Sindhutai Sapkal

RealSindhutaiToday is the 100th International Women’s Day. While I was thinking about the day, I thought, why not write about women who have greatly contributed to my life and have helped me be what I am. There are many of them. My mom, grand mom, wife, sisters, aunts, mother-in-law, friends, colleagues even my daughter. So I started writing about my mom and realized that it’s impossible to do it in a short hour, one evening. It’s going to take a long time to actually put on paper how each of them have contributed to my life. Hats of to all you ladies. I am deeply indebted to all of you and I promise that someday, I would write about each one of you.

SindhuTaiSapkalPosterSo instead, I decided to write about a woman to whom I was introduced this year. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet this great lady in person, but through a very well made bio-pic on her life. I am talking about Sindhutai Sapkal.

Sindhutai was born in a very poor household. She didn’t even have a proper name. She was named Chindhi, which literally means a rag. She had to tend to buffalos and hence could not attend regular school. She attended the school whenever possible, and learnt till fourth grade. Because she attended the school part-time, she calls herself part-time fourth grade educated. Smile. She couldn’t complete school, but one of her adopted son is doing a doctoral thesis on her.

At the age of 9-10, she was married off to an illiterate man of 26 years her senior. she did the housework, collected cow dung, cooked on the hot chulha (earthen stove), and bore her husband three sons. She also worked along with other village women, gathering cow dung in the forest. However, the forest officers, and contractors would take the dung away from the village women without paying them. Chindhi fought for being compensated which was agreed by the district collector. This made the local contractor very angry and he told Chindhi’s husband that the child that chindhi was carrying was not her husband’s child, but the contractors. This made the husband very wild and he threw her out of the home with a new born daughter.

SindhuTaiSapkalPoster2Her father had passed away and her mother wouldn’t give her shelter. She had a new-born daughter in her hand and nowhere to go. For some time, she even stayed in a crematorium. The burning pyres would keep her warm and the rice offered as part of the last rites would help her ward off the hunger. She used to be terrified and sometimes even shout due to fear. The people around the crematorium thought that it was haunted. She tried to kill herself under a moving train, but at the last moment, she decided that she wasn’t going to runaway. So she went to the railway station and in despair, started praying to God singing a song. The passengers on the railway platform started giving her alms and soon she had money to take care of her.

SindhuTaiSapkalPoster3But she saw that there were other orphans on the railway platform who were also hungry. So she shared the food with them. She started collecting money by singing songs. Later she started telling stories. Initially she went uninvited to public functions and gave very touching lectures and collected money. Soon, her work expanded. Today she is mother of more than 1000 children. She proudly says that she has 207 sons in law and 36 daughters in law. Smile

This small essay is not to tell you everything about her and her work. I urge all of you to actually see the movie and get inspired as I am. I loved the motto of Sindhutai’s institutions. It says,

देवा, आम्हाला हसायला शिकव… परंतु आम्ही कधी रडलो होतो…याचा विसर पडू देवू नकोस…

(God teach us to laugh, but never allow us to forget that we also had wept some day)

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16 Responses to Sindhutai Sapkal

  1. anjana says:

    i want to meet great lady and be a part of her work

  2. Raj Thakur says:


  3. mugdha says:

    hi makarand

    can you please give me the contact details of any facility that sindhutai runs? or any info on how to make donation to her. i have been looking on the net but those nos do not work


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  6. charu says:

    i am not net savvy but i had probably watched the movie before you and was inspired even before that!

  7. Harshada says:

    Sir Thanks for sharing this wonderful story
    I really liked it…and surely will watch the movie…
    After reading about “Sindhutai Sapkal” I want to Thank GOD for giving me the Loving mother 🙂
    We all know that Mother is Great support for every child and she always play the role of craftsmen in our life.. .
    She is a great gift given by GOD to all of us…She is the one who filled our days with Care, Love and many more things which are precious and countless….

    Just want to share few words about MOTHER :

    “GOD made a wonderful mother,
    A mother who never grows old;
    He made her smile of the sunshine,
    And He molded her heart of pure gold;
    In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
    In her cheeks, fair roses you see;
    God made a wonderful mother,
    And He gave that dear mother to me.”
    – Pat O’Reilly

  8. Ashish says:

    Sindutai, fondly called Mai was married off at a very young age. Her fight against injustice in the village changed her life completely.

    Says Mai, “When I was 9 months pregnant, my husband beat and tortured me one night. I lost consciousness. He assumed that I had died. He dragged me to the nearest cowshed and left me there in order to escape the charge of murder. I lay there bleeding profusely. In that condition, I gave birth to a baby girl.
    When I regained consciousness, a cow in that cowshed was standing over me forming a canopy to protect me. It was licking my newborn.

    A human had almost killed me, but an animal saved me.”

    With no education, she resorted to begging to feed her daughter. Life wasn’t easy on the roads. It was tougher for the orphans who had no parents to even beg for them.

    So Mai started begging for them too and thus took responsibilities of the underprivileged children.

    Mai still begs …….for funds to support her organizations.

    She is currently running 6 institutions, mostly in North Maharashtra.


    Our current proceeds are directed towards construction of the orphanage, Sanmati Bal Niketan coming up at Manjiri, Pune.

    This down to earth winner of 175 social awards never gave up hope. Even in the worst times of her life, Mai choose to help those around her. When the whole world had left her alone, she took responsibility of those like her. She lived and still lives for them.

    We salute her courage.

  9. Ashish says:

    I personally meet Sindutai sapkal, and also got chance to hear from her the great story of her. This is happen when i was in pune as one of my friend is organising the donation to sindhutai sapakal through his own NGO (
    she is really great women. hats of to her.

  10. Manish Raje says:

    Nice story, I have to see this movie.. yet. Its yesterday, we (me, Ruturaj and Dinesh) were talking on 3 major responsibilities of human. Personal, Family and social.. And Dinesh was expressing in his typical way by creating plot.

    Thanks for sharing. Thanks to both of them for giving their valuable inputs yesterday.

  11. Dinesh Gajjar says:

    Yes, really touching. I will definitely see the movie.

    And thanks for introducing an important inspiring person in my life. I didn’t know her before this. Sharing good stories or life of person who inspired us, with others is noble job.

    I have always surrounded by people who introduced me to great people by way of movie or book. And today, you have added one more. Thanks for increasing my collection.

  12. Rahul Yadav says:

    thats a noble thought….and you have written about one of the most noble person, not any less than Mother Teresa. I saw her interview on TV and one thing i realized that even after experiencing all the pains in life, she has an uncanny sense of humour.
    chk links for interview:

    We need such socially responsible person at all the levels of society…

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