Vandaneeya LakshmibaiKelkar (Mausiji)
|Vandaniya Taiji (SaraswatiBai Apte) Dwiteeya Pramukh Sanchalika|
(Matrutva, Netrutva,Kartutva Personified)
Rashtra Sevika Samiti is celebrating the 100th Birthcentinay of Taiji:
Van. Saraswatibai Apte (Van. Taiji) was the 2nd Pramukha Sanchalika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti.
The life story of Van.Taiji is immensely inspirational all karyakartas. This is her birth centenary year.Hence it is quite appropriate to have a look at some of the incidents of her life on this occasion and get inspired.
Van. Taiji means simplicity. She was very affectionate and kind. But at the same time she was very particular and punctual. She was a “Sevika” at every moment and in every deed.“Anjarle” is a very small village in Ratnagiri dist. of Maharashtra (Bharat). This is the place where a girl child was born to Savitribai and Gangadhar Vindvans on 17th March 1910. She was named as Tapi which is a name of a river. The girl was very mild, calm with soft voice and clear mind. Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the maternal uncle of her mother. Thus the Sanskar of Swadharm & Swabhiman came to her through blood. Gangadharpant recided in Kelashi, another village in Ratnagiri district. One fine morning he decided to shift to Pune for better. Tapi was 6 years old at that time. Thus her formal education began in Pune. In those days girls going to school were not that common. And studying till 7th standard was considered to be ‘highly educated’. When Tapi finished her seventh grade , her father was worried to get a suitable match for her. But Destiny had different plans for Tapi. Tapi was married to Vinayakarao Apte. He was a person with unique qualities. He lived not for himself but for others. He lived in a small house numbered ‘751’ in a building in Sadashivapeth, Pune. When Tapi (now she was renamed as Saraswati) entered his house she became the daughter- in- law of the whole building. She was Chachi for one and Bhabhi for another. Some called her Mami and others Tai (Didi). Every relation had different name but the same spring of motherly affection from Saraswati’s heart engulfed everyone in that building. She became the nearest and dearest for everybody not only at home but also for the neighborhood. Saraswati did her duties very neatly and methodically. She loved to do household work. Her day started early in the morning at 4.00 am and ended late night at about 10.00 pm but she never looked tired. Her smiling face never showed any fatigue. Affection and kindness radiated from her face.From 1925 to 1936 Saraswati was an ideal wife to Vinayakrao and an ideal mother to her three kids. But 1936 was the year which brought total change in their life.
THE TURNING POINT
Vinayakaraoji completed his degree in law and started his practice as a lawyer in Pune court. He was earning enough to lead a content life. Saraswati was a happy mother of three kids. Both of them were popular in the neighborhood for their helpful nature.
One day while returning from court, Vinayakaraoji went to Tilaka Smarak Bhavan for some work. There he saw some young boys playing the youthful game of Kabbadi. As he was observing, the boys assembled in front of the Bhagavadhwaj and offered the prayer. He was very much impressed by the discipline and the way in which they sung the prayer. He enquired about the activity and came to know that it was the “Shakha” of the Rashtreeya Swayamsevak Sangh. The tune and the wordings of the Prarthana were echoing in his heart and mind even after returning to home. He had a feeling that he had to be a part of the organization. He felt that he had got his life mission. He started taking interest in the activities of Sangh. Pa.Pu. Doctorji recognized the urge in his heart and gave the responsibility of Nagar Sanghchalak to Vinayakaraoji. This was the turning point in the life of Vinayakaraoji and Saraswati. Vinayakaraoji started to devote more and more time to Sangh work. The house of Vinayakaraoji now became the home for many Pracharaks. Saraswatibai was very cooperative. She also took interest in her husband’s life mission. She tried to understand the ideology of Sangh. She felt that Sanghwork was very necessary for youths. She had to work hard for the whole day to attend the visitors. Her day started early in the morning and continued till late night. Sometimes she had to cook again for unexpected guests in late night after finishing all the daily duties. But she never complained .On the other hand she was proud of Vinayakaraoji and his devotion towards Sangh. All Swayamsevaks called Vinayakaraoji ‘Dada’ (which means elder brother) and Saraswati became ‘Tai’ (which meant Didi in Marathi) to all. Now her perimeters of Matrutva i.e. her motherhood widened and she looked after every karyakarta with the affection like her own sons. While accomplishing her duties as a “Gruhini”, and giving real meaning to the word better half, Taiji was pondering over one thought. The Sangh sanskar was giving a new dimension to the personalities of youths. But was it not necessary that such Sanskars should be imparted to women also? If women became aware of their social duties then the next generation would become proud of our Dharma and Rashtra naturally. Day by day this thought occupied her mind. One day she asked Vinayakaraoji, “Don’t you think that women should be allowed to attend the Shakha? Is it not necessary that they also should get Sangh Sanskar? Should not they contribute in Nation building?” Vinayakaraoji thought for a while. Then he said, “Whatever you are thinking is proper but today the social system is not suitable for that. But if you feel that it is necessary then you can start the similar work for women. I will help you. But can you manage the household work and this social responsibility simultaneously? Moreover you know I have already devoted everything to Sanghwork.” Saraswatibai had already thought of that. She decided to gather some women at their home. She called some ladies who were related to Sangh Swayamsevaks. She talked to them and conveyed her thoughts to them. Her style of conversation was so simple but convincing that everybody was impressed and they decided to meet once in a week in Saraswatibai’s house. They discussed about the political and national affairs, about the contribution women could offer in Nation building. They talked about the freedom struggle and their duties as a mother. Taiji was now balancing one more undeclared responsibility- Netrutva. Her affectionate behavior and helping nature created a new bond between the members of the group.
One afternoon Taiji was about to go out when she heard the melodious voice of a lady. She was asking for the address of Saraswatibai. Somehow Taiji felt that she was Laxmibai Kelkar. Quickly she hurried towards the staircase and welcomed Laxmibai. It was a very touching moment. The two women met as if they knew each other from ages. Taiji held Laxmibai’s hands and took her inside respectfully. Laxmibai tried to introduce herself, “I am Laxmibai Kelkar from Vardha. I have a letter for you from Pa.Pu.Doctorji—-.” Taiji replied, “I know. Actually I was also planning to meet you. I know you have started an organization f or women. I am also trying to do something similar. I want to join the organization with all my friends.” Thus both of them talked from heart. There were no conditions or hesitation from Taiji; she simply joined hands with Van.Mousiji, as a true Karyakarta. Thus Laxmi and Saraswati came together and Durga (Shakti) was incarnated in the form of a strong organization. Ma.Vinayakaraoji left his practice as a lawyer and indulged in Sanghwork. Taiji’s responsibility in Rashtra Sevika Samiti also increased. But somehow they were balancing all the things very smoothly and efficiently. Sangh and Samiti work was expanding to neighboring districts. Taiji was now Vibhag Karyavahika. Everywhere youths and adults were participating in Sangh and Samiti activities with overwhelming enthusiasm. Bharat got the independence from British rulers on 15th of August 1947. But people were not happy as the nation was partitioned. Mahatma Gandhi insisted that Government of Bharat should give Rs.55 crores to Pakistan. This was not appreciated by many people. The situation became critical. And on 30th of Jan. 1948 that hazardous news came like a thunder.
|Tritiya Pramukh Sanchalika
Van.Usha Taiji Chati
|Present Pramukh Sanchalika
Van. Pramila Taiji Medhe