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VANDANIYA LAKSHMIBAI KELKAR
Majsiji: Founder of Rashita Sevika Samiti
Navaratri this year starts on September 28. Navaratri honors the Shakti Mother Energy, which prevades the Universe. This year I would like to honor Vandaniya Larshmibai Kelkar, founder of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, a women's organization, which promoted social action along with qualities and virtues of Hindu women, besides promoting education. She promoted the idea of service to the community along with loving service to the family.
Vandaniya or Kernel (Kamal), as she was known as a child, was born on July 5, 1905 to Bhaskarrao Date and Yasodabai, her mother. Service was promoted in her family by her aunt, who worked to help people who were affected by the plague. Her mother read newspapers to local women informing them about the actions of the British, who oppressed the Indians. The British rulers viewed this as treason. She was a private citizen doing this, not someone working for the government, so she had the right by law to do this. Kernel attended a convent school. Afterwards she read extensively even though she did not receive any additional formal education in schools. She married someone who did not demand dowry. Purushottamrao Kelkar, a widower, became her husband. Her had two daughters by his first marriage. When she married she took on the name "Lakshmi," the goddess of prosperity. Her name is an expression of the Divine Mother, who gives abundance to us all. She took care of the household and eventually she became a mother of six sons, besides the two daughters.
She was a very dedicated woman to the Indian Freedom Movement besides being a homemaker. Her sisters-in-law supported her activities. She attended meetings and experienced the effects of the Law of Defiance Movement. She promoted the idea of combining political action with "national interests, ancient glories, the Vedic Philosophy/Culture and the traditions of Bharat (India)." She attended discourses given by Gandhi besides studying the Ramayama, Purana and Mahabharata. She also read the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, who promoted the idea of men and women as being "equally important constituents of the nation just like two wings of a bird." She advocated female social action in solving societal problems.
In 1923 she became a widow, had to take care of eight children and various properties. Yet she was very dedicated to her social causes. She talked to Dr. Hedgewar and on October 25, 1936 she formed a women's organization called Rashtra Sevika Samiti. Over time she acquired the name of "Mausiji," which was prefixed by her birth name of Vandaniya. She was a shy woman at first and had a friend deliver speeches. Later she did the speaking herself, and it became a national organization. Mumbai was where special meetings and gatherings were held. She gave discourses on the Ramayama, Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana in the context of empowering women to promote the Vedic Philosophy and the national hertiage. On November 27, 1978 she died at the age of 73. They called her one of the recent architects of "Modern Vedic Women." Vandaniya Saraswatibai (Taji Apte) became her successor. She led the organization until her death on March 9, 1994. By then the organization had grown beyond India's borders. Her successor was Vandaniya Ushtati Chati.
All these women protected the promoted the Vedic Philosophy and traditions, service and social action to improve society. Many modern women's Vedic organizations take this organization as a model to emmulate in promoting the ancient Vedic traditions. Modern women have mulitiple roles of homemaking, careers, parenthood and service to the community and the world. She is a great foremother who was a pioneer in promoting the Vedic values and virtues, service and social action in the world. India's ancient matriarchy promoted the ideas of cooperation, equality and service to family and community. We are sages, philosophers, homemakers, rulers of nations, politicians, teachers, social workers, nurses, lawyers, business women, scientists, doctors and professionals. We have raised families, nations and social ideals. We are the Mother Shakti Feminine Energy.
We have brought every great social change to society and to the planet with our love, sacrifice, efforts and talents. The Mother takes many forms and so do we. Let us remember our foremothers of many nations who gave us the right to vote, ended slavery, freed India & other nations, promoted civil and human rights, promoted the ecological movement, promoted health, safety and child labor laws. Let's remember they had ethical values they were willing to live and die for. They are great role models for us all. Thank all these great women who did so much for us. Thank the women do this in this century. We are the Mother Shakti Energy. Women of the world unite!
JAI SHRI VANDANIYA! JAI SHRI MAUSIJI!