ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ramabai Dongre Medhavi - An Educator and Humanitarian, Who Understood The Injustice Of The Caste System

Updated on January 12, 2012

Ramabai Dongre Medhavie

Ramabai Dongre Medhavi was born in 1858, the daughter of Ananta Dongre, a high caste orthodox Hindu scholar. Her mother Lakshmibai Dongre became a bride at the age of nine. Although Ananta had taken a bride of such tender age, he later came to view the practice of child marriage as barbaric. He taught his young bride to read and write, much to the horror of his peers.

Rababai's father was so ostracized by others of his caste, for his philosophy towards women, that he took his wife to the sacred Indian mountains of Gungamal, where he started his own ashram. And so Rababai, the youngest of three children, grew up, under the guidance and tutelage of learned and compassionate parents.

A generous man, Ananta Dongre, not only taught the pilgrims who came to the shrine, but housed and fed them as well. This practice soon depleted Ananta's meager resources, and he left the mountains, with his wife and three children, to wander India as an itinerant preacher (a Purinika or popular preacher). Because he was a learned man, he was paid whatever his listeners could afford, and so the family survived.

Ramabai was a beautiful and intelligent girl who learned well from her parent. She spoke numerous Indian dialects, and knew thousands of the verses of Hindu Shastras by heart. She was saddened by her readings which related to the inferior position in which Indian woman, especially young brides found themselves.

The Indian famine of 1874, ravaged parts of India, and resulted in the death, by starvation, of both Ramabai's parents and her sister. Ramabai and her brother traveled on, barely surviving, until they reached Calcutta. Here, at age twenty, Ramabai's exceptional knowledge was eventually recognized, and in spite of her status as a female, she was recognized as a rare scholar and given the title of Pundita (Learned Lady).

Two years later, Ramabai's brother died and she was left totally alone. She then defied tradition by marrying a man of lower caste, something unacceptable in Indian society. Unfortunately her beloved husband died shortly after the birth of their daughter Manorama.

Despised by her husbands family for not bearing a son and by her own relations for marrying outside her caste, Ramabai turned her attention to lecturing against the treatment of women, especially poor women, in Indian society, specifically to the plight of young Indian brides. In addition to marrying at a tender age, Indian brides who had not born a son at the time of their husband's death, were subjected to a life of isolation, neglect, and abuse at the hands of their in-laws. Ramabai wrote, and spoke often and eloquently on behalf of the oppressed. She founded the first Indian feminist organization, Ayra Mahila Sabra.

Life moved ahead for Ramabai at breakneck speed. She began moving toward Christianity, and, with the help of Christian missionaries, traveled to England to extend her studies. She later went to the United States where she wrote further and cemented her plans to found a school and shelter for young Indian widows. In America, she managed to find financial backers for her endeavor and so, after five years abroad, returned to India.

In Bombay, Ramabai established her first residential school, the Sharada Sadan. She later relocated to Pune and purchased a large piece of property nearby. Here she operated a large farming community, residential and industrial school, known as Mukti, which still operates today. Mukti was open to women of all faiths who were in need of education and a safe sanctuary. Here they received training in independence and moved on to become teachers, missionaries, and nurses.

During her life, Ramabai Dongre overcame many obstacles, including both religious and cultural prejudices, to become respected and admired, by all, for her wisdom, compassion, determination, and dedication to the less fortunate. She died in 1922.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i think 1858 not 1888


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)