Friday, July 01, 2011

PANDITA RAMABAI---A true-life heroine

It's about time I shared why the Mukti Mission in India inspires me and features so much in my first two books Shadowed in Silk and Captured by Moonlight. It is the real-life woman, Pandita Ramabai, that is the inspiration behind one of my secondary---but oh so integral---characters, Miriam, in Shadowed in Silk. My fictional Miriam is a tiny 50-year-old Indian woman, a former Hindu widow who turned to Christ.

In Shadowed in Silk Miriam goes about rescuing abused and abandoned women and children as well as running a small clinic and orphanage. It is there that Miriam teaches my heroine Abby that God does not wish His daughters to submit to cruelty within their marriages.

The real heroine, Pandita Ramabai, an Indian woman who died in 1922, did so much for women and children in India that England awarded her the Kaisar-I-Hind Gold Medal. India has since issued a commemorative stamp in Ramabai’s honor, and she was given the honorary acclaim of ‘Pandita’ in Hindu tradition, meaning ‘learned master’. This Indian woman is the equivalent to Mother Theresa.

Born into a high caste Hindu family, Ramabai’s father broke with tradition and taught her to read. She memorized enormous amounts of the Hindu scriptures. But this was only the beginning of my heroine’s search for enlightenment.

As a family they walked the length of India. During this time Ramabai’s eyes were opened to the incredible suffering of Indian women and children, especially the way Hindu widows are cast out to live in abject poverty, or children were sold as sex slaves to Hindu temples.

After her parents and siblings died, Ramabai also broke with tradition and married a lawyer of a lower Hindu caste, but he died of a cholera leaving her alone with a tiny daughter.

One day, looking through her husband's papers she found a Bible, and found fulfillment to her spiritual search in the person of Jesus Christ. But Ramabai didn’t just add Jesus to a list of Hindu gods to worship. She came to the realization that Jesus is the only way to God the Father. As a child her heart had ached for her Indian sisters, but her new found faith in Christ gave her the strength to do something about it.

To name just a few of Ramabai's accomplishments---she translated the Bible into her local language, started the first Braille School, promoted the need for female medical doctors, and was the founder of the Ramabai Mukti Mission, a home for sexually abused Hindu widows and children. The Mukti Mission is still in existence today, and continues to rescue women and children. Even today, a baby girl can be put to death, simply because her parents did not want a daughter.

Ramabai was a great social reformer in India long before Gandhi, and such an inspiration behind Shadowed in Silk. I look forward to Heaven one day when I'll be able to meet this true-life heroine---this strong and beautiful Indian woman.

I am so inspired by this woman that I had to feature the real person in the background of my second book Captured by Moonlight

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