If you’re a history buff, we’ve got an interesting tale for you. Whores of Yore, a Twitter account recently shared a thread about Gauhar Jaan, a famous courtesan, who fought for the subcontinent’s independence from British rule.
This legendary woman spoke many languages fluently and recorded more than 600 records between 1902 and 1920 in Bengali, Gujrati, Tamil, Arabic, Pashto, French and English.
— Whores of Yore (@WhoresofYore) June 21, 2020
“She raised money for money for the Swaraj fund to support the freedom movement. Gandhi asked her to organize a fund-raising concert, she agreed on the condition that he would attend the event. When Gandhi didn’t turn up, she only sent him half of the earnings,” read the thread.
Swaraj means self-rule or self-governance, was a movement popularized by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1910s.
She was also known for her extravagant spending habits. Once she spent 20,000 Indian rupees to arrange a marriage between her cats.
During the 1920s, the British campaigned against the Tawaifs (courtesans). When the Indian Viceroy was pressured to ban the profession, she told the Viceroy to mind his own business since his monthly salary was equal to what she received for one mujra.
According to the Twitter account, Gauhar was one of many courtesans who fought for independence from the British. You can read more about them in Saba Dewan’s book Tawaifnama.