Devi Ahilyabai Holkar and Bhāratiya Resurgence (Webinar in Hindi)

Start Date:22-Jun-2024

End Date:22-Jun-2024




“In the political field [India] never ceased to throw up great rulers, statesmen, soldiers, administrators….in the political field it never ceased to throw up great rulers, statesmen, soldiers, administrators. Its political genius was not in the decadence sufficient, not coherent enough or swift in vision and action, to withstand the Pathan, Mogul and European, but it was strong to survive and await every opportunity of revival…”

~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 20: 442

To commemorate the 300th Birth Anniversary of Devi Ahilyabai Holkar (31 May, 1725 – 13 August, 1795), a webinar in Hindi was organised by BhāratShakti, Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Indore branch of Sri Aurobindo Society on the theme of Devi Ahilyabai Holkar and Bhāratiya Resurgence. This online event was organised on 22nd June, 2024.

The programme included inspiring and informative talks. To celebrate the legacy of this highly inspirational figure of Indian history – one whose untiring works have left an indelible mark on the resurgence and rejuvenation of the Bhāratiya spirit and force – we invited distinguished speakers and performers. These include:

Dr. Suman Kochar, chairperson of Sri Aurobindo Society, Indore; her work focuses on Ayurveda, Naturopathy and involvement in Women Empowerment through various projects on the ground, including counselling in the field of pre-natal education.

Ms. Sharvaani, a heritage enthusiast from Indore, educator of Indian culture and history, and an expert in Malwa region history

Mr. Sunil Ganesh Matkar, a long-time researcher of Holkar legacy and president of Ahilya Natak Mandal, Indore

Ms. Madhavi Chandolikar, an award-winning vocalist who has performed across MP and India and music educator, Indore

The programme was anchored by Dr. Beloo Mehra, Director, BhāratShakti and Editor of Renaissance, Sri Aurobindo Society’s monthly online journal. Mr. Narendra Murty, Research Associate, BhāratShakti moderated the discussion session. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, also joined the online programme for some time.

About 40 participants from various parts of the country attended the 2.5 hour-long webinar. In her opening remarks, Dr. Beloo Mehra spoke about Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Indian polity and ethos of India especially as enumerated in his book The Renaissance in India and Other Essays in Indian Culture. She specifically mentioned about Sri Aurobindo’s focus on Brahmatej and Kshatratej as embodied in our Rishis, sages followed by kings and bravehearts of this land. She reminded everyone that in the Indian tradition, the role of kings and queens as executors and protectors of Dharma has been highly emphasised, and Sri Aurobindo speaks about that in emphatic manner in his essays on Indian polity.

The first speaker of the session was Dr Suman Kochar. She started by saying that at several times in the history, the Divine endows certain individuals with special powers to carry out some special work as per the Divine will. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar was one such woman – a living embodiment of Nari Shakti, who through the strength of her character and inner courage did powerful deeds. Her people bestowed upon her the epithets of Ma and Devi, and placed her on a high pedestal of reverence and worship. She performed numerous illustrious works for upholding the Dharma and revival of Indian culture.

Devi Ahilyabai’s countless works for the common good, prajahit, won her tremendous love of the people, which to this day can be seen and felt in the people in the areas of Indore and Maheswar. Dr. Kochar gave several details about Ahilyabai’s skills in administrative and marital strategy which made her great in her people’s eyes thereby securing her place in history.

The next speaker Ms. Sharvaani started by saying that in the final analysis one can give to society only what one possessed inherently. Devi Ahilyabai could give so much to society because she herself possessed those resources of the spirit in her being. She demonstrated through her life that human life is not about Rights but about Duty and all her life was a living testimony to principles of service and duty.

Sharvaani ji further stated that Ahilyabai was an integrated personality who showed her prowess in statecraft, governance, public service, infrastructure construction and restoration of our heritage. She truly lived up to her name Ahalya which meant – perfect, pure and immaculate. Ahilyabai through her deeds negated the idea that India was not a nation by proving the cultural and civilizational identity of Bharat as one. Belonging to Indore, she restored and reconstructed temples and pilgrim rest houses in places as varied as Kedarnath, Gangotri, Badrinath, Dwarka, Gaya, Varanasi, Rameswaram and Puri – a testimony to an integral and sacred India. This monumental work by a woman would not have been possible had it not been for the fact that she was working as an instrument of the Divine.

After this, Ms. Madhavi Chandolikar presented a melodious song eulogising Devi Ahilyabai.

Finally, Shri Sunil Matkar gave a short biographical account of Devi Ahilyabai citing some of the illustrious deeds of her life. He enumerated a whole lot of radical laws and reforms that Ahilyabai had initiated and cited some lesser-known details of the celebrated queen’s work such as Maheshwari sari having its origin as a result of one of her economic initiatives. Thereafter, Shri Matkar along with two members of Ahilya Natak Mandal – Smt Rupali and Smt. Ruhi presented a small theatrical episode from Prajahitkarini (doer of good deeds for public) which highlighted Devi Ahilyabai’s work. They also did a short reading highlighting a heart-touching conversation Devi Ahilyabai had in her last moments with Ma Narmada. These short theatrical readings lent a unique flavour to the climax of the event.

Several participants contributed with their opinions and insights on this very important and timely subject. The webinar went on for 2.5 hours holding the attention of about 40 participants from various parts of the country. The programme on the whole was a grand success.

Recording of the webinar will be available shortly.