Meet Gayatri Devi: A lady that defined Beauty and Boldness
by Tanvi Vohra, Tuesday, July 10, 2018
The people around the World have never failed to astonish us and to leave their mark on the pages of the country’s history. So is the life of Rajmata Gayatri Devi. Born with a silver spoon in mouth, Maharani Gayatri Devi had an extraordinary life about which a writer would love to depict a biography on. The most modern and independent Maharani, she chose to use her wealth for the underprivileged people of the society. Women around the World have respected her and she is thus an integral part of Indian democracy.
Gayatri Devi was listed by Vogue as the most beautiful woman in the World. Responding to this honour, she once said, "I really don't think so. Style comes naturally to me. I guess you're just born with it. My mother has been my role model and icon. When I was young, I watched her dress. Ma was very fussy about her clothes. Did you know, she was the first person to start wearing saris made of chiffons? But her greatest passion was for shoes. She had hundreds of pairs and still went on ordering them from Ferragamo in Florence. She always knew the best place to buy anything and she shopped all over the world. I guess, I learned about style from her. She taught me all about style. Life was more glamorous in the olden days, a lot has changed now."
The question that normally arises in the mind of people that come across her name is about her larger-than-life personality. The inspirational figure was the daughter of Maharaja of Cooch-Behar. She lived her life in the palace under 500 servants that were available all the time for her service. It is believed that Gayatri lived life with boldness and in free spirit just like her grandmother, Chimnabai. Chimnabai refused to live with restrictions and looked forward to be shoulder to shoulder with men. Not just Gayatri's grandmother, but also her mother, Indira questioned the norms of the society and went against them to marry for love. Thus, it is pretty clear that Gayatri didn't need any inspiration for setting an example to a number of women out there.
Rather than going by what the society had saved in for her, she went on to marry a man who was twice her age. When Gayatri was just 12 years old, she was attracted to the Maharaja of Jaipur, who was then 21 years old. The Maharaja, Sir Sawai Man Singh already had 2 wives till then and still couldn't refrain himself from falling in love with such a beauty. Even though their romance faced numerous obstacles, they got married in May 1940.
Unlike the other two wives of the Maharaja, Gayatri Devi refused to confine herself with Purdah. Her live as a queen was not easy and even with all the restrictions and boundations that were imposed on her, she was still successful in bringing forward the women that lived in her palace. On the same context, she once said, "Looking back, I see that those times were much more ahead than an ordinary approved courtship would have been. There was the challenge of outwitting our elders, of arranging secret meetings... And every now and then, there was a marvellous, unheard of liberty of going for a drive in the country with Jai, of a stolen dinner at Bray, or of an outing on the river in a boat. It was a lovely and intoxicating time."
Gayatri Devi opened a school for girls. She didn't confine herself with the privileges that life had offered her as a queen. Rather, she moved forward and opened a school for girls with nearly 40 students and an English teacher. This school now is considered to be one of the finest schools in India. Along with this contribution, she also remained active in Politics. When Rajasthan became a state, she joined the Swatantra Party, as an opposition to Congress government and was successful in winning the majority of votes, thus making her place in The Guinness Book of Records.
Things went down the hill after the bill of Congress government was passed that took away all her privileges and her husband passed after a month. She was then known to be Rajmata, the Queen Mother. Due to the constant changes in the constitution, Rajmata was also arrested and even though she had to spend nearly 6 months in jail, she did not lose her valour and continued to fight against the evils of the society.
Gayatri Devi brought a change in the society through her own little efforts. She was an inspiration to the generations that followed as she was a symbol of beauty, grace and boldness. Stay tuned for more What the Fact updates.