Sadhvi Rithambara (also transliterated as Ritambhara, Rithambhara or Rithambra) is a Hindu political activist, a renowned social worker and religious preacher, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. She was the founding chairperson of Durga Vahini (Army of Durga), the women's wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. She is particularly known for her impressive narration of Ram Katha and other Hindu scriptures in India and abroad. She's been accused of delivering speeches perceived to be hostile to Muslims. She is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Not much is known about Rithambara's life-story, as she is mainly known through her speeches. Rithambara hails from Punjabi farming family. At the age of 16 she is said to have attained nirvana when her village was visited by Yug Purush Maha Mandaleshwar Swami Paramanand Giri Ji Maharaj. She became his disciple and followed him to his ashram in Haridwar and in tours across India, while gaining lessons in oratory. She also adopted the title of Sadhvi (ascetic). Rithambara entered public life and the Sangh Parivar as a trainee and member of the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, which is the women's arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but gained prominence as a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Role in Ramjanmabhoomi movement
Sadhvi Rithambara was one of the leaders who was accused but never found guilty of being part of activists to demolish the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. She was one of the three key women leaders of the movement, the other two being Uma Bharati and Vijayaraje Scindia; their leadership was largely responsible for the involvement of women in the movement and the form it took.
Rithambara retreated from her prominent public role and kept a relatively low profile following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
Rithambara was arrested in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in April, 1995 on the charge of inciting communal passions, after giving a speech in which she called Mother Teresa a "magician" and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, a "man-eater". Her speech was a denouncement of Christian missionaries who she alleged were converting Hindus and was given in a district where a Christian nun had been murdered by three men a couple of months earlier. Rithambara's address sparked off a strike and several arson attacks leading to the arrest of 169 arsonists.
In 1993 Rithambara attempted to establish an ashram near Vrindavan and Mathura on land that the Uttar Pradesh BJP government had granted her for a minimal fee. However the proposal fell through as the Kalyan Singh led government was dismissed, and she was not allowed to take possession of the land by the subsequent Mulayam Singh Yadav led state government. In 2002, the state government led by Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta granted 17 hectares of land in the area, valued at Rupee 200 million, to her Paramshaktipeth trust for 99 years for an annual fee of one rupee for this philanthropic cause. Besides cultivating devotion in women, the Vrindavan Ashram has also imparted training in karate, horse-riding, handling air guns and pistols, with the stated aim of relieving the women from their traditional societal roles and making them confident and self-reliant. Sadhvi Rithambara also runs ashrams for unwanted infants, ladies and widows in Indore, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh.
She's the co-founder of the Param Shakti Peeth, under the auspices of which, the Vatsalyagram project runs. Vatsalyagram is a unique concept which is a combination of an orphanage, an old-age home and a widow-shelter, where orphan kids, widows and elders live like a family.
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- What is Vatsalyagram
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