Friday, 9 September 2016

Inspiring woman reformer - Savitribai Phule


mahatmajyotiraophule.blogspot.com
It is an unfortunate fact that even today after 70 years of independence from England, the woman's place  in India is not encouraging.Though the society seriously talks about gender gap, woman's equality, women's rights, etc, there runs  a s streak of malice and loathing. It's a sad  that it is harder for  Indian women to breathe the fresh air of freedom from all evils. Things are slowly changing now as fights for women's equal rights and women empowerment play a major role nowadays. However, one has to admit her position in modern India has drastically improved in the last two decades; thanks to the early women reformers and fighters who  have taken the women out of  the deep, dark niches of our cultural fabric and  helped them see the silver lining in the cloud.

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”                                                 ....Eleanor  Roosevelt 

Savitribai Jyotirao Phule (3 January 1831 to 10 March 1897), an Indian social reformer and poet is considered an important personality of  the  of  the Social Reform Movement in Maharashtra. Working with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, who initially trained her as a teacher, she emphasized the values of women's education and improving women's rights in India during British rule. At that time women were confined to their hearth and  home and they never stepped out of their family living space.
Savitribai Phule,indiatoday.intoday.
 Savitribai, along with her husband started  the first women's school at Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. Besides women's education and their equality, she was also equally against the unfair treatment of people based on gender and caste.  Regarded as "Rashtramata" (The Mother of The Nation), through out her life she toiled to improve their reprehensible social conditions.

Born in 1831 in Naigaon, Maharashtra, Saviribhai, as a teacher, continued to teach the girls and earned the wreath of the local people from the orthodox section. Her husband taught and trained his wife as a teacher. Jyotirao Phule,  reformer, wanted many female teachers for his social works. Unmindful of protests from his close relatives, including his in-laws, he sent his wife to the teacher training school for proper training. On  completion of her training, in Pune  she opened a school in 1948 for girl at a time when women 's education was an anathema. Her initial enrollment was low, just nine girls from different castes. 
drambedkarbooks.com
In her troubled times, her husband stood behind her like a solid rock. The ego maniac and conservative people subjected her to insults and insinuation. While walking down the street Savitribai endured nasty, obscene  verbal abuses stoically. In those conservative days in India, working as a female teacher in  a male dominated domain  was not that easy.  Being duty-bound and believer in Dharma, as she was, she was fully focused on her passion. Slowly and gradually, she established herself. Other tasks, bravely  undertaken by her were:  during the 1850s and 60s, she welcomed untouchables around her and asked them to join the main stream Indian society, improvements of widows' position in the society and most importantly  marriage between young girls and old men . As the mortality rate was high, many girls ended up becoming widows before attaining puberty. There was no such a thing called remarriage of a widow and the social conditions were against it. In many societies across India, in particular among Brahmins of Tamil Nadu, widows had to live aloof within the their families. Unashamedly, they had to have their head shaved and
must wear a simple odd-color sari with head well covered. Besides they were not allowed to participate in any  Mangala Karyams (auspicious activities) at home and frequently referred to as Amangali. Further, people going out on an important work for the first time would avoid widows. Seeing them, it is believed, was a bad omen. I myself saw my grandma and other relatives  suffer silently in the remote village Agraharams near Kumbakonam and Thanjavur. Till her death, a widow had  to lead a life of a hermit  with out happiness. Simply, it was a wretched life for an Indian widow. On the contrary, widowers never had any restrictions and could remarry without any roadblocks. This  conspicuous gender disparity in the various Hindu communities was very much deep-rooted.

Savitribai Phule was honored by the British government for her superb contribution to woman's education. In 1852 Jyotiba and Savitribai were felicitated by the government for their sustained and dedicated efforts in the field of education. 

When the world wide Pandemic  bubonic plague struck India  in 1897, in Pune Savaitribai  helped the affected people along with her adopted son and in the process contracted the dreadful disease and died on 10 March 1897.

 Phule took the honor of being the first female teacher in a school in India and encouraged women's education and welfare.Women's education and their liberation  were her priority which, she thought, would break the cultural shackles in a male-dominated society, at a time when feminism meant nothing in Indian culture  She was one of the  most important personalities in India whose sacrifices and daring clarion  call against injustice to women slowly changed the  social scenario of the Indian women in the later decades.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savitribai_Phule