Feb 14, 2007

Maharshi Karve

If you step out of the Churchgate Station in Mumbai, you see Maharshi Karve Road. (google maps) This road runs all the way from Chowpati. Here's some information about the person.

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve (April 18, 1858 - November 9, 1962) was a social reformer, who supported the education of women and organized associations to help Hindu widows get remarried. He was fondly called as Anna or Annasaheb.

Karve was married at the young age of 14, to Radhabai to an 8 year old girl, but his married life started when he reached the age of 20. Radhabhai died at very early age, in 1891, leaving behind a son. Looking at the plight of a widow's life in the society of those days, he thought of the idea of widow remarriage. In 1893, he married a 23 year old widow, Godubai Karve, who had been widowed at the age of eight and set an example in the conservative Maharashtrian society of those days.

He spent his entire life for the upliftment of women in India. He realized the value of education in the upliftment of women, and started a college for them. He initiated the creation of associations for widows to get remarried.

He started a women's shelter and a school for widows and other women in 1896.First widow to join him was his sister in law, Parvtibai Athavale. She got educated with his help and joined him as first lady superintendent of the institution, which was called as Hindu Widows' Home Association and later renamed to Hingane Stree Shikshan Samstha. It is now called as Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha.

He was highly inspired by Japan Women's University in Tokyo, Japan. He firmly believed that education was the way for upliftment of women. In 1916, he established the first University for women in India, with five students at Hingane. An impressed industrialist and philanthropist from Mumbai, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey offered a donation and it was renamed to Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Indian Women’s University or SNDT Women's University.

In 1931, the university established its first college in Mumbai and in 1936 it moved its headquarters to Mumbai itself. In 1949, the Government of India recognized SNDT University as a statutory university.