Pandita Ramabhai — A Woman Mightily Used by God

by | Jun 1, 1999 | Prayer, Revival

A social worker

Pandita Ramabhai, a brilliant and famous Hindu social reformer, became a nominal Christian but in 1891 was wonderfully converted. She had built a centre for Indian widows, and she bore a special burden for the younger widows and orphans, many of who came to the centre as famine victims. In 1898, while visiting the Keswick Convention, Ramabhai pled with the four thousand gathered there to pray for evangelisation and revival in India. In 1901, she had some two thousand girls in her institution, which she called Mukti (salvation-deliverance), near Pune south of Bombay.

A humble beginning

Ramabhai felt strongly the need for revival among her young widows in India and throughout the whole world. For more than five years, Ramabhai challenged her friends in her magazine, the Mukti Prayer Bell. From 1899 onwards, she spent much time in fasting and prayer. In September 1901, she began a special prayer meeting for the outpouring of the Spirit. There was much blessing in December and January, and twelve hundred of her Mukti girls were baptized. All professed to have accepted Christ, and many were truly born again. In July 1902, God sent to Mukti three weeks of real revival, and some six hundred were saved. In 1903, Ramabhai heard of revival blessings in Australia connected with the Torrey-Alexandaer campaign. So she sent her daughter to Australia to enlist prayer for India among the hundreds of newly formed prayer circles.

Prayer circles

In December 1904, Ramabhai received word of the revival God had just sent to Wales, and her hunger for an outpouring of the Spirit deepened. She started prayer circles of ten girls each, urging them to pray for the salvation of all nominal Christians in India and for the outpouring of the Spirit in India and across the world. At first, there were seventy in her prayer circles there. She sent out a call for other prayer circles to be formed among friends and supporters, giving each a list of ten unsaved girls or women for whom to pray. Within six months, there were 550 at Mukti who met twice a day to pray for revival.

Revival at Mukti

While these groups were longing and praying for revival in western India, God was doing simultaneous work in northeast India in the Khasi hills of Assam. Ramabhai got word of the early outpourings of the Spirit in Assam and the evangelistic witnessing that followed. She asked for volunteers from among her Mukti girls to give up their secular studies and go out into the villages to preach the Gospel. Thirty young women volunteered and met daily to pray for the endowment of the Holy Spirit. After some days of praying, on June 29, 1905, the Holy Spirit came upon a larger group of the girls, with weeping, confession of sins, and prayers for empowerment.

One of the thirty volunteers was so set aflame spiritually that the other girls saw a vision of fire engulfing and surrounding her. One of the other girls ran across the room to grab a pail of water to throw on her, only to discover that the fire, though visible, was not literal. It was the fire of the Spirit as seen in Old Testament times and at Pentecost.

The next day, June 30, while Ramabhai taught from John 8, the Spirit came in power. All the women and girls began to weep, confess their sins, and pray for an endowment of the Holy Spirit. Girls became stricken down under conviction of sin while studying, attending the industrial school or at work. Lessons were suspended, and all Mukti began seeking God. Two young girls were so gripped with the power of the Spirit that they prayed for hours and hours, until their faces literally shone with a heavenly light.

As soon as the girls had fully repented and received the assurance of forgiveness, they began to pray for sanctification and baptism by the Holy Spirit. They searched their hearts before God until He showed them their inner impurities. Many girls had visions of the “body of sin” within themselves. They testified that the Holy Spirit came into them with holy burning, which they called a baptism of fire that was almost unbearable. The girls then became flooded with peace and joy until their faces radiated God’s glory. A report sated as follows:

“One little girl of twelve is constantly laughing –her face, plain, even ugly, is beautiful and radiant. She does not know it. She is occupied with Jesus. You think you have looked on an angel face. Some claim to have seen the Lord – one, a blind girl. All speak of His coming again. One sang hymns, composing them as she sang – lovely hymns to Indian tunes.”

June 30, 1905 is the day revival truly began in India. It spread across the country to Pune, Mumbai, Yeotmal, Manmad, Hoshangabad, Ratnagiri, Dhond, Allahabad, Aurangabad, and towns in Gujarat.

Waves of Prayer

Another account from the Mukti revival states: “It is the marvellous spirit of prayer that has been most evident. Waves of prayer go over the meetings like rolling thunder; hundreds pray audibly together. Sometimes after ten or twenty minutes it dies away and only a few voices are heard, then it will rise again and increase in intensity; on other occasions it goes on for hours.

“During these seasons there is usually some confessing their sins, often with bitter weeping which is painful to hear. The conflict seems so great that they are almost beside themselves. It reminds one of the narratives in the Gospels about our Lord casting out evil spirits, and truly evil spirits are being cast out. There is much one cannot understand at first, but one grows by His grace into the work and learns to distinguish by the outward signs as well as by the Spirit’s inward teaching the false from the true. Satan counterfeits all that the Lord does, and is working hard to hinder and spoil the work of God, but he is a conquered foe!”

Ramabhai’s praying bands were sent to other places like schools and mission stations of different denominations, and in many places, a deep revival work resulted. Those who visited the Mukti remarked that they had never been in any places where there was so much time given to Bible study and prayer.

With permission from Job Anbalagan


Pandita Ramabhai — A Woman Mightily Used by God