Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday Challenge - My Grandmother

This week's prompt for the  Thursday Challenge is Mother -  Grandmother, Mom, Animal Mother, Mother with Children ....

I thought about this a lot as I am an extremely private person and loading up the internet with pictures about my family somehow makes me uncomfortable.

But I was privileged to have the most awesome grandmother and will therefore give you a peek into my family.

My grandmother was kind and very compassionate, soft spoken, cultured, humble, gentle but very strong. She lived her life according to the precepts of the Bhagvad Gita (holy book of the Hindus). My uncle picked a very appropriate verse from the Gita that sums up her character and approach to life: "He who hates no creature, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain and forgiving".

She dedicated her life to humanitarian work particularly in the upliftment of underprivileged women and children. She was a founder member and Chariman of the Bhagini Samaj an organisation supporting the underprivileged particularly in Gujarat, India.

She was very active in the "Quit India" movement alongside Mahatma Gandhi. She was imprisoned by the British during this movement and eventually classified as a freedom fighter.

She was a member of parliament in the first Lok Sabha (House of Commons) after Independence. During her tenure in parliament she introduced and supported the Anti Dowri Bill, The Adoption of Children Bill, Bills for women's right to divorce and the supression of immoral traffic in women.

She was also made an honorary Magistrate and Justice of Peace and was also one of the first women in India to graduate from University.

In 1980 she was awarded the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Janki Devi Award for her outstanding contribution to humanitarian services by the then Prime Minister of India, the late Smt Indira Gandhi. She was the first recipient of this award. She always maintained that no award was required as this was God's work that she did with pleasure. And she promptly donated her entire award money (a very substantial amount back then) to charity.

She worked tirelessly for the upliftment of women and children right to the end of her life and shortly before her death, she started a new project of adopting villages a UNICEF approved programme.

When she passed away at the age of 90 she had less than $10 in her bank account yet she was the richest person I have ever known ... rich in culture, love, kindness and generosity of spirit. She lived a very simple but comfortable life - the Universe simply provided for her.

This definition of success sums up her life: "To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is the meaning of success".

Whenever I think of her, these lines of a devotional song come to mind for this is how she lived her life: "Let my heart reflect Thy light Lord as the moon reflects the light of the sun in love, always in love".

I am so honoured and privileged to have had her as my grandmother. She left us (her family) such a rich heritage.

And in her memory I carry on her work by sponsoring children through World Vision and UNICEF. I have 5 beautiful sponsored children - 2 from Bangladesh, 1 from Tanzania, 1 from Cambodia and 1 from the Honduras. I am also a global parent through UNICEF.

Someday I hope to actively participate in humanitarian aid work - I believe I have a lot more to learn before that happens and in the meantime the Universe leads me slowly but surely along the path that will get me there.


                 receiving her award                    my grandmother and me - circa 1962



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26 comments:

  1. What an awesome heritage, S. You have every reason to be proud of your grandmom ♥

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    1. Thanks Corinne. She was an awesome lady.

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    1. Thanks Sandra. Glad you thought so.

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  3. What a remarkable woman. Put her story in a book and I'll be first in line.

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    1. Thanks K~. I'd love to put her story in a book but I don't think I could do it justice. :)

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  4. "at the age of 90 she had less than $10 in her bank account yet she was the richest person I have ever known ." PERFECT!

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    1. Thanks Nikky. Thanks for following me. Sending you love and hugs.

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  5. What a splendid and amazing woman your dear grandmother was! Thanks for brightening my day with her beautiful story.
    Blessings!

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    1. Thanks Martha. Glad you liked it. :)

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  6. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman Suzy. Thank you for sharing this story of your family. I love coming to your blog and don't get to do it often enough. I have given you an award and you may pick it up here http://theworldofjulieb.blogspot.com/
    I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

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    1. Thanks Julie and thanks so much for the award. Have an awesome weekend.

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  7. A beautiful and inspiring story about your grandmother, Suzy! She is one true hero and her character is definitely worth-emulating. God bless <3 :-)

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    1. Thanks Irene. She was truly a hero to many. When she passed away in Mumbai India, thousands attended her funeral to pay their last respects. Thank you for your kind words.

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  8. Wow! Suzy, your grandmother belongs to the group of great people who made history. What a heritage to talk of! Brilliant. Didn't know of this Indian connection.

    Thanks for letting us partake in your story.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Thanks Susan. She was truly a part of India's history - she even led one of the many Dandi marches (Mahatma Gandhi's salt satyagraha) that went from Mumbai.
      I live in NZ now and proud to be a kiwi but proud to be an Indian too. Mumbai is my hometown and I love it.

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  9. Wow! A beautiful tribute to an absolutely wonderful human being!!

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    1. Thanks Magiceye. She was a wonderful human being.

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  10. She certainly was a very special woman. You must be very proud of her !

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    1. Thanks Gattina. I am very proud of her - all of her family are proud of her. She was such a dear person.

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  11. a beautiful spirit indeed. loved the honor you pay her. I wonder if this beauty and williness to give is inborn or learned. And yes this would be the purpose that we want to find but don't seem to be able to find. why not? I ask.

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    1. Thanks GingerV. I'm sure it can be learned but I think to truly give the way she did, it needs to be a part of every fibre of your being, it needs to be imprinted in your soul. And she was an amazing soul - the light just shone out of her.

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  12. I can actually feel the pride in your voice while reading this post - Wonderful post about the strength of a wonderful woman :)

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    1. Thanks P. She was a wonderful lady.

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