Kasturba Gandhi

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Kasturba Gandhi (1869-22 February, 1944) was the wife of Mohandas Gandhi whom she married when she was 13 years old.

Born to wealthy businessman Gokuladas Makharji of Porbandar, Kasturba married Mohandas Gandhi in 1882. At the time, she was illiterate, so Gandhi taught her to read -- 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 Gandhi was born in 1892, Ramdas Gandhi in 1897, and Devdas Gandhi in 1900.

In 1906, Mohandas Gandhi decided to practice brahmacharya, and the couple became celibate. Although she stood by her husband, she did not always easily accept his ideas. Gandhi had to work hard to persuade her to see his views. Kasturba was deeply religious. Like her husband, she renounced all caste distinctions and lived in ashrams.

Kasturba often joined her husband in political protests. She joined him in South Africa in 1897. From 1904 to 1914, she was active in the Phoenix Settlement. 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, reading and writing to women and children.

Kasturba suffered from chronic bronchitis. Stress from the Quit India Movement's national arrests and ashram life caused her to fall ill. After contracting pneumonia, she died from a severe heart attack in February 22, 1944.

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