Savitribai Phule Jayanti 2024: On January 3, 2024, India celebrates the 192nd birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, the first female teacher, a modern feminist, and a social reformer of India. She is widely regarded as the “Mother of Indian Feminism” and the “Krantijyoti” (Light of Revolution) for her pioneering work in the field of women’s education, empowerment, and emancipation. She, along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, founded the first school for girls in India in 1848 and challenged the oppressive norms of caste, gender, and religion in the 19th century. She also wrote poems, books, and pamphlets to spread awareness and inspire the oppressed classes to fight for their rights. On Savitribai Phule Jayanti, let us pay tribute to this remarkable woman who lit the lamp of learning and social justice in India.
Early Life and Education
Savitribai Phule was born on January 3, 1831, in a village named Naigaon in the Satara district of Maharashtra. She belonged to the Mali community, which was considered as a lower caste in the Hindu social hierarchy. She was married to Jyotirao Phule, a social activist, anti-caste social reformer and writer, at the age of nine. She was illiterate at the time of her marriage, but her husband educated her and encouraged her to pursue her interests. She completed two teacher’s training programs at a time when women were rarely allowed to venture outside. She learned to read and write in Marathi, English, and Sanskrit, and also acquired knowledge of history, geography, mathematics, and science.
Contribution to Women’s Education
Savitribai Phule and Jyotirao Phule believed that education was the key to empowering women and enabling them to stand up for their rights. They faced severe opposition and hostility from the conservative sections of society, who considered women’s education as a threat to their patriarchal and casteist dominance. They were abused, ostracized, and even attacked by the upper-caste Brahmins and the orthodox Hindus for their radical views and actions. Despite the hardships, they opened the first school for girls in India in 1848 at Bhide Wada, the home of Tatya Saheb Bhide, in Pune. The school followed the Western syllabus of mathematics, science, and social studies, and had a total of nine students, including two Dalit girls. Savitribai Phule taught the girls at the school, while Jyotirao Phule taught the boys at another school. They also started other girls’ schools in Pune with a combined strength of 150 students. In 1852, they established the Native Female School, Pune, and in 1854, they founded the Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs, and Etceteras, to provide education to the marginalized and oppressed communities. They also started a night school for adult education and a school for the children of the untouchables.
Social Reforms and Activism
Savitribai Phule and Jyotirao Phule were not only educators, but also social reformers and activists, who fought against the evils of caste, gender, and religion in the Indian society. They challenged the Brahminical hegemony and the Hindu scriptures that justified the oppression and exploitation of the lower castes and women. They advocated for the abolition of untouchability, child marriage, sati, widow remarriage, and female infanticide. They also supported the rights of the farmers, workers, and peasants, who were exploited by the British colonial rule and the feudal landlords. They formed the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth-Seeking Society) in 1873, which aimed to create a casteless and egalitarian society based on the principles of truth, justice, and humanism. They also organized mass weddings, where the bride and groom took vows without the presence of a Brahmin priest, and where the bride was not required to pay any dowry. Savitribai Phule also worked for the welfare of the women, especially the widows, who were subjected to social stigma and discrimination. She opened a care center for pregnant rape victims and helped them deliver their children. She also adopted a child from a Brahmin widow, who was forced to give up her son by her family. She also campaigned for women’s rights to property, inheritance, and divorce.
Literary Works and Legacy
Savitribai Phule was also a poet, writer, and publisher, who used her pen to express her thoughts and feelings, and to inspire and motivate the people. She wrote poems, books, and pamphlets on various topics, such as education, social reform, women’s liberation, and nationalism. Some of her notable works are Kavya Phule (1854), Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (1892), Go, Get Education (1854), and The Plight of the Shudras (1881). She also edited and published two magazines, namely, Mahila Vidya Prakash and Stri Purush Tulana, which focused on women’s issues and rights. She also translated Jyotirao Phule’s book Gulamgiri (Slavery) from English to Marathi. Savitribai Phule died on March 10, 1897, at the age of 66, due to an outbreak of plague. She contracted the disease while serving the patients in the affected areas. She was cremated at her adopted son’s farm in Pune. Savitribai Phule is widely regarded as one of the most influential and inspirational figures in the history of India. She is honored and remembered for her courage, dedication, and vision, and for her immense contribution to the fields of education, social reform, and literature. She is considered as the “Mother of Indian Feminism” and the “Krantijyoti” (Light of Revolution) by the feminists, Dalits, and social activists. She has been conferred with several awards and honors, such as the Bharat Ratna (posthumously in 1998), the Padma Shri (posthumously in 1998), and the Maharashtra Bhushan Award (posthumously in 1999). Her birth anniversary is celebrated as Savitribai Phule Jayanti, Balika Din, and Krantijyoti Din in India. Several institutions, universities, roads, and monuments have been named after her, such as the Savitribai Phule Pune University, the Savitribai Phule Mahila Ekatma Samaj Mandal, and the Savitribai Phule Statue.
Savitribai Phule Quotes
Savitribai Phule was a remarkable woman who was the first female teacher, a modern feminist, and a social reformer of India. She wrote poems, books, and pamphlets to spread awareness and inspire the people. Here are some of her quotes that reflect her thoughts and vision:
Savitribai Phule was a remarkable woman who changed the course of Indian history and society. She was the first female teacher, a modern feminist, and a social reformer of India. She dedicated her life to the cause of women’s education, empowerment, and emancipation. She also fought against the evils of caste, gender, and religion, and worked for the upliftment of the oppressed and marginalized communities. She also wrote poems, books, and pamphlets to spread awareness and inspire the people. She was a visionary, a leader, and a role model for millions of Indians. On Savitribai Phule Jayanti, let us salute this great woman and follow her footsteps to create a better and more equal world for all. If you want to learn more about Savitribai Phule and her work, you can read the following articles:
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