Laxmi Gautam was moved by the plight of widows in the holy city of Mathura. The heads of young widows were shaven and they had to wear only white saris for the rest of their lives. Child brides became widows before they became women. No one respected them after they became widows. Penniless, they had to depend on others for food and clothing. This forced some young widows to become prostitutes for their survival. Heirless widows were not given a decent cremation. Many bodies became prey to street dogs. Laxmi resolved to do something for them when she grew up.
Born in 1963 in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, Laxmi studied Hindi and History at Agra University and obtained her doctorate. She was then appointed associate professor at the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Vrindavan.
After her classes, Laxmi would go to the Yamuna cremation ground, collect abandoned dead bodies, even the rotting ones, and give them respectful cremations. She has performed last rites for more than 500 widows, and has been carrying out this noble deed for the last 30 years or more.