Savitribai Phule should not remain unknown. She is modern India's first lady teacher who opened a school for girls way back in 1846 at Bhide's Wada in Pune when educating girls was a taboo. She used to carry spare Sari as tradition-bound elite used to throw mud on her while going to school of which she was head mistress. She opened another school for adults and farm labourers at Usman Sheikh Wada. Far ahead of her time, Savitribai Phule started Home for Protection of Infanticide in her home where widows of upper castes could have safe delivery.

The significant feature of India under British rule was that the process of social reforms and freedom movement went on simultaneously. How could a society bound by unhealthy traditions, caste-driven practices, unfounded rituals could fight out the British Rule, which was wise enough to rule by keeping the society divided.

The life of Savitribai Phule remains a source of inspiration for every concerned citizen. Born. Today, country celebrates 189th birth anniversary in Naigaon in Satara district of Maharashtra on 3rd of January 1831. She was married to great social reformer Jyoti Rao Phule in 1840.

Savitribai Phule will ever be remembered as the pioneer of the Marathi poetry. She used the medium of poetry for embitterment of those, who were victim of discrimination. She was no doubt India's first lady teacher but it is equally true that she was also the first Marathi poetess of protest and awakening. She has only two anthologies to her credit. The first anthology "Kavyaphule" was published in 1854, when she was only 23. This includes 41 poems on nature, social issues and teaching. The second "Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar" appeared in 1892.

In terms of thematic design and polished expressions, they surpass many volumes. The simple reason is that her poetry finds a moral force from her affirmative action. Her poetry has a purpose and is deliberate. A profound socio economic consciousness coupled with agony runs through her poetry. It is not for a joy. It is a call.

Therefore, she says-

"Vidya Hech Dhan Aahe Re,
Shresht Sanya Dhanahun
Ticha Satha Jayapashi'
Gyani To Maanti Jan."

This simply means - Knowledge is the only precious capital of all. The richest are those who possess it.

She aggressively exhorts the oppressed to arise, awake and liberate. Education is mandatory to bring down the chairs of dangerous dogmatic notions and conservative traditions.

"Utha Bandhuno Atishudrano, Jaage Houni Utha,
Paramparechi Gulamgiri Hi Todne Sathi Utha,
Bandhuno, Siknyasathi Utha.
(Arise, O deprived, untouchables. Arise and Awake.
Arise to free yourselves from the serfdom of traditions.
Arise to be educated. )

Savitribai advocated leaning English language. She believed that English language opens gateway to newer horizons of knowledge and the deprived sections must expose themseves to emerging knowledge driven society. She is not shy of describing English as Deity. Thus, she was far ahead of her time. She says-

Engreji Maooli, Deii Satya Gyan
Shudrala Jeevan, Deii.Prem
Engreji Maooli, Shudranan Pana Paji
Sangopan Aaji Kartes
Engreji Maooli Todte Pashutv
Deii Manushyatv Shudraloka.
(Mother English, Gives True Knowledge,
Rewards the untouchables dignified life. And also affection.
It offers waters to them, as Mother does.
English destroys beastliness and awards kind-heartedness.)

Savitribai not only sermonizes but also raises question on the life of a humans if they do not use reason despite being gifted with and fail to learn despite chances to learn. In a lengthy poem she elaborates -

Tayas Manav Mhanane Ka?
Gyan Nahi, Vidya Nahi
Te Ghene Chi Godi Nahi
Buddhi Asun Hi Chalat Nahi
Tayas Manav Mhanane Ka?

(Should they be called humans?
Devoid of Knowledge and Learning
No concern to earn them,
Not using their own intellect
Are they humans? )

She further writes -

Dusnyat Madat Nahi
Seva Tyag Daya Maya Naahi
Jyapashi Sadgun Nahi
Tayas Manav Mhanane Ka?
(Those not helping the needy
Devoid of Service, Sacrifice, Mercy, Affection
Those bereft of virtues
Are the humans? )

Let us hope that the new generation knows this great woman, who did what we can never imagine. (IPA Service)