"The Sky is the Symbol of Eternity", felt the distinguished writer and social worker Late Mrs. Swaroop Kumari Bakshi.
There were many facts to the lady : veteran politician, brilliant academician, creative writer and a great philosopher.
The philosophy of Vedanta was her guiding light and the desire to explore the ‘anant’ (eternity – eternal peace and happiness) which filled her with zeal and vigour.
Swaroop Kumari Bakshi was born in Lucknow on 22nd June, 1919 in a Kashmiri Pandit family. Her father Pandit Badri Prasad Shinglu was an outstanding poet in Urdu and English. He was a versatile genius – a scholar, an artist, a top ranking musician and music critic of North Indian classical music. In 1940 she was married to Shri Raj Kumar Bakshi, an Advocate and Agriculturist, and second cousin of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
She is survived by her daughter Dr. Usha Malaviya, retired Professor and Head, Department of Physics, Lucknow University. Usha Malaviya is married to Dr. Nilamber Malaviya,retired Professor and Head, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, I.E.T Lucknow and an alumni of University of Roorkee. The two have one daughter Gauri Malaviya.
Four generations of Swaroop Kumari Bakshi’s family have served the Congress Party. Her father-in-law’s elder brother Dr. Madan Atal was a freedom fighter. He was also Chairman of the Medical Mission sent to China in the 1930s. Dr Atal was physician-in-charge of Mrs. Kamla Nehru, when she was lying ill in the Switzerland sanatorium, with Indiraji as a little girl to attend to her. Swaroop Kumari Bakshi’s mother-in-law Dhanraj Pati Bakshi was elected Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Malihabad region, Lucknow. She was lathi-charged during the Simon Commission’s visit to Lucknow and narrowly escaped death.
Swaroop Kumari Bakshi did her schooling at Lahore. She did her M.A. in English Literature and in Sanskrit from Lucknow University. She became Principal of Nari Shiksha Niketan Intermediate College (which was later upgraded to a degree college) in 1947 and remained so till 1979.
Sponsored by the Indo-Soviet Cultural Society, Swaroop Kumari Bakshi went to the U.S.S.R. in 1969 as the leader of the Indian Cultural Delegation to participate in the Indian Cultural Festival there. She again visited the nation in 1981, as a member of the Indian Women Delegation. Her name was nominated by the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi.
She was elected to the Vidhan Sabha from Lucknow (East) on a Congress ticket in 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1985. She was Cabinet Minister, U.P. Govt. for Education, Home, Harijan and Social Welfare and Culture from 1980 to 1989.
Under her able leadership as the Education Minister, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University was established in Lucknow in 1989. It was in a record time (within 24 hours) that the state government passed an ordinance and subsequently the land for the University was purchased. All the formalities were completed within two weeks and the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone. New degree colleges were opened in Jalaun, Mahoba, Lalitpur, Obra, Noida, Jolesar (Etah), Dwarahat (Almora) and Narain Nagar, Didihat (Pithoragarh). Universities of Rohilkhand, Bundelkhand, Garhwal, Kumaon and Faizabad were brought in the grant-in-aid list of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Three year degree courses were introduced in all the state universities. For universalisation of education, plans were drawn up for opening a primary school within a radius of 1.5 km and a junior high school within a radius of 3 km. Every year about 500 such schools were opened. Pioneering work was done in the field of adult education, and enrolment of girls in non-formal education was done on a war footing for which the Union government gave an award to the state. The study of science was made compulsory in the High School syllabus.
It was during her tenure as Home Minister, U.P. that dreaded bandit groups, including those of Chhabiram, Anar Singh, Pothi, Jagatpal Pasi, Bhulawan Pandit, Parsottam Gadaria, Mahavira and Jaivira etc. were eliminated. Dacoit Phoolan Devi ran for her life and took shelter in Madhya Pradesh. Another milestone was the promulgation of the anti-dacoity ordinance.
As Social Welfare Minister, she sanctioned pension to about two lakh widows and one lakh disabled persons. Several thousand houses and shops were built in the rural areas and gifted to the poor scheduled caste families. Loans were given to the depressed classes to help them earn their livelihood.
Philosophy & Writing
As regards her immense literary achievements, she has written about 37 books of Original Stories, Poems, Plays, Short Novels and Novels in Hindi. Most of her works have been duly recognized and awarded by the state government. She was awarded the ‘Sahitya Bhushan’ for creative Hindi writing by Hindi Sansthan, U.P. Govt. in 2002. Many of her stories, plays and songs have been broadcast by the All India Radio and Doordarshan Lucknow. She has been the subject of research work done in Lucknow University by two students who were awarded Ph.D degrees as follows :-
1. Smt. Madhu Chaturvedi
Title :- Swaroop Kumari Bakshi Ke Sahitya Ka Shelly Vigyanic Adhyayan. (2003)
2. Smt. Sangeeta Dubey
Title:- Swaroop Kumari Bakshi Ki Sahitya Sadhana. (2007)
The concept of ‘anant’ (Eternity) had fascinated her since childhood. In fact the goal of her life was to achieve the realization of eternity – eternal truth. This was portrayed in most of her literary works, as in her poems.