Savitribai Phule

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Savitribai Phule
MAHATMA fule vada (23).JPG
Statue of Phule and her husband, Jyotirao Phule
Born January 3, 1831
Died March 10, 1897

Savitribai Jyotirao Phule (January 3, 1831 – March 10, 1897)[1] was an Indian social reformer, she along with her husband, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, played an important role in improving women's rights in India during British Rule. They opened the first women's school at Pune in 1848.[2] Savitribai Phule is considered a pioneer of modern Marathi poetry.[3]


Early Life[edit]

Savitribai Phule was born in Naigaon village in Satara to Laxmibai, and father, Khandoji Nevse, on January 3, 1831. Her father was the village chief. Savitribai was just nine years old when she was married Jyotirao Phule (age thirteen) in the year 1840. Jyotirao lost his mother at a very young age and was raised by his maternal female cousin, Saguna. Saguna worked as a nanny for a British officer’s son and therefore understood and spoke English. She used this knowledge in attracting Jyotirao towards education.


Savitribai started the first girls school in 1848,Pune, India .[4] Saguna was one of the teacher there. A year later a school was started in Bhide Wada in Pune. The first school had abruptly closed due to lack of support for education for the lower caste.

Savitri realized that in addition to working on education, it was necessary to work on other social fronts, to build up the self-esteem and confidence of women. Due to high mortality rates in the 19th century, many child brides who were married off young would become child-widows . After the death of their husbands, widows' head would be clean shaven to make them unattractive to other men. Savitribai and Jyotirao were moved by the plight of such widows and penalized the barbers by organizing a strike to persuade them not to shave the heads of widows. Despite being made to look unattractive, these helpless women, with no rights to denial, were easy targets for men. The resultant pregnant widows would resort to suicide or killing the newborn, for fear of being ostracized by the society. Once Jyotirao stopped a pregnant lady from committing suicide, promising her to give her child his name after it was born. Savitribai accepted the lady in her house and helped her deliver the child. Savitribai and Jyotirao later adopted this child, who grew up to become a doctor. This incident led the couple to open a "Delivery Home" for women on whom pregnancy had been forced. The delivery home was called "Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha". Savitri ran the home and considered all the children born in the home her own. Savitribai was not only involved in the educational efforts of Jyotirao, but also in social reforms that her husband pursued. Moved by the treatment of the untouchables, who were refused drinking water meant for the upper caste, both Jyotirao and Savitribai opened up their Well to the untouchables. In 1868, Savitribai welcomed untouchables to take water from her well. She also was the first woman to light her husband's pyre in the history of India.

The Phule family did valuable work during the plague as well, namely Savitribai Phule and her son, Dr Yashwant Phule. The two opened a clinic and treated people at Sasane Mala, Hadapsar, which was out of the city and free of infection. Savitribai took patients there and Yashwant treated them. There is an interesting anecdote about Savitribai carrying Pandurang Babaji Gaikwad, a 10-year-old boy, from Mundhwa to the clinic. After treatment, he beat the infection but Savitribai got infected, and this led to her death.


Savitribai Phule worked hard to keep plague patients alive. In fact, she was so involved that she died due to the infection on March 10, 1897. [5]


Savitribai's poems and other writings are still an inspiration to others. Two books of her poems were published, Kavya Phule in 1934 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1982. Recently the Maharashtra government started an award in her name for Women Who Work Social Causes.On March 10, 1998 a stamp was released by Indian post to honour Savitribai's contribution. Savitribai was a "Vidya Jyoti" for all those who want to do something in the field of education.

On July 7, 2014, the state cabinet of Maharashtra voted to rename the University of Pune as Savitribai Phule Pune University.[6]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Mahatmaphule
  2. ^ Mariam Dhawale. "AIDWA Observes Savitribai Phule Birth Anniversary". Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Savitribai Phule: Kal Ani Kartrutva. Savitribai was a published poet of two poetry collections-Kavyafule and Bawannakashi.
  4. ^ Commire, Anne; Klezmer, Deborah (2007). Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Detroit, MI: Yorkin Publications. p. 1512. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Kothari, Vishwas (8 July 2014). "Pune university to be renamed after Savitribai Phule". Times of India. Retrieved 10 July 2014.