Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

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    • The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the great social reformer, philosopher and writer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule on his birth anniversary.

    About Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

    Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was an Indian writer, social activist, thinker and anti-caste social reformer from Maharashtra.

    Personal Life:

    • He was born in the Satara district of Maharashtra in 1827.
    • His father, Govindrao was a vegetable vendor at Poona. Jyotirao’s family belonged to the ‘mali’ caste and their original title was ‘Gorhay’.
      • Malis were considered as an inferior caste by the Brahmins and were shunned socially.
    • He was influenced by Thomas Paine’s book titled The Rights of Man and believed that the only solution to combat the social evils was the enlightenment of women and members of the lower castes.
    • Phule was also a merchant, author as well as a municipal council member.
      • In 1863, one of his businesses was to supply metal-casting equipment to construction sites. He was appointed commissioner to the Poona municipality and served in the position until 1883.

    Social reforms and key contributions:

    • He led the movement against the prevailing caste restrictions in India.
    • He revolted against the domination of the Brahmins and struggled for the rights of peasants and other low-caste people.
    • He is believed to be the first Hindu to start an orphanage for unfortunate children.
    • He and his wife, Savitribai Phule, were pioneers of women’s education in India.
      • He started his first school for girls in 1848 in Pune at Tatyasaheb Bhide’s residence (Bhidewada).
    •  He, along with his followers, formed the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Truth Seekers) to attain equal rights for people from exploited castes.
      • People from all religions and castes could become a part of this association which worked for the upliftment of the oppressed classes
    • He is regarded as an important figure in the social reform movement in Maharashtra. He was bestowed with the honorific Mahatma title by Maharashtrian social activist Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar in 1888.

    Famous Works:

    • He was also a reputed author. His well-known books include Gulamgiri (Slavery) and Shetkarayacha Aasud (Cultivator’s Whipcord).

    Legacy of Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule

    • Mahatma Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule stand out as an extraordinary couple in the social and educational history of India. 
    • They spearheaded path-breaking work towards female education and empowerment, and towards ending caste- and gender-based discrimination.
    • In 1840, at a time when child marriages were common, Savitri at the age of ten was married to Jyotirao, who was thirteen years old at the time
      • The couple later in life strove to oppose child marriage and also organised widow remarriages.
    • Jyotirao and Savitri did not have biological children, and adopted the child of a widow.  

    Savitribai Phule 

    • 1831 – Born in Naigaon, Satara district in a poor peasant family.
    • 1840 – Married to Jotiba Phule.
    • 1841 – Jotiba began to educate her.
    • 1848 -Became the first female teacher in the first school for girls in  Pune.
    • 1848 -Started school for adult learners in Usman Shaikh’s wada.
    • 1852 -Awarded the Ideal Teacher Award by the School Inspection Committee.
    • 1853 – Started Foundling home for children of widows.
    • 1854 -Published first collection of poems Kavya Phule, making her the first modern poetess of Marathi.
    • 1855 -Began teaching in a school for peasants and workers.
    • 1890 -Jotiba Phule died; opposition to his last rites by adopted son,  Savtribai , led the funeral.
    • 1897 -19th March – Savitribai died of plague

    Source: PIB