Hira Lal Jalan: 1954-1970
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 father’s death.
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-
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”.
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 administration.
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.
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-
If there 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.
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.