Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. — Buddha
The birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule , wife of famous leader Jyothi ba Phule (3rd January1831- 10 March 1897), one of the supreme names who fought against the totalitarianism of caste and other social evils in India falls today. So we decided to write about her today.
Historians say that this lady started first ever school for the downtrodden and was first lady teacher of India. Mahatma Jyothi rao Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule were first among the people who declared war against Casteism. Savitribai Phule worked as an equal partner in their mission of uplifting the poor and oppressed people.
Though, she was formerly uneducated, she was encouraged and motivated by Mahatma Jotiba Phule to study. Later on she became the first lady teacher of India in the school started by her husband.
The young couple faced severe opposition from almost all sections. Savitribai was subjected to intense harassment everyday as she walked to the school. Stones, mud and dirt were flung at her as she passed. But Savitribai Phule faced everything courageously. She was the first Dalit woman, in-fact the first woman whose poems got noticed in the British Empire. Savitribai Phule’s poetry stressing necessity of English and education through her poems. Her first collection of poems – Kavya Phule – was published in 1854 . One of the poem is given below which is quite inspiring :
Go, Get Education
Be self-reliant, be industrious
Work, gather wisdom and riches,
All gets lost without knowledge
We become animal without wisdom,
Sit idle no more, go, get education
End misery of the oppressed and forsaken,
You’ve got a golden chance to learn
So learn and break the chains of caste.
At a time when even the shadow of untouchables was considered impure, when the people were unwilling to offer water to thirsty untouchables, Savitribai Phule and Mahatma Jotiba Phule opened the well in their house for the use of untouchables.
They took initiative to give education to downtrodden, thinking that education is necessary for the restoration of social and cultural values. Savitribai Phule started Mahila Seva Mandal in 1852, which worked for raising women’s consciousness about their human rights, dignity of life and other social issue
During the 1876 to 1898 famines, Savitribai Phule worked courageously with her husband and suggested many new ways to overcome the difficult drought time. They started distributing free food at many locations. She died while she was nursing a plague- affected child as she got infected while serving the affected people
Modern India’s first woman teacher, a radical exponent of mass and female education, a champion of women’s liberation, a pioneer of engaged poetry, a courageous mass leader who took on the forces of caste and patriarchy certainly had her independent identity and contribution. Her life and struggle deserves to be appreciated by a wider spectrum, and made known to non-Marathi people as well.
The government of India paid it’s tributes to her by releasing a postal stamp on her name.