughly enjoyed the post, and as a token for my appreciation for your blog, there is an award awaiting you at my blog :) please collect.

Gulmohar said...

Interesting...Yeah, you saw a man who saw Hitler :-)

Dr.Sameena Prathap


A very good and interesting post...:)


Nirja Desai said...

this is pretty freakin cool!!!

Just as cool as...
My biological anthropology professor was friends with Edmund Hillary (first man to climb mount Everest) when he was alive.

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope you'll come again. Your site is extremely inviting and interesting.

fraeortis said...

It is a great pride for India in a International level and in this the friendship ties between Nazi germany and India increases.Jai Hind!!!Hail Hitler!!!!

anamika said...

lovely pics always:)

Anonymous said...

Mi tar kahi commentach deu shakat naahi!

Haddock said...

@ Anonymous:
Mi tar kahi commentach deu shakat naahi!...... is it some technical problem..... or emotional.
Would also like to know your name.

Jitendra Tayde said...

Astonished to know about the person! I really felt that Mumbai Marathon organizers missed introducing such legend to Runners community here.