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12 April 2023: Mahatma Jyotiba Phule

The 11th of April is recognized as Jyotiba Phule Jayanti each year.

Jyotiba Phule

  • Jyotirao “Jyotiba” Govindrao Phule was a writer, social reformer, and anti-caste crusader from India who was born in the Satara area of Maharashtra in 1827.
  • Maharashtrian social crusader Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar gave him the honorary Mahatma title in 1888.
  • He is thought to have been the first Hindu to build an orphanage for needy kids.
  • a significant contribution to the empowerment of women
  • Rehabilitation of Widows: After seeing the poor conditions faced by widows, Jyotiba founded an ashram for young widows and later backed the concept of widow remarriage.
  • Prevention of Infanticide: His orphanage was built in an effort to lower the infanticide rate. He founded an infanticide prevention facility with the help of Savitribai and his lifelong friend Sadashiv Ballal Govande.
  • Women’s Education: In 1848, he started educating his wife Savitribai at home and established a school for girls. In a school where untouchables were permitted to enroll as students, no instructor dared to work.
  • Jyotiba founded a ladies’ school in 1851 and invited his wife to instruct the students there. Later, he established two additional schools for girls in addition to an indigenous school for members of the lower castes, namely the Mahars and Mangs.

Significant Support for Untouchables’ Rights

  • Jyotirao criticized the traditional Brahmins and other upper castes, ran an anti-authoritarianism campaign, and exhorted the “peasants” and “proletariat” to resist the limitations placed on them.
  • Jyotirao made the decision to build a communal bathing tank outside his home in 1868 to demonstrate his tolerant attitude toward all people and his desire to eat with anyone, regardless of caste.
  • The word “Dalits” was initially used by Jyotirao Phule to refer to everyone whom the Brahmins regarded as belonging to a lower caste and being untouchable.
  • Jyotiba Phule founded the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) in 1873. This organization performed a methodical deconstruction of preexisting ideas and history in order to reconstruct a version that promoted equality.
  • The Hindus’ ancient sacred texts, the Vedas, were rejected by him. He used several other ancient texts to trace the development of Brahmanism and accused the Brahmins of creating cruel and exploitative regulations in order to preserve their social superiority by repressing the “shudras” and “ati shudras” in society.
  • The Satya Shodhak Samaj’s mission was to rid society of caste prejudice and free the oppressed members of lower castes from the stigmas imposed by Brahmins.
  • Everyone was welcome to join the Samaj, regardless of caste or class.

Known Works

  • He is best known for his works Shetkarayacha Aasud (The Cultivator’s Whipcord) and Gulamgiri (Slavery).
  • He also wrote some short stories, including “Ishara,” “Brahmananche Kasab,” and “Tritiya Ratna.”
  • He created plays like “Satsar” Ank 1 and 2, which were performed in accordance with his instructions to raise awareness of social injustice.
  • He also authored publications for the Satyashodhak Samaj that covered the history of Brahminism and provided details on the puja rituals that members of the lower castes were forbidden from learning.