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Pandita Ramabai Once More

Pandita Ramabai Once More

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Uma Chakravarti
Pandita Ramabai Once More

Eight years after Rewriting History first came out Ramabai's life and times still enthuse me: I continue to engage with her, think about her and write about her even though there have been occasional comments from 'native' cultural specialists from Maharashtra who have suggested that 'outsiders' cannot 'really understand', or write with 'authenticity' about the region in which she lived her life.

Let us begin with the popular Hindu middle class position that Ramabai's conversion to Christianity made her 'anti-national'. The same middle classes paid no attention to Ramabai's long struggle with the Anglican Church on matters of 'propriety' and of belief, a struggle in which Ramabai refused to compromise on her convictions.

"I felt from the beginning that this was a bone that stuck in her throat... England to an Indian has an unsavoury sound.... the bitterness that burns like a fire deep down in the souls of Indian people, which various circumstances tend to suppress, must out at certain times.... with this feeling burning in their souls the very title the Church of England would tend to alarm and repel". 

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