“Go, Get Education/ Be self-reliant, be industrious/ Work, gather wisdom and riches/ All gets lost without knowledge…” Savitribai Phule.
Savitribai Phule was the India’s first woman teacher and who wrote ‘Kavya Phule’, an anthology of poetry which was the first Marathi book published in the year 1854. Whether it was the fight of caste, religion, education, or even a pandemic, Phule contributed her every breath to fight these norms.
India’s first woman feminist was born on January 3, 1831 in Satara district of Maharashtra. She was married to Jyotirao Phule in the year 1827 and started India’s first girls school at Bhide Wada in 1848.
The woman who is still applauded and remembered for her books is actually more than imaginable. She also wrote a book called Bavankashi Subodh Ratnakar, which was her husband’s biography and her work also continued with editing her husbands’ speeches on Indian History.
Phule was just another girl stepping out of the house with an aim to reach school those days. But when she usually crossed those little boundaries and went to school, she was abused everyday, she faced stone pelters who threw rotten eggs and even cow-dung on the little girl. This all continued for forever until she decided to fight for herself.
The biggest source of Phule’s inspiration was her husband who actually bought a new saree for her on the days when she was abused and pelted. She used to reach school, change the dirty clothes and wear the saree. And at the end of 1851, Phule was running three schools of her own leaving behind all the orthodox men.
Reminiscing Phule’s achievements
Savitribai Phule was one of the finest educators and the first Indian woman who actually bewitted the caste system and taught Dalits, OBCs and Tribals. Being the finest educator of her time, she was positioned as headmistress of a girls school which she started with her husband.
At the time when education was limited to brahmin girls, she taught everybody despite considering their caste or color.
Not only education, Savitribai also fought for women exploitation and misogyny. She worked hard to remove patriarchy from the Indian society. Savitribai Phule along with her teacher Jyotibha Phule started a care center for widows and their children to ensure their safety.
Amidst the world struggling between caste, discrimination and superstitions, Phule ensured each individual have the right to be educated and showered unending literacy.
Savitribai started Satyashodhak Samaj to redeem and revise the unapologetically false caste descrimination thereby ensuring no influence of brahmanism on Dalits or other castes. She taught equal rights and liberation to every participating individual. Believing in mental health, no social pressure and activism, she became an inspiration for generations.
In the year 1860, when the society followed the practice of shaving heads of widows, Savitribai fought patriarchal norms. She organized and started a movement to boycott barbers against the practice of shaving widow heads.
The Life That Should Have Been Continued
The time when we are all stuck with a pandemic, we must cherish that our country birthed a woman who sacrificed her life for the people. Savitribai passed away on March 10, 1897 when an epidemic hit the world, serving the ill and needy. Till her very last breath, she along with her son Yashwant fought to win the pandemic.