We Know Bapu But Do We Know Who Is Ba?

On the 75th death anniversary of Kasturba Gandhi, we celebrate her essence. Known as "Ba", she proved to be her own woman and not just Gandhi Ji's wife.

Every Indian knows about the “Father of the Nation or ” Bapu”. He was the one who made the principle of  “non-violence or ahimsa” prominent in the Indian freedom struggle. I don’t even have to say his original or full name for recognition, but do you know who was “Ba”? Most of us may not know it.

“Ba” was an Indian social activist who had remarkably contributed in India’s Independence movement in British-rule India and we all know her but as Kasturba Gandhi, wife of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi Ji has mentioned in his autobiography that she was a strong-willed woman from her young age. He was very possessive and manipulative in his early years of marriage and used to think that an ideal wife should follow his commands. He had attempted to control  Kasturba Ji but she never agreed to do anything without her will. She used to take independent decisions and was never hesitant to disagree if she didn’t feel right.

Kasturba Ji was suffering from long term lung infection, but still displayed great mental and physical courage. She took care of her toddlers alone when Gandhi ji used to travel to England and Africa. When she went to South Africa, she took part in protests against the ill-treatment of Indian immigrants. She was even arrested for the same and was sentenced to hard labour.  But all these sufferings didn’t make her weak instead she helped other women survive by motivating them to be positive. She urged them to pray and referred to prison as a temple during prayer meetings. She also encouraged all the educated women in the prison to teach uneducated women how to read and write.

After coming back to India, she took the spot of her husband in the protests across the country. Whenever she was in prison,  she used to serve and help out people. In the ashrams, people started  calling her “Ba”.

We all have studied in the history class  about the “Indigo Revolt” when Gandhi Ji worked for Indigo farmers in Champaran , Bihar. This was the start of his Satyagraha movement (non violent resistance). During the Champaran movement also ,”Ba” helped her husband in his fight for the poor indigo farmers. Simultaneously, she worked for the welfare of women and taught them hygiene, discipline , health , reading and writing.

When a woman from Rajkot asked her specifically to advocate for them, she came to the city as soon as possible. She carried out non-violent protests against the British rule, for which she was imprisoned in solitary confinement for a month.

“Ba”  continued to took part in non-violent protests and served in ashramas and dedicated her whole life for the Independence of India. In the end, while participating in “Quit India Movement”, she was imprisoned in Aga Khan Palace in Pune, where her health completely deteriorated. She finally breathed her last in a detention camp in Pune.

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