Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati (1858–1922) was a social reformer, a pioneer in the field of education and emancipation of women; who confronted every rule, tradition that restricted the life of an upper-caste Hindu woman in 19th-century India. She was accorded the title of Pandita as a Sanskrit scholar, because her father Anant Shastri Dongre kept her at home and taught her Sanskrit, the ancient Hindu liturgical language, reserved for Brahmin men. The university of Calcutta accorded her the title of Sarasvati. She was a Brahmin rebel to marry out of caste; an exceptional widow who remained in public view, defying customs. As a 29 year old, passionate about women liberation, she wrote, “The High Caste Hindu Woman,” written in English and printed in the United States in 1887. She called widowhood “the worst and most dreaded period of a high-caste woman’s life.” In 1896, during a severe famine Ramabai toured the villages of Maharashtra with a caravan of bullock carts and rescued thousands of outcast children, child widows, orphans, and other destitute women and brought them to the shelter of Mukti and Sharada Sadan. She met opposition when she became a disciple of Christ Jesus, her “best liberator.” She found allies in Mahatama Jyotiba Phule and his wife, Savitri, two anti-caste reformers. She learned that the heart of true religion was the love of God and love of one’s neighbour as oneself, just as Jesus taught. She believed, Jesus spoke to ordinary people, in their mother tongue, thus she was eager to translate the Bible into her mother tongue—Marathi- from the original Hebrew and Greek. In the late 1890s, she founded Mukti Mission at Kedgaon village, later named Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission, a service among destitute and orphan girls. In 1919, she was given Kaiser-i-Hind award, by the king of England, the highest award that an Indian could boast of during colonial regime. Her life of self-giving love continues to inspire even today.

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