Vidyagauri Nilkanth

Vidyagauri Nilkanth was an Indian social reformer, educationist, and writer. She was also one of the first two women graduates in Gujarat.[1][2]

Vidyagauri Nilkanth
Vidyaben Nilkanth 1895.jpg
Vidyagauri around 1895
Born(1876-06-01)1 June 1876
Died7 December 1958(1958-12-07) (aged 82)
Known forSocial reformer, educationist and writer
ChildrenVinodini Nilkanth, Sarojini Mehta (daughters)
RelativesSharda Mehta (sister)

Early lifeEdit

Vidyagauri with her husband Ramanbhai Nilkanth

Vidyagauri Nilkanth was born on 1 June 1876 in Ahmedabad. She was the daughter of a judicial officer, Gopilal Dhruva and Balaben.[3][1] She was a granddaughter of Bholanath Divetia, a social reformer and poet.[4] She got her primary education (till Class VII) from Raibahadur Maganbhai Girl's High School and completed secondary school education from Anglo-vernacular classes at the Mahalakshmi Teachers Training College. She married Ramanbhai Nilkanth in 1889 and together they wrote many articles, books and jointly edited a magazine, Jnansudha.[2][3][4] Vinodini Nilkanth and Sarojini Mehta were their daughters.[5]

With the support of her husband, she completed her matriculation in 1891 standing the first in Gujarati in the University of Bombay and pursued higher education.[4] She enrolled in 1894 and graduated from Gujarat College with a Bachelor of Arts in moral philosophy and logic in 1901. Her education was interrupted by frequent pregnancies.[4] She was awarded a fellowship and thus her younger sister, Sharda Mehta, and she became the first two women graduates in Gujarat.[2][3][5]

She was a founder member of the All India Women's Conference in Ahmedabad.

Social workEdit

Nilkanth was involved social work from a young age. She devoted her life for the upliftment of women.[2] She started tailoring classes for poor Muslim women with support from the National Indian Association. She organized adult education classes and various activities for the War Relief Fund during World War I. She was made MBE for her service. She started the Ahmedabad branch of the All India Women's Conference. She also presided over the Lucknow session of the AIWC. She was associated with numerous educational institutions such as the Maganbhai Karamchand Girls’ High School, the Diwalibai Girls’ School, Ranchhodhal Chhotalal Girls’ High School and the Vanita Vishrams which provided secondary education to women who were widows or dropouts from school because of marriage.[1]

She founded Lalshanker Umia Shanker Mahila Pathshala, which was later affiliated to SNDT (Karve) University. She taught English, Psychology and Philosophy in this college.[1]

She was briefly served as a government appointed member of a committee in the Ahmedabad municipality.[3] She was associated with Prartha Samaj and was Honorary Secretary and then President of the Mahipatram Rupram Anath Ashram, an orphanage.[3][1]

Literary careerEdit

She contributed to women’s magazines such as Gunsundari, Streebodh, and Sharada. She was the president of the 15th session of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad. She had also served as a president of Gujarat Vidya Sabha and Gujarat Sahitya Sabha.[3][1][5]

She had written several essays with light humour as well as biographical sketches. Foram (1955) includes biographical sketches of his relatives and associates which influenced her. He other essay collections are: Grihadipika (1931), Narikunj (1956), Gyansudha (1957). Her miscellaneous essays are included in Hasyamandir. She had written biography Pro. Dhondo Keshav Karve (1916).[3][5]

With her sister Sharda Mehta, she translated Romesh Chunder Dutt’s book, The Lake of Palms (1902) as Sudhasuhasini (1907); and The Maharani of Baroda (Chimnabai II)'s Position of Women in Indian Life (1911) as Hindustanma Streeonu Samajik Sthan (1915).[3][1]


In 1926, she was awarded Kaisar-i-Hind medal.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Stree Shakti". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Win Entrance Biography". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bhatt, Pushpa. "વિદ્યાગૌરી નીલકંઠ" [Vidyagauri Nilkanth]. (in Gujarati). Gujarati Sahitya Parishad. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Sujata, Menon (2013). Sarkar, Siddhartha (ed.). "International Journal of Afro-Asian Studies". 4 (1). Universal-Publishers: 17–18. ISBN 978-1-61233-709-8. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d Chaudhari, Raghuveer; Dalal, Anila, eds. (2005). "લેખિકા-પરિચય" [Introduction of Women Writers]. વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન [20 Century Women's Writing's in Gujarati] (in Gujarati) (1st ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. pp. 349, 351. ISBN 8126020350. OCLC 70200087.