"Bapu" is the personal name of a Tamil woman named Savithri.
Bapu was born of a culturally elite and affluent business family, in Tamil Nadu, India. She married and moved to Chennai in her late twenties.
After her marriage, and the birth of two children, she “went mad”, according to her family members. She heard voices, saw visions, wrote religious verses in Tamil and Sanskrit, and experienced herself to be in deep connection with god. She was deeply spiritual, beginning with ritual and religious prayer, and later, moving to a personal god. She was labeled with "schizophrenia" by the early scientists of the 1960s. She was "caught" by the police many times and forcibly brought back to a hostile family environment. She was subjected to many invasive treatments and psychiatric abuse, including repeated lock up, solitary confinement, insulin coma, several dozens of shock treatment, repeated and forced institution.
She broke many stereotypes of being a Brahman woman giving up all signs of a householder and living the life of an ascetic. She left home many times, wandering away to religious places and to some favourite god spaces, including Guruvayur and Chottranikara.
Eventually, she was deserted by her family, and struggled for daily survival, even though she came from a very wealthy background and had a huge property and a large family in Chennai. She lived many years of her adult life, wandering and possibly alone, in the healing temples of Kerala. She wrote poetry, sang bhajans, wore the dress of a monk and shaved her head. She drew and painted her visions, sometimes with great flourish and bursts of colour. Her bhakti poetry was published and read as a part of daily prayer by people in Tamil Nadu.
She suffered severe and debilitating side effects of psychiatric treatments, including severe tardive dyskinesia, Parkinson's and muscular dysfunction. Various traditional methods were also tried out on her, such as dhara, exorcism, etc.
She passed on in the autumn of the year 1996, struck by stroke and coma.
One of "Bapu's" two children, Bhargavi, founded the Bapu Trust in her memory and with her legacy.
Some saw "Bapu" as "mad" and "bad", others saw her as spiritual, creative, intuitive and gifted. The Bapu Trust for Research on Mind & Discourse, like "Bapu", journeys the grey areas between madness and creativity, insanity and spirituality.
Bapu Trust does not have any affiliations or connections to political parties of any sort. We are not associated with any religious denomination, cult or tradition.