Dr. Savitadidi Nanjibhai Mehta will always be remembered for her selfless, pioneering, and unique contribution to India’s cultural heritage. Her father, Rajratna Shri Nanji Kalidas Mehta founded the Arya Kanya Gurukul in Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar, but it was Savitadidi who breathed life into it and transformed it from its humble beginning into the Institution it is today.

The uniqueness of Arya Kanya Gurukul lies in its blending of traditional values with modern education. Founded on Vedic Gurukul principles and practices, it also teaches modern subjects. The day starts off with a Yagna - the chanting of Mantras before the sacred fire. On entering its hallowed portals, many a visitor has mentioned feeling that the walls are constantly vibrating in harmony with the Gayatri Mantra chanted by the students each morning. A sense of deep and abiding peace permeates the entire campus, the effect of the prayers and positive thoughts of teachers and students alike.

Students are taught the essence of Vedic texts - the Shrutis and the Smritis - along with the Sciences, Mathematics, English, Hindi, Gujarati and the Humanities. In History and Geography, classroom teaching is supported by field trips so that students can get practical experience and a more thorough understanding of their subjects. A planetarium is attached to the school for the study of astronomy. Students are encouraged to use computers and participate in sports.

Dr. Savitadidi believed that a complete education must address the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of a student’s development. This blending of the traditional and the modern was supplemented by a disciplined lifestyle and a thorough grounding in the fine arts. She encouraged the learning of music, dance, drama, painting and sculpture. For physical and mental well being and development, morning yoga and prããyama is compulsory for all students. Theology and philosophy are also taught; indeed, a student’s education is not considered complete unless a student truly understands morality and its practice.

From only four small buildings when it started, Gurukul’s campus is today spread out over 90 acres. The buildings comprise the residential quarters, the classrooms, the Yagnashala, the dining halls, the hospital, the cowsheds, the Bharat Mata Mandir and a Planetarium. There is also a large orchard. These attractive buildings are extremely pleasing to the eye and reflect the unique nature of the institution.

At the tender age of 19, Didiji took up the challenge of running Gurukul. More than thirty thousand girls have graduated from the institution under her tutelage, and are settled in all corners of the world. Didiji’s relentless efforts have ensured that Gurukul has all throughout been an exemplar of the best Indian values. Gurukul has meant everything to her, it has been her Dharma and her Karma, her path of service to society and to India.

Today, when education has become a lucrative commercial business for many, where students are churned out without any spiritual or moral guidance, Gurukul stands out for its uncompromising stance on its objectives of producing responsible citizens. This has been a challenge through the years, and increasingly so given the environment today. Gurukul has successfully faced this challenge under the leadership of Savitadidi.

Every year Gurukul celebrates its Founding Day and the birthday of its Founder with a dance drama. The dance dramas, always on a mythological topic, fulfill a dual purpose; they help each student develop her artistic abilities while bringing alive the moral teachings of our rishis and saints. Didiji used to personally direct these dramas. Over the years, 16 dance dramas have been produced. In 1987, she directed and produced the opera ‘Satyavan - Savitri : the victory of love over death.” Given a rapturous reception at home, it was decided to take this drama outside the school. The play was staged in various Indian towns and cities, and the Gurukul students also performed the dance drama in the U.K. and Kenya where it received public acclaim.

Central to the story of Satyavan Savitri is the “Kuidalini dance” a uniquely innovative interpretation using the Manipuri dance form, the rise of the divine yogic energy through the spine. This visual interpretation, proof of Didiji’s own deep spiritual understanding, helped to provide audiences with a clearer interpretation of what is an abstract and difficult concept in yoga.

Even when addressing audiences numbering in hundreds of thousands, Didiji’s eloquence and wisdom held them spellbound. It appeared to many that Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, was speaking through her when she spoke on the Vedas, the Upanishads and Bhagvad Gitã, on Hindu Dharma and culture. She was equally fluent in Hindi, Sanskrit, Gujarati, English and Meitei (Manipuri).