Sarla Bedi (1925-2013) was an Indian priest who established Arya Samaj in Toronto, Canada. She died on 15 November 2013 in Toronto, Canada, after suffering from Arthritis.
Sarla Bedi was born on Saturday, 4 April 1925 (age 88 years; at the time of death) in Sahnewal, district of Ludhiana, Punjab (India). Sarla’s family was one of the million families that suffered from the great economic depression. So, when Sarla was young, her family moved to Kenya. There, she spent her childhood in a segregated colony, learning how to paint, and participating in debates and lectures on the Indian independence movement. Due to Sarla’s mother’s poor health and her father’s struggle with employment, she had to give up her dream of studying Law in England. In 1972, Sarla decided its best to move to Toronto in Canada during South Africa’s political unrest and increasing violence against Indians.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Brown
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Sarla was the eldest of six children. She had five younger brothers.
Husband & Children
In 1942, she got married to Gobind Bedi, an Indian social activist. The couple had three sons named Nilam, Deepak, and Shalin, and a daughter named Sheetal. In 2008, Gobind Bedi passed away.
Sarla Bedi with her son Nilam Bedi (left) and children
The 18-year-old Sarla then took the responsibility of household chores. She also became a teacher in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to sustain her family and educate her young brothers. She continued participating in public debates regarding the struggles of Indians for their independence and concerning social problems. Nevertheless, these discussions helped her have a bold voice and develop excellent oratory skills.
In 1972, she moved to Toronto in Canada. Sarla, along with her husband, became the founders of Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement that began in 1875 by Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati. Their organisation promoted social causes and helped Indian immigrants get settled. In 1976, Sarla became the first female Hindu priest in Ontario. Sarla was considered a well-respected counsellor on both spiritual and social matters. She started organizing holy baptisms, mixed-faith weddings, and funerals in the community. By 1996, Canada- based Arya Samaj had built a Vedic Cultural Centre in Markham which now operates as a hub for all kinds of cultural and communal activities for both senior citizens and children.
Vedic Cultural Centre in Markham, Toronto
On 15 November 2013, she died after suffering from Arthritis and contracting hospital-acquired infections in Toronto, Canada.
- Apart from following a healthy diet, Sarla was very fond of Indian sweets such as gulab jamun.
- On 21 November 2009, Sarla Bedi was one of the six members who were honoured at the Vedic Cultural Centre, Markham, for their significant contributions and services towards the growth of the Arya Samaj in Canada.