Savitribai Phule Jayanti 2022: The first teacher of the country, who gave martyrdom while serving women’s education, society-upliftment and Dalits.
In the Vedic period, women had equal status and rights. Later, i.e. 500 BCE, especially with the Manusmriti, the status of women started declining. The Islamic invasion of the Mughal Empire and subsequent Christianity limited women’s freedom and rights. Gradually the situation became so bad that women were confined to the mill of the house.
This was the time when women who were facing the brunt of male dominance had to make their own identity. In this period, Savitribai Phule emerged as a strong woman, who tried hard to get women education and freedom from social exploitation. After all, who was this Savitribai Phule and what did she do for the education and empowerment of women…
Country’s First Teacher, First Principal
Savitribai was born on 3 January 1831 in a Dalit family in Naigaon, Maharashtra. Father Khandoji Nevse and mother Lakshmibai were agriculturists by profession. When Savitribai was 9 years old, she was married to 13 year old Jyotirao Phule. By this time Jyotibai Phule, like other women, was also illiterate. But he always had the pain of being uneducated. Aware of this pain of his wife, Jyotirao Phule started teaching and writing to Savitribai at home. He wanted Savitribai to be educated and educate other women.
After establishing her as a teacher, Jyotirao and Savitribai started a school with nine women in the year 1848. Along with teaching, she was also the principal of the school. In this way she became proud as the first teacher and first principal of the country. Later, along with friends Sakharam Yashwant Paranjpe and Keshav Shivram Bhawalkar etc., along with her husband Jyotirao, did many remarkable works in the direction of stopping untouchability, child marriage, sati and starting widow remarriage for women’s education and Dalit upliftment.
He started the upliftment of Dalit society and education of women. Savitribai broke the door of the house and started public life for women by going to teach the children.
Establishment of Social Society to connect with Society
Jyotirao Phule founded the Children’s Prohibition Home for pregnant rape victims on January 28, 1853 and the Satyashodhak Samaj on September 24, 1873. Savitribai was a very dedicated worker of this Sama. This organization used to conduct marriages of poor girls at low cost, in which dowry and priest free marriages were organized.
He started this marriage with his adopted son. Savitribai Phule herself used to bear the expenses of most of the weddings.
Face Opposition with Patience
In fact, this type of marriage system was similar to registered marriages, the practice of which is still seen today. Opposing this marriage system, the priests took recourse to the court. Because of this, the Phule couple had to face many difficulties. But they didn’t get distracted in the slightest.
The history of this mission of spreading education of Savitribai Phule was such that people would throw mud, dung and dirt on her when she came out of the house to teach. She used to carry an extra sari so that there is no hindrance in studies. In school, she used to teach changing sari. After the death of Jyotirao Phule on November 28, 1890, Savitribai resolved to complete his unfinished works.
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In 1897, there was a terrible epidemic of plague, and many people in Pune were victims of untimely death. Savitribai called her son Yashwant on leave to Pune, despite having an infectious disease, both of them did a lot of service to the patients of the hospital. In the same process, Savitribai also contracted the plague while serving the patients in the township of Mharo in Mundwa village. Finally, on the night of March 10, 1897, this great lady’s breath stopped.
Savitribai Phule’s entire life was spent fighting for the rights of the poor, deprived, downtrodden and women. In order to bring new awakening in the society, Savitribai Phule wrote 2 poetry books as a poetess, ‘Kavya Phule’ and ‘Bavankashi Subodratnakar’. In view of his contribution, the then British Government honored him in 1852.
Apart from this, the central and Maharashtra government instituted several awards in the memory of Savitribai Phule. A postage stamp was issued in his honor.
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