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|Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi|
11 April 1869|
Porbandar, Kathiawar Agency, British India
(now in Gujarat, India)
|Died||22 February 1944
Aga Khan Palace, Poona, Bombay Province, British India
(now in Pune, Maharashtra, India)
|Known for||Wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi|
Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi listen (help·info) (born Kastur Kapadia; 11 April 1869 – 22 February 1944) was the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In association with her husband, Kasturba Gandhi was a political activist fighting for civil rights and Indian independence from the British.
Early life and background
Born to Gokuladas and Vrajkunwerba Kapadia of Porbandar, little is known of her early life. In May 1883, 14-year old Kasturba was married to 13-year old Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in an arranged marriage, according to the custom of the region. Recalling the day of their marriage, her husband once said, "As we didn't know much about marriage, for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives." However, as was prevailing tradition, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband. Writing many years later, Mohandas described with regret the lustful feelings he felt for his young bride, "even at school I used to think of her, and the thought of nightfall and our subsequent meeting was ever haunting me."
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 labour prison. 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.
Health and death
In January 1944, Kasturba suffered two heart attacks after which 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.
To those who tried to bolster her sagging morale saying "You will get better soon," Kasturba would respond, "No, my time is up". Finally, on 22 February 1944, which happened to be Mahashivratri day of that year, she died aged 74. The incidents of that day go like this: That morning, her youngest son Devdas came to visit her. He told her that he had brought penicillin, the famous drug invented by Alexander Fleming, for curing her. But, Mahatma Gandhi prevented his son from injecting. After her death, Mahatma Gandhi quoted that even if he allowed Devdas to inject, his beloved wife would not have survived. She died on the arms of her husband, who outlived her for four years before his assassination.
- Gandhi, Arun and Sunanda (1998). The Forgotten Woman. Huntsville, AR: Zark Mountain Publishers. p. 314. ISBN 1-886940-02-9.
- Mohanty, Rekha (2011). "From Satya to Sadbhavna" (PDF). Orissa Review (January 2011): 45–49. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Gandhi (1940). Chapter "Playing the Husband".
- Gandhi before India. Vintage Books. 4 April 2015. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-385-53230-3.