He was not an Indian. Nor was he a European. He was an American. He had come to
to work as a volunteer in a
leper home. Yet, he actively participated in the Freedom Movement of India. He
was also the only foreigner who signed the Congress Manifesto. Infact, he even
attended several Congress sessions, which in those days gave a lead to the
people yearning for freedom. India
He also fought against bonded labour and compelled the British to outlaw the practice. Today, he is just not remembered for his fight for
but as the man who introduced apples in Himachal Pradesh. Then, these apples
were known as Red Delicious American. Now, they are famous as Himachal appeals
and they have their own brand in the market. Independence
He was a wealthy American Quaker-who set sail for
aged twenty two. Once in India ,
he worked with great zeal and enthusiasm and later became a Hindu and even took
a Hindu name. India
This man is Satyananda Stokes, who was born as Samuel Evens Stokes.
Born on August 16, 1882, to a distinguished and wealthy Quaker family in
his father was a successful businessman and also the founder-owner of
the Stokes and Parish Machine Company, the leading manufacturer of
elevators in the . USA
Samuel could not acquire any professional skill and he appeared totally disinterred in his father’s business.
In 1904, Samuel left for
at a leper colony at Subathu in Shimla Hills of Himachal Pradesh.
Though his parents opposed his decision, Samuel decided to set sail for India . India
, Samuel met his calling and
he began living with the villagers. In 1912, he married Agnes, a local Rajput Christian
girl, and purchased a farm. In 1916, he then decided to improve his farm and he
began cultivating a new variety of apples developed by the Stark Brothers of US
in 1915. India
If the Stark Brothers called their variety of apples grown in their nursery in
as the Red Delicious, Samuel planted
them in his farm at Barobagh in Thanedar in the winter of 1916 and this was the
birth of the famous Himachal apples Louisiana
The apple trees took root and the first apple crop was harvested in 1926. Samuel then encouraged other farmers to take up apple cultivation.
In 1932, he converted to Hinduism and took the name Satyananda, while Agnes became Priyadevi.
Meanwhile, he had started taking active interest in the freedom movement. He was the only American to become a member of the AICC and alongwith Lala Lajpat Rai, he represented
Punjab at the AICC session. He
was also the only non-Indian to sign the Congress manifesto in 1921, calling
upon Indians to quit government service.
The British put Samuel into jail on charges of sedition. Samuel thus became the only American political prisoner in the freedom struggle. He died on May 14, 1946 in Shimla. Ironically, many leaders had gathered at Shimla to discuss
India’s future constitutional framework with the
visiting Cabinet Mission from .
He was cremated in Shimla and his ashes later taken to Kotgarh.
Though apple growers of
Kashmir and Himachal still remember Samuel, the Government
seems to have forgotten him. There is no mention of this great man or his
contribution in Shimla. Indeed, there is not even a statue.