Prabhavati Devi

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Prabhavati Devi
Born1906 (1906)
Died15 April 1973(1973-04-15) (aged 66–67)
Spouse(s)Jayprakash Narayan

Prabhavati Devi (1906 – 15 April 1973) was at the forefront of freedom struggle in Bihar. She was born in a reputed family in Shrinagar now in Siwan district in Bihar to Brajkishore Prasad and Phool Devi. Brajkishore Prasad was himself an ardent Gandhian perhaps the first Congressman in Bihar who had given up a lucrative legal practice to devote himself to freedom struggle.She was married to Jayprakash Narayan in October 1920.[1]

After their marriage, Jayaprakash Narayan went to the USA to initially study science in California but instead enrolled at University of Wisconsin to study Marxism in . She moved to Gandhi's ashram where she devoted herself completely to Kasturba Gandhi who started regarding her as her daughter. She also built up a very close relationship with Kamala Nehru and became her confidante. She also spent time in gaol on several occasions.

Kamala Nehru wrote several personal letters to her. Most of the letters were returned to Indira Gandhi by her husband following her death. one hangs on the wall of the home in the Patna locality of Kadam Kuan where Narayan and his wife both spent their last years. This letter was a handwritten letter by Nehru to Prabhavati during 1958 in Hindustani. The content of the letter summarizes as "Prabhavati had wished to start a school for girls and name it for Kamala Nehru. She had written to Jawaharlal asking whether he would inaugurate it. Nehru, in reply, said that he was delighted that this school was being planned, for he had long been an advocate of education for girls. But, he added, he had taken a vow that in the case of any school, project, or programme started in memory of his father (Motilal Nehru) or his wife, he would not participate in its inauguration. He asked Prabhavati to go ahead and start the school, with another chief guest if required. He added by way of consolation that when the place was up and running, he would come visit it anyway".

When her husband returned, he was regarded a revolutionary and this led to several differences with her because of her Gandhian orientation. She had also asked to take a vow by Mahatma Gandhi to be a celibate.[2] Nevertheless, the couple respected each other and jointly decided not to have any children until the country was free from foreign yoke.

It was under her influence that her husband by now a cult figure in India joined the Sarvodaya movement and actively participated in peace overtures in the North East India and the Middle East. She established Mahila Charkha Samiti in Patna to involve deserted and abandoned women in the charkha or the spinning wheel movement on the Gandhian model.

The last few years were specially painful for her as she was found to be suffering from advanced cancer.She died On 15 April 1973[1]


  1. ^ a b Vaidya, Prem. "Jayaprakash Narayan — Keeper of India's Conscience". Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  2. ^ Jayakar, Pupul (1995). Indira Gandhi, a biography (Rev. ed.). New Delhi, India: Penguin. p. 51. ISBN 978-0140114621.