Mithuben Petit Indian Women Activist Biography
Mithuben’s life and mission began in the golden era of Gandhiji’s national movement in 1930 and ended in 1973. Mithuben Petit dedicated her life for the upliftment of the tribal poor, the underprivileged and the downtrodden of Gujarat.
Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha was a turning point in her life. With her devotion and selfless service Mithuben Petit became a Source of Joy, Hope, Progress and Enlightenment for the Poor People of India. Mithuben was among those who desisted power when the country won independence. Mithuben Petit kept away from politics and followed Gandhiji’s Principle of Selfless Service.
Mithuben was born in the family of the well – known Parsi Baronet and industrialist, Sir Din – shaw Maneckji Petit on 11 April, 1892. Her maternal aunt was a great admirer of Gandhiji, and was the Secretary of the Rashtriya Stree Sabha, established in Bombay.
After Gandhiji’s return from South Africa, Mithuben often accompanied her aunt on her visits to Gandhiji. Mithuben Petit was greatly influenced by his views and principles and decided to join him and help him in his activities.
Mithuben Petit lived away from her family leading an austere life and Mithuben Petit strictly followed the Isha Upanishad, Tyen Tekten Bhunjitha. Mithuben Petit made it her mission to go to the villages and educate the rural people.
Her Ashram in Maroli was established under the name of Kasturba Vanat Shala. Here children from families of fisher folk, Harijans, Adivasis were admitted and they were taught spinning, carding, weaving, dairy farming, and leatherwork.
In Maroli Mithuben Petit started a Diploma Course in Sewing. Mithuben Petit also Started Mental Hospitals for Psychiatric Treatment. Thirty Five Thousand patients are treated at the dispensaries set up in Marol, Kevadi and Chasvad. It was at Gandhiji’s suggestion that Mithuben Petit set up the mental hospital during the Quit India Movement when prisoners in British jails suffered grave physical torture which left them mentally disturbed.
Mithuben Petit was like a mother to the patients and also to those who worked with her. They addressed her as ‘Maiji’. On one corner of the verandah was her office. Her modesty and her sweet loving words won everybody’s heart. Mithuben Petit always had a never – ending stream of visitors all through the day and all of them left with a glow of happiness on their faces.
People in the villages around respected her and almost worshipped her. Mithuben Petit sincerely shared their joys and sorrows. Anyone could walk in with a complaint and Mithuben Petit would be ready with the remedy. Mithuben Petit would send a person to hospital only if her own remedies failed. Mithuben Petit had knowledge of medicines, especially of home remedies.
Mithuben Petit was an animal lover too. Mithuben Petit was seen surrounded by her dogs, cats, and poultry. Mithuben Petit loved and nursed them when they were ill. When they died Mithuben Petit even buried them with last rites. Mithuben Petit named each of her pets and it seemed that Mithuben Petit understood their language.
Mithuben Petit was very generous in treating her guests and Mithuben Petit served free meal to anyone who came to her. At first Mithuben Petit was cut off from her family fortune but later one of her uncles touched by her spirit of renunciation and zeal for social service gave her a generous amount with which Mithuben Petit met her personal expenses.
Her discipline and courage in picketing the liquor shops helped the villagers to rid themselves from the curse of drunkenness.
In her forty – three years of noble service, Mithuben never deviated from her principles. Mithuben Petit believed that the Secret of Success in any endeavor was devotion to duty. One should be true to oneself and be dedicated in ones work Mithuben Petit dedicated her entire life for the poor and downtrodden.
Mithuben Petit is an incarnation of all virtues. All Indians should salute Mithuben Petit for her life of penance and self – sacrifice.