Jotirao Govindrao Phule was born in Satara district of Maharashtra in a family belonging to Mali (Fulmali) caste, caste perceived to be inferior caste by certain sections of the society. His father, Govindrao, was a vegetable vendor. Originally Jotirao's family, known as Gorhays, came from Katgun, a village in Taluka- Khatav, District- Satara. 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 'Phules'. (Reference- P.G. Patil, Collected Works of Mahatma Jotirao Phule, Vol-II, published by Education department, Govt. of Maharashtra). His mother died when he was 9 months old. After completing his primary education Jotirao had to leave school and help his father by working on the family's farm. He was married at the age of 12. His intelligence was recognised by a Muslim and a Christian neighbour, who persuaded his father to allow Jotirao to attend the local Scottish Mission's High School, which he completed in 1847. The turning point in Jotiba's life was in year 1848, when he was insulted by family members of his Brahmin friend, a bridegroom for his participation in the marriage procession, an auspicious occasion. Jotiba was suddenly facing the divide created by the caste system. Influenced by Thomas Paine books Rights of Man (1791), Phule developed a keen sense of social justice. He argued that education of women and the 'lower castes' was a vital priority in addressing social inequalities. Satyashodhak Samaj
On 24 September 1873, Jotirao formed 'Satya Shodhak Samaj' (Society of Seekers of Truth) with himself as its first president and treasurer. The main objectives of the organisation were to liberate the Shudras and Ati Shudras and to prevent their 'exploitation' by the upper caste like Brahmans. Through this Satya Shodhak Samaj, Jotirao refused to regard the Vedas as sacrosanct. He opposed idolatry and denounced the chaturvarnya system (the caste system). Satya Shodhak Samaj propounded the spread of rational thinking and rejected the need for a Brahman priestly class as educational and religious leaders. He was an aboriginal of India and established Satyadharma and never renounced his faith. He was against those Brahmins who were using religion and blind faith of masses for their own monetary gains. But Jyotiba had many Brahmin personal friends and he even adopted a Brahmin boy as his heir. He made a will giving his large property after his death to this Brahmin boy. Beliefs
When Phule established the Satya Shodhak Samaj, Savitribai became the head of the women's section which included ninety female members . Moreover, she worked tirelessly as a school teacher for girls. Deenbandhu publication, the mouthpiece of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, played an important role in SatyaShodhak Samaj's movement. Jyotirao firmly believed that if you want to create a new social system based on freedom, equality, brotherhood, human dignity, economic justice and value devoid of exploitation, you will have to overthrow the old, unequal and exploitative social system and the values on which it is based. Knowing this well, Jyotirao attacked blind faith and faith in what is given in religious books and the so-called god's words. He tore to pieces the misleading myths that were ruling over the minds of women, shudras and ati-shudras. Yielding to god or fate, astrology and other such rituals, sacredness, god-men, etc. was deemed irrational and absurd.  He also led campaigns to remove the economic and social handicaps that breed blind faith among women, shudras and ati-shudras. Jyotirao subjected religious texts and religious behavior to the tests of rationalism. He characterised this faith as outwardly religious but in essence politically motivated movements. He accused them of upholding the teachings of...
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