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CHIMNABAI II (1872-1958)

She was the second wife of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, and followed the equally eminent Chimnabai I of Tajore. Born Lakshmibai Mohite, she was the daughter of Sri A Baji Rao Amrit Rao Ghatge. She was married to the Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III of Baroda, on 28 December 1885. In 1887 she travelled extensively abroad with her husband, and he began to educate and shape her to become his assistant in the business of bringing progress to Baroda. Her husband, writing in 1901 in the journal The Nineteenth Century, hinted that it had been her influence that convinced him to encourage his subjects to educate and emancipate their daughters.

In 1907 an Anglo Vernacular School for girls was established in Baroda. In 1911 the Maharani co-wrote The Position of Women in Indian Life with S.M. Mitra, in which she lamented the failure of so many schemes to enlighten women, because women themselves were not free to take control of these schemes. The Maharani showed that she did not shrink form following her principles in private when her daughter Indira Raja refused to marry the crown prince of Gwalior in 1912, instead marrying the Brahmo heir to the throne of Cooch Behar. The Maharani supported Indira in this though her father refused to attend the wedding. Indira Raja later became the mother of the activist Gayatri Devi(q.v). In 1914 at a prize-giving ceremony at the Nyaya Mandir the Maharani was seen in public sitting next to the Maharaja, thus signalling her abandonment of purdah. The Maharani was elected the first President of the All India Women’s Conference in 1926.
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