Thursday, June 28, 2007

Annie Besant

Annie Besant was born to William Wood and Emily Morris in 1847. When she was five years old, her father, who was a doctor, passed away leaving her alone with her mother. Her mother, Emily, had to take care of Annie so she took up a job with a boarding school and left Annie with one of her friends.

In 1866, she tied the nuptial knot with Rev. Frank Besant and by the age of twenty-three she already had two children.
After some years of marriage she discovered that her independent views clashed with the religious views of her husband. When she refused to attend a communion, her husband asked her to leave home. They agreed to a divorce and parted ways.

She took her University degree in Sanskrit literature, English literature and Indian history from the Benaras Hindu University. She became a supporter of Theosophy in 1890 and believed in the Hindu law of Karma and reincarnation. Subsequently she came to live in India in 1893 and remained interested in the subject of women's rights. She was motivated by the freedom struggle of India and started the Home Rule League in India making it a household name. Her political career saw her being elected as the president of the Congress in 1917. She argued with the Indian leaders, especially Gandhiji, on some points such as if the people disregard the law ( in terms of the non co-operation movement) they will be hard to control when the country gets independence. This brought about some decline in her popularity. She was instrumental in drafting the Commonwealth of India Bill with help from Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru.

She opened a mock parliament that was used to train people in parliamentary affairs. It included mental preparation of what was to be said, behavior, etc. as a part of grooming people in order to make a healthy debate.
She strongly believed that education was necessary for children to build a strong character. She quoted that, ‘ a nations prosperity depends on the character of its people’.
Annie Besant died in India in 1933. After her death she was cremated in what was known as the garden of remembrance in Chennai.

1 comment:

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