The History of Jyotiba Phule

History of Jyotiba Phule

Jyotirao Phule or populary known as Jyotiba Phule was Indian social activist, thinker and socialist reformer who had worked on various fronts like castism, discrimination and also fought for the education and upliftment of women in early 1800's. Here in this article we will try to highlight his life history.


Jyotiba Phule

Jyotirao Govindrao Phule also known as Jyotiba Phule was India's prominent social reformer and socialist thinker of the 19th century. He struggled to protect the right's of peasants and lower cast people and also opposed the domination of Brahmins in the society. Throughout his life he struggled towards the upliftment and education of women and girls.

Early Life and childhood.

Born in 1827 Satara Jyotiba Phule was son of Govindrao who was a vegetable vendor in Poona. his family belonged to the 'Mali" community with an original title Gorhay. back then the Brahmins considered the Malis as inferior and shunned them socially. The family came to be known as Phule since Jyotiba's father and uncle served as florist. At the early of 9 Jyotiba's mother had passed away.

In 1848 while attending a friends marriage ceremony Jyotiba was insulted by the brides family who belonged to the brahmins family upon knowing his background. This incident is said to have sparked a quest against the social injustice in Jyotiba's mind.

Jyotiba left the ceremony then but made up his mind to fight against the social restrictions and cast -systems.

Jyotiba was greatly influenced by the idea in a book " The Right of Man" written Thomas Pine. He believed in order to eradicate and combat the social evils the enlightment of lower cast people and women is a must. He then worked tirelessly hammering against the social majoritatiran domination with an aim to give equal rights to all human being who were subjected to social deprivation.

Women Education

Jyotiba Phule's mission to provide education to women and girl's was strongly supported by his wife SAvitribai Phule. She was one of amongst the few literate women back then. Jyotiba even thought her to read and write.

In 1851m Jyotiba even opened a school for girl's and made his wife to teach them. He even opened two more schools for the lower cast people especially for the Mang's and Mahar's.

The idea of widow remarriage was originaly adovated by Jyotiba Phule. He was the first person to establish and ashram for young widows.

During the time child marriage was predominant in the society. Female infanticide was considered a common occurrence. Young girls were married to men much older to them and this girls became young widows even before they hit puberty. Upon thier husbands death the girls were left and abandoned without family's support.

Jyotiba was pained by their misery and in order to support this unfortunate souls Jyotiba Phule established and orphan age in 1854.

Cast Discrimination

Cast discrimination was prevalent and predominant in India. Jyotiba strongly opposed the Brahmins and other upper cast calling them as Hypocrites. He even urged the proletariat and Peasants to oppose any restrictions imposed upon them by the upper cast and ran a campaign against authoritarianism.

He was a firm believer in gender equality and involved his wife Savitribai  in all his social activities. He even opene his home for people from all caste and backgrounds.

Jyotiba's movement made the orthodox Brahmin's furious and they accused him of breaching the norms and regulations  of the society and acting on behalf of the Christian missionaries. In order to make the movement successful few of his Brahmin friends supported him.

Satya Shodhak Samaj

In 1873, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule founded the Satya Shodhak Samaj which means the "The Truth Seekers". He formed this only with the vision to reconstruct equality. After researching several ancient scripts and scriptures he traced the history of the Brahmins and held them responsible for framing inhuman laws to exploit the shudra's and atishudras in the society. The aim of the satya shodhak samaj was to free the society from the clutches of castism bought by the Brahmins and to liberate the oppressed the lower caste people.

The terms Dalits was first coined by Jyotiba Phule to the people who were considered as lower caste and untouchables by the brahmins. By 1876 the Satya Shodhak Samaj consisted of 316 members. In 1868 inorder to exhibit his embracing attitude to all human beings Jyotiba Phule constructed a common bathing tank outside his house.


Jyotiba Phule devoted his entire life for the development and upliftment of the untouchables and also protected them from the exploitation of Brahmins. Apart from being a social activist he was also a contractor and a Businessman. Between 1876 - 1883 he worked as the Municipal Commissioner of Poona.

In the year 1888 Jyotiba suffered from a stroke and was rendered paralyzed. On 28th November 1988 the great reformer, writer and social activist took his last breath.

Books on Jyoti Puhle you may read: Jyotiba Phule a Modern Philosopher. 


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