Ramadevi Choudhury

Ramadevi Choudhury(Odia: ରମାଦେବୀ ଚୌଧୁରୀ) (3 December 1899 – 22 July 1985), also known as Rama Devi, was an Indian freedom fighter and a social reformer.[1] She was called Maa (Mother) by the people of Odisha. The Ramadevi Women's University in Bhubaneswar has been named after her.[2]

Ramadevi Choudhury
ରମାଦେବୀ ଚୌଧୁରୀ
Born(1899-12-03)3 December 1899
Satyabhamapur village, Cuttack district, Odisha, British India
Died22 July 1985(1985-07-22) (aged 85)
Cuttack, Odisha, India
Other namesMaa Rama Devi
Occupation(s)Indian independence activist, social reformer
SpouseGopabandhu Choudhury


She was the daughter of Gopal Ballav Das and Basant Kumari Devi and the niece of Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das. At the age of 15, she married Gopabandhu Choudhury, then a Deputy Collector.[3]

Role during IndependenceEdit

Together with her husband, she joined the Indian independence movement in 1921.[3] She was highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi[4] and took an active part in Non Cooperation Movement. She used to go from village to village to encourage women to join the independence movement.[4] Others who influenced her were Jai Prakash Narayan, Vinoba Bhave and her uncle, Madhusudan Das.[4] In 1921, she had her first meeting with Gandhiji and, together with her husband, joined the Non Cooperation Movement.[4] The same year they joined the Indian National Congress and started wearing khadi.[4] In 1930, she took active part in the Salt Satyagraha movement at Orissa level. She went to Inchudi and Srijang, with other activist like Kiranbala Sen, Maltidevi, Sarala Devi, Pranakrushna Padhiari.[4] She and her colleagues were arrested in November 1930 and placed in different jails by the British. She was arrested several times (in 1921, 1930, 1936, 1942) with other women independence activists like Sarala Devi, Malati Choudhury and others and was sent to jail.[5][6][7][4] She attended the 1931 Karachi session of the Indian National Congress and, at that time, requested leaders to hold the next session in Orissa.[4] In 1932 after her release from Hazaribagh jail, she was actively involved in Harijan welfare. She stated the Asprushyata Nibarana Samiti under instructions from Gandhiji, for the eradication of untouchability. The institution was later renamed the Harijan Sewa Sangha.[4] She was closely involved in Gandhiji's 1932 and 1934 visits to Orissa as well as the visits of, Kasturba, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and others.[4] She started an Ashram at Bari, Orissa which Gandhiji named Sewaghar.[4] During the Quit India Movement of 1942, members of Rama Devi's entire family, including her husband, Gopabandhu Choudhury, were arrested.[4] After the death of Kasturba Gandhi, Gandhji assigned her work as the representative of the Orissa chapter of the Kasturba Trust.[4]

Role after independence of IndiaEdit

After the Independence of India in 1947, Rama Devi dedicated herself to the cause of Bhoodan and Gramdan movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave.[8] In 1952 she along with her husband she travelled on foot about 4000 kilometres across the state to propagate the message of giving land and wealth to the landless and poor.[8][9][10][11][12][13] From 1928, Rama Devi stayed in the Alaka Ashram at Jagatsingpur.[14]

She helped set up the Utkal Khadi Mandal and also established a Teachers’ Training Centre and Balwadi at Ramchandrapur. In 1950 she set up a Tribal Welfare Centre at Dumburugeda. During the 1951 famine she and Malati worked in famine relief in Koraput. She worked to aid soldiers affected by the Indo-Chinese War of 1962.

During the Emergency she protested by bringing out her own newspaper along with Harekrushna Mahatab and Nilamani Routray.[4] The Gram Sevak Press, was banned by the government and was arrested along with other leaders from Orissa like Nabakrushna Choudhuri, Harekrushna Mahatab, Manmohan Chowdhury, Smt. Annapurna Moharana, Jaykrushana Mohanty, and others.[15]

She established a primary school, Shishu Vihar and a cancer hospital at Cuttack.[4]


In recognition of her services to the nation, Ramadevi was awarded the Jamnalal Bajaj Award[16][17] on 4 November 1981 and the Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris causa) by Utkal University on 16 April 1984.


Rama Devi Women's University at Bhubaneshwar is named in her memory. It is the first women's university in eastern India, established as such since 2015. There is a museum dedicated to her within the university premises.[18] The school – Shishu Vihar – started by her at Cuttack is now named Ramadevi Shishu Vihar.[19]


She died on 22 July 1985 at the age of 85.[4]


  1. ^ Women pioneers in India's renaissance, as I remember her, by Sushila Nayar, Kamla Mankekar. National Book Trust, India, 2002. ISBN 81-237-3766-1. Page 216.
  2. ^ "Freedom Strugle" (PDF). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b Philomena Royappa Reddy; P. Sumangala (1998). Women in development: perspectives from selected states of India. B.R. Pub. Corp. ISBN 978-81-7018-978-7. Retrieved 22 April 2011.. Rama Devi Rama Devi along with her husband Gopabandu Choudhury joined the Freedom Movement in 1921
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Freedom Struggle and Rama Devi Orissa Review April 2006
  5. ^ People's Revolt in Orissa: A Study of Talcher by Debi P. Mishra – 1998 – Page 138
  6. ^ Women and Social Change in India by Snehalata Panda – 1992 – Page 14
  7. ^ Encyclopaedia of women biography: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh by Nagendra Kr Singh – 2001
  8. ^ a b Dharam Paul Chowdhry (1992). Profile of voluntary action in social welfare and development. Siddhartha Publishers. ISBN 978-81-85464-01-5. Retrieved 22 April 2011.. In 1952 the Bhoodan and Gramdan movement claimed the services of both Mrs. Rama Devi and her...
  9. ^ Orissa Review 1990 – Volume 47 – Page 14 "commencement of the Salt Satyagraha, the women leaders like Rama Devi, Sarala Devi, Malatl Devi and Kiran Bala Sen made efforts for the active participation of women in this satyagraha. Led by Rama Devi and Malati Devi, fifteen hundred ..."
  10. ^ Reflections on the National Movement in Orissa 1997 "Malati Devi protest meeting was held and a big procession was organised at Cuttack on 7th May, 1930. During this time prominent women leaders of Orissa like Rama Devi, Malati Devi and Sarala Devi were arrested. On 25th September ..."
  11. ^ B. S. Chandrababu, L. Thilagavathi Woman, Her History and Her Struggle for Emancipation 2009 – Page 313 "Rama Devi was married at the age of fourteen, in 1914 to Gopabandru Choudhury, who was working as a Deputy ... the Civil Disobedience Movement when the top leaders were imprisoned, Rama Devi acted as the 'Dictator' of the Orissa ..."
  12. ^ Subhas Chandra Parida, Sasmita Nayak Empowerment of Women in India – 2009 Page 197 "... Women political leaders like Basant Manjari Devi (Rajamata of Ranapur), Rama Devi and Malati Choudhury (social ..."
  13. ^ Sachidananda Mohanty – Early Women's Writings in Orissa, 1898–1950: A Lost Tradition 2005 "Rama. Devi. 1889–1985. Daughter of Gopal Ballabha Das, younger brother of Madhusudan D:is. the eminent Oriya nationalist, Rama Devi received no formal schooling. She was married to Gopabandhu Choudhury at the age of 14. ..."
  14. ^ Atul Chandra Pradhan, Ashok Kumar Patnaik, Utkal University. Post-graduate Dept. of History People's movements in Orissa during the colonial era – 1994– Page 149 "In the process they had paved the way towards building of a new society in Orissa based on Gandhians ideals. From 1928 Rama Devi had stayed in the Alaka Ashram at Jagatsingpur and had participated in all the activities of the Ashram."
  15. ^ Orissa: the dazzle from within (art, craft and culture of ...by G. K. Ghosh – 1993 – – Page 37
  16. ^ "Jamnalal Bajaj Awards Archive". Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.
  17. ^ British Empire Leprosy Relief Association. Indian Council; Hind Kusht Nivaran Sangh (1 January 1982). Leprosy in India. Hind Kusht Nivaran Sangh. Retrieved 22 April 2011.. JAMNALAL BAJAJ AWARDS, 1981 The Jamnalal Bajaj Awards are given every year for outstanding contributions in any one or more ... Award III was awarded to Smt. Ramadevi Gopabandhu Choudhuri ofCuttackfor her outstanding contribution to the ...
  18. ^ Ramadevi Womens University
  19. ^ rmss

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