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'She became assertive during her post-school days'

November 4, 2008
I had a vast stretch of land in UP but I shifted to Lahar in MP in the Chambal ravine and built my house over there. I decided to shift because my land was at the border of two states. My land was in such location that even for a small thing we had to travel some 15 to 20 km. So, I resigned from the government job and shifted to the other side of the river in MP, in 1972. Now, I had to travel only some four km to access the market and hospital.

Pragya grew up in Lahar. She was too gullible in childhood. But, during her post-school days she became assertive. Around 10th to 12th standard, she started putting forward her own views. Whenever she put forward her views claiming it to be the truth, she would not budge. If anybody contested it, she would disapprove. She would insist that her views prevail.

Normally, we believe that teachers are servants of society and they should educate students for the good of society. Pragya disputed this attitude. In Lahar after tenth standard there was no girls school so she and other girls were admitted to a boys school. Here she insisted that teachers should be respected and they should be welcomed everyday with tilak and flowers. She selected chaupais (stanzas) of Ramayan to recite on Thursday which had reference to the importance of gurus in one's life.

She would keep Bharat Mata and Saraswati's pictures and light agarbattis before them everyday in school before attending class. Students started understanding that it's not their school, it's a vidyalaya (place of learning). Her first public exposure came when she was in 11th standard. She participated in the agitation for a degree college in the area. The Congress, Communists, Bharatiya Janata Party and all other parties supported her.

Her leadership quality was noticed for the first time during her speeches. She was a forceful speaker. My family is close-knit. After my practice, when I returned home I would sit with my children and discuss the day's events.

Image: For Pragya Thakur's family it was a daily ritual to worship the Bharat Mata portrait in the house.

Also read: Pushing Hindus into a corner
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