Kadambini Ganguly was not just a woman but a force to reckon with. She defied odds, stood her ground, and was much ahead of her times. She was the first light of woman’s liberation in India.
Kadambini was born into a Kayastha family as Kadambini Bose and was raised in Chandsi, in Bengal’s Barisal district (now in Bangladesh). Her father, Braja Kishore Basu headmaster, he was dedicated to female emancipation and co-founded Bhagalpur Mahila Samiti in 1863, the first of its kind women’s organization in India. He was a very big supporter of Brahmo Samaj. She was greatly influenced by the ideas of the Samaj.
She was the first candidate from the Bethune School to appear for the University of Calcutta entrance exam and created history by becoming the first woman to pass the test as early as 1878. Her success encouraged Bethune College to introduce FA (First Arts) and Graduation courses in 1883. Kadambini was one of the first two graduates, along with Chandramukhi Basu, of the entire British Raj.
She broke many barriers when she married her teacher, Dwarakanath Ganguly a prominent Brahmo Samaj leader from the Banga Mahila Vidyalaya. He was twenty years older than her and at that time none of the people accepted their marriage invitation. But their relationship was deeper and was based on mutual respect, care, intelligence, maturity, and above all love to stand any taste of time.
Society criticized her not only for the marriage but also for trying to pursue higher education, but it was her husband who inspired her and supported her throughout. She had eight children and only because her husband was her better half ( in true spirit) she could take up the study of medicine which was again a concern for many.
Calcutta Medical College refused to admit Kadambini as a candidate despite her merit because there was no history of Indian women studying there. She and her husband legally threatened the college administration and only then the gates were thrown open for her admission.
1886 marked her record as one of the first Indian women physicians eligible to practice western medicine alongside Anandi Gopal Joshi. She received her GBMC (Graduate of Bengal Medical College) degree, allowing her to practice.
She traveled to England and received a triple diploma in a short time. She was again the first Indian woman to receive multiple degrees in a foreign land.
After her return to serve India, she did not choose a laidback life, rather she used to rush to villages to provide medical help to the needy. She also joined politics. She joined the Indian National Congress in 1899 as one of the first female delegates. In 1906 she organized the Women’s Conference in Calcutta. After the partition of Bengal, she continued the movement for the participation of Calcutta Medical Women as students.
Till the last day, she was devoted to her work. She died n 7th October 1923, shortly after performing a surgery; unfortunately before receiving any medical aid for her own sake.
My one-line takeaway: when you decide to walk on a path that is less traveled, the path is often dark and sometimes you have to burn yourself with conviction so that others see the path.
PS: I have planned to take up non-fiction this year as my theme for the A2Z challenge, where every day in the month of April ( except Sundays) I will be writing about women in the stream of science and their contributions. Disclaimer -The information collected is from different sources available online.
The main objective is to draw inspiration and share information about such great lives who did it, despite all difficulties in their life.
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z