Working closely with her husband, Kasturba Gandhi became a political activist fighting for civil rights and Indian independence from the British. After Gandhi moved to South Africa to practice law, she travelled to South Africa in 1897 to be with her husband. From 1904 to 1914, she was active in the Phoenix Settlement near Durban. During the 1913 protest against working conditions for Indians in South Africa, Kasturba was arrested and sentenced to three months in a hard labourprison. Later, in India, she sometimes took her husband's place when he was under arrest. In 1915, when Gandhi returned to India to support indigo planters, Kasturba accompanied him. She taught hygiene, discipline, health, reading, and writing.
In January 1944, Kasturba suffered two heart attacks. She was confined to her bed much of the time. Even there she found no respite from pain. Spells of breathlessness interfered with her sleep at night. Yearning for familiar ministrations, Kasturba asked to see an Ayurvedic doctor. After several delays (which Gandhi felt were unconscionable), the government allowed a specialist in traditional Indian medicine to treat her and prescribe treatments. At first she responded—recovering enough by the second week in February to sit on the verandah in a wheel chair for a short periods, and chat-then came a relapse. The doctor said Ayurvedic medicine could do no more for her.
To those who tried to bolster her sagging morale saying "You will get better soon," Kasturba would respond, "No, my time is up". Even though she had a simple illness, the doctors pleaded fiercely that she be given the life saving medicine, though Gandhi refused. It was Gandhi, after learning that the penicillin had to be administered by injection every four to six hours, who finally persuaded his youngest son to give up the idea. Gandhi didn't believe in modern medicine. After a short while, Kasturba stopped breathing. She died in Gandhi's arms while both were still in prison, in Poona (now Pune).