Kasturba Gandhi (Makhanji) (1869 - 1944)

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Nicknames: "Ba"
Birthdate:
Death: Died in Pune, Maharashtra, India
Managed by: Chirag Sanghavi
Last Updated:

About Kasturba Gandhi (Makhanji)

She was the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, marrying him in an arranged child marriage in 1883.

Born to wealthy businessman Gokuladas Makharji of Porbandar, Kasturbai married Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, through arrangement. They were both 13 years old. At the time, she was illiterate, and so Gandhi taught her to read and write — a potentially radical move, given the position of women in India at that time. When Gandhi left to study in London in 1888, she remained in India to raise their newborn son Harilal. She had three more sons - Manilal (1892), Ramdas (1897), and Devdas (1900).

Kasturbai Gandhi joined her husband in political protests. She traveled 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, Kasturbai was arrested and sentenced to three months in a hard labor 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, Kasturbai accompanied him. She taught hygiene, discipline, reading and writing to women and children.

Kasturbai suffered from chronic bronchitis because she had problems when she was born. While her husband could move his mind from one thing to another, she would sometimes brood over troubles. Stress from the Quit India Movement's arrests and hard life at Sabarmati Ashram caused her to fall ill. Kasturbai fell ill with bronchitis which was subsequently complicated by pneumonia.

In January 1944, Kasturbai suffered two heart attacks. She was now 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, Kasturbai 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," Ba would respond, "No, my time is up." Shortly after seven that evening, Devdas took Mohandas and the doctors aside. In what he would later describe as "the sweetest of all wrangles I ever had with my father," he pleaded fiercely that Ba be given the life saving medicine, even though the doctors told him her condition was beyond help. It was Mohandas, 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. "Why do you want to prolong your mother's agonies after all the suffering she has been through?" Gandhi asked. Then he said, "You can't cure her now, no matter what miracle drug you may muster. But if you insist, I will not stand in your way."

After a short while, Kasturbai stopped breathing. She died in Gandhi's arms while both were still in prison.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasturba_Gandhi

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Kasturba Gandhi's Timeline

1869
April 11, 1869
1883
May, 1883
Age 14
1888
1888
Age 18
1892
October 28, 1892
Age 23
Rajkot, Gujarat, India
1897
1897
Age 27
South Africa
1900
1900
Age 30
South Africa
1944
February 22, 1944
Age 74
Pune, Maharashtra, India