Sita saw Mahatma Gandhi in person when she was nine years old. Seeing her own parents always together, she wanted to know what Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba, was like. That childhood wish got lost over the years, only to resurface when her students expressed their great curiosity. Then her quest began. Though there were countless references to Kasturba in the volumes written on Gandhi, there were only repetitive little booklets and pamphlets about her. Three trips to India and meetings with over 200 people who knew Kasturba in person, and a great deal of research through books has gone into the writing of this ground-breaking biography. It fills an important vacuum in the world of letters, especially as it pertains to women’s emancipation. Kasturba’s brave journey from tradition-bound, caste-ridden separatism to enlightened inclusiveness and universal compassion is captivating. She is her own person, standing up to her Mahatma husband when she finds it necessary, and most importantly, she is his teacher in non-violent resistance.
Sita takes the reader with Kasturba, the child bride, and her boy husband from small towns to three continents, through ashrams and prisons in the fight for freedom. She shows how bravely and selflessly Kasturba lived on the edge of a sword.
Speaker Sita Kapadia, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English and World Literature, College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Born in India in 1937, she was raised during India’s fight for freedom on Gandhian values of truth, love, non-violence and service. She attended Queen Mary’s High School, where she studied the Bible. In her progressive home, her Hindu faith co-existed comfortably with other religions during her formative years. As an undergraduate, she studied literature as well as philosophy and metaphysics. Her years of study with the great vedantists, Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda deepened her understanding of the transcendental import of all faiths.
Sita’s teaching career in USA began in 1971. Before that, she had been a professor in India and Malaya. At her college in New York, in addition to the standard classes in English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing, she pioneered classes in ESL, Early Asian Literature and Modern Asian Literature. She also taught Buddhism in the Department of Philosophy.
A former trustee of The Jacques Marchais Center of Tibetan Art, Staten Island, NY, she was also their program presenter. She frequently took undergraduate students to the center to broaden their education. In addition to reading several literary papers at universities in India and USA, Sita also presented a paper at an international conference at Harvard University in 1995 on Dowry and Bride Burning in India. Her paper was, “A Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi: His Views on Women and Social Change.”
One chapter, Windfall, from her upcoming book, The Woman Beside Gandhi, was published in WSQ – Women’s Studies Quarterly - by the Feminist Press, City University of New York, in the Fall of 1996.
She lives in “retirement” in Houston with her husband, Naren. A writer, an artist, a Master Gardener, a volunteer and occasional speaker for the Mahatma Gandhi Library, Sita is a new member of WHTS. She hopes to bring understanding, peace and joy.
Friday, September 16, 2016
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter, Houston, TX 77021
Free and Open to the Public