Madame Cama

Other names: 

Bhikaiji Rustom Cama

Bhikai Sorab Patel


44 St Marks Road
North Kensington, London, W10 6JT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 8.8896" N, 0° 13' 2.5968" W
Date of birth: 
24 Sep 1861
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Date of death: 
13 Aug 1936
Location of death: 
Bombay (Mumbai), India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1901
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1901-9 (on and off)


Madame Cama is known as the 'Mother of Indian Revolution'. She was married to Rustom Cama, a wealthy lawyer based in Bombay. Having worked as a social worker during the Bombay Plague epidemic in 1897, she became ill herself and was sent to Britain in 1901/2 for treatment.

Cama met Shyamaji Krishnavarma and became involved in European revolutionary circles. She met Dadabhai Naoroji, a moderate nationalist, and worked for him in his unsuccessful campaign to contest Lambeth North in the 1906 General Election. However, Cama identified with more radical politics than Naoroji's, in particular the Indian Home Rule Society and Krishnavarma's India House. In 1907, she attended the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart. Cama addressed the delegates at Stuttgart and unfolded the Indian Tricolour Flag (green, yellow and red) with Bande Mataram written on the middle. This was the first time an Indian flag was displayed in a foreign country and was part of the template for the tricolour adopted by the Indian nation.

In 1909, Cama settled in Paris and began publishing a monthly journal called Bande Mataram after the assassination of Sir Curzon-Wyllie. Her house became a meeting point for various revolutionaries and exiles (Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, V. D. Savarkar, members of the Ghadr Party) and she met many Indians when they came through Europe (Jawaharlal Nehru, Herabai Tata, Mithan Lam). Cama herself was an exile from India until she renounced seditionist activities. The portrayal of the revolutionary Indian wife Kamala in Alice Sorabji Pennell’s Doorways of the East appears to be based on the life and character of Madame Cama. In November 1935, she returned to Bombay and died nine months later.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Bande Mataram

Secondary works: 

Mody, Nawaz B. (ed.), The Parsis in Western India: 1818-1920 (Bombay: Allied Publishers Ltd, 1998)

Saha, Panchanan, Madame Cama 'Mother of Indian Revolution' (Calcutta: Manisha, 1975)

Sethna, Khorshed Adi, Madame Bhikaiji Rustom Cama (New Delhi: Govt. of India, 1987)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, Women in India and Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Yajnik, Indulal, Shyamaji Krishnavarma (Bombay: Lakshmi Publications, 1950)

Archive source: 

India Office intelligence files, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras