Sindhutai Sapkal Age, Death, Husband, Children, Family, Biography & More

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Husband: Shrihari Sapkal
Death Cause: Cardiac Arrest
Age: 73 Years

Sindhutai Sapkal

Names Earned Mother of Orphans [1]Indian Express Limited, Anathanchi Maye [2]Indian Express Limited, Mai [3]CNN-News18
Profession Social Worker/Social Entrepreneur
Known For Raising over 1200 orphaned children
Physical Stats & More
Height (approx.)in centimeters- 161 cm
in meters- 1.61 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 3”
Eye ColourDark Brown
Hair ColourSalt and Pepper
Awards, Honours, Achievements • Shivlila Mahila Gaurav Award
• Rajai Award
• Sahyadri Hirkani Award
• 1996 – Dattak Mata Purskar, given by Non Profit Organization Sunita Kalaniketan Trust
• 2008 – Women of the Year Award, given by daily Marathi newspaper Loksatta
• 2010 – Ahilyabai Holkar Award, given by the Government of Maharashtra to social workers in the field of women and child welfare
• 2012 – COEP Gaurav Puraskar, given by College of Engineering, Pune
• 2012 – Real Heroes Awards, given by CNN-IBN and Reliance Foundation
• 2013 – The National Award for Iconic Mother
• 2013 – Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice
• 2014 – Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize
• 2016 – Social Worker of the Year award from Wockhardt Foundation
• 2016 – Honorary doctorate by the Dr. D.Y. Patil College of Engineering, Pune
• 2017 – Nari Shakti Puraskar from the President Of India
• 2021 - Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2021 in Social Work category
Personal Life
Date of Birth14 November 1948 (Sunday)
BirthplacePimpri Meghe village, Wardha, Central Provinces and Berar, Dominion of India
(present-day Maharashtra, India)
Date of Death4 January 2022 at 8:10 PM
Place of DeathGalaxy Care Hospital in Pune, Maharashtra
Age (at the time of death) 73 Years
Death CauseCardiac Arrest [4]India Today
Zodiac signScorpio
Nationality Indian
Educational QualificationClass Four [5]Homi Bhabha Centre For Science Education
Relationships & More
Marital Status (at the time of death)Married
Husband/SpouseShrihari Sapkal
ChildrenSon- Deepak Gaekwad (adopted)
Deepak Gaikwad

Daughter- Mamta Sapkal
Daughter of Sindhutai Sapkal
ParentsFather- Abhimanyu Sathe (Cowherder)

Sindhutai Sapkal

Some Lesser Known Facts About Sindhutai Sapkal

  • Sindhutai Sapkal was an Indian social worker and a Social Entrepreneur who worked in raising thousands of orphaned children by establishing numerous NGOs. Some of her raised children are well settled as Doctors, Engineers, and Lawyers.

    One of the Sindhutai Sapkal's NGO in Maharashtra

    One of the Sindhutai Sapkal’s NGOs in Maharashtra

  • For her contribution to social work, she received more than 270 national and international awards which include the Nari Shakti Award presented to her by President of India Ram Nath Kovind in 2017. She used the award money to buy land for the orphaned children. As of 2012, Sindhutai Sapkal has nurtured about 1442 orphaned children. She has a grand family of 207 sons-in-law and 36 daughters-in-law.

    Sindhutai Sapkal receiving the Nari Shakti Puruskar from the President of India Ram Nath Kovind in 2017

    Sindhutai Sapkal received the Nari Shakti Puruskar from the President of India Ram Nath Kovind in 2017

  • She was born in a poor family where her father was a cow herder. She was forced to live under poverty and family responsibilities. At the early age of 8, she got married to a person who was 20 years elder than her after completing her fourth standard. While she was studying, she used Bharadi tree leaves to write as the family could not afford a slate. Her father was keen on educating her but her mother was against her studies. So, her father send her to school unbeknownst to her mother, who thought she was going out for cattle grazing.
  • Then she moved to Nawargaon village, Seloo in Wardha where her marriage didn’t last long. She was pregnant for the fourth time at that time. At an age of 20, she was abandoned by her husband due to the rumors of her extra-marital affairs in the village. [6]CNN-News18 Still, she fought against the exploitation of local women who collected cow dung by the forest department.
  • She was left in a sanguinary and semi-conscious state where she gave birth to a child in a nearby cowshed. In an interview, she recalled [7]

    “I cut the umbilical cord with a sharp-edged stone lying nearby.”

    She wanted to return home but her mother didn’t allow her to enter the house. At one time, she thought of committing suicide.

  • With nowhere to go and nothing seemed for survival, she started begging and singing on the streets and trains in Chikhaldara in Amravati district in Maharashtra where she was left abandoned. With concern for her safety, she took care of her child in cemeteries and cowsheds. She also took shelter in a crematory. Once she saw a dead body burning. The last rite was over and the relatives had left. Some wheat flour was left by them as part of the ritual. Sindhutai collected that flour and after kneading, she made a roti out of it while baking it on the fire that was consuming the dead body. [8] Some people would call her a ghost as she was seen in the cemeteries at night.
  • At that time, she saw numerous orphaned children lying on the streets. Feeling pity for those children, she adopted almost a dozen of them. This became her mission for life. She then begged more ardently to feed them.
  • In order to eliminate the feeling of partiality between her biological child and the adopted children, she donated her child to Shrimant Dagdu Sheth Halwai’s trust in Pune (Maharashtra). Her daughter itself runs an orphanage today.
  • At the time when she was in Chikhaldara, a tiger preservation project was going on which resulted in the evacuation of 84 tribal villages. Sindhutai decided to bring back the helpless Adivasi villagers to their land and started the protest.
  • During that course, she met Chhedilal Gupta, the then Minister of Forests. He agreed that the villagers will not be displaced until the government provide them with alternative land. When the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi arrived to inaugurate the tiger project, she told her that the forest department paid compensation if a cow or a hen was killed by a wild animal, so why not a human being? She immediately ordered compensation. [9]SugerMint In an interview, she recalled her struggling days, she told,

    “I had no one with me, everyone abandoned me. I knew the pain of being alone and unwanted. I didn`t want anyone to go through the same. And I feel immense pride and pleasure to see some of my children doing so well in their lives. One of my children made a documentary on my life.”

  • In 1970, she established her first Ashram in Chikaldara, Amravati. She then opened her first NGO Savitribai Phule Girls Hostel which was registered in Chikaldara. [10]CNN-News18 She also ran an orphanage – Sanmati Bal Niketan Sanstha – in the Hadapsar area of Pune. [11]Indian Express Limited Besides this, she has numerous other organizations in Maharashtra.

    Sindhutai Sapkal feeding the orphaned children

    Sindhutai Sapkal feeding the orphaned children

  • When she was 70, her husband approached her and said that he is ready to accept her now. But Sindhutai said that she will also accept him but as a child as she is only a mother now. She would accept her as the oldest son![12]
  • On 24 November 2021, she had undergone a surgery for large diaphragmatic hernia. She was recovering well but a few days later she developed a lung infection. On her death, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi tweeted, [13]Indian Express Limited

    “Sindhutai Sapkal will be remembered for her noble service to society. Due to her efforts, many children could lead a better quality of life. She also did a lot of work among marginalized communities. Pained by her demise. Condolences to her family and admirers. Om Shanti.”

    The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray said,

    “The news of Sindhutai’s death is shocking. She gave motherly care to thousands of orphan children. In her sudden death, an inspirational personality has been taken away from the field of social work.” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “The kind of social work that Sindhutai has done will inspire generations to come.” Former CM Ashok Chavan said, “Sindhutai herself faced a difficult life but she worked relentlessly to uplift the lives of orphan and abandoned children. Her life is a source of inspiration for millions.”

    Union Minister Smriti Irani termed Sindhutai Sapkal as a “beacon of hope & humanity”.

  • On 30 October 2010, a Marathi film named ‘Mee Sindhutai Sapkal’ was released which is based on the life of Sidhutai Sapkal. In the movie, Tejaswini Pandit played the role of Sindhutai Sapkal. After her demise, actor Tejaswini Pandit said

     “I am trying to come to terms with her death… She was sabki maye… a farishta (angel)…”

    The movie was selected for the world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival. On her life, an autobiography titled ‘Aamchi Mai’ was published on 1 January 2015 by an Indian author named D.B. Mahajan.

    'Mee Sindhutai' Sapkal movie poster

    ‘Mee Sindhutai Sapkal’ movie poster