Vijaya Raje Scindia
She was the forgotten Maharani of Gwalior. A freedom fighter, philanthropist, and temple builder, She was the last queen of Gwalior. She was also the Co-Founder of the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP). This is a thread about Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia. Rajmata was born into a family of Rana Royals with a Nepali background. Ever since she was seven years old, she became greatly interested in Hinduism. She performed prayers and observed Chaturmas Vrats. She used to imagine herself as Mirabai & ecstatically sing songs for Krishna.
Vijaya Raje Scindia was tutored at home. When she was 11 years old, she expressed interest in the freedom movement of India. She asked her family for permission to participate in Dandi Satyagraha. When she was denied permission, she secretly slipped out of the house. When the influence of the freedom movement was felt upon her, she gave up wearing imported Saris. She disapproved of the drinking of Alcohol and took to a vegetarian diet. At the age of 22, she was married to Jiwajirao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior. Her first act after the wedding was commissioning the renovation of the Gopal temple of Ujjain. Thus began a remarkable saga of temple-building activities of the Maharani, unrivaled in the modern age.
Then came Independence in 1947. Congress wanted to dissolve the Scindia kingdom. Bur Scindias were adored by their subjects. Maharaja asked Congress-“Why not ask people if they want Gwalior kingdom to be dissolved? In a democracy, they should have the right to decide that”. But the Congress did not want to leave the decision to the people because they knew the people would choose the Gwalior Kingdom. As Rajmata herself remarks- “They wanted democracy in the place of feudal rule, but that democracy did not extend to the people of princely states”.
Then came the merger of Gwalior into the Indian union. On this occasion, the Maharaja spoke to the crowd. There was a very wide cheer. Then Nehru rose to speak up. There was a muted silence. This irked Nehru. “Gwalior is a perverse land where people are mired in past”- Nehru said. In 1956, rumors were rife that Maharaja of Gwalior had plans to join Veer Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha. The Scindia influence could be a setback for congress. The congress in response planned to nationalize all of Scindia’s properties, effectively turning him into a pauper. To protect her husband, she traveled to Delhi to assure Nehru that rumors were false. Nehru said-“If he is not against us, he needs to prove he is with us. Let him stand on Congress ticket”. Rajmata-“But he hates politics”. Nehru-“In that case, you stand as our candidate”.