• Sushma Ramesh

Kasturba Gandhi: A Biography by B M Bhalla

  • Book Name: Kasturba Gandhi: A biography

  • Author Name: B. M. Bhalla

  • Publishers: Roli books India

  • Price: 345 INR

  • Available on: Amazon

About the Book :

‘If anything she stood above me. But for her unfailing co-operation I might have been in the abyss...’ - M.K. Gandhi.

The contributions of Kasturba Gandhi to India’s struggle for independence have not been given The critical position they deserve, argues Professor B.M. Bhalla in this seminal study kasturba Gandhi: a biography. in its portrayal of Kasturba as an activist and wife, walking along with the Mahatma, first in South Africa and then in India, her story is read in terms of the struggle of Indian women for identity, equality and self-empowerment. This biography delineates how she became an ardent follower of her husband's great mission and how she struggled to retain her individuality in difficult situations in public and private life. Her capacity to adapt to changed conditions and circumstances, her courage to face adversity, loss and dangers matched her husband's. By Gandhi’s own confession, his ‘better half’, this study is a vital reassessment of Kasturba Gandhi’s position within the Indian freedom movement.

About the Author : (taken from Amazon)

Born in Dinga district of Gujrat in what is now Pakistan, Prof. B.M. Bhalla has had a long and distinguished teaching career in Delhi University. His works have been published in various national and international journals and his translation of the Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s celebrated verse epic Luna won him the prestigious Delhi State Sahitya Academy Award in 2003.

My take on the Book:

Whenever there is a talk about Women freedom fighters of India, all of us can name Lakshmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, Rani Chennamma, and many others. But there is always this one forgotten name in the history who was also a prominent woman political activist at the time of Indian Independence and that is none other than Kasturba Gandhi.

‘Kasturba Gandhi’ is an Autobiography of the late Kasturba Gandhi, wife of the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi. This book beautifully portrayed the life that Kasturba lead as a pativrata and how she helped in shaping the minds and the thoughts Gandhi and the people around them had. It greatly depicts the struggles Kasturba had to go through as a wife of Gandhi, how she was treated regardless of the position she had, and every other thing that impacted her and her kids because of the brutal, and harsh decisions Gandhi had to make. And how, in spite of all this, she was a constant companion in Gandhi’s mental, spiritual, and the journey towards the country’s upbringing of Independence.

There are many instances where Kasturba was an inspiration, and some other times, I was angry and upset because of the decisions she had to take. But even after all that, what I loved the most is how she followed Gandhi as a shadow, corrected him when he faltered, suffered him when he was short-tempered, taught him by her example, and resisted him when he was unreasonable. And how she becomes a stabilizing factor in Gandhi’s life.

Being an Autobiography mainly depicting the life story of Kasturba, at times, I did feel that the narration was distracting when it was only highlighting Gandhi in the majority of the book. Just by the title of the book, I had thought that I could get to read and learn more about Kasturba and her life. But I felt that the book turned out to be something, where Kasturba was just a supporting character. Because of the intensity the book had to offer, there are too many characters in the story. and it becomes extremely difficult to keep track of all these names. And thus, this book becomes not so beginner-friendly read.

Overall, I would like to appreciate the author for writing the story of Kasturba to this level of extensive depth, and the amount of research he had to go through to bring this book is commendable. Recommending this book to avid Autobiography readers to read and learn more about Kasturba, one of the greatest women freedom fighters our country had ever seen.

Total ratings: 3.7 out of 5