Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, popularly known as Jyotiba Phule, was an Indian social reformer, philosopher and eminent thinker. People also know him by the name of Mahatma Phule and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.
Jyotiba Phule Biography in English
|11 April, 1827
|Govind Rao Phule
|Yashvant Rao Phule
|Scottish Mission High School, Pune
|28 November 1890
|Phule Wada, Pune, Maharashtra
Jyotiba Phule, who played an important role in eradicating untouchability from the nation and empowering the society, was born on April 11, 1827 in Pune. Phule was named after Lord Jyotiba. He was born on the day of the annual fair of Lord Jyotiba. His mother’s name was Chimanabai and father’s name was Govindrao. His mother died when he was just one year old. His family worked as gardeners many generations ago. Since his ancestral business was of flowers, he came to be known as Phule. Actually, they used to bring flowers from Satara to Pune and make flower pots etc., hence their generation was known as ‘Phule’.
Phule was a successful businessman. In the year 1882 he established himself as a merchant, agriculturist and municipal contractor. He owned 60 acres (24 ha) of agricultural land in Manjari, near Pune.
For some time, he worked as a contractor for the government and supplied the building materials required for the construction of a dam on the Mula-Mutha River near Pune in the 1870s. He also got contracts to provide labor for the construction of the Katraj Tunnel and the Yerwada Jail near Pune. Additionally, between 1876 and 1883 he was the Commissioner of Poona Municipality.
After suffering a stroke in 1888, Jyotiba became paralyzed (paralysis), due to which Jyotiba Phule died on November 28, 1890.
Biography of Jyotiba Phule
An incident changed life
In 1848, an incident gave rise to Jyotiba’s movement against the social injustice of caste discrimination and her quest for the abolition of caste discrimination. Jyotirao was invited to attend the wedding of one of his friends who belonged to an upper caste Brahmin family. But at the wedding, when the groom’s relatives came to know about Jyotiba’s caste, they insulted and misbehaved with her. Jyotirao left the ceremony and made up his mind to challenge the prevailing caste system and social restrictions.
Jyotiba Phule’s contribution to education
Jyotiba Phule’s name holds an important place in the list of social reformers. His area of work was women’s education, eradication of child marriage, widow remarriage, etc. His birthplace was Maharashtra, where he founded an organization called ‘Satya Shodhak Samaj’. Education had a special place in his works.
In 1848, he opened a school for girls of lower castes in Pune. It was extremely rare for girls to get education in the then India. He educated his wife Savitribai Phule at home and she became a girl’s school teacher. Later, the Phule couple opened more schools for girls. He built many schools for the people of lower castes. Phule’s work faced considerable opposition from conservative Brahmins, who accused him of disrupting the social status quo. Nevertheless, Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule continued their work towards socio-economic and gender equality.
Phule also opposed child marriage and supported the right of widows to remarry. He opened a home for widows, especially Brahmins, who became pregnant and also an orphanage for their children. Phule and his wife later adopted one of these children.
To propagate his ideas, Phule wrote books, essays, poems and plays. His most famous work is the book Gulamgiri (Slavery), published in 1873. It is an attack on the caste system of India, comparing the situation of members of lower castes to that of enslaved people in the United States.
Jyotiba Phule and Satyashodhak Samaj
Jyotiba Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) in the year 1873. Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj with the objective of promoting social equality, uniting and uplifting the Shudras and other lower caste people, and reversing the socio-economic inequality caused by the caste system.
Jyotirao had strongly condemned the Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of Hindus. Phule clarified that any person is welcome to join the Satyashodhak Samaj, irrespective of social class. Phule’s primary intention was to unite people who had a shared experience of oppression within the Brahmin-dominated caste system.
The mission of Satya Shodhak Samaj was to free the society from caste prejudice and free the deprived lower caste people from the stigma brought by the Brahmins.