“Lack of education lead to lack of wisdom,
Which leads to lack of morals,
Which leads to lack of progress,
Which leads to lack of money,
Which leads to the oppression of the lower classes,
See what state of the society one lack of education can cause!”
Jyotirao Phule is the Mahatma of modern India. His remarkable influence was apparent during the dark ages when women and shudras were denied their rights. His pioneering work in fields like education,agriculture, caste system, women and widow upliftment and removal of untouchability is remarkable.
Read also – What Mahatma Jotiba Phule Said
Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was born in Satara district of Maharastra state in India in a family belonging to Mali caste [shudra varna of Hindu religion] perceived to be inferior. His father, Govindrao, was a vegetable vendor. His mother died when he was nine months old. He was married at the age of 12 to Savirti Bai. His intelligence was recognised by a Muslim and a Christian neighbor, who persuaded his father to allow Jyotirao to attend the local Scottish Mission’s High School, which he completed in 1847.
In 1848, an incident took place in his life that later sparked off the dalit-revolution in the Indian society. Jyotirao was invited to attend a wedding of one of his Brahmin friends. Knowing that he belonged to inferior caste, the relatives of bridegroom insulted and abused him. Jyotirao left the procession and made up his mind to defy the prevailing caste-system and social restrictions. He then started his campaign of serving the people of lower strata of society who were deprived of all their rights as human beings.
In 1848, he along with his wife started a school for girls in Pune– the first ever formal school for girls in India. The orthodox of the society were furious at the activities of Jyotirao. They blamed him for vitiating the norms and regulations of the society. Many accused him of acting on behalf of Christian Missionaries. But Jyotirao was firm and continued the movement. Interestingly, Jyotirao had some Brahmin friends who extended their support to make the movement successful. However he was made to leave his house with his wife for the “crime” he had performed.
Check also – Life Sketch of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule
Jyotirao had to suffer a lot many difficulties for the mission he had undertaken. The very first one of it was he did not have any female teacher to teach the girls. There was no question of a female teacher as the girls were not allowed to have education till then. Jyotirao took a bold step and educated his wife Savitribai at home who would be the first female teacher of India. Savitribai had to suffer a lot of miseries during this course. She was ridiculed by the orthodox people, mostly the priest Brahman class, on her way to school. They even did not hesitate to throw mud or cow-dung on her. That great lady took all that humiliation as a part and parcel her mission and would go to school with two sets of clothes—one to wear on roads while going to school and then another to wear at school.