The great social reformer Jotirao Phule was bestowed with the unique title of 'Mahatma' on 11 May 1888 by another great social reformer from Mumbai, Rao Bahadur Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar. On completion of 60 years of his age and 40 years of social service fighting for the rights of the 'bahujans', he decided to bestow the title of 'Mahatma' on Jotirao Phule for his dedicated service in the cause of humanity justifying it to be apt for the great work and sacrifice for the downtrodden. He then garlanded Jotirao Phule and declared that ‘we people present here, with swasphurti, are bestowing the title of Mahatma upon Jotirao Phule!’.
Mahatma Jyotirao Phule AKA Jyotiba Phule (11 April 1827 – 28 November 1890) went to local Scottish Mission's High School, which he completed in 1847. His mother died when he was 9 months old. He was married at the age of 12. He was great activist, thinker, social reformer, writer, philosopher, theologist, scholar, editor and revolutionary from Maharashtra, India in the nineteenth century. Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule were pioneers of women's education in India. His remarkable influence was apparent in fields like education, agriculture, caste system, women and widow upliftment and removal of untouchability. He initiated widow-remarriage and started a home for upper caste widows in 1854, as well as a home for new-born infants to prevent female infanticide.
He is most known for his efforts to educate women and the lower castes as well as the masses. He, after educating his wife, opened the first school for girls in India in August 1848. In September 1873, Jyotirao, along with his followers, formed the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) with the main objective of liberating the Bahujans, Shudras and Ati-Shudras and protecting them from exploitation and atrocities. For his fight to attain equal rights for peasants and the lower caste and his contributions to the field of education, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of the Social Reform Movement in Maharashtra. Dhananjay Keer, his biographer, notes him as "the father of Indian social revolution".
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