Education development of shahu maharaj
Lamture Kapil baburao
One of the most important revolutionary social reformers in the nineteenth century Maharashtra was Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur. He was regarded as the benevolent king due to his devotion for the cause of social revolution. After taking charge of the Kolhapur State, Shahu Maharaj realized that the bureaucracy of the Kolhapur state was Brahmin dominated; the shudras, dalits were out of government services only because of lack of education. He conceived that the lack of education makes a person slave of the Brahmanical religion, loses the dignity and so education must be delivered to everybody.1 He realized the necessity of launching strenuous campaign against the evils of the traditional caste hierarchy and the patriarchy. The educational backwardness of the shudras and dalits is evident from the Census Report of 1881, according to which literacy rate of the Brahmins in Kolhapur was 79.1 per cent, of the Marathas, 8.6 per cent. There were 368 Brahmin students out of total 441students of Rajaram High School and 55 Brahmin students out of 61 students in the Rajaram College in Kolhapur.2 This disparity alarmed Shahu Maharaj and he realized the need for educating shudras and dalits.
Being well educated on western lines, Shahu Maharaj realized the importance of equality, liberty and fraternity which was a dream to Indian context. He knows the fact that the Brahmans occupied a large number in the administrative posts and have an unlimited control over administration. As elsewhere in western India, the establishment of a Western educational system and a modernized administration had brought Brahmans to the forefront as the most educated class.3 Vedokta controversy in 1899 was the main reason behind Brahman-nonBrahman conflict when Shahu Maharaj became strong opponent to the Brahmans. This evidence convinced Shahu Maharaj that non-Brahmans must be in power to control the Brahmanical supremacy. Then he immediately ordered 50% Reservation to the members of “backward communities” in the administration on 26th July, 1902.4 This was the beginning of the system of Reservation in India and Shahu Maharaj thus became pioneer of it.
Shahu Maharaj had realized the importance of the education in the process of emancipation of the downtrodden. His view about the education is reflected in his speech delivered in Aryadharma Parishad, he said,
“There was a great loss of the nation due to lack of education among the
non-Brahmins and dalits... the priests became numerous in the temples
and their interference should be stopped by making our schools as our
temples, the knowledge of true religion must be exposed.”5
Shahu Maharaj established many hostels in Kolhapur and even supported economically the other hostels in different parts of Maharashtra for the education of the non-Brahmans. Some of his hostels are Jain Hostel (1901), Victoria Maratha Hostel (1901), Lingayat Hostel (1907), Mahomedan hostel (1906), Namdeo Shimpi Hostel, Sonar Hostel (1921), and Miss Clark Hostel for Dalits (1908) were founded to impart education among non-Brahmans.6 These hostels played crucial role in education and social change in the early years of nineteenth century Maharashtra. His hostels made it possible for many students from all over Maharashtra to come to Kolhapur and achieve their education and progress further in their lives.
With understanding the necessity of education, Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj established a Training College for Women to meet the need of woman teachers.7 It was made compulsory for students that after completion of their education, they had to teach the girls in the schools. Shahu Maharaj sent Krushnabai Kelavkar, a brilliant student to Grant Medical College for medical education. In 1902, he appointed her as an Assistant Medical Officer at ‘Albert Edward Medical Hospital’. He again granted a scholarship to her for specialization in Gynecology to London. After successfully completing the course, she rejoined her duty in 1903.8
Shahu Maharaj looked at women’s education as a necessity to bring gender equality, so he tried to encourage women’s education. When the girls passed from the schools meant for boys, he granted amount of Rs. 512 to the teachers.9 He also encouraged the girls of shudras and dalits for education. For this purpose he established a school for girls from Chambhar, Dhor and sanctioned Rs 96 for the purpose.10 He desired the emancipation of women through the education and for this purpose insisted on good moral education. Once in a discussion with Tofkhane and Bhaskarrao Jadhav, he said that ‘if women should get a proper education, which make them understand the difference between good and bad; if they would get it from the teachers of good moral, they would never go on the wrong ways’.11 Thus he cared and insisted on the quality of education.
Shahu Maharaj opened many schools for the spread of education among women and dalits. The Brahmin intelligentsia started movement for education for Brahmin women, while Satyashodhak movement under the leadership of Mahatma Phule started the movement for women, shudras and dalits. The Christian missionaries were also working for women’s education. In the nineteenth century, the non-Brahmin movement under the leadership of Shahu Maharaj also devotedly worked for education of women. He considered education important for women so as to bring up the children properly and encouraged the girls for education in many ways. He exempted the fees of the girls in Rajaram College and also declared scholarships for them.12 He also declared the scholarships of Rs. 40 each, in the names of, ‘Shri Radhabai Akkasaheb Maharaj Scholarship’ and ‘Shri Nandkunwar Maharani Bhavnagar Scholarship’ for first two girls in the ranking of standard IV of Marathi medium schools in Kolhapur and Bawda.13 He ordered to help the women’s education in his state and provided boarding, mess and educational facilities for girls. On account of his efforts the percentage of women’s literacy rose from 0.10 to 0.35 in the Kolhapur state.14 He had contributed greatly to increase the percentage of literate women due to his various efforts. He opened a free school, ‘Ahilyabai Girls’ High School’, for girls towards the eastern side of his Royal Palace and he also opened another school for girls in Kolhapur, ‘Ma. Laxmibai Girls’ High School’.15 In 1911, Shahu Maharaj made the provision of Free Education to Dalit girls and boys and devotedly worked for the emancipation of the Dalit and women and he already started a hostel for them in 1908.16 There were only 05 schools for the dalits, due to his attempts the number increased up to 27 in 1911-12 and from 1917 onwards he ran 7 hostels for them through his personal and royal expenditure.17
Shahu Maharaj was realized the essentiality of education for all the people and so he made his mind for the education of all his subjects and passed the Act of Compulsory and Free Education in 1917.18 He not only passed the Act of compulsory education, but implemented it rigidly by fining the parents for absence of their children at the rate of One Rupee per month.19 He thus never discriminated in the educational system on the basis of caste, gender etc. He not only cared about the education of non-Brahmin women, but equally cared about the education of the Brahmin women. He helped Dr. Anandibai Joshi by sending her amount to return India from America and decide to appoint her as ‘Assistant Darbar Surjan’; but she died after reaching India.20
Shahu Maharaj was very keen to eradicate the evil practices like untouchability, which was prevalent in every aspect of social life, including education. Some of the teachers instructed strictly the students of Mahar, Mang, to seat out of the classes, in verandas under the traditional influence of untouchability. When Shahu Maharaj came to know this practice, he ordered to close special schools for Dalits and include them into regular schools and sit all students together. In another order, he issued that those educational institutes which were getting grants from Government should focus and treat Dalit students with love, because they were unable to progress at their own unlike touchable; if there was anybody who dislike it should send resignation within six weeks, and off course, they would not grant the pension by the government. If any of the institutes had any objection, the government should stop the grants immediately.’21 This incidence is the strong proof of his modern outlook towards the social practices. He was very helping in many ways to the Dalits and he personally attempted to annihilate untouchability.
Shahu Maharaj had criticized the educated non-Brahmins for almost ignoring the cause of emancipation of dalits and of the education to nonBrahmins.22 Shahu Maharaj was so liberal to provide all kinds of help for the cause of education of the non-Brahmins, Dalits and women. So he wholeheartedly helped various institutes and persons not only in the Kolhapur State, but also from various parts of Maharashtra. V. B. Patil had founded the ‘Tararani University’ at Kolhapur in order to expand the women’s education with the help of Shahu Maharaj.23 Shahu Maharaj even bore the severe critique on the issue of women’s education from his family when he educated his daughter-in-law, Indumati Ranisaheb, after becoming widow at the early age of eleven. He decided to educate her so as to make her an able person. At that time, his family members including his wife criticized him on his decision. But after all he managed to educate her at Sonatali, a village near Kolhapur by appointing talented teachers, and she passed the examination of matriculation with second ranking. He even wanted to appoint her as the chief of the department of Education in the State, but due to her death it was not possible.24
Thus Shahu Maharaj contributed vehemently for the educating shudras, women and dalits so as to bring them in the mainstream of the society. He made every possible arrangement for the cause in his capacity as a king of the Kolhapur State; not limited to it, but also extended his educational movement throughout Maharshtra.
1 Kambale Uttam, (2003), Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Ani Mahila Mukti, Sugava Prakashan, Pune, p. 13.
2 Jadhav Ramesh, (1997), Lokraja Shahu Chhatrapati, Suresh Agency, Pune, 6th edition, 2015, p. 162.
3 Omvedt Gail, (2011), Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society, Manohar Publication, New Delhi, p. 130.
4 Khane B. D., 2006, Chhatrapati Shahu’s Crusade against Untouchability, Critical Quest, New Delhi, p. 6.
5 Karadkar K. S. (1975), in mangudkar M. P. (Ed), Maharashtratil Samajprabodhan Ani Chhatrapati Shahu Maharajanche Karya, Pune University, Pune, p. 57.
6 Omvedt Gail, (2011), Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society, Manohar Publication, New Delhi, p. 135.
7 Keer Dhananjay, (1979), Rajarshi Shahu Chhatrapati: Ek Samajkrantikarak Raja, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, reprinted 2001, p. 104.
8 Ibid, p. 111.
9 Dhatavkar Bhaskar, (ed. ), (1988), Shahu Chhatrapatinche Nivdak Adesh, Purabhilekh vibhag, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, p. 139.
10 Ibid, p. 45.
11 Tofkhane V. D., (1965), Rajarshi Shri Shahu Yanche Antarang, Maharashtra Granth Bhandar, Kolhapur, p. 76.
12 Bhosale Narayan, (2008), Maharashtratil Strivishayak Sudharnavadache Sattakaran, The Taichi Prakashan, Pune, p. 240.
13 Ibid, p. 240.
14 Suryawanshi G. S., (1978), Raja Shahu Ani Prabodhan, Ranjit Prakashan, Ichalkaranji, p. 240.
15 Salunkhe Hindurao, (1989), Chhatrapati Shahu Smrutidarshan, Maharashtra Granth Bhandar, Kolhapur, p. 16.
16 Phadake Y. D., (2005), Visavya Shataktil Maharashtra, (Maharashtra in the 20th Century), Vol. 2, K’Sagar Publication, Pune, Second Edition, p. 233.
17 Phadake Y. D., (2005), Visavya Shataktil Maharashtra, (Maharashtra in the 20th Century), Vol. 2, K’Sagar Publication, Pune, Second Edition, p. 233.
18 Pansare Govind, (2003), Rajarshi Shahu: Vasa Ani Warsa, Lokwangamaya Gruha, Mumbai, p. 18.
19 Ibid, p. 19.
20 Bhosale Narayan, (2008), Maharashtratil Strivishayak Sudharnavadache Sattakaran, The Taichi Prakashan, Pune, p. 64.
21 Pansare Govind, (2003), Rajarshi Shahu: Vasa Ani Warsa, Lokwangamaya Gruha, Mumbai, p. 20.
22 Karadkar K. S. (1975), in Mangudkar M. P. (ed), Maharashtratil Samajprabodhan Ani Chhatrapati Shahu Maharajanche Karya, Pune University, Pune, p. 57.
23 Salunkhe Hindurao, (1989), Chhatrapati Shahu Smrutidarshan, Maharashtra Granth Bhandar, Kolhapur, p. 7.
24 Suryawanshi G. S., (1978), Raja Shahu Ani Prabodhan, Ranjit Prakashan, Ichalkaranji, p. 54.
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