More Feminist than Nationalist? Ratnamayi Devi to Gandhi

[This is an excerpt from the autobiography of Ratnamayi Devi ( 1912- 1990),  who was a scholar and nationalist activist from Kerala, who spent the substantial years of her life in Wardha and Delhi, teaching Sanskrit at the Delhi University. She was a known translator of her times, between Hindi and Malayalam.  The story of  how she escaped an abusive marriage to secure higher education and an independent life and her choice of life-partner is a remarkable one. Her autobiography, published after her passing, titled From the Dusk of Life (Konark Publishers, New Delhi, 2004, translated by I K K Menon) also provides a fascinating account of the struggles of women for education in times when matrilineal families and kinship were deteriorating in Travancore (South Kerala). From the histories of Malayali first-generation feminists, Ratnamayi’s life was unique but surely not exceptional. Continue reading “More Feminist than Nationalist? Ratnamayi Devi to Gandhi”