Setting Up the Shelter and Adoption of Yashwantrao by Savitribai Phule

Malvika Asher2016


New Delhi, India

Savitribai Phule was a trailblazer in providing education for girls and for ostracized portions of society. She became the first female teacher in India (1848) and opened a school for girls with her husband, Jyotirao Phule. She went on to establish a shelter (1864) for destitute women and played a crucial role in grooming Jyotirao Phule’s pioneering institution, Satyashodhak Samaj, (1873) that fought for equality of all classes. Her life is heralded as a beacon of women’s rights in India. She is often referred to as the mother of Indian feminism.

Sympathising with the plight of widows in India, Savitribai opened a shelter for them in 1854. After years of continuous reform, she paved the way to build a large shelter in 1864 for destitute women, widows and child brides cast aside by their families. She educated them all. She adopted Yashwantrao, the son of a widow sheltered in this institution.
Oppressed classes were forbidden from drinking water from the common village well. Jyotirao and Savitribai dug a well in their own backyard for them to drink water from. This move caused a furore in 1868.

Savitribai was instrumental in shaping Satyashodhak Samaj, The Truthseeker’s Society, a brainchild of Jyotirao’s. The Samaj primarily aimed at eliminating discrimination and the need for social order. In 1873, Savitribai started the practice of Satyashodhak Marriage, where couples took an oath of education and equality.


  • Title: Setting Up the Shelter and Adoption of Yashwantrao by Savitribai Phule
  • Creator: Malvika Asher
  • Date Created: 2016
  • Type: Illustration

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