2 February 1913: Death of Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakpal, father of Dr. Ambedkar.
Dr. Ambedkar’s ancestral village is Ambavade, five miles off Mandanged, a small town in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. His grand father Maloji Sakpal was a retired Havaldar in the Bombay Army of the East India Company. He is said to have been allotted some land for acts of bravery in the battle field. Maloji had two children – Ramji (son) and Mira Bai (daughter).
Like his father, Ramji also joined the army. He was an enlightened person who worked hard and attained proficiency in English language. He obtained Diploma in Teaching from the Army Normal School in Poona. Consequently, he was appointed as a teacher in the Army School. He served as Head Master and had attained the rank of Subedhar Major. The Sakpal’s belonged to the Kabir cult along with the untouchability (Mahar) tag attached.
Ramji had 14 children, the 14th being Bhimrao (Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar). However only three sons – Balaram, Anandrao and Bhimrao – and two daughters – Manjula and Tulasa –survived. The Bhakti movement in Maharashtra had impressed the Sakpal’s family to imbibe its spiritual content, Ramji Sakpal brought up his children under strict religious atmosphere at time performing poojas and offerings with great devotion. Thus, during childhood Bhimrao used to sing devotional songs. Ramji Sakpal’s attitude towards his children was basically responsible to the all-around development of Dr. Amebdkar. Ramji was good in English and Arithmetic. He was a teetotaler and as mostly interested in his won and his children’s spiritual development.
Ramji Sakpal retired in 1894 and the family moved from Dapoli to Satara two years later. Shortly after their move, Bhimrao’s mother (Bhima Bai) died. After the death of his wife Ramji married for the second time, which was opposed by Bhimrao. The children were cared for by their paternal aunt. However, Ramji did not curtail the ambition of Bhimrao towards his education. Ramji stood firm and committed to his children’s betterment and Bhimrao’s intellectual aspirations in particular.