Kasturba Gandhi: The Mahatma’s Shadow

Kasturba Gandhi: The Mahatma’s Shadow May 11, 2019

Recently, India celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi. A redoubtable and admirable lady, her life is a true inspiration in devotion and stoicness. Here’s a look at a few aspects of her life.

Kasturba married Gandhi at the age of 14. They had 5 sons, the eldest one died early. She remained in India when Gandhi went to study in London.

Her involvement with politics began in South Africa as she helped her husband establish the Phoenix settlement near Durban. This was a small ashram-like settlement from which Gandhi’s first newspaper, Indian Opinion was printed.

She took part in protests against the ill-treatment of Indian immigrants in South Africa for which she was arrested. While in prison she encouraged the educated women to teach the uneducated women to read and write.

Though she suffered from chronic bronchitis, she took part in protests that were organized by Gandhi across India. She took her husband’s spot when he was in prison. The majority of her time was dedicated to serving in the ashram and she was referred to “ba” or “Mother” because of this.

One point of contention between Kasturba and Gandhi was the treatment of their children. Gandhi believed that their sons did not deserve special treatment while she felt that Gandhi neglected their sons.

She was arrested many times for participating in protests along with her husband. In 1942 she was arrested for participating in Quit India Movement and was housed in Aga Khan Palace in Pune where her health had worsened and she died in 1944.

Kasturba considered her work above everything and Gandhi wrote about this in his biography, “According to my earlier experience, she was very obstinate. In spite of all my pressure she would do as she wished. This led to short or long periods of estrangement between us. But as my public life expanded, my wife bloomed forth and deliberately lost herself in my work.”

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