Meera Ben – Gandhi’s English Daughter

She belonged to a weaker sex. She found a home in a foreign land. She fought for a cause that was a dream for million’s. She became a part of a struggle that could not have been her own. She was one of the two English daughters of Gandhi – Meera Ben. Come, lets explore her life story which journeys in midst of thorn and suffering but with a satisfied soul.

Meera Ben
The real name of Meera Ben is Madeline Slade. She was a solitary child who disliked school but loved flowers, birds, trees and animals. This made her parents to get her education at home by a governess. She learnt to read and write, but she just hated numbers. In the later part of her life this flaw made her study Botany and Anatomy than mathematics. As a child, she had an aptitude to learn different languages in short span. She learnt French, German and later Egyptian.

Meera Ben was an attractive lady, with six feet height, charismatic features, a sharp hooked nose and beautiful eyes. History states that she was much sought after by young men but the lady was not interested in love affair. She rather was frantically searching for peace and an significant aim in life.

One of the biographies state that Meera Ben did not like the western culture and instead enjoyed being with nature. She loved music that could soothe her soul. Beethoven a deaf musician roused in her a spiritual hunger, that made her go to a pilgrimage to Bonn and Vienna (the places of Beethoven’s birth and death). She was so imbibed in Beethoven that she made all possible attempts to know all about him. She was more inspired by him after reading ‘Jean Christophe’, a novel based on the life of Beethoven, written by Romain Rolland. Now, she made up her mind to meet this French philosopher. In order to talk to him in French, she first went to live in France in order to master the writers language.

It was here Meera Behn was introduced to Mahatma Gandhi. She read Romain Rolland’s book ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ at one sitting and it changed her life. In one of the interview she states, “Now I knew what that something was, the approach of which I had been feeling….It was to go to Mahatma Gandhi who served the cause of oppressed India through fearless truth and non-violence, a cause, which though focused in India, was for the whole of humanity.” She was such an ethical lady that in order to prepare herself to meet here Guru- Gandhi, she gave up alcoholic drinks, became a vegetarian and studied the Bhagvad Gita.

After Meera felt she was all prepared to join Gandhi’s mission, she wrote a letter to Gandhiji congratulating him at the end of his 21 day fast in 1924 and sent him some money for his cause. In the letter she insisted that she wanted to join him. Gandhi welcomed her with open arms and thus started her bit of struggle to India’s freedom. She came to Bombay on 6 November 1925 and the very next day she was at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmadabad to be apart of a cause that millions dreamt.

In the beginning life in the Ashram was not any fairytale that Meera read in several books. But she never opted defeat she made all possible adjustments, learnt Hindi, adopted Indian dress and mastered spinning and carding. Gandhiji later sent her to the Kanya Gurukul, Dehradun. In the Gurukul she taught English, spinning and carding. Gandhiji never wanted her to join the political struggle, so she toured Bihar, Bengal and Madras to propagate Khadi and to teach improved methods of carding and spinning. She even taught the villagers sanitation and nursed the sick. However, her ill health usually made her travel back to the feet of Gandhi, but as soon as she recovered she went to her doom of people who needed her the most.
Meera Ben accompanied Gandhiji to the most important events like the Second Round Table Conference in 1932 (acted as his interpreter) and Satyagraha movement. She was later imprisoned along with Kasturba for her contribution in freedom struggle. A research states that during the Second World War, Bapu sent Meera to Assam, Orissa and Bengal and it was on the basis of her reports that he worked out a scheme of non-violent civil defense. She was also sent to the A. I. C. C. at Allahabad with a draft on Quit India Movement which was later accepted at the Bombay A. I. C. C. meeting in August 1942 as the Quit India Resolution. That’s not all, Meera was also arrested along with Bapu and was in the Aga Khan Palace Detention Camp from August 1942 to May 1944. After her release from the jail she started a center for the services of the villagers and old domestic animals near Rishikesh.

Meera never married. She vowed to be a Brahmacharini, so she shaved off her head and in later years adopted saffron robes. In one of the interviews, she said she felt like a foreigner in England but in India she found her home. This proved the immense love and faith she had towards India and her guru Gandhi. It was this love and faith that made Gandhi call her Meera. After Gandhi’s assassination, Meera felt lost in the mystic world. So, on 18th January 1959 she left India for good and settled in a small village about 30 miles out of Vienna. In her native land many workers and farmers called her “The Indian Lady”.

Meera Ben made her impact in Indian history and the struggle for freedom. She chose a path walked by few extraordinaries to find a land free form domination.

(Source: OneIndia)

19 Responses to “Meera Ben – Gandhi’s English Daughter”

  1. pragnaju Says:

    Nostalgic memories of those days!

  2. CHANDRAVADAN MISTRY Says:

    By this reading I know MEERABEN more….Jagruti it was nice of you to post it.

  3. કુણાલ Says:

    never knew so much abt her …

  4. Ajay Joglekar Says:

    Today (13.07.2010) i was listening Akashwani’s vivid bharati-indore, where a sponsered programme about the freedom of India was on release. There comes the name of Meeraben, the english daugher of Bapu. I was so impressed that it compelled me to make a search on internet to know more about Meeraben. Many thanks to your site that it satisfied my hunger. Thanks once again.

  5. priyanka Says:

    she is superb……………..well i hope she was born in india to serve long

  6. Rajiv Says:

    Thank you for the information. would like to know more…

  7. Pallavi rai Says:

    in Review officer of high court exam-2010 one objective question the actual name of mera behn.so this force me to search about such a great lady which place a unique position in mahatma ghaddi period.

  8. suffin Says:

    Quite informative.

  9. gaurav Says:

    cn ne1 leave the matter in points for convenience otherwys itz fyn….

  10. aporna Says:

    awesome lady……mmuuah meera ben

  11. N PATEL Says:

    Arabic is spoken in Eypt, but where is Egyptian spoken?

    • N PATEL Says:

      EYPT should read EGYPT.

    • elizabeth knapp Says:

      Egyptian is a “dead” language, related to the Semitic languages. Today, the people of Egypt speak Arabic. But Egyptian was spoken for over 3000 years. And, over the years, it had several written forms:

      Hieroglyphics: The form found on monuments, and some papyri. It is made up of little pictures (signs) which make up words. Hieroglyphics changed over time. The pre-dynastic version began with one symbol for each word. Old Egyptian combined symbols to form words, it had a thousand or so symbols, and spelling was not standardized. Middle Egyptian had 700 or so symbols, and the spelling was standardized (this was the Golden Age of Egypt, with most of the famous kings living in this era). Late Egyptian represented a drastic change in the language, it had thousands of symbols.

      Hieratic: This is script hieroglyphics. It’s form varied over the centuries.

      Demotic: This was a later script version of Egyptian which was not based on hieroglyphics, but was phonetic.

      Coptic: This was a late version of Egyptian which used the Greek alphabet, plus a few added characters.

      Greek: Greek was used extensively from Alexander’s time, on (including the Roman times). The Egyptian names (even from early times) that we use are mostly Greek versions (Cheops for Khufu, and Memphis for Men-nefer).

      Arabic: The spread of Islam introduced Arabic into Egypt. Egyptian Arabic is somewhat different from other versions of Arabic. Some of the Egyptian places are known by their Arabic names (Cairo, Karnak)

  12. Clarence Mc Christian Says:

    i could not get passed he 1st phargarph
    this woman has been melined by your page.
    She may not have discovereed the atomitc bomb
    but she coudl see that there was more to life than advantage.
    shame on you you and your web sight … this needs a rewirite
    in the worst way.

  13. Bhasha Says:

    Very beautifutl life story that i read in my life thank you meera ben

  14. asokaccet Says:

    Very informative. A more complete biography could have been given. Her parents are not mentioned. Wish her live healthily for many more years.

  15. Lyn Says:

    Beautiful.

  16. Neo Says:

    Mirabehn was an English lady bt she inspired to Bapu and adopted citizenship of India. There is difficult to get such as these person. I loved thinking of her imotiom, vow and nature vartue.Everybody will be like her good ideals.

  17. extreme weight loss methods Says:

    It’s amazing to pay a visit this website and reading the views of all mates regarding this article, while I am also eager of getting know-how.

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