Her Family

Shri Mataji, born Nirmala Salve, took birth in an illustrious family descended from the royal Shalivahana dynasty of India. The character of this exceptional family can be seen through the generations, as can their uncompromising adherence to the highest moral and ethical standards.

Going against tradition and widely-accepted beliefs, Shri Mataji’s forefathers converted to Christianity when they saw how cruelly Hindu widows were treated at the time, especially child widows.

Her brother H.P. Salve described his grandmother, herself a premature widow, in his Memoirs as “a towering personality full of courage and strength of conviction in her fight against injustice; a person who had the qualities of immense valour and courage on one side and a mother’s love and benevolence toward her children on the other. I am emphasizing this because all these qualities have permeated through to her children and grandchildren, especially Shri Mataji.”

Shri Mataji’s parents continued to live a life dedicated to justice and equality. They joined Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for Indian independence and it was understood that no one was to shed tears when any of the family members were arrested and jailed. After independence, her father and many of her siblings went on to serve in the newly-formed government.

Shri Mataji’s husband Sir C.P. Srivastava also led an exemplary life of dedication to the highest standard of public service. His books include the biography Lal Bahadur Shastri: a Life of Truth in Politics [1] and Corruption: India’s Enemy Within. [2]

Shri Mataji, who passed away in 2011, is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

Shri Mataji with daughters Kalpana and Sadhana  
We did not have consumerism in those days - we lived simply. Also, I think there was not that much of conflict in the generations, the family used to flow well.
Shri Mataji's daughter
Sadhana Varma


1. ^ C. P. Srivastava, 'Lal Bahadur Shastri: A Life of Truth in Politics' New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995

2. ^ C. P. Srivastava, 'Corruption: India's Enemy Within' New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2001