Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944)

Kasturbai was born in 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat. Her father was a well-to-do businessman.

At the time of her marriage to Gandhiji she was an illiterate and Gandhiji taught her to read and write. Throughout her life she was a steadfast companion to Gandhiji in all his experiments in South Africa and India. She followed her husband in word and deed and took to austere and simple ashram life with ease.

Although, she identified herself with her great husband, she did not accept his ideas unless she understood them and considered them right. Gandhiji often had to work hard to convince her.

She was a deeply religious woman and following the ideologies of her husband she renounced all caste distinctions. A delicate, small but elegant lady, she was simple, straightforward and methodical.

Her public life began after she joined her husband in South Africa in 1897. From 1904-14, she was the heart and soul of the 'Phoenix Settlement' and from Kasturbai she became Kasturba-mother to the inmates, a role she continued at Kochnab, Sabarmati, and Sevagram Ashrams in India.

In 1915, on his return to India when Gandhiji took up the cause of the indigo planters, Kasturba joined her husband and taught cleanliness, discipline and reading and writing to the village women and children. In his non-violent struggle for freedom whenever Gandhiji was arrested Kasturba took up the reigns of the leadership.

She suffered from chronic bronchitis. The strict and trough regimen of ashram life took its toll and she caught pneumonia. On 22 February 1944 on Mahashivratri Day she breathed her last on the lap of her beloved husband.