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Dhondo Keshav Karve

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Dhondo Keshav Karve
Karve on a 1958 stamp of India
Born(1858-04-18)18 April 1858
Died9 November 1962(1962-11-09) (aged 104)
  • Professor
  • activist
  • writer
  • social worker
Spouse(s)Radhabai and Godubai
Children3, including Raghunath Karve
AwardsBharat Ratna (1958)
Padma Vibhushan (1955)

Dhondo Keshav Karve (18 April 1858 – 9 November 1962) (pronunciation), popularly known as Maharshi Karve, was a social reformer in India in the field of women's welfare. He advocated widow remarriage, and he himself remarried a widow as a widower. Karve was a pioneer in promoting widows' education. He founded the first women's university in India, the SNDT Women's University in 1916.[1] The Government of India awarded him with the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1958, the year of his 100th birthday. He organized a conference against the practice of devdasi. He started 'Anath balikashram' an orphanage for girls. His intention was to give education to all women and make them stand on their own feet. Through his efforts, the first women university was set up in 20th century.

The appellation Maharshi, which the Indian public often assigned to Karve, means "a great sage".


Early life and education[edit]

Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on 18 April 1858, at Sheravali, in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. He belonged to a lower middle-class Chitpavan Brahmin family and his father's name was Keshav Bapunna Karve.[2]

In 1884, he graduated with a degree in mathematics from Elphinstone College.[3]


During 1891–1914, Karve taught mathematics at Fergusson College in Pune, Maharashtra.[4][5]

In 1929, he visited Europe, America and Japan. During these travels, he met Albert Einstein. During this world tour, he also raised funds for the university.[3]

Autobiographical works[edit]

c. 1916

Karve wrote two autobiographical works: Ātmawrutta (1928) in Marathi, and Looking Back (1936) in English.

Depictions in popular culture[edit]

The Marathi play Himalayachi Saavli (हिमालयाची सावली) (literal meaning, "The Shadow of the Himalayas". Contextually it means, under the cover of Himalaya) by Vasant Kanetkar, published in 1972, is loosely based on the life of Karve. The character of Nanasaheb Bhanu is a composite character based on Karve and other Marathi social reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. The play itself depicts the tension between Bhanu/Karve's public life as a social reformer and his family life due to the social backlash and economic hardships his children and wife had to endure.

The Story of Dr. Karve is a 1958 documentary film directed by Neil Gokhale and Ram Gabale. It was produced by the Government of India's Films Division.[6]

The 2001 film Dhyaas Parva (ध्यास पर्व) by Amol Palekar, based on the life of Karve's son Raghunath, also depicts the Karve family, and their social reformation projects.[7] Taluka Dapoli, a research based initiative, made a documentary on life of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve in 2017.[8]

Awards and honours[edit]

In his honour, Karvenagar in Pune was named after him & Queen's Road in Mumbai (Bombay) was renamed to Maharshi Karve Road.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Remembering Maharshi Karve, the man who set up India's first university for women". India Today. Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Dhondo Keshav Karve – The Great Indian Social Reformer who..." www.beaninspirer.com. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b Dagar, Nisha (9 November 2019). "देश-विदेश घूमकर किया चंदा इकट्ठा और शुरू कर दी देश की पहली महिला यूनिवर्सिटी!" [Collected donations travelling across the country and the world, and established the country's first women's university]. The Better India (in Hindi). Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Fergusson College Department of Mathematics web page". Archived from the original on 19 June 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2006.
  5. ^ "Remembering the Selfless Man Who Set up India's First University for Women". 27 October 2017.
  6. ^ Jag Mohan (1990). Documentary films and Indian Awakening. Publications Division. p. 128. ISBN 978-81-230-2363-2.
  7. ^ Ahmed, Afsana; Sharma, Smrity (20 August 2001). "Amol Palekar, Actor & Film-Maker on his latest film Dhyaas-Parva's". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve". www.talukadapoli.com. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2007)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  10. ^ Karve, Dinakar Dhondo (1963). The new Brahmans; five Maharashtrian families. Internet Archive. Berkeley, University of California Press.