Savitribai Phule

Indian social reformer (1831-1897)

Savitribai Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) was a social reformer of India. She was a poet from Maharashtra. She is known as the "first female teacher of India". She worked on improving the rights of women in India with her husband. Her husband's name was Jyotirao Phule. They started the first Indian girls school in Pune, at Bhide wada in 1848.[a] She tried to end social class and unfair treatment based on sex in Indian society. She was an important person of the social reform in Maharashtra.

Savitribhai phule
A hidepiction of Phule on a 1998 stamp of India.
Phule on a 1998 stamp of India
Born(1831-01-03)3 January 1831
Died10 March 1897(1897-03-10) (aged 66)
Pune, Bombay Presidency, British India
SpouseJyotiba Phule

Early life change


Savitribai Phule was born on 3 January 1831 in the village of Naigaon in Satara District, Maharashtra. Her birthplace was about 5 km (3.1 mi) from Shirval and about 50 km (31 mi) from Pune.[1] Savitribai Phule was the oldest daughter of Lakshmi (her mother) and Khandoji Nevase Patil (her father). They were from the Mali Community.[2] Savitribai and Jotirao did not have any children of their own.[3][4] It is said that they took Yashawant in their family. Yashawant was the son of a Brahmin woman whose husband had died.[5]

Career change

At the time of marriage, Savitribai was not able to read or write. Jyotirao taught Savitribai at their home.[2][6] She completed her primary education with Jyotirao. She registered herself in two training programs to become a teacher. Later, Savitribai Phule started teaching girls at the Maharwada in Pune. Soon Savitribai and with Sagunabai started their own school at Bhide Wada. Sagunabai was a coach of Jyotirao Phule. Tatya Saheb Bhide was inspired by these works. School course at Bhide Wada included traditional western course of mathematics, science, and social studies. By the end of 1851, Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule were running three different schools for girls in Pune. These three schools had almost one hundred and fifty students registered. Teaching of these three schools was better than government schools. As a result of this, the number of girls in these schools went up to the number of boys in government schools.[2]

Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule's success came with much oppose. The opposers were the persons who did not like change. The Phules faced strong opposition from powerful castes (Brahmin) because they belonged to the week caste (Mali). Education was not for the Sudra castes for thousands of years. For this reason, Brahmins started to oppose works of Jyotirao and Savitribai.[1] Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule were living at home of father of Jyotirao til 1849. Father of Jyotirao asked them to leave his home In 1849 because their work was a sin as per the Manusmriti and Brahmanical texts.[2]

They moved in the family of Usman Sheikh. Usman Sheikh was a friend of Jyotirao. In the 1850s, Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule established two educational trusts - The Native Female School, Pune and the Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs, and Etceteras. These two trusts had many schools of Savitribai Phule.[2]

Jyotirao talked about Savitribai and his work in an interview. This interview was given to the Christian missionary periodical, Dnyanodaya, on 15 September 1853. He said

It did occur to me that the improvement that comes about in a child due to the mother is very important and good. So those who are concerned with the happiness and welfare of this country should definitely pay attention to the condition of women and make every effort to impart knowledge to them if they want the country to progress. With this thought, I started the school for girls first. But my caste brethren did not like that I was educating girls and my own father threw us out of the house. Nobody was ready to give space for the school nor did we have money to build it. People were not willing to send their children to school but Lahuji Ragh Raut Mang and Ranba Mahar convinced their caste brethren about the benefits of getting educated.[1]

She taught children from different castes. She opened a total of 18 schools with her husband.[7] They also opened a care centre called Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha[5] (literally, "Child-killing Prohibition Home") for pregnant rape victims. Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha helped deliver and save their children.[8]

Death change

Savitribai and her adopted son, Yashwant, opened a clinic. This clinic was for the victims of an outbreak of the bubonic plague (Third Pandemic).[9] The clinic was in Pune. Savitribai died a heroic death. She tried to save the son of Pandurang Babaji Gaekwad. She came to know that Gaekwad's son had got the plague. Savitribai Phule ran to him. She carried him on her back to the hospital. In the process, she was infected. She died at 9:00pm on 10 March 1897.[1]

References change


  1. The American missionary Cynthia Farrar had started a girl's school in Bombay in 1829. In 1847, the Students' literary and scientific society started the Kamalabai high school for girls in the Girgaon neighborhood of Bombay. The school is still operational in 2016. Peary Charan Sarkar started a school for girls called Kalikrishna Girls' High School in the Bengali town of Barasat in 1847. The Parsi community Mumbai had also established a school for girls in 1847.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sundararaman, T., T. (2009). Savitribai Phule first memorial lecture, [2008]. National Council of Educational Research and Training. ISBN 978-81-7450-949-9. OCLC 693108733.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Kandukuri, Divya (11 January 2019). "The life and times of Savitribai Phule". Mint. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  3. Rege, Sharmila (2009). Savitribai Phule Second Memorial Lecture, [2009]. National Council of Educational Research and Training. ISBN 978-81-7450-931-4.
  4. "Life Sketch of Savitribai Phule – Timeline". Velivada. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India (Revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-521-52308-0.
  6. O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India (Revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-521-52308-0.
  7. "Who was Savitribai Phule? Remembering India's first woman teacher". The Financial Express. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  8. Agnihotri, Sanjana (3 January 2017). "Who is Savitribai Phule? What did she do for womens rights in India?". India Today. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  9. "Savitribai Phule – Google Arts & Culture". Google Cultural Institute. Retrieved 2 January 2018.

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