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  • Shaarang Kshirsagar

Dhondo Keshav Karve - The True Feminist

“When you educate a man, You only educate a man When you educate a woman You educate a whole generation” Maharshi Karve or Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on the 18th of April,1858 in the small town of Sherawali situated in the Ratnagiri District. His family belonged to a lower-middle-class Brahmin family and his father used to work at a small estate as a manager at a meagre salary. After scoring good marks in his matriculation exams, he received a seat at the prestigious Elphinstone College and completed his graduation degree in Mathematics. He then started teaching at the famous Fergusson College in Pune.

This was the time when the thoughts of revolutionaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Pandita Ramabai, and Jyotirao Phule on women empowerment were sprawling in the atmosphere. An integral issue addressed by these influential people was women’s education which was rare at that time.

Maharshi's outlook as a society changer was shaped by his childhood experiences. He was married to Radhabai at the age of 14 and she passed away in 1991 due to complications in childbirth. Karve was an enthusiastic Widow Empowerment Leader and he Established the Widow Remarriage Association in 1893.

Karve set an example by marrying a widow named Godubai who lost her husband at the tender age of 8. At that time, widows tonsure their heads and wore white sarees. They refrained to participate in festivals. Although many criticized his work he did not stop striving for providing justice to widows. He then established the Hindu Widows Home Association a welfare institute that helped widows. After serving much-deserved justice to widows He started a school only for widows located at Hingane village near Pune which was also the first school for widows in India. The first student of this school was Karve's sister-in-law Parvatibai Athavale.

Soon he retired from the Fergusson college and then he started the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) University for Women in 1916 with the help of Mumbai Industrialist Vithaldas Thackersey who donated 1.5 Million to help start the university. The first 5 women graduates graduated in 1921. This university is now one of India's best universities, and girls from all over India seek their higher education in more than 20 faculties. Karve has a road(Karve road, Pune) named after him. He also received the Bharat Ratna presented by the President of India on his 100th Birthday. He took his last breath on the 9th of November when he was 104 years.

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