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Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule

Savitribai and Jyotirao

The Governor of Maharashtra faced criticism for supposedly making fun of the 19th-century social reformers Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule fortying the knot at a young age.” Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule were an exceptional couple in India’s social and educational history. They played a crucial role in advancing female education and empowerment, as well as combating discrimination based on caste and gender.

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Who were Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule?

  • In 1840, Savitri got married to Jyotirao when she was just ten years old. Jyotirao, her husband, was thirteen at the time.
  • As they grew older, the couple actively worked against the prevailing practice of child marriages.
  • Additionally, Savitri and Jyotirao took steps to support and organize remarriages for widows, challenging societal norms.

Jyotirao Phule

Jyotiba Phule, also known as Mahatma Phule, was a remarkable Indian social activist, thinker, and writer from Maharashtra.

Education: Back in 1841, he started his education journey at the Scottish Missionary High School in Pune and successfully completed his studies there.

Ideology: His beliefs were grounded in principles like liberty, egalitarianism, and socialism. He drew inspiration from Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” and firmly believed that enlightening women and lower-caste members was the key to addressing social issues.

Major Publications: Among his notable works are “Tritiya Ratna” (1855), “Powada: Chatrapati Shivajiraje Bhosle Yancha” (1869), “Gulamgiri” (1873), and “Shetkarayacha Aasud” (1881).

Title of Mahatma: On 11th May 1888, he was honored with the title of Mahatma by a fellow Maharashtrian social activist named Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar.

Social Reforms: Jyotirao Phule, driven by a revolutionary spirit, noticed the lack of educational opportunities for young girls and women.

  • He began teaching his wife at home and turned her into a teacher.
  • Realizing how tough life was for widows, he set up a home for young widows and strongly supported the idea of allowing widows to remarry.
  • He wasn’t afraid to challenge traditional beliefs, taking on orthodox Brahmins and other upper castes, calling them “hypocrites.”
  • In 1868, he built a communal bathing tank outside his home to show his inclusive attitude toward all people. He even expressed a desire to eat with everyone, regardless of their caste.
  • He launched awareness campaigns that inspired future leaders like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, who later took significant steps against caste discrimination.

Savitribai Phule

  • In 1852, Savitribai kickstarted the Mahila Seva Mandal to spread the word about women’s rights.
  • She organized a women’s gathering where people from all castes were invited, breaking barriers by having everyone sit on the same mattress.
  • Savitribai showcased her literary prowess by publishing Kavya Phule in 1854 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1892.
  • Her poem, “Go, Get Education,” passionately encouraged oppressed communities to embrace education as a means of breaking free from the chains of oppression.
  • Simultaneously, she boldly campaigned against child marriage, advocating for the right to widow remarriage.
  • In a groundbreaking move in 1873, Savitribai initiated the first Satyashodhak marriage, challenging traditional norms by eliminating dowries, Brahmin priests, and Brahminical rituals from the ceremony.

What is their Legacy?

  • In 1848, the Phule couple, Jyotirao and Savitribai, took a bold step by establishing a school in Poona that welcomed girls, Shudras, and Ati-Shudras.
  • Recognizing the importance of education, they set up two educational trusts in the 1850s: the Native Female School in Pune and The Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs, and others.
  • A significant milestone in their social reform efforts occurred in 1853 when they opened a care center in their own home to support pregnant widows, aiming to put an end to the harmful practice of infanticide rooted in societal norms.
  • The Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (Home for the Prevention of Infanticide) started as a compassionate initiative in their own residence.
  • On September 24, 1873, Jyotirao-Savitribai and like-minded individuals came together to establish the Satyashodhak Samaj, also known as The Truth-Seeker’s Society.
  • The Samaj advocated for progressive social changes, challenging prevailing traditions. This included promoting economical weddings, encouraging inter-caste marriages, fighting against child marriages, and supporting the remarriage of widows.

Read Also: National Population Policy 2000 – UPSC

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