×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Khadi a must in this high-flying institute for girls

Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:27 IST
Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:27 IST

Follow Us :

Comments
ADVERTISEMENT

Some of the lucky ones, who are holding key positions, were present when the institute celebrated its platinum jubilee recently. Those on hand were Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, first woman Speaker of Rajasthan State Assembly Sumitra Singh and Gujarat Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal.

Perhaps the only fully residential women's university in the country that offers an integrated system of education from nursery to post doctoral, Banasthali (land full of forests) Vidyapith is a fond tribute to a daughter's memory. Pandit Hira Lal Shastri and his wife Ratan Shastri founded Banasthali to fill up the vacuum caused by the untimely passing away of their promising daughter Shanta Bai.  She was a multi-faceted genius, like her father who was a writer, Sanskrit scholar, a passionate social worker and freedom fighter.

Ek mako phool pyaro, adh khilyo kumhala gayo
Shokbeetyo, harsh chhayo,  phool bag laga gayo.

(A mother lost her most beloved flower that withered half bloomed but joy replaced grief when the flower paved way for a garden.)

These beautiful lines inscribed outside Shanta Bai Kuteer at the Banasthali Vidyapith speak of the lovely flower withering way before it bloomed. Penned by late Pt Shastri, the first chief minister of Rajasthan, in his daughter's memory, the couplet truly sums up in a symbolic way the inspiration behind Banasthali Vidyapith, a pioneering centre of women's education in the country.

Shanta Bai, who could read Vedas at the age of six, was good in music and fine arts and even in martial arts. She was disturbed to see that there were no schools where girls could study and at the age of 11, she expressed her wish to start a school. Perhaps to divert her attention her father asked her to collect mud bricks for the construction and she literally did that. But destiny willed it otherwise and Shanta Bai died due to high fever at the tender age of 12, leaving her parents absolutely shattered, says Aditya Shastri, the grand son of Pt Shastri and now the Vice Chancellor of Banasthali.

Pt Shastri was so grief-stricken after Shanta's death that he remained bed-ridden for almost three months till Ratan Shastri motivated him to train other girls like they would have trained Shanta. The very thought inspired him and he immediately wrote to his friends sharing his wish.  He wanted his friends to send their daughters to study.

Perhaps taking pity and considering his mental state, six parents decided to send their children. He had no preconceived framework for the institution but he knew what was close to his daughter's heart. The "Panchmukhi" education concept- physical, practical, aesthetic, moral and intellectual-actually emerged out of her personality, recalls Aditya Shastri.

He had played a great role in unification of princely states in Rajasthan and was the unanimous choice of Pt Nehru and Sardar Patel for the chief minister's post. But he was a reluctant politician who decided to get back to Banasthali after three years in the corridors of power. His mission was social work and he did not want to neglect the "garden" he nurtured in cherished memory of his daughter.

 Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Hira Lal Shastri had resigned from the home and foreign secretary post in the erstwhile Jaipur state in 1927 to work as a rural reconstruction worker in Banasthali. And he was so moved by the serene rural ambience that he decided to set up his education institution there like a Gandhi gram. Shri Shanta Bai Kutir was started in October 1935 in a mud hut which was named as Banasthali Vidyapith in 1943. In those days, when even sending girls to school was considered a sin, he started horse riding and flying course to inculcate self-confidence among girls.

 The Vidyapith at present has nine faculties, 26 departments offering every possible professional courses to 8,000 students with a combination of all traditional ones, Aditya Shastri told Deccan Herald. The university is equipped with three Cessna aircraft and has a 3600-foot long runway to facilitate newly introduced B.Sc (Aviation) course, he added.
But Khadi wearing is still the hallmark of Banasthali, to say it believes in simple living and "flying high".

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 06 March 2010, 17:06 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT