Thursday, 25 November 2010

History

Nepal is the birthplace of LORD Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The four holy places associated with Gautam Buddha in India are - Lumbini, his birthplace, which lies in Nepal; Bodhgaya, where he attained enlightenment; Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he preached his first sermon; Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur, where he achieved Mahanirvana.

These can be considered part of the broader region of Ancient India. His father was King Suddhodana, the chief of the Shakya nation, one of several ancient tribes in the growing state of Kosala; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Mayadevi) and Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess. On the night Siddhartha was conceived, As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant, she left Kapilvastu for her father's kingdom to give birth. However, she gave birth on the way, at Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree.

 Siddhartha's father arranged his marriage to Yasodhara, a cousin of the same age. Though this is the traditional account, an early source casts doubt as to the historicity of his married life. According to the traditional account, in time, she gave birth to a son, Rahula. Siddhartha spent 29 years as a Prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Siddhartha felt that material wealth was not the ultimate goal of life.

 The remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and southern Nepal, teaching his doctrine and discipline to an extremely diverse range of people— from nobles to outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers such as Angulimala and cannibals such as Alavaka.

The first vassana was spent at Varanasi when the sangha was first formed. After this, he travelled to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha to visit King Bimbisara, in accordance with his promise after enlightenment. It was during this visit that Sariputta and Mahamoggallana were converted by Assaji, one of the first five disciples; they were to become the Buddha's two foremost disciples. The Buddha then spent the next three seasons at Veluvana Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha. The monastery, which was of a moderate distance from the city centre was donated by Bimbisara.

 The History of Buddhism spans the 6th century BCE to the present, starting with the birth of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. This makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. Starting in India, the religion evolved as it spread through Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. At one time or another it affected most of the Asian continent. The history of Buddhism is also characterized by the development of numerous movements and schisms among them the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, with contrasting periods of expansion and retreat.

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana or the final deathless state abandoning the earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which, according to some translations was pork, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ananda to convince Cunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his passing[citation needed] and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last meal for a Buddha.

 
Approximate Dates of Mauryan Dynasty
This is the famous original sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka preserved at Sarnath Museum which was originally erected around 250 BCE atop an Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath. The angle from which this picture has been taken, minus the inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, has been adopted as the National Emblem of India showing the Horse on the left and the Bull on the right of the Ashoka Chakra in the circular base on which the four Indian lions are standing back to back. On the far side there is an Elephant and a Lion instead. The wheel "Ashoka Chakra" from its base has been placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.
Emperor Reign start Reign end
Chandragupta Maurya 322 BC 298 BC
Bindusara 297 BC 272 BC
Ashoka, The Great 273 BC 232 BC
Dasaratha 232 BC 224 BC
Samprati 224 BC 215 BC
Salisuka 215 BC 202 BC
Devavarman 202 BC 195 BC
Satadhanvan 195 BC 187 BC
Brihadratha 187 BC 185 BC


Reign: 322 BCE-298 BCE
Born:  340 BCE
Died : 298 BCE
Successor:  Bindusara
Royal House: Mauryan dynasty
Religious beliefs: Vedic Hindu, Jain
In the Forth cantury AD a new Indian dyansty, the guptas,arose in Magadha and established a larges kingdom over the greater part of northern india.

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Empire.Chandragupta succeeded in bringing together most of the Indian subcontinent. As a result, Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor. In foreign Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrokuptos, Sandrokottos, or Androcottus.

His achievements, which ranged from defeating Alexander the Great's Macedonian satrapies and conquering the Nanda Empire by the time he was only about 20 years old, to defeating Seleucus I Nicator and establishing centralized rule throughout South Asia, remain some of the most celebrated in the history of India. Over two thousand years later, the accomplishments of Chandragupta and his successors, including Ashoka the Great, are objects of great study in the annals of South Asian and world history.

Under Chandragupta Maurya, the whole of northern India was united.Trade flourished, agriculture was regulated, weights and measures were standardized. Money first came into use. Taxation, sanitation and famine relief became the concerns of the State. His son and successor, Bindusara (296 BC - 273 BC), extended the kingdom further and conquered the south as far as Mysore.

Chandragupta's adviser or prime minister Chanakya, who is also known as Kautilya and was the author of the Arthashastra, is regarded as the architect of Chandragupta's early rise to power. Chandragupta Maurya, with the help of Chanakya, began laying the foundation of the Maurya Empire. In all forms of the Chanakya legend,[33] he is thrown out of the Nanda court by the king, whereupon he swears revenge. While in Magadha, Chanakya by chance met Chandragupta in whom he spotted great military and executive abilities. Chanakya was impressed by the prince's personality and intelligence, and immediately took the young boy under his wing to fulfill his silent vow.



Reign :273 BC-232 BC
Full name :Ashok Bindusara Maurya
Titles: Devanampriya Priyadarsi or        Piodasses, Dhammarakhit, Dharmaraja,   Dhammaraj, Dhammaradnya, Chakravartin, Samrat, Radnyashreshtha, Magadhrajshretha, Magadharajan, Bhupatin, Mauryaraja, Aryashok, Dharmashok, Dhammashok, Asokvadhhan , Ashokavardhan, Prajapita
Born: 304 BC
Birthplace: Pataliputra (Modern Day, Patna)
Died: 232 BC Place of death Pataliputra Buried:Ashes immersed in Ganges River, possibly at Varanasi
Predecessor: Bindusara
Successor: Dasaratha Maurya
Consort: Maharani Devi
Wifes: Rani Tishyaraksha Rani, Padmavati Rani Kaurwaki
Offspring :Mahinda, Sanghamitta,Teevala,Kunala
Royal House: Mauryan dynasty
Father: Bindusara
Mother: Rani Dharma or Shubhadrangi Religious beliefs: Buddhism ,Humanism
Chandragupta's grandson was Ashokavardhan Maurya, better known as Ashoka the Great (ruled 273- 232 BCE). After the death of his father, Bindusara - the king of PatliPutra, Ashok's elder brother Suman contended for the throne. But most of the ministers and prime minister Radha Gupt, in particular were against Suman. They considered Ashoka more capable and discreet. Therefore they helped him attain the reins of powers.

 Ashoka had already gained experience of administration during his father's rule. Therefore, he had no difficulty in managing the state affairs when he ascended the throne. The first thing that he did was to restore peace in the kingdom. It took him full three years to do so. In fact the coronation ceremony was performed when he had established peace in his kingdom.

 Ashoka was a great philanthropist. He used to take his meal after feeding many thousands of Brahmins. He had a very busy schedule of work, which started very early in the morning and went upto midnight. He remained very active and kept himself informed of the latest goings on in the land.

 People were very honest during his reign. The incidents of theft were unheard of. People had religious bent of mind and were truthful. Science had also made a good progress. Technology, medicine and surgery had also developed appreciably.

 Ashoka had a vast stretch of land under him to rule over. On the north side was snow-capped Himalayas, besides Nepal and Kashmir. His southern boundaries extended upto Mysore State. In the north-west were Baluchistan and Afghanistan. In the east flowed river Brahamputra, while in the west were Saurashtra and Junagarh, which formed part of his kingdom. In fact his empire was more extensive than the Mugals, or the Britishers.It was a vast empire and needed the capabilities of a person like Ashoka to rule over it.

 Kalinga war brought great fame to Ashoka. It is, in fact, due to this war that he became Ashoka - the great. It was not so because he won the war, but because he gave up fighting after winning this war. It was because of the transformation that occurred in him. It was because of the reaction that war had on his mind.

Kalinga was a small kingdom between Godawari and Mahanadi near the Bay of Bengal. Its land was fertile and its people were prosperous. They were very brave and patriotic people. According to Magasthenese Kalinga had an infantry of 60000 men, 10000 horsemen and about 600 elephants. Its independence was an eyesore to Ashoka. In the eighth year of his rule Ashoka surrounded Kalinga on all the four sides. In fact on the three sides his territory was already protruding towards Kalinga, it was only on the fourth side that navy had to be sent to surrounded it fully.

 The people of Kalinga refused to submit. They were ready to die but not prepared to lose their independence. At last the inevitable happened. A fierce battle ensued, which lasted for many days. Many persons were killed, wounded and crippled. Many women were widowed and many children were orphaned. About a lakh and a half were made prisoners of war. There were sorpses all around. Suddenly Ashoka's conscience was jolted. A great transformation came in him. Now he was a different Ashoka. He started hating violence. Kalinga was the first and the last war waged by Ashoka.

 Ashoka embraced Budhism. According to one version he got initiation from his sister - Anandiji, while according to an other version he got it from his nephew i.e. brother's son. It brought him spiritual awakening and his entire course of life was changed. He contemplated welfare measures for the people. He was not a religious bigot. He was tolerant and wanted all religions to develop.

 In his view, religion meant doing good needs and keeping away from sins. According to him kindness, charity, truth and purity constituted religion. By doing good deeds he meant serving parents, brahmins, saints and the aged and sick people, respecting and obeying teachers and treating lonely people with love and humility. It also meant observing norms of good conduct.

 He propagated such principles of Budhism as were non-controversial. He got them engraved on the pillars throughout the length and breadth of his empire. These pillars were normally more then forty feet high and were very heavy. The language of these edicts is Prakrit. He wanted to raise the moral standard of the people through religious preaching. He sent religious teachers not only in the four corners of his kingdom but abroad also. It was mainly due to his efforts that Budhism spread in many Asian countries.

In tune with his religious fervour, he plunged himself in welfare measures for his people. He opened hospitals and dispensaries where the rich and the poor alike could get free treatment. Similarly there were dispensaries for birds and animals. Gardens and parks were laid out throughout the empire. Inns were constructed for the travelers; shady trees were planted alongside the roads. Walls and tanks were sunk for the benefit of the people, since he believed in non-violence, he banned animal sacrifice.

Though he hated violence and observed law of Piety i.e. Dharma in his personal life, yet it does not mean that he was lenient in administration. He was a hard task-master and never hesitated from awarding suitable punishment to the corrupt and guilty.

Ashoka has attained unprecedented fame not only in India but also in the whole world. He is truly a world figure. The government of India has rightly honoured his memory by adopting 'Ashoka Chakra' as national symbol.


Laxmibai and Jhalkari Bai led the Durga Dal ( women's army) recruits to repeatedly foil attacks by the British army. And but for the betrayal by one of Laxmibai's generals, the Jhansi fort would have remained invincible for at least some more time. Ignored by mainsteam historians, Jhalkari -- a dalit woman -- has now emerged from oblivion and finds mention in works of local writers, which include an epic poem by Chokhelal Verma, Virangana Jhalkari Bai by Bhavani Shankar Visharad, and a biography by dalit scholar and Arunachal Pradesh Governor Mata Prasad.

Her appearance, which was strikingly similar to Laxmibai, helped the Jhansi army evolve a military strategy to deceive the British. But before all that, Jhalkari was an ordinary village girl in Bundelkhand who would take care of household chores besides tending cattle and collecting firewood from the jungle.

She once had an encounter with a tiger in the jungle and killed the beast with her axe. On another occasion, she challenged a gang of dacoits who raided the house of a village businessman and forced them to retreat.

As a mark of gratitude, the village organised her marriage with Pooran Kori who matched her in courage. Pooran was inducted into Laxmibai's army and his fighting skills were soon recognised by her generals. Once on the occasion of Gauri Puja, Jhalakari with the other village women went to the Jhansi fort to pay homage to the queen.

 Laxmibai was struck by Jhalkari's uncanny resemblance to her. After being told about her courage, she ordered Jhalkari's induction into the Durga Dal. Jhalkari, along with the other village women, was trained in shooting and igniting the cannons at a time when the Jhansi army was being strengthened to face any British intrusion.

The British did not allow the childless Laxmibai to adopt her successor, in a bid to bring the state under their control. However, her generals and the people of Jhansi rallied round the queen and resolved to take up arms against the British instead of surrendering to them.

 During April 1858, from inside the Jhansi fort, the queen led her army and repulsed several attacks by the British and their native allies. One of her commanders, however, betrayed her and opened a well protected gate of the fort. When the fall of the fortress became imminent, her generals advised Laxmibai to escape with a handful of fighters. The Rani slipped away from Jhansi on horseback.

Jhalkari's husband Pooran was killed defending the fort but instead of mourning her loss, she worked out a plan to deceive the British. She dressed up like Laxmibai and took command of the Jhansi army. After which she marched out of the fort towards the camp of British general Hugh Rose. On reaching the British enclave, she shouted that she wanted to meet the general. Rose and his men were exultant. Besides capturing Jhansi, the British thought they had caught the queen alive. When the general -- thinking she was the queen -- asked Jhalkari what should be done to her, she firmly said, ''hang me.''

 Bundelkhand legend has it that her reply stunned the general, who said that if even one per cent of Indian women were like Jhalkari, the British would soon have to leave India.


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 Sadashiv 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 1848. The orthodox opponents of Jotirao were furious and they started a vicious campaign against him. He refused to be unnerved by their malicious propaganda. As no teacher dared to work in a which untouchable were admitted as students, Jotirao asked his wife to teach the girls in his school. Stones and brickbats were thrown at her when she was on her way to the school. The reactionaries threatened Jotirao's father with dire consequences if he did not dissociate himself Yielding to the pressure, Jotirao's father asked his son and the daughter in-law to leave his house as both of them refused to give up their noble endeavor.

 Though the school had to be closed for sometime due to lack of funds, Jotirao re-opened it with the help of his Brahmin friends Govande and Valvekar. On 3 July 1851, he founded a girls' school in which eight girls were admittedon the first day. Steadily the number of student increased. Savitribai taught in this school also and had to suffer a lot because of hostility of the orthodox people. Jotirao opened two more girl's schools during 1851-52 in a memorial addressed to the Education Commission (popularly known as the Hunter Commission ) in 1882, he described his activities in the field of education, ` A year after the institution of the female school I also established and indigenous mixed school for the lower classes, especially the Mahars and Mangs. Tow more school for these classes were subsequently added. I continued to work in them for nearly nine to ten years'.

 Jotirao was aware that primary education among the masses in the Bombay Presidency was very much neglected. He argued that 'a good deal of their poverty, their want of self-reliance, their entire dependence upon the learned and intelligent classes' could be attribute to the British Government for spending profusely a lar portion of revenue on the education of the higher classes. According to him. this policy resulted in the virtual monopoly of all the higher offices under the Government by the Brahmins.

Jotirao boldly attacked the stranglehold of the Brahmins, who prevented others from having access to all the avenues of Knowledge and influence. He denounced them as cheats and hypocrites. He asked the masses to resist the tyranny of the Brahmins. All his writings were variation on this theme. His critics made fun of his ignorance of grammar and philology, his inelegant language and far-fetched interpretation of Indian history and the ancient texts. They brushed his criticism aside by saying that he was merely echoing what the Christian missionaries had said about the Indian society in general and Brahmin in particular. The established scholars in his time did not take Phule's arguments seriously. His critics did not realise that Jotirao's acrimonious criticism was basically a spontaneous outburst of a genuine concern for the equal rights of human beings Emotionally he was so deeply involved in his work that he could not make a dispassionate analysis and take a detached view of the social forces. Jotirao's deep sense of commitment to basic human values made it difficult for him to restrain himself when he witnessed injustice and atrocities committed in the name of religion by those who were supposed to be its custodians.

 Widow remarriages were banned and child-marriage was very common among the Brahmin and other upper castes in the then Hindu society. Many widows were young and not all of them could live in a manner in which the orthodox people expected them to live. Some of the delinquent widows resorted to abortion or left their illegitimate children to their fate by leaving them on the streets. Out of pity for the orphans, jotirao Phule established an orphanage, possible the first such institution founded by a Hindu. Jotirao gave protection to pregnant widows and assured them that the orphanage would take care of their children. It was in this orphanage run by Jotirao that a Brahmin widow gave birth to a boy in 1873 and Jotirao adopted him as his son.

For sometime, Jotirao worked as a contractor for the government and supplied building material required for the construction of a huge barrage at Khadakvasala near Poona. He had a direct experience of working with the officials of the Public Works Department which was notorious as a hotbed of corruption. Except the British officers holding very high positions in the Department. the clerks and other officers were invariably Brahmin and they exploited the illiterate workers. Jotirao felt in necessary to explain to the workers how they were duped by the Brahmin officials . in one of the ballads composed by him, he described vividly the fraudulent practices resorted to by the Brahmin officials in the Public Works Department (printed at the end of `Slavery') .

In 1868, Jotirao decided to give access to the untouchables to small bathing tank mere his house. In his controversial book called Slavery published in June 1873, Jotirao included a manifesto which declared that he was willing to dine with all regardless of their caste, creed or country of origin. It is significant that several newspapers refused to give publicity to the manifesto because of its contents. His book Slavery was severely criticised for its `venomous propaganda' against the Brahmins. Jotio dedicated this book `to the good people of the United States as a token of admiration for their sublime, disinterested and self sacrificing devotion in the cause of Negro Slavery'. The book is written in the form of a dialogue. After tracing the history of the Brahmin domination in India, Jotirao examined the motives and objects of cruel and inhuman laws framed by the brahmins. Their main object in fabricating these fasehoods was to dupe the minds of the ignorant and rivet firmly on them the chains of perpetual bondage and slavery which their selfishness and cunning had forged, The severity of the laws as affecting the Sudras and the intense hatred with which they were regarded by the Brahmins can be explained on no other supposition but that there was, originally between the two, a deadly feud arising from the advent of the latter in to this land. Jotirao argued that the sudras were the sons of the soil while the Brahmins came from outside and usurped everything that was possessed by the `not one hundredth part of the rogueries' that were generally practsed on his `poor, illiterate and ignorant Sudra brethren'.

 On 24 September 1873 , Jotirao convened a meeting of his followers and admirers and it was decided to form the 'Satya Shodhak Samaj' (Society of Seekers of Truth) with Jotirao as its first president and treasurer. Every member had to take pledge of loyalty to the British Empire. The main objectives of the organisation were to liberate the Shudras and Ati Shudras and to prevent their exploitation by the Brahmins. All the members of the Satya Shodhak Samaj were expected to treat all human being as children of God and worship the Creator without the help of any mediator. Membership was open to all and the available evidence proves that some Jews were admitted as members. In 1876.

 Jotirao refused to regard the Vedas as sacrosanct. He opposed idolatry and denounced the chaturvarnya. In his book Sarvajanik Satya Dharma Pustak published in 1891, his views on religious and social issues are given in the form of a dialogue.According to him,both men and women were entitled to enjoy equal rights and it was a sin to discriminate between human being on the basis of sex. He stressed the unity of man and envisaged a society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. He was aware that religious bigotry and aggressive natioalism destroy the unity of man.

In 1876 Jotirao was nominated as a member of the Poona Municipality, He tried to help the people in the famine-stricken areas of Maharashtra when a severe famine in 1877 forced people in the rural area to leave their villages. Some of them had to leave their children behind and appeal issued on 17 May 1877 by Jotirao indicates that the Victoria Orphanage was founded under the auspices of the Satya Shodhak Samaj to took after these unfortunate children. From the beginning of the year 1879 Krishnarao Bhalekar, one of his colleagues, edited a weekly called Deenbandhu which was the organ f the Satya Shodhak Samaj. The weekly articulated the grievances of the peasants and workers. Deenbandhu defended Jotirao when Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, a powerful spokesmen of the conservative nationalists, attacked Jotirao's writing in the most vitriolic style.

Narayan Meghaji Lokhande was another prominent colleague of Jotirao, Lokhande is acclaimed as the Father of Trade Union Movement in India From 1880 onward, he look over the management of Deenbabdhu which published from Bombay. Along with Lokhande. Jotirao also addressed the meetings of the textile workers in Bombay. It is significant that before and his colleagues Bhalekar and Lokhande tried to organise the peasants and the workers, no such attempt was made by any organisation to redress their grievances.

One of the charges levelled by Jotirao against the leaders of the Brahmo Samaj and the Prarthana Samaj, the Sarvajanik Sabha and the Indian National Congress was that despite their programmes, in reality, they did very little to improve the lot of the masses. He felt that these organisations were dominated by the Brahmins and were not truly representative in character. In his booklet called Satsara (The Essence of Truth) published in June 1885, he criticised the Brahmo Samaj and the Prarthana Samaj. Addressing their leaders he declared, 'We don't need the help of your organisations. Don't worry about us' In his book, Sarvajanik Sabha or the Indian National Congress. He warnhat the persistent demand made by these organisation for Indianisation of the administrative services, if accepted, would lead to Brahminisation of the service in India. He thought that it was difficult to create a sense of nationality so long as the restriction on dining and marrying outside the caste continued to observed by people belonging to different castes. Education of the masses would promote the process of nation-making.

It should be remembered that just as Jotirao did not mince words when he criticised the leaders of tormist movement he was equally fearless in criticising the decision of the alien rulers which did not contribute to the welfare of the masses. When the government wanted to grant more licences for liquor-shop, Jotirao condemned this move as he believed that addiction to liquor would ruin many poor families. On 30 November 1880, the President of the Poona Municipality requested the members of approve his proposal of spending one thousand rupees on the occasion of the visit of Lord Lytton, the Governor-General of India. The official wanted to present him an address during his visit to Poona. Lytton had passed an Act which resulted in gagging the press and Deenbandhu, the organ of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, had protested against the restriction on the right to freedom of the press. Jotirao did not like the idea of spending the money of the tax- payers in honouring a guest like Lytton. He boldly suggested that the amount could be very well spent on the education of the poor people in poona. He was the only member out of all the thirty-two nominated members of the Poona Municipality who voted against the official resolution.

 Another incident also revealed his attachment for the poor peasant and his courage in drawing the attention of member of the British royal family to the sufferings of the framers in rural areas, On 2 March 1888, Hari Raoji Chiplunkar, a friend of Jotirao, arranged a function in honour of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. Dressed like a peasant, Jotirao attended the function and made a speech,. He commented on the rich invitees who displayed their wealth by wearing diamond studded jewellery and warned the visiting dignitaries that the people who had gathered there did not represent India. If the Duke of Connaught was really interested in finding out the condition of the Indian subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of England, Jotirao suggested that the ought to visit some nearby village as well as the areas in the city occupied by the untouchables. He requested the Duke of Connaught who was a gandson of Queen Victoria to convey his message to her and made a strong plea to provide education to the poor people, Jotirao's speech created quit a stir.

Throughout his life. Jotirao Phule fought for the emancipation of the downtrodden people and the struggle which he launched at a young age ended only when he died on 28 November 18 He was a pioneer in many fields and among his contemporaries he stands out as one who never wavered in his quest for trust for and justice, Thought he was often accused of fomenting hatred between the non Brahmins, very rarely an attempt was made to consider his scathing criticism in a broad perspective. The later generation also took considerable time to understand and appreciate the profound significance of his unflinching espousal of the rights of man remained till the end of his life a major theme of his writings and a goal of his actions.


Savitribai Phule was born in a well-to-do farmer`s family on 3rd January 1831 at Naigaum of Satara district in Maharashtra. She was married to Jyotiba Phule at the age of nine. She was encouraged by her husband to get educated and thus started her journey in the emancipation of the women-folk of her village.

As Jyotiba Phule required women teachers to assist him in attaining his goal, he decided to first teach and train his own wife as a teacher. Slowly the news of his teaching Savitri reached his father who threatened to drive him out of his house, fearing attack from orthodox elements. When the choice before Savitribai was either going away with her husband or staying back with her in-laws, she preferred to be with her husband. Then, Jyotiba sent her to a to a training school from where she passed out with flying colours along with a Muslim lady Fatima Sheikh. When Savitribai completed her studies, she along, with her husband, started a school for girls in Pune in 1848.

The nine girls who enrolled themselves as students belonged to different castes. Leaving the house in the morning and going to the school was an ordeal for Savitribai. Orthodox society was not prepared for this `misadventure`, as women`s education was frowned upon. It was believed that if a woman starts writing she would write letters to all. People claimed that the food, her husband ate would turn into worms and she would lose him by his untimely death.

However, apart from all these oppositions, Savitribai yet continued to teach the girls. Whenever Savitribai went out of her house, groups of orthodox men would follow her and abuse her in obscene language. They would throw rotten eggs, cow dung, tomatoes and stones at her. She would walk meekly and arrive at her school. Fed up with the treatment meted out to her, she even decided to give up. But it was because of her husband that she continued with her efforts. Jyotiba purposely gave her two saris. He told Savitribai to wear the coarse sari on her way to the school to receive all the filth that society heaped on her, whereas the other one was to change before her classes. She would then, again wear the same dirty sari while returning home.

The ordeal continued for a long time till Savitribai had to slap a person who tried to molest her. That slap brought to an end her ordeal and she continued her job of teaching. Slowly and steadily, she established herself. She started more schools and was ultimately honoured by the British for her educational work. In 1852 Jyotiba and Savitribai were felicitated and presented with a shawl each by the government for their commendable efforts in Yishrambag Wada.

However, it was not only in the educational activities, but she always supported her husband in every social struggle that he launched. Once Jyotiba saw a lady stopped a pregnant lady from committing suicide and promised her to give the child his name, after it was born. After she was brought to his house, Savitribai readily accepted her and willingly assured to help her deliver the child. Savitribai and Jyotiba later on adopted this child. He then grew up to become a doctor and after Jyotiba`s death, lit his pyre and completed his duties as a rightful son.

This incident opened new horizons for the couple. They thought of the plight of widows in Hindu society. Many women were driven to commit suicide by men who had exploited them to satisfy their lust and then deserted them. Therefore, Savitribai and Jyotiba put boards on streets about the "Delivery Home" for women on whom pregnancy had been forced. The delivery home was called "Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha".

The next step was equally revolutionary. During those days marriages were arranged between young girls and old men. Men used to die of old age or some sickness and the girls they had married were left widows. Thus, widows were not expected to use cosmetics or to look beautiful. Their heads were shaved and the widows were compelled by society to lead an ascetic life.

Savitribai and Jyotiba were moved by the plight of such widows and castigated the barbers. They organized a strike of barbers and persuaded them not to shave the heads of widows. This was the first strike of its kind. They also fought against all forms of social prejudices. They were moved to see the untouchables who were refused drinking water meant for the upper caste. Both Jyotiba and Savitribai opened up their reservoir of water to the untouchables in the precincts of their house.

Savitribai shared every activity in which her husband was engaged. She suffered with him but she had her own distinctive personality. After his demise, Savitribai took over the responsibility of Satya Shodhak Samaj, founded by Jyotiba. She presided over meetings and guided workers. She worked relentlessly for the victims of plague, where she organized camps for poor children. It is said that she used to feed two thousand children every day during the epidemic. By a strange irony, she herself was struck by the disease while nursing a sick child and died on 10 March 1897.

Savitribai`s poems and other writings are still an inspiration to others. Ten years before Pandita Ramabai was born, this lady who was born in the backward Mali community, could express herself in the most radical and eloquent terms. She was the first woman teacher, the first woman educationist, the first poet and the foremost emancipator of women. Two books of her poems were published, Kavya Phule in 1934 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1982. If Savitribai were not to undergo the ordeals she went through, the women of India would not have attained even the status they have today in society.

Jagdev Prasad (1922-1974) was a fearless leader from Bihar who fought for the cause of the backward and downtrodden sections of the society. Hailing from a humble background, the young Jagdev had to undergo many hardships to pursue his studies.

He secured a Master's Degree in Economics from the Patna University in 1950. He joined the Socialist Party and contributed his mite to fight social inequalities and economic exploitation, which continued to stain the social fabric of India, despite the attainment of freedom.

In 1967, he contested for the 4th Bihar Assembly from Kurtha and emerged victorious. He played an important role in forming the first ever coalition government in Bihar with Mahamaya Prasad Singh as the Chief Minister.

 He left the Government and the Party in anguish and formed his own 'Shosit Dal'. Jagdev Prasad was also noted for his suave penmanship. His journalistic career started in 1953 with 'Janata', the organ of the Socialist Party. Later, he also edited the English weekly, 'Citizen' and the Hindi weekly, 'Uday'.

The life and political career of Jagdev Prasad had an unfortunate end in 1974, when he received a bullet shot in his neck in the confusion which arose out of the police firing at a rally in Kurtha, which he was addressing.

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