Birth: 11 April,
Death: 22nd Feb, 1944
KASTURBA GANDHI "ACROSS THE PAGES of history, the names of six woman
stand out in the reflected glory of their saintly husbands - Maitreyi, wife of Upanishadic sage Yajnavalkya; Yashodhara, wife of
Gautama the Buddha; Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, Jijabai, wife of
the Maratha poet-saint Tukaram; Sophia, wife of Tolstoy; and Sharda
Devi, wife of Shree Ramkrishna Paramhansa. To these must be added
the name of Kasturba, wife of Mahatma Gandhi...." Thus wrote R. K.
Prabhu in his book Sati Kasturba. She was a true partner of Gandhiji
in all respects, a sahadharmini (A True Life partner). As such she
has been compared by discerning critics to the great satis of Indian
mythology. "Epic in her single-minded self- surrender to her
husband." observes one, " she was like Sita and Savitri." A
distinguished Indian philosopher considers that Kasturba's silent
sacrifice; humility and faith were reminiscent of Anusaya and
Arundhati. Her selfless existence helped to ennoble the nation.
was born in an ordinary family in Porbandar, Gujarat in April 1869.
She was brought up in the Vaishnav tradition, in a religious
atmosphere. The illiterate Kasturba grew up to be the companion of
Mahatma Ghandi, one of the greatest men of our age, and because of
her inner strength of self-confidence and clear vision and the
motherly, generous and compassionate nature, was soon recognized as
'the Mother of the Nation'.
shoulder to shoulder with Mahatma Gandhi in India's non-violent
struggle for freedom. The married life of 'Ba' and 'Bapu' spanned
sixty years from 1883 to 1944. Upon Kasturba's death, Gandhiji
remarked - "We were an ideal couple. Our life together was marked by
happiness, contentment and fulfilment."
was arrested during the 'Quit India Movement' of 1942 and imprisoned
at the Aga Khan Palace, Pune. She died there on 22nd Feb 1944. The
loss of the 'The Mother of the Nation', especially at the time when
Gandhiji and all the other leaders were also in jail, was a severe
blow that plunged the nation into shock and grief.
It was in memory of this extraordinary 'Mother of the Nation' that
Mahatma Gandhi established the 'Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial
Trust' (Kasturba Gandhi Rashtriya Smarak Trust).
The Trust is a unique institution. Kasturba was like a mother to an
enormous family. Everyone at Bapu's (Gandhi was lovingly known to
the people of india by 'Bapu' which means Father) Ashram received
from her a mother's love and care. Mahatma Gandhi wished that the
Trust too, be imbued with this quality of maternal strength, and
that, like Kasturba, members of the Trust bring their rural sisters
forward to actively participate in the development of their villages
and of the Nation.