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What are the contributions of Jyotiba Rao Phule to Indian society?

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  • Last Updated : 26 Sep, 2022
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Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, also known as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, was an Indian social activist, thinker, anti-caste social reformer, and writer from Maharashtra.

Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was born in Pune in 1827. His father’s name was Govindrao Phule and his mother was Chimnabai. He was born to a family that belonged to the Mali Caste. In the four varna system caste, they were placed within the Sudras or the lower ranking class. Jyotiba Phule died on November 28, 1890.

The turning point in his life came in 1848 when he attended the wedding of a friend who was a Brahmin. Jyotiba Phule attended a regular wedding procession but was later accused and insulted by his friend’s parents. They told him, that as part of Shudra’s caste, he should be wise enough to leave these rituals and should leave the ceremony. This case was unfair in the caste system and had a profound effect on Jyotiba Phule.

Contribution of Jyoti Phule to the Indian Society

Contribution towards Elimination of Caste Discrimination                                

Jyotirao attacked the Orthodox Brahmin and other high-ranking castes, calling them “hypocrites”. He fought the authoritarianism of upper castes and called on “farmers” and “proletariats” to resist the restrictions imposed on them. He believed that religious icons such as ‘Rama’ or ‘Krishna’ were used by the Brahmin as a means of conquering lower castes.

The orthodox Brahmin of society was furious at Jyotirao’s activities. They accused him of violating social norms and regulations. Many had accused him of acting on behalf of  Christian missionaries. However, Jyotirao remained firm and resistant to them and decided to continue the movement started by him. Interestingly, Jyotirao was assisted by some of his Brahmin friends who expanded their support for the success of his movement.

Contribution Towards Women’s Education

He believed in gender equality and embodied his belief by involving his wife in all social reform activities. He witnessed how a young widow had to shave his hair and had to reject all kinds of joy in her life. He saw how untouchable women were forced to dance naked. And then, he decided to educate women by witnessing all these social illnesses that promote inequality.

Jyotirao’s quest to give women and girls the right to education was supported by his wife, Savitribai Phule. One of the few educated women of the time, Savitribai, received her literacy instruction from her husband, Jyotirao. In 1851, Jyotirao founded a girls’ school and asked her wife to teach girls at school. He later opened two more schools for girls and indigenous schools for lower castes, especially for Mahar and Mang caste.

Efforts toward stopping child marriage and Jauhar Pratha 

In his time, society was patriarchal and the status of women was particularly dire. Female infanticide and child marriage were two main stigmas in society. Girls were sometimes married to much older men. These women often became widowed before even reaching puberty and were left without family support. Suffering from their plight, Jyotirao founded an orphanage or ashram in 1854 to protect these unfortunate souls from the cruel hands of society. And eventually became an advocate of the widow’s remarriage idea.

Creation of Satya Shodhak Samaj

In 1873, Jyotiba Phule founded Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Truth Seekers). He embarked on a systematic deconstruction of existing beliefs and history, only to rebuild a near-equal version. Jyotirao Phule denounced the ancient Hindu scriptures of the Vedas. He traces the history of Brahmanism through several other ancient texts and revealed it as an exploitative and inhumane practice to maintain their social dominance by suppressing the “shudra” and “antishdra” of society. He blamed Brahmin for enacting the law. The purpose of  Satya Shodhak Samaj was to decontaminate society from caste discrimination and to remove the stigma that was inflicted by the Brahmin. Jyotirao Phule was the first person who used the word “Dalit” which refers to all those who the Brahmin considered untouchable and lower caste. Satya Shodhak Samaj membership was open to everyone, regardless of caste or rank. Several written records even show that they welcomed the participation of Jews as members of Samaj, and in 1876 “Satya Shodak Samaji” boasted  316 members. In 1868, Jyotirao decided to set up a common aquarium in front of his house to show his comprehensive attitude towards all and wanted to have dinner with everyone, regardless of caste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Who was Savitribai Jyotirao Phule?


Savitrirao Phule was the wife of Jyotirao Phule. She was also an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and a poet. Together with her husband,  she played an important and decisive role in improving women’s rights in India, Maharashtra. She is considered as a pioneer of the Indian feminist movement. Savitribai and her husband founded one of the first modern Indian girls’ schools in  Bhide Wada, Pune in 1848. She worked to eliminate discrimination and injustice of people based on caste and gender. She is considered as an important figure in the Maharashtra social reform movement.

Question 2: How did Jyotirao Phule die?


Jyotirao Phule devoted his  life to freeing untouchables from the exploitation of Brahmin. He was not only a social activist and reformer, but also a businessman. He was also a municipal cultivator and contractor. From 1876 to 1883 he was a member of the municipality of Pune. Jyotirao Phule suffered a stroke in 1888 and became paralyzed.And on November 28, 1890, the great social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule died.

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