Ancient Indian society had many religious beliefs, dogmas, rituals and social customs but most of the traditions were oppressive towards the lower castes especially women. In the beginning, the society was divided into Brahmin, Khastriya, Vaish and Shudra castes on work basis but later it changed to births.
Oppression in Indian society
In the later years, the people were taught that the means of living, earning, education, legal system were caste, creed and sex based and that they had divine sanction. But it was women that were the most oppressed. They were devoid of education and right to own property. Also, they were subjected to child marriage, widowhood, polyandry system, devdasies and even prostitution.
Rise of Mahatma Phule
Born on April 11, 1827 as Jyotirao Gobindrao Phule, Mahatma Phule did a commending job for upliftment of the downtrodden class of the society. He along with his wife started women empowerment with education. But Jyotirao didn’t have a pleasant childhood as his mother died when he was 9-months old.
Jyotirao took his primary education in his village school and later went to a Scottish Mission High School in Poona for higher education. In 1847, he completed his secondary education but decided to work for upliftment of the poor instead of accepting a government job.
In 1840, Jyotirao was married to Savitribai Phule who became his first disciple. Soon the Phule couple opened their first women’s school and they started a chain of school for women. For living, Jyotirao used to work as a contractor for PWD.