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BIOGRAPHY OF MAHATMA PHULE by Dr. Y. D. Phadke. for the bo... http://www.dalitstan.org/books/slavery/slavry_b.html 1 of 6 6/23/2005 1:02 PM
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Slavery
by
Mahatma Phule
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Biography of Mahatma Phule
Dr.Y.D. Phadke.
[This brief Life Sketch of Mahatma Jotirao Phule is written by the noted the scholar Dr.Y.D. Phadke. He is the editor of the Collected Words of Mahatma Phule in Marathi. He is also an eminent scholar of Mahatma Phule and the Satyashodhak Movement.] JOTIRAO GOVINDRAO PHULE occupies a unique position among the social reformers of Maharashtra in the nineteenth century. While other reformers concentrated more on reforming the social institutions of amily and marriage with special emphasis on the status and right of women, Jotirao Phule revolted against the unjust caste system under which millions of people had suffered for centuries. In particular, he courageously upheld the cause of the untouchables and look up the cudgels for the poorer peasants. He was a militant advocate of their right. The story of his stormy life is an inspiring saga of a continuous struggle whih he waged relentlessly against the forces of reaction. Though some keen observers of the social scene in Maharashtra like Narayan Mahadeo Parmananda did acknowledge his greatness in his lifetime, it is only in is only in recent decades that there is increasing appreciation of his service and sacrifice in uplifting the masses. Jotirao Phule was born in 1827. His father, Govindrao was a vegetable-vendor at Poona. Originally Jotirao's family known as Gorhays, came from Katgun, a village in the Satara district of Maharashtra, His grandfather Shetiba Gorhay settled down in Poona. Since Jotirao's father and two uncles served as florists under the last of the Peshwas, they came to be known as `Phule'. Jotirao's mother passed away when he was hardly one year old. After completing his primary education, Jotirao had to leave the school and help his father by working on the family's farm. Jotirao's marriage was celebrated when he was not even thirteen.

Impressed by Jotirao's intelligence and his love of knowledge two of his neighbours, one a Muslim teachr and another a Christian gentleman persuaded his father Govindrao to allow him to study in a secondary school. In 1841, got admission in the Scottish Mission's High School at Poona. It was in his this school that he met SadashivBIOGRAPHY OF MAHATMA PHULE by Dr. Y. D. Phadke. for the bo... http://www.dalitstan.org/books/slavery/slavry_b.html 2 of 6 6/23/2005 1:02 PM

Ballal Govande, a Brahmin, who remained a close friend throughout his life. Both Jotirao and Govande were greatly influenced by Thomas Paine's ideas and they read with great interest Paine's famous book 'The Rights of Man.' Moro Vithal Valvekar and Sakharam Yashwant Paranjapye were two other Brahmin friends of Jotirao who in later years stood by him in all his activities. After completing his secondary education in 1847 Jotirao decided not to accept a job under the Government. An incident in 1848 made him aware of the iniquities of the caste system, the predominant position of the Brahmin in the social setup. He was invited to attend a wedding of one of his Brahmin friends. As the bridegroom was taken in a procession, Jotirao accompanied him along with the relatives of his Brahmin friends. Knowing that Jotirao belonged to the Mil caste which was considered to be inferior by the Brahmins, the relatives of the bridegroom insulted and abused him. Jotirao left the procession and retuned home. With tears in his eyes, he narrated his experience to his father who tried to pacify him. After this incident Jotirao made up his mind to defy the caste-system and serve the Shudras and women who were deprived of all their rights as human beings under the caste-system.

Education of women and the lower castes, he believed, deserved priority, Hence he began educating his wife Savitribai and opened a girls' school in August...
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