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Savitribai: teacher, mentor for shudras, atishudras, women, who fought injustice

By Vikas Parasram Meshram 
The renaissance of Maharashtra challenged Hindu religion, social order and traditions in the Reformation of Modern Indian Renaissance. Struggled to break the varna-caste system and end male dominance over women. Shudras and women led Maharashtra's renaissance. There were two pillars of this renaissance - Savitribai Phule and her husband Jotirao Phule.
Shudras and women were not considered equal in Hindu religion, social system and tradition. Hindu theology also says that – women and Shudras should not study. These were established beliefs and people of all castes followed them. The woman who first systematically challenged the Shudra, Atishudra and secondary position given to women in Hinduism, social order and tradition in modern India is Savitribai Phule. He fought for the emancipation of Shudras and Atishudras and for the emancipation of women throughout his life.
He was born on 3rd January 1831 in a village called Naigaon. It is located in Satara district of Maharashtra, which is near Pune. She was the eldest daughter of Khandoji Nevse Patil, who belonged to the Shudra caste according to the varna system. She was both a Shudra and a woman by birth, so her parents felt that she was born with the punishment of both. At a time when even a boy belonging to the Shudra caste was forbidden to get an education, there was no question of a girl born in the Shudra caste getting an education. She used to do household chores and help her father in the farm work. She saw the first book when she went to Shirwal market with other people of the village. He saw some foreign men and women praying to Jesus Christ under a tree. Curious, she stopped there as one of the men and women placed a booklet in her hand. Savitrabai was hesitant to take the booklet. The giver said take this booklet even if you don't know how to read. See the pictures printed in it. Savitri Bai brought that booklet with her.
At the age of 9, she got married to 13-year-old Jotirao Phule, and when she moved from her home to Jotirao Phule's house, she brought the booklet with her.
Jyoti Rao Phule, Savitribai Phule, besides being his life partner, also became his guru. Savitribai Phule received her formal education in Ahmednagar after receiving her primary education under the supervision of Jyotirao Phule and Sagunabai. After that he took training from Teacher Training Institute in Pune. Along with him, Fatima Shaikh also took teaching training in this training school. This is where they became close friends. Fatima Sheikh was the sister of Usman Sheikh, a close friend and associate of Jotirao Phule. Later, both of them did teaching work together.
The Phule couple opened the first school for girls in Pune on 1 January 1848. On 15 May 1848, when Jyotirao Phule opened a school at Bhidewada in Pune, Savitribai Phule became the headmistress. The doors of these schools were open to all castes and religions. The number of schools opened by Jotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule for the education of girls was increasing. Within four years, their number reached 18.
These steps of the Phule couple were a direct challenge to Brahminism. It was challenging their monopoly, which was cracking down on their dominance over society. Jotirao Phule's father, Govindrao, was put under intense pressure by the priests. Govindrao became weak before the priest and society. He asked Jotirao Phule to either stop teaching at the school with his wife or go home. Like a history-making hero, sad and heavy-hearted, Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule decided to leave home for the emancipation of Shudras, Atishudras and women.
After being ostracized from the family, Brahminical forces continued to harass Savitribai Phule and placed many obstacles in her way. When Savitribai Phule went to teach school, the villagers used to throw stones and dung at her. Savitribai stopped and humbly said, 'Brother, I am doing a good job teaching your sisters. The stones and dung you throw cannot stop me, rather they inspire me. It feels like we are showering flowers. I will continue to serve my sisters with determination. I will pray that God bless you.'' After going to school, she used to change her saree. Along with education, the Phule couple started focusing on other problems of the society. The worst condition was that of widows. These were mostly upper caste. Most of them belong to Brahmin families. Often these widows either commit suicide while pregnant or abandon the child they have given birth to. In 1863, the Phule family started a home to prevent infanticide. Any widow can come here and give birth to her child. His name was withheld.
Posters of this Child Murder Prevention Home were put up in many places. These posters were written, 'Widows! Stay anonymous here and deliver your baby without any problems. Take your child with you or keep it here, it depends on your wishes.''
Savitribai Phule herself took care of the women who came to the Child Homicide Prevention Home and the children born there. Similarly, the Phule couple raised the son of Kashibai, a Brahmin widow, as their own. whose name was Yashwant. Jyoti Rao Phule founded Satyashodak Samaj for social change in 1873. After his death, the leadership of Satya Shodhak Samaj was handed over to Savitribai Phule. He headed it from 1891 to 1897. He also played an important role in the implementation of Satyashodak marriage system.
Savitribai Phule was an important modern Marathi poetess. His first poetry collection, Kavya Phule, was published in 1854, when he was 23 years old. In 1892, his second poetry collection 'Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar' was published. It is a collection of fifty two poems. He has dedicated this writing to the memory of Jyotirao Phule. Savitribai Phule's speeches were also published in 1892. Apart from this, the letters written by him are also very important. These letters bring forward the thoughts about the situation, people's mindset, Savitribai's thinking and Phule.
In 1896 there was a drought again in Pune and its surroundings. Savitribai Phule worked day and night to help the drought victims. He pressed the government to provide massive relief materials to the drought victims. Mata Savitribai, a teacher and mentor for Shudras, Atishudras and women, spent her life constantly fighting injustice and establishing justice. He also died while doing social service.
In 1897, an epidemic of plague spread in Pune. She enjoyed healing and serving people. She herself became a victim of this disease. He died on 10 March 1897. Even after his death, his work and thoughts continue to guide the nation like a torch.



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