During the lifetime of R. K. Jalan,
his son Hira Lal Jalan was closely associated to all his activities. He was his
shadow; he did not take an active role in the family’s business until after his
Hira Lal Jalan (left) with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
The main concern of Hira Lal Jalan’s
time at the head of the family was to clear all the debts that had accumulated
by then. The family’s fortunes had taken a turn for the worse, especially after
the Independence of India, when most of the existing contracts had dried up in a
backlash against the family’s association with the previous British
The lack of money meant that Hira
Lal Jalan could not indulge in any passion for collecting that he may have
inherited from his father. He could neither add to R. K. Jalan’s collection, nor
develop any new collection of his own.
But nevertheless Hira Lal Jalan kept
his father’s tradition of welcoming and entertaining visitors. A telling
incident involves the famous Hindu philosopher Osho, whose lecture in Patna was
attended by Hira Lal Jalan’s youngest daughter Nirmala, known to the family as
Nilu. In true “Pride and Prejudice” fashion, on her return home she enthused to
Hira Lal Jalan about the lecturer and was rebuffed, only to discover that her
father had already invited Osho to Quila House that same evening.
Hira Lal Jalan’s three daughters: from left to right,
Nilu Bai, Urmila Bai and Bimla Bai
Bal Manohar Jalan and his wife Manju Jalan
During his visit, Osho
was fascinated by the huge Tibetan sound bowl in the collection, so much so that
he had Hira Lal Jalan’s son, Bal Manohar Jalan, play it repeatedly. When in
later years Osho wrote a book on the sacred syllable ‘OM’, he mentioned his
experience with this particular bowl.
Bal Manohar Jalan: 1949-
is an old dictum that “the first generation deploys, the second enjoys, the
third destroys”, it cannot have been proved more wrong by Bal Manohar (“Bala”) Jalan.
His other acquisitions include a
variety of Buddhas in different mudras, and black stone statues from the Pala
period. Of the latter, the most important one depicts the Kalyan Sundaran,
the wedding of Shiv and Parvati.
From B. M. Jalan’s private collection: the Kalyan Sundaran
B. M. Jalan has not only rebuilt the
family fortunes, to the point where the Jalan family is once again a well-known
Bihari business concern, with several successful commercial developments in
Patna. He has also been able to renew with the family passion and tradition for
collecting, and has been able to develop his own private collection.
Like his grandfather, B. M. Jalan
started very early with stamps. He has lately been specialising in British East
India Company issues, being the proud owner of a 2-anna Emerald Green stamp of
1854, and in caricature stamped envelopes.
One fine day B. M. Jalan came across
the list of coins that had been sent from the Jalan collection to the National
Museum, and that set him off in a passion for reconstituting a similar
collection. For the last 30 years he’s amassed Indian, Indo-Greek, Indo-Roman
and Indo-Scythian coins from 600 B.C. onwards. The main collection comprises
Gupta gold coins, punchmarks, bent bars, Narhan coins and Kushan coins, and B.
M. Jalan is not unwilling to divulge his most select pieces to others who share
his fascination with coins.
Giriraj Manohar Jalan: 1955-
Giriraj Manohar (“Munna”) Jalan,
being the youngest in his generation of the family, did not get a chance to know
Dewan Bahadur during his lifetime. Although fully involved in the family
affairs, he has also developed his talent in vastu sastra, the ancient
Indian prescriptions on architectural design and space management, which can be said
to be the Indian equivalent to the Chinese art of feng shui. The biggest
names in business and politics, not only in Patna but as far away as Mumbai,
have taken his advice.
Giriraj Manohar Jalan and his wife Amita, with their daughter Purvi.
Mark Shand’s elephant, Tara, also puts in an appearance
If persuaded sufficiently, he can
also display his talent in drawing horoscopes, and in palmistry. His accurate
predictions for others have for years amazed the family.
The Jalan Family, Continued: 2009-
The next generation of (male) heirs
to the Jalan tradition and collection comprise three cousins: Aditya, son of Bal
Manohar Jalan; Nikhil, son of late Shyam Manohar Jalan; and Akshay Raj, son of
Giriraj Manohar Jalan.
Aditya Jalan looks after what the
family calls the museum: the set of rooms in Quila House hosting the Jalan
collection. His unofficial duty is to maintain and display the collection. Nikhil Jalan, who has inherited his
father’s qualities, has proved invaluable in managing the family’s trust, joint
properties, and other joint family affairs. Akshay Raj Jalan is still completing his
education, and the family hope that he will soon join his cousins in, as one
might say, “keeping the Jalan show on the road”.
during his tilak ceremony in 2002, with his cousins
Akshay Raj Jalan and Prerna Jalan in the background
Nikhil Jalan showcases the Meissen figurines to the Chief Minister of Bihar,