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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve


One of the greatest emancipators of women in India, Dhondo Keshav Karve (alias Annasaheb) was born on 18 April 1858 at Sherwali village in Khed taluka of Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra, in a lower middle-class Chi tpavan Brahmin family. His father, Keshav Bapunna Karve, was a Manager of the Estate of Barve of Koregaon in Ratnagiri district on a meagre salary.

Karve got his primary education at Murud, first in a Shenvi school and then in a Government school. In those days, if a person wanted to become a teacher in a primary school, he had to pass the Sixth Standard examination. Annasaheb passed this examination at the late age of 18. Simultaneously, he also received the traditional Indian education. For two or three years he could not do anything. Then he came to Bombay and joined the Robert Money School. Passed Matriculation in 1881 at the age of 23. Passed Previous from the Wilson College and B.A. from the Elphinstone College (1884). He stood first at the First B.A. in Mathematics. He taught that subject for one year in the Elphinstone High School. Studied for the M.A. examination with Physics and Chemistry but not so much with the intent of passing it, and he naturally failed (1887).

From 1888 to 1891 he taught Mathematics in the Cathedral Girls’ High School, the Alexandra Girls’ School and the Maratha High School, Bombay. He joined the Fergusson College, Poona, as Professor of Mathematics in November 1891.

Annasaheb was married twice. First when he was fifteen he was married to Radhabai of his own village. After her death in 1891, he married a widow Godubai in 1893. All the while Karve had a soft corner for widows. He deplored their plight. He was a votary of widow remarriage. So when his first wife died he decided to marry a widow, if at all he was to marry again. He was of opinion that widowers should marry only widows. That is how his marriage to a widow took place. It was a very bold step considering his orthodox background and the prevailing social conditions.

In April 1892 (1892-1914) he was elected a Life Member of the Deccan Education Society. He also taught Mathematics in the New English School and for one year he was Superintendent of the Navin Marathi Shala, Poona. Pandit Vishnushastri and Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar inspired Dhondo Keshav to work for the uplift of the widows, while the work of Pandita Ramabai actuated him to spend his life for the cause of female education. Karve was also influenced by the writings of Herbert Spencer.

After his retirement from the Deccan Education Society, Annasaheb took decision to devote his en tire life for the uplift of the widows and the promotion of female education. In 1893 he had already founded the ‘Vidhava Vivahottejak Mandali’ (Society for the Promotion of Widow-marriages) which helped the needy children of widows and looked after their education. In 1895 the name of the institution was changed to ‘Vidhava Vivaha Pratibandh Nivarak Mandali’ (Society for the Removal of Obstacles to Widow-marriages). In 1898 he started the ‘Mahilashram’ (Widows’ Home) in Poona; in 1900 the Home was shifted to Hingne where it is still working with full vigour. He started the ‘Mahila Vidayalaya’ in 1907and in the following year the ‘Nishkam Karma Math’, a self-sacrificing institution to train workers for the Widows’ Home and the Mahila Vidyalaya. In 1916 he founded the Indian’Women’s University, in 1917 a Training College for Primary School Teachers and in 1918 the Kanya Shala. In 1936 he started the Maharashtra Village Primary Education Society with the object of opening schools to teach the ‘three Rs’ in the villages which had no schools run by the District Local Boards; it was proposed to make special efforts to keep up the reading habits of the adults. In 1944 he founded the ‘Samata Sangh’ (Association for the Promotion of Human Equality).

In March 1929 Karve left for England. He attended the Primary Teachers’ Conference at Malvern and spoke on ‘Education of Women in India’ at a meeting of the East India Association at Caxton Hall, London. From 25 July to 4 August 1929, he attended an Educational Conference in Geneva and spoke on ‘The Indian Experiment in Higher Education for Women’. From 8 to 21 August he attended the International Meeting of Educationists arranged by the New Education Fellowship in Elsinor. During his tour of America, he delivered lectures at many places on women’s education and social reforms in India. He also visited the Women’s University in Tokyo. During this world tour, he collected Rs. 27,000 for his Women’s University. He returned to India in April 1930. In December 1930, he left for Africa. He visited Mombasa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Portuguese East Africa and South Africa. During the tour he collected Rs. 34,000. He returned to India in March 1932.

In July 1947 he started the Manavisamata, a monthly bulletin, to popularize the object of the ‘Samata Sangh’.

On 18 April 1928, his seventy-first birthday, the Poona Muncipality named the road leading to Yerandavne as ‘Karve Road’. He was awarded the D. Litt. by the Benares University (1942), Poona University (1951), and S.N.D.T. Women’s University (1954), and LL.D. by the Bombay University (1957). The President of India conferred on him the title of Padma Vibhushana in 1955.

From 1885 he gave 5% of his earnings to the ‘Maratha Five Per Cent Fund’ to promote the cause of education,and in 1888 he started the ‘Murud Fund’ for the development of Murud, his home town. He donated Rs. 500 to the ‘Murud Fund’ for a scholarship to be named after his first wife.

His important publications include : Atrnavritta (Poona, 1928) and Looking Back (Poona, 1936).

Karve stood for the abolition of caste and untouchability. He spent his life in working for the cause of widow-marriage and raising the status of women by providing educational facilities for them.

He had a broad outlook on religion. He had faith in the Supreme Being pervading the Universe. He was in favour of National Education. In his opinion, women should have the type of education useful to them in their lives. He’ felt that freedom alone was not enough; there should be social equality and a casteless society.

He died at the age of 104 on November 7, 1962, after a brief illness. It was a long life of service to the society. He was a great social worker and an educationist.

He led a quiet, ascetic life. He has his permanent place in the social history of the country.

Bharat Ratna was conferred on him in 1958 as a mark of respect to the services he has rendered especially to the cause of women, the poor and the helpless.


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