Dr Mayadevi Gurtu – a woman of mettle

This post was made possible because of inputs from Brig RV (Raghunath) Jatar, Bal Inamdar, Sheela Jatar, Vidya Chand, Veena, Lalita and Vidula. 

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A representative image

Rangutai, from the Deo family from Thane, came from a well-respected family. She became a part of the Jatar family in 1918 by marrying Tatyasaheb, the eldest son of Bapurao (born 1894). Thus Rangutai became Janaki Jatar.

Unfortunately, her husband Tatyasaheb had TB as a young man. Although he had recovered a little, his TB came back and a few years after his marriage he passed away at the age of 27, in 1921. Tragically, Janaki was left a young widow with no children.

How old could she have been when she became a widow? We have to assume that Rangutai was several years younger to her husband because that was the custom at the time. If Tatyasaheb was 27 years old at the time of his death in 1921, it is likely that Janaki was barely 21 at the time, if not younger, having married him when she was a teenager, as was the practice during that time. Thus we must assume that she was born sometime in 1900 or possibly even later.

Janaki was lucky to have been married into a progressive family like the Jatars. Bapurao, the eldest son of Shriram Jatar, was her father-in-law, and encouraged her to complete her LCPS (Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery). This medical degree, given after a 5-year course (as in MD) was a qualification conferred by some universities during British rule in India. Bapurao must surely have seen some spark in her, believing that this lady was as capable as anybody else. Encouraging her education was the first step towards her independence.

Janki vahini, as she was known in the Jatar family, was a short lady, slight, with quick Continue reading “Dr Mayadevi Gurtu – a woman of mettle”