H.H. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi and India’s Freedom Struggle!
Updated: Feb 25
H H Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was born in 1923, at noon on the 21st of March in Chindawara in the center of India, in a Christian family of noble descent.
She was born at a very crucial moment of history. The world was still reeling back from the aftermath of the First World War and the grey clouds of the Second World War were already looming over the horizon. Mother India was crying under the British tyranny.
Her birth was to mark a new epoch in the
Freedom struggle of Mother India!
Her father, Parsad Rao Salve was a successful lawyer and a master of fourteen languages. Well versed in the arts, literature and science, he also translated the Koran into Hindi. He became a prominent freedom fighter and he later became the only Christian member of the Central Legislative Assembly.
Her Mother, Cornelia, was the first woman in India to receive an Honours degree in mathematics.
Her relationship to Mahatma Gandhi
Her deep spiritual insights, special qualities and understanding were recognized at an early age by Mahatma Gandhi. As a result of this bond they shared, Shri Mataji spent much of her time in Gandhiji’s ashram.
Her Words about Mahatma Gandhi
“He used to call me ‘Nepali’ because My face is a Nepali face. And he used to talk to me as if he
is talking to his grandmother sometimes.”
“Gandhiji was very strict – the way he used to make everyone get up at four in the morning, have your bath, come for puja. But his qualities was that what he said, he practiced, there was no hypocrisy about it: also he used to get into temper with people who would misbehave and I used to put some cool water on him; Because I was a little girl, he would really understand it and he used to say ‘how is it you keep so peaceful about all such things?’ I said, ‘that’s the solution; Reaction is not the way we can really work it out; forgiving itself solves the problem.”
India’s Freedom Struggle
Young Nirmala bore the full brunt of the freedom struggle. From 1928 Her parents were regularly in prison. They had made a rule that no one was to shed tears on their departure for the jail, as this would be demeaning. Their parents taught the children to share joy and grief alike. There were no dual standards between the society and the home. Though open minded, the children were brought up traditionally. There was no question of superficiality or compromise. In the absence of Her parents, young Nirmala shouldered the domestic responsibilities, from the age of ten.
‘Quit India Movement’
As a young woman she too, joined the struggle for India’s Independence. In 1942 she spearheaded the student struggle for freedom in the ‘Quit India Movement’ and was often imprisoned.
Her attention was always on the benevolence of other. On one occasion the British put her on ice to torture her, but it in no way dampened her indomitable spirit.
She was rusticated from Medical College and could not complete her studies.
The veteran freedom fighter Vinobha Bhave tried to dissuade her from participating in the freedom struggle, but her father warned her to pay no heed to the old man’s advice.
When the police came to curb the striking students she stood boldly, alone guarding the gate, shouting the freedom slogan and facing the barrels of the guns.
The principal of the college was witnessing this scene in amazement and realised her great Shakti/power
Her heart was in the country’s freedom struggle.
Her heart would wrench with pain as she would helplessly watch the atrocities of the British tyranny. Her soul would go out to the martyrs and Her torn heart would express its anguish in tender songs:
Glory to Mother India,
Victory to thee
The whole universe resounds with thy name
Even the green pastures of your villages sing thy praise
When my eyes are filled with tears
And my throat is choked with grief,
My heart is crying out for thy victory.
The smoke from the martyr’s pyre rises to meet the sky
Even there his spirit hails thy glory.
Victory to Thee!
Victory to Thee!
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