Garjan Bai (ca. 1889-1918)

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Garjan Bai was born ca. 1889 to a humble Teli (oil-crusher caste) Hindu family, about 10 mi. (16 km.) from Dhamtari, Madhya Pradesh (M.P.), India. She was brought by her uncle to the Mennonite mission orphanage in Dhamtari on 1 February 1900, emaciated, covered with sores, and near death. The other members of her family died in the famine of 1900.

Garjan Bai's unusual gifts in leadership and spiritual maturity were recognized early. She was a persistent student and was recognized by both missionaries and fellow residents of the orphanage as a true spiritual leader. She had a very deep personal devotional life, and delighted to share Christ with all about her.

After she completed the 6th class in school in 1905, the American Mennonite Mission sponsored her for teacher training in the Female Normal School in Jabalpur, M.P. In 1907 she was appointed to teach in the mission girls school in Dhamtari. In 1910, while continuing some teaching, she became matron of the orphanage where she continued until her death on 9 November 1918. Her name means "thunder," or "thunderclap," hardly appropriate for a tiny baby girl, yet prophetically accurate for the brief life of one reclaimed from death's door and brought into the marvelous transforming light of the Gospel. Her Spirit-filled life touched all around her and remained a model for Christian discipleship for years after her death. The Garjan Memorial Middle School, Balodgahan, M.P., is named in her honor.


American Mennonite (MC) Mission, Dhamtari, Building on the Rock. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House, 1924, 1926: 79, 82.

Annual Reports of American Mennonite Mission, 2nd. 1 April-31 December 1901: 4-5, and 5th, p. 11.

Lehman, M. C. Our Mission in India. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House, 1939: 39-40.

Kaufman, James N. Walks and Talks in Hindustan. Goshen: The author, 1963: 138-140.

Author(s) John A Friesen
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, John A. "Garjan Bai (ca. 1889-1918)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 23 Jun 2021.

APA style

Friesen, John A. (1987). Garjan Bai (ca. 1889-1918). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 324. All rights reserved.

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