Jyotirao Phule

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jyotirao Govindrao Phule
Mphule.jpg
Born (1827-04-11)11 April 1827
Katgun, Satara, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Died 28 November 1890(1890-11-28) (aged 63)
Pune, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Other names Mahatma Phule. Jyotiba Phule / Jyotirao Phule
Religion Satyashodhak Samaj, Deist, Humanism
Era 19th century philosophy
Main interests
Ethics, religion, humanism

Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule[a] (11 April 1827 – 28 November 1890) was an Indian activist, thinker, social reformer, writer and theologist from Maharashtra. He and his wife, Savitribai Phule, were pioneers of women's education in India. His work extended to many fields including education, agriculture, caste system, women and widow upliftment and removal of untouchability. He is most known for his efforts to educate women and the lower castes as well as the masses. He, after educating his wife, opened the first school for girls in India in August 1848.

In September 1873, Jyotirao, along with his followers, formed the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) to attain equal rights for peasants and the lower caste and his contributions to the field of education. Phule is regarded as an important figure of the Social Reform Movement in Maharashtra.

Early life[edit]

Thomas Paine's book

Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was born in the Satara district of Maharastra in a family of the Mali caste. His father, Govindrao, was a vegetable vendor. Originally Jyotirao's family, known as Gorhays, came from Katgun, a village in Taluka- Khatav, District- Satara. His grandfather Shetiba Gorhay settled down in Pune. Since Jyotirao's father and two uncles served as florists under the last of the Peshwas, they came to be known as 'Phules'. (Reference- P.G. Patil, Collected Works of Mahatma Jotirao Phule, Vol-II, published by Education department, Govt. of Maharashtra). His mother died when he was 9 months old. After completing his primary education Jyotirao had to leave school and help his father by working on the family's farm. He was married at the age of 12. His intelligence was recognised by a Muslim and a Christian neighbour, who persuaded his father to allow Jyotirao to attend the local Scottish Mission's High School, which he completed in 1847. The turning point in Jyotiba's life was in year 1848, when he was insulted by family members of his Brahmin friend, a bridegroom for his participation in the marriage procession, an auspicious occasion. Jotiba was suddenly facing the divide created by the caste system. Influenced by Thomas Paine's book, Rights of Man (1791), Phule developed a keen sense of social justice. He argued that education of women and the "lower castes" was a vital priority in addressing social inequalities.

Satyashodhak Samaj[edit]

On 24 September 1873, Jyotirao formed a branch of Prathana Samaj called Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth), of which he was the first president and treasurer, to focus on rights of depressed classes. He opposed idolatry and denounced the caste system. Satyashodhak Samaj campaigned for the spread of rational thinking and rejected the need for a priests.

Beliefs[edit]

Savitribai became the head of the women's section which included ninety female members[citation needed]. She worked as a school teacher for girls. After Jyotirao's death in 1890 his followers continued the Samaj campaign to the remotest parts of Maharashtra. Shahu Maharaj, the ruler of Kolhapur moral support to Satyashodhak Samaj. In its new incarnation, it continued the efforts to remove what it considered to be superstition.

Phule believed in overthrowing the social system in which man has been deliberately made dependent on others, illiterate, ignorant and poor, with a view to exploiting him. To him blind faith eradication formed part of a broad socioeconomic transformation. This was his strategy for ending exploitation of human beings. Mere advice, education and alternative ways of living are not enough, unless the economic framework of exploitation comes to an end.[citation needed]

Religion and Caste[edit]

The Indian society at Jyotiba's time, was deeply enmeshed in caste politics. The debate continues to prevail whether the Brahmins of India are indigenous to the land or they migrated from some other part of the world. Despite this, it can be stated that the stratification of the society was based on caste. As such, Jyotirao Phule could be classified as indigenous to the land. His akhandas were based on the abhangs of Indian saint Tukaram[1] (a Moray Shudra.)

He was a subscriber to Maharishi Vitthal Ramji Shinde's magazine, Dnyanodaya.[2] (Maharishi Shinde was a member of the reformist Prarthana Samaj.)

He did not like the casteist of Tamil Nadu using Rama as a symbol of oppression of Aryan conquest.[3]

Attack on the sanctity of Vedas

Jyotirao Phule's critique of the caste system began with his attack on the Vedas, the most fundamental texts of forward-caste Hindus.[citation needed] He considered them to be "idle fantasies" and "palpably absurd legends"[citation needed] as well as a "form of false consciousness".[4]

He believed that the true inhabitants of Bharat are the Astik.[5][full citation needed]

He is credited with introducing the Marathi word dalit (broken, crushed) as a descriptor for those people who were outside the traditional varna system. The terminology was later popularised in the 1970s by the Dalit Panthers.[6]

Social activism[edit]

He was assisted in his work by his wife, Savitribai Phule, and together they started the second school for girls in India in 1848, for which he was forced to leave his home. He championed widow remarriage and started a home for upper caste widows in 1854, as well as a home for new-born infants to prevent female infanticide. Phule tried to eliminate the stigma of social untouchability surrounding the lower castes by opening his house and the use of his water-well to the members of the lower castes.

Phule was a member of the Pune municipality from 1876 to 1882.

Connection with women activists[edit]

Savitribai Phule was one of the first modern feminists in India.[7] He is also associated with other feminists in the country, including Pandita Ramabai, a Brahmin woman who converted to Christianity and was a leading advocate for the rights and welfare for Indian women, and Tarabai Shinde.

Title of 'Mahatma'[edit]

According to Keer, [8][9] Phule was bestowed with the title of Mahatma on 11 May 1888 by another social reformer from Mumbai, Rao Bahadur Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar.

Published works[edit]

Among Phule's notable published works are:[10]

  • Tritiya Ratna, 1855
  • Brahmananche Kasab,1869
  • Powada : Chatrapati Shivajiraje Bhosle Yancha, [English: Life Of Shivaji, In Poetical Metre],June 1869
  • Powada: Vidyakhatyatil Brahman Pantoji, June 1869
  • Manav Mahammand (Muhammad) (Abhang)
  • Gulamgiri, 1873
  • Shetkarayacha Aasud (Cultivator's Whipcord), July 1881
  • Satsar Ank 1, June 1885
  • Satsar Ank 2, October 1885
  • Ishara, October 1885
  • Gramjoshya sambhandi jahir kabhar, (1886)
  • Satyashodhak Samajokt Mangalashtakasah Sarva Puja-vidhi, 1887
  • Sarvajanik Satya Dharma Poostak, April 1889
  • Sarvajanic Satya Dharmapustak, 1891
  • Akhandadi Kavyarachana
  • Asprashyanchi Kaifiyat

Commemoration[edit]

An early biography of Phule was the Marathi-language Mahatma Jotirao Phule, yance charitra (P. S. Patil, Chikali: 1927).[11] Two others are Mahatma Phule. Caritra Va Kariya (Mahatma Phule. Life and Work) (A. K. Ghorpade, Poona: 1953), which is also in Marathi, and Mahatma Jyotibha Phooley: Father of Our Social Revolution (Dhananjay Keer, Bombay: 1964). Unpublished material relating to him is held by the Bombay State Committee on the History of the Freedom Movement.[12]

There are many structures and places commemorating Phule. These include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ There are numerous variant spellings of Phule's name. These include Jotirao, Jotibha, and Phooley. Mahatma is an honorific title.

Citations

  1. ^ Culture and the Making of Identity in Contemporary India By Kamala Ganesh, Usha Thakkar
  2. ^ P. 113 Political Ideas in Modern India: Thematic Explorations By Vrajendra Raj Mehta, Thomas Pantham
  3. ^ Sharad Pawar, the Making of a Modern Maratha By P. K. Ravindranath
  4. ^ Figueira (2002), p. 149
  5. ^ P. 13 "Positive discrimination and the transformation of caste in India" By Christophe Jaffrelot
  6. ^ Nisar, M.; Kandasamy, Meena (2007). Ayyankali — Dalit Leader of Organic Protest. Other Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-8-19038-876-4. 
  7. ^ Wayne (2011), p. 243
  8. ^ Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent, Vasudha Dalmia, Martin Christof, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 227
  9. ^ Mahatma Jotirao Phooley: Father of the Indian Social Revolution, Dhananjay Keer Popular Prakashan, 1974, p. 247
  10. ^ Mahatma Phule
  11. ^ O'Hanlon (1992), p. 107
  12. ^ Sarkar (1975), pp. 32-33, 40
  13. ^ "Life As Message". Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 24. 16 June 2012. 

Bibliography

  • Figueira, Dorothy Matilda (2002), Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, SUNY Press 
  • O'Hanlon, Rosalind (1992), "Issues of Widowhood in Colonial Western India", in Haynes, Douglas E.; Prakash, Gyan, Contesting Power: Resistance and Everyday Social Relations in South Asia, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-52007-585-6 
  • Sarkar, Sumit (1975), Bibliographical Survey of Social Reform Movements in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Motilal Banarsidass/Indian Council of Historical Research 

Wayne, Tiffany K., ed. (2011), Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World: A Global Sourcebook and History, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-31334-581-4 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]