Bishwa Nath Singh
It is high time for all of us to remember the great Indian independence activist and a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave who had worked for Bhoodan movement with great sincerity and had privileged to be the spouse of a leading industrialist jailed for participating in freedom movement. One was born in 1893 in Jaora i...n Madhya Pradesh in India and married to Jamnalal Bajaj who was a leading industrialist at a very young age. After independence she worked with Vinoba Bhave on Bhoodan movement. She was conferred with the second highest civilian award “Padma Vibhushan”in 1956 by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad and who had died in 1979.She was none else than Janaki Devi Bajaj Let us join to pay our respectful homage to her!
..( Photo of Dr. Rajendra Prasad presenting award of Padma Vibhushan to Janaki Devi Bajaj in 1956)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:
It's a Photograph in which the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad is seen honoring Janaki Devi Bajaj with the nation second civilian highest award 'Padma Vibhushan" in 1956. Janaki Devi Bajaj was an Indian independence activist ...and a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave who had worked for Bhoodan movement with great sincerity and had privileged to be the spouse of a leading industrialist .She was born on January 7,1893 in a respectable Vaishnav Marwari family of Jaora in Madhya Pradesh .Her birth place Jaora was ruled by Nawabs at that time. Her father Girdharilalji Jajodia was a staunch follower of Shri Ramanuj Sampradaya. The whole family followed the Hindu religion with complete faith and devotion. They were wealthy and equally generous. People from all classes, castes and religions benefited from them. She had an elder brother, Chiranji Lalji and a younger brother, Purushottam Das. Her mother, Maina Devi was widely known for her simplicity and tenderness. She helped not only the neighbours but also her servants in their work. Under this influence, Jankidevi adopted the Ekadashi Vrata and started reciting Om Namo Narayanay in solitude, from the tender age of six years. She regularly performed Puja and visited temples and also recited Vishnu Sahasra Nam. She was adored by all and received a lot of fond attention in the joint family. Jankidevi's childhood was spent in such noble influences of a loving family life. Janki was a product of the then contemporary social beliefs and tradition and she had no opportunity to receive formal schooling. However at the age of six years, she was fascinated by the idea of learning and wanted to learn reading and writing. Her desire had impressed her most loving fatrher Girdhari Lal who had arranged to educate her at home. She was impacted by her mother's caring ways and was extremely capable. She was an expert in knitting and embroidery and was very eager to learn and understand everything. Wardha in those days had the glitter of Seth Bachhraj's glory. All he lacked was a child. For generations the family lineage had been maintained by resorting to adoption. The adopted son Ramdhan Das too departed and Seth Bachhraj went to Kashi ka Vas in Rajasthan and adopted Jamnalal, the four-year-old son of Kaniram Bajaj who was in no way related to them. She was chosen when she was a four-year-old child, as a match for Shri Jamnalal Bajaj. At the age of eight and a half years, she got married to him and Janki became Jankidevi the house hold lady in the Bajaj Family. After their marriage, she came to Wardha in 1902. At that time, even Jamnalal Bajaj had no idea that the innocent girl he had brought home as his bride, would go on to become a shining inspiration to the Bajaj family, the society and the country. The foremost personality among those who deeply influenced her was her husband Jamnalal Bajaj who was not only a rich businessman, but also a religious devotee, an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, a social reformer, a staunch Nationalist and a worshipper of the Cow. The progressive husband initially taught his bride at home and increased her general knowledge by having a Parsee lady to read newspapers to her. In such a way, she began the marital life ; decked in ornaments of gold, silver, pearls and diamonds. In due course she gave birth to five children, two sons and three daughters; Kamla on August 27,1912, Kamalnayan on January 23,1915, Madalsa on July 27,1917 Uma (Om) on July 12,1919 and Ramkrishna on September 22,1923, in that order. The issueless lineage of Shri Bachhraj came alive with young chatter. She became grossly engaged in bringing up the children and looking after the household duties. Her husband's greatness gradually unfolded before her. Inspired by his noble thoughts, she who was brought up in a traditional family gave up the parda in the year 1919. Adopting simplicity, the greatest ornament in the world, in the year 1921 at the age of twenty eight years, she gave up all the ornaments. At the same time, she also gave up the use of foreign garments and embraced swadeshi Khadi. This action of her that appears easy today, was a revolutionary step in those tradition-bound times. She had to face society's displeasure and social boycott. She was impressed by her husband’s constructive work in the field of promoting Khadi, serving the villages, participating in the Freedom Struggle, Gau seva, women's upliftment, etc. and forsaking the comforts of affluence, she readily followed the footsteps of her husband. With Bapu shifting to Wardha on April 5, 1934, leaders and workers started coming to Wardha in increasing numbers. It was here that Gandhiji established Gramodyog Sangh. Bapu shifted his residence to Sevagram after Magan Wadi. Bajajwadi was established in 1934. Bajajwadi became a convenient venue for meetings of Congress Working Committee as also other constructive activities. It was the meeting place of the National and international visitors, journalists, leaders and workers. Bajajwadi also provided heaven to unknown personalities. Their needs and comforts were well looked after. Long discussions were held during the morning and evening meals when leaders, family members and others sat together. Even today people remember those days. After the demise of Jamnalalji on February 11, 1942 and Bapu's exit from Sevagram, the rush of people decreased a little, but the number of people staying went on increasing because of the continued stay of Kishorelal Bhai Mashruwalla. Jankidevi obtained a great peace of mind here, as this was where her work lay. She did not enjoy living in Mumbai in spite of family members pleading. It was fondly remembered by those livig in that Ashram those days that small and large meetings of All India Congress Committee were held at Wardha. It was Jamnalal who gave instructions for taking every care of every convenience for the top leaders of the country; but the credit he gets for this, should be largely shared by the support he received from Janki devi and her complete cooperation and eager participation in welcoming everybody and her will to share the responsibility. Whatever the gathering, Janki devi was always present and was paying attention to the comforts of the hundreds of members, which surprised everybody present. Today, Bajajwadi is still revered as a national treasure and cherished by Wardha as a historical monument Jankidevi Bajaj was truly devoted to work, a real Karma Yogini. In 1956 she was awarded the country’s second highest civilian award 'Padma Vibhushan', which was conferred on her by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Awards and ornaments paled before her personality. In effect, it was the expression of gratitude and respect, which the Government of India showered on behalf of the people of India. The nation was gratified to show reverence for her. Even during the last year of her life, she had actively participated in Vinobaji's agitation against cow slaughter. She fell when she was walking on the terrace in a pensive mood and sustained a fracture. Doctors rushed from Mumbai, but to no avail. On May 21.1979 Jankidevi was laid to eternal rest at the 'Geetai Mandir', Gopuri in Wardha.Her passing away was a great loss to our motherland. To commemorate her memories, many educational institutions and awards have been set up in her memory.She will be always cherished by all of us because of her selfless service and devotion for welfare of our motherland as whole. Let us join to pay our humble obeisance’s to her lotus feet and offer our respectful homage to her!
Vrunda Sakhi :
May her soul bless us all down here to be touched by her light of selfless service....hari om tatsat.