Who was Mahatma Jyotirao Phule?
Jyotiba Phule was born on 28th April, 1827 in Govind Rao’s family in a backward area in Pune. At a very early age, he became aware of the common evil customs, as evil traditions in the name of religion, hypocrisies, untouchbility etc. He studied carefully the ideas of his ancestor social reforms, especially in respect of hypocrisies and less traditions, sanctioned by the Brahmans, against whom he stood in revolution.
Jyotiba Phule was the first person in contemporary Indian history that awakened awareness in the exploited depressed classes and the helpless women. Mahatma Phule established the first school for the untouchables. He was the first Indian social radical to open a school in 1848 for girls. It is also a twist of fate that his wife Smt. Savitri Bai gathered courage to become the first female teacher under these odd conditions.
She had to face great opposition. That childless woman of strong courage adopted with pleasure the son a widow name Kashik Bai, and brought up him. The widow on a being a victim of somebody’s desire was prepared to commit suicide but Jyotiba Phule behavior, made him her mind change, and she took refuge in orphanage.
Phule’s childhood, as made him think, why the untold members of the depressed classes were given barbarous treatment in the name of God and religion? What is the good manners behind the classifying a child birth as Brahman or a schedule caste? On what basis, the new born child becomes a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, when he has no knowledge of religion and has no faith in it? All such questions made him skeptic books on religion.
Such as Vedas, Puranas, Manusmriti, Mahabharat, Ramayan etc. He was full of anger and hatred for the Brahmans, who indulged in hypocrisy in the name of religious rituals. He felt, through has life, the indelible effect of insults which he had to suffer in the marriage party of his of his Brahman friend in childhood. His heart cried on the designed atrocities on the depressed class in the name of casteism and the climax of shocking behavior towards helpless women.
Against traditions, full of evil social customs and hypocrisies, a chain of great persons – Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Gopal Krishna, Mahadeva Govind Ranade, Keshawa Chandra, Professor Karve, Dayanand Saraswati, Lok Manya Tilak, and others – waged war. In this series of great personalities shines the name, of social change of Maharashtra, Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule. In his time, the inhuman and barbarous customs like worship of non-living objects, untouchbility, casteism, feelings of high and low, inhuman treatment with women, cruelty on child-widows etc.
The depressed and the untouchbility found it difficult to breathe freely. Open sex-exploitation of the child widows openly by the prosperous upper class people was an everyday event. To become a widow was both unfortunate and a curse.
During 19th Century
Before the social changes of the 19th centuries, many issues were there. The Hindu society was conservative and prey of blind faiths. As it was, India had been under subjugation for long. It was much behind the modern scientific researches of the English Community.
Three things specially jeered at it, first one is civilization and blind faiths and second is Assaults and scorns by the Christian missionaries and last is growing non-belief due to English mentality.
The point under consideration was that the wealth and freedom of that country and society were bound to beg off, which were divided into many sections and castes, such as Brahmans, Rajputs, Kayasthas, Kurmis, untouchable etc.
While man had ceased to be man, and each community, branding the learned persons as fools, persons of good character as devotees of the different community, and in contrast had just the opposite yardsticks in renown of person of their community, calling a fool a learned person, and the sinner a virtuous person.
Legacy of Phule
The name of Ranade, Gokhale and Tilak are noteworthy amongst social reformers of Maharashtra during that period. They were known throughout the country, because they were connected with the national stream.
But the names of Sri Agarkar and Mahatma Phule remained confined to their province (now State). Even then their services to the social reformation and women upliftment in the transition period will always be remembered”.
Mahatma Phule died on 28th November 1890, and over hundred years- 113 years have passed since his death. But how unfortunate it is that evil customs like women exploitation, dowry, casteism and neglect of the depressed are still alive in India.