Gayatri Devi

Maharani Gayatri Devi, Rajmata of Jaipur (born May 23 1919 as Princess Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar), was the third Maharani of Jaipur from 1939 to 1970 through marriage to Sawai Man Singh II, and is currently styled (unofficially) as the Rajmata, or Queen Mother.

Following India's independence and the subsequent abolition of the princely states, she became an extremely successful politician. Gayatri Devi was also celebrated for her classical beauty and became something of a fashion icon in her adulthood.

Early life

Her father, Prince Jitendra Narayan of Cooch Behar, was the younger brother of the Yuvraja (Crown Prince). Her mother was Princess Indira Raje of Baroda, an extremely beautiful princess and a legendary socialite. Early in her life, her uncle's death led to her father ascending the throne (gaddi). Gayatri Devi studied at Shantiniketan, and later in Europe, where she travelled with her mother and siblings, then studied secretarial skills in London.

The Jaipur Royal Family lived a lavish life: hunting in their forests, spending summers in Europe, educating the royal children at elite schools in England, entertaining streams of famous visitors at their desert palaces, and generally living the typically flamboyant life which was normal for Indian royals.

Maharani Gayatri Devi (as she was styled after marriage) was a particularly avid equestrienne. Gayatri Devi had one child, Prince Jagat Singh of Jaipur, Raja of Isarda, who was granted his grandfather's fief as a subsidiary title, and the Maharani later became the Rajmata, or Queen Mother. Jagat Singh was thus half-brother to the present Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Bhawani Singh of Jaipur.

Gayatri Devi was once included in Vogue magazine's Ten Most Beautiful Women list.

Gayatri Devi started schools for girls' education in Jaipur, most prominent of which is the Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ Public School. She also promoted the dying art of blue pottery.

Political career

After Partition and Independence Day in India in 1947, and later the abolition of Royal India in 1970, Gayatri Devi ran for Parliament in 1962 and won the constituency in the Lok Sabha in the world's largest landslide, confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records. She continued to hold this seat on 1967 and 1971, Swatantra Party, running against the Congress Party. This enraged Indira Gandhi, who retaliated in 1971 by abolishing the privy purses, and stopping all royal privileges, breaking the treaties agreed upon in 1947. Gayatri Devi was accused of breaking tax laws, and served 5 months in Tihar Jail. She retired from politics after that experience, and published her autobiography, A Princess Remembers, written with Santha Rama Rau, in 1976. She was also the focus of the film Memoirs of a Hindu Princess, directed by Francois Levie.

There were rumors that she might re-enter politics as late as 1999, when the Cooch Behar Trinamool Congress nominated her as their candidate for the Lok Sabha elections, but she did not respond to the offer.

Her father Jitendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur was the second son of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur and Maharani Sunity Devi of Cooch Behar. After the untimely death of his elder brother Maharaja Raj Rajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, a bachelor, he ascended the throne of Cooch Behar in November 1913, few month's after his marriage with Princess Indira raje Gaekwad of Baroda. Jitendra Narayan's mother Maharani Sunity Devi was the daughter of illustrious Brahmo social reformer Keshab Chandra Sen.

Family relationships

Gayatri Devi is related to a number of other royal families in India, and not only the Rajput royals. Her maternal grandparents were Maharaja Sayajirao and Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda. Through marriage, she was related to Maharaja Hanuwant Singh of Jodhpur, the Maharaja of Dewas, the Maharaja of Tripura, and the Maharaja of Pithapuram in South India.

She had one son, Maharaj Jagat Singh of Jaipur (erstwhile Raja of Isarda), and two grand children, Rajkumari Lalitaya Kumari and Maharaj Devraj Singh, the current Raja of Isarda. She is also indirectly related to the Maharaja of Lunawada and the Maharaol of Baria.

A Tribute to Rajmata

In 2006, India's first 3D documentary movie "Rajmata Gayatri Devi's Legacy", based on her life, was made by the students of Arena Multimedia in Jaipur. Rajmata herself inaugurated the movie through the medium of a digital art exhibition on 16th of November 2006. The documentary also contained some videos along with high-end 3D animation that were reconstructed according to the script developed from the book written by Dharmendra Kanwar. Sakshi Baid played the role of young Gayatri and Maharaja Mansingh's role was played by Tarun Gupta, who also directed the film. The narration was done by Rohan Malik. The dubbing for the animated character of rajmata was done by Mrs. Sarla Gupta. This thirty-minute-long documentary depicted her childhood, marriage, life in Jaipur, political life, and many other ups and downs of her life.


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