Thursday’s Google Doodle on google.in honors what would have been Annie Besant’s 168th birthday.
The Doodle drawn by Lydia Nichols depicts the celebrated advocate, born on Oct. 1, 1847, sitting in a chair holding a copy of New India. The Indian newspaper, which Besant bought in 1914, was where she published many of her calls for India’s independence, IBN reports.
Even before moving to India, British-born Besant made her mark as a social and political trailblazer, fighting for women’s rights and religious freedom in the U.K.
After her husband, clergyman Frank Besant, left her for her vocal critiques of Christianity, she began the National Reformer, a newspaper in which she advocated for birth control and social change in the U.K. She then converted to theosophism, a belief system that incorporates aspects of Buddhism and Brahmanism.
Her religious interests brought her to India in 1893, where she attended the Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society in Madras, according to IBN. Only five years later, she founded the Central Hindu School, where she drafted a curriculum that combined secular education and Hindu tenets.
As in the U.K., she quickly gained political influence in her adopted country. In New India, she frequently advocated for self-determination, then know as “Home Rule.” She was then chosen to lead the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, India’s most storied political party, in 1917.
Before passing away in 1933, Besant made sure that her epitaph read “She tried to follow Truth,” to reflect her many advocacy efforts, IBN reports.
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