was born at Porbandar in 1869. Her father was
a well-to-do businessman and she was one of
his four children. The date of her birth is
She was illiterate at the time of her marriage
with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, son of the
Prime Minister of Rajkot State. They were both
aged 13. He taught her to read and write. She
was slow but willing to learn till the end of
She had five children, of whom four grew up
to manhood She became a tower of strength to
her husband. In consultation with her, Gandhi
took the vow of Brahmacharya in 1901. She was
his steadfast companion in all his experiments
in India and in South Africa. A simple Kathiawari
girl, she learnt to dress like the Parsis and
to eat with knife and fork when her husband
desired it on his return from England after
his studies. Later she took to austere simplicity
when he decided to change his life. She adapted
herself to Ashram life without any difficulty.
It was like a joint family which she had already
She identified herself with the work of her
great husband throughout her life, but she did
not accept his ideas unless she understood them
and considered them right. Gandhiji often had
to work hard to convince her, especially in
the early days. This exercise led him to the
discovery of Satyagraha.
She was a deeply religious Hindu wife. In early
life, she considered untouchability a part of
religion. Later she renounced all caste distinctions
and brought up a Harijan girl as her own daughter.
She regularly read Bhagavadgita and Ramayana
and spun every day till she became too weak
to do so during her last illness in detention
in the Aga Khans Palace, Poona.
A delicate, small but elegant lady, she was
simple, straightforward and methodical. Her
simplicity had an elegance, all its own. She
was ready to lay down her life for her principles.
A strict vegetarian, she refused to take meat
soup in South Africa even when the doctor said
that she would die without it and a holy man
explained to her that it was not against religion
to do so during illness.
Her public life began after she joined her husband
in South Africa in 1897. From 1904 to 1914,
she was the soul of the Phoenix Settlement and
became Kasturba-- mother to the
inmates, a role continued at Kochnab, Sabarmati
and Sevagram Ashram in India.
She led the womens satyagraha in the final
fight in South Africa. She was imprisoned and
came out of jail in an emaciated condition.
After his return to India in 1915, Gandhiji
took up the cause of the Indigo workers against
the oppression of the white planters in Champaran
in Bihar. Kasturba joined him and taught cleanliness,
discipline and reading and writing to the village
women and children.
In 1918, she took an active part in the Kaira
Satyagraha or No Tax Campaign and
taught the village women the art of non-violent
resistance. Later during Indias
| non- violent fight
for freedom, she took up the leadership of the
movement whenever Gandhiji was arrested; she plunged
into the struggle, addressed meetings, collected
funds and kept up the morale of the people.
She presided over the backward Rani Paraj communitys
second conference, which resulted in their giving
up drinking and taking to spinning and khadi.
In 1930 and again in 1932, she courted arrest
by picketing liquor and foreign cloth shops. She
was released when Gandhiji went on a prolonged
fast against the British Governments decision
to create separate electorate for the Harijans.
She joined him at Poona and nursed him during
In 1939, she participated in the Rajkot Satyagraha
political reforms and was kept in detention at
Tramba. She was released when Gandhiji launched
his fast against the ruler of Rajkot for breach
of promise. She refused to leave the detention
camp till her two companions, Maniben Patel and
Mridulaben Sarabhai, were also released.
In 1942, Gandhiji was arrested early in the morning
of August 9 at Birla House, Bombay. Kasturba decided
to address the meeting which Gandhiji was to have
addressed that afternoon. She was arrested as
she was proceeding to the meeting and taken to
Arthur Road prison at Bombay, from where after
two days she was taken to the Aga Khan Palace
detention camp at Poona to join her husband. She
was very frail in body, but her spirit was indomitable.
In February 1943, Gandhiji went on a 21-day fast
and Kasturba looked after him day and night. She
took only one meal a day of fruit and milk. She
had done the same during all his previous fasts.
This enabled her to have the strength to nurse
him while she shared his ordeal.
Her health began to fail soon after Gandhijis
fast in detention. The strain, physical and emotional,
was too great. She would supervise her husbands
meals even from her sick bed and it required considerable
persuasion to make her give up spinning in the
interest of her weak heart.She suffered from chronic
bronchitis,with heart failure, and a terminal
pneumonia carried her away. She attended prayers
morning and evening till the end. She gave up
all food except Ganga Jal (Ganga water)
on the last day. She wanted to hear nothing but
She died on 22 February 1944 on Maha Shivratri
Day as the sun went down, with her head on her
husbands lap. There was an ineffable peace
on her face.
A grateful nation collected 125 lakhs of rupees
with which Gandhiji established the Kasturba
Gandhi National Memorial Trust for the
service of simple women like Kastruba in the villages
of India and their children.
(Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust,
Kasthurba Gram Nedupuzha THRISSUR DIST.,Kerala,
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 0488-426648 )