Life and Works of Pandita Ramabai

Life and Works of Pandita Ramabai

Last updated: November 19, 2019

  • Keynotes:
    • Born on: April 23, 1858
    • Born in: Gangamul, Karnataka
    • Died on: April 5, 1922
    • Career: Poet, Scholar, and Social Reformer
    • Nationality: Indian

Introduction:

  • Pandita Ramabai was born during those times when the women folks of India were considered a little more than slaves to serve their husbands and children.
  • They were not allowed to study and not go out on their own and a majority of Hindu women were married off when they were children, to men who were decades older.
  • Naturally, there was a large number of child widows who were made to lift the most punishing lives.
  • Pandita Ramabai was fortunate in many ways.
  • She was born in a Brahmin family.
  • Her father was a liberal, her father had married her wife when she was 9 years old and he was 40.
  • But define social pressure he advocated both his wife and children.
  • Her father even refused to get Ramabai married until she becomes an adult.
  • It was from him that she was inspired by social reform.
  • During her travels first with her father than with her brother she saw how truly women were treated.
  • Disgusted she decided to do something about it.
  • She also lost her faith in Hinduism which she though supported the degradation of women by men.
  • She converted to Christianity and spend her life rescuing women and Widows from poverty, death and giving them a new life through education.

Childhood:

  • In the year 1858, In a village nestled amidst the thick forest of Gangamul was born a girl who would become one of the earliest and foremost champions of women’s rights.
  • The girl was Christened Ramabai by her father.
  • Anant Shastri Dongre who was the wealthy and the orthodox scholar.
  • Unlike other brahmins of his village, Anand Shastri Dongre was a quiet liberal who considered that every woman has the right to education.
  • So he took it upon himself to educate first his wife after his marriage and then his daughter Ramabai.
  • As such when he took to teaching his wife, they of ostracized, him forcing him to move outside the village and live in a hut in the forest.
  • Later he traveled widely with his family from village to village reading the Puranas at temples fairs and holy places.
  • By the age of 12, Ramabai has memorized 18,000 verses from the Puranas becoming proficient in Sanskrit.

Early life:

  • When Ramabai was 16 years old her parents died due to an outbreak of famine.
  • Being all alone she decided to travel throughout India with her older brother giving discourses from the holy scriptures and preaching social reforms.
  • The brother and sister first went to Calcutta where Ramabhai impressed the high caste Brahmin with her knowledge of the Puranas.
  • So astonished were they with her wisdom, particularly as very few women could read at that time that they best told the little pandit scholar and invited her to give lectures and visit places of learning.
  • It was during this travels that she saw the plight of women particularly child Windows.
  • It was then that she resolved to devote her life to work towards the upliftment of women.
  • Soon her brother to pass away and she married his friend, In 1880, Bipin Das Medhavi who throw a lower caste sympathize with her selfless resolve.
  • Soon after they had a child home they named Manorama.
  • Along with her husband, she decided to set a school for widows but even before the plan code matter materialize.
  • ย Her Husband passed away due to cholera just 18 months after marriage.
  • According to the custom prevalent at that time a Hindu widow could not stay at her husband’s house so Pandita Ramabai left Calcutta and went to Pune.
  • Here she established the Arya Mahila samaj to promote female education and also work towards eradicating child marriage.
  • She also started learning English and wrote a book called Stree Dharm Niti based on morals for women.
  • While setting up the samaj Ramabai realized that she required more training in order to successfully pursue her over and decided to go to England.

Travel aboard:

  • In 1883, Pandita Ramabai went to England along with their friend the English missionary Miss Hurford and was made a professor of Sanskrit at Cheltenham Female College.
  • There, she also learns English and study and higher education as well as English literature.
  • In England already distraught with the rot in Hinduism that seesaw in India, Pandita Ramabai converted to Christianity.
  • In 1886, she received an invitation to attend the graduation ceremony of her cousin, Dr Anandibai Josh.
  • There she befriended dean Bodley of the women’s medical college who encouraged her to work in America.
  • Pandita Ramabai got the opportunity to study the America public school system and also received industrial training.
  • During this time she wrote the book “High Caste Hindu Women“.
  • She started networking with influential people and lobbying for aid to start a secular school for child widows in India.
  • Because of her repeated appeals, a public meeting was held in 1887 in the Channing hall of the American unitarian association building.
  • With her keen wit and flair for speaking Pandita, was able to move the audience and Rev. Charles G. Ames appointed a provincial committee of women to consider help land and act on it.
  • The result was the formation of an association to act as the custodian of funds that could use for work.

Return to India & Social works:

  • In 1889, Pandita Ramabai returned to India after a period of 6 years.
  • She continued her crusade for the betterment of the women.
  • She wrote about her American experience in a book titled “United States Chi Lokaashtihi ani Pravasvrutta“. (Status of the society of the United States and a travelogue).
  • Within 6 weeks of a return to the country, She has established a school called Sharadha Sadan in Bombay.
  • She also becomes more involved in Christianity famously nothing that “one thing I knew by this time,”
  • She wrote, “That I need it Christ and not merely his religion….. I was desperate….. What was to be done?. My thought could not and did not help me. I had, at last, come to an end of myself and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Savior and ask him to be merciful to me and to become my righteousness and redemption and to take away all my sins”.
  • She faced considerable opposition from any Indian reformers and the press for the perceived that she was influencing her student to Christianity.
    • 1904: she started translating the Bible in Marathi.
    • 1913: The New Testament was published.
    • 1924: The complete Bible was published.
  • From 1896-97 and from 1900-01, India was devasted by two famines in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat respectively.
  • Ramabai rescued about 2,000 women and girls from perishing from hunger and house them at a 100-acre farm a Kedgaon, which came to be known as the Mukti Mission that is known as the House of Salvation.

Recognition:

  • For health services to the community, the British raj in 1990 awarded her The kaiser- I- hind Medal.
  • Ramabai is also honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the episcopal church (USA) on 5 April.
  • The government of India recognized her contributions for the upliftment of women in India and issues commemorative stamp on 26 November 1989.

Death:

  • In July 1921, Her daughter passed away.
  • In April, The next year Ramabai to breathe her last at the age of 64.
  • For almost 20 years Pandita Ramabai perceived her mission to uplift the women.
  • Particularly the child videos of India inspiring many and saving countless.

Timeline:

  • 1858: Pandita Ramabai was born in Gangamul, Karnataka.
  • 1880: She married Vipin Bahan Daa Medhavi, a friend of her brother.
  • 1883: She left for England and become a professor of Sanskrit at Cheltenham female college.
  • 1886: Moved to America.
  • 1889: Return to India to work towards the upliftment of women.
  • 1904: Starting translating the Bible to Marathi.
  • 1919: Conferred the kaiser-I-hind medal for her community service.
  • 1922: Died at the age of 64.

Life and Works of Pandita Ramabai


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Life and Works of Pandita Ramabai Introduction Background of her life About her childhood Early life of Pandita Ramabai About traveling aboard of Pandita Ramabai Return to India and social work of Pandita Ramabai Recognition of Pandita Ramabai Death of Pandita Ramabai Important Timelines