The Struggle for Education: Three Generations of Women in Travancore — From the Autobiography of Ratnamayi Devi

[In the opening chapter of her autobiography titled From the Dusk of Life (Konark Publishers, New Delhi, 2004), the scholar and nationalist Ratnamayi Devi (1912-1990) writes about the struggles of her mother for education and employment in the late 19th century Travancore, her own struggles, and for her daughter. These are excerpts from several chapters in it. The autobiography is a translation by I K K Menon, of a Malayalam original. Though the book mentions that her birth year was 1912, it is likely, from the events she narrates, that it was 1904. Continue reading “The Struggle for Education: Three Generations of Women in Travancore — From the Autobiography of Ratnamayi Devi”

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”