Bharat Ratna award winners in 1958

Dhondo Keshav Karve – (1858-1962)

Dhondo Keshav Karve

Dhondo Keshav Karve was the social reformer of India who worked for the women’s welfare. The Queen’s Road in Mumbai is named after him as Maharishi Karve Road. He worked to promote women’s education and for widow remarriage. He was given the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna by Government of India in 1958 in his birth centenary. Karve means ‘a great sage’ and so he was affectionately called as ‘Anna Karve’.

He was born on 18th April 1858 in Murud, Dapoli, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. His father was Keshave Bapunna Karve. He had to walk 110 miles in torrential rain and hard terrain to the nearest city of Satara to appear at a public service examination but he was allowed to write as he looked too young. He studied at Elphinstone Collece in Mumbai and got his bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

He got married at the age of 14 and was married to an eight year old girl named Radhabai. She died in 1891 at her age of 27 during the birth of the child, Raghunath Karve. As he had reformatory thoughts, he married a widow of 23 years old named Godubai as his second wife. She was married for the first time when she was eight and became a widow within three months of her marriage.

He had four sons, Raghunath from his first marriage, Shankar, Dinkar and Bhaskar from his second. He started his career as a professor of mathematics. From 1891 to 1914 he taught at Fergusson College in Pune in Maharashtra.

He founded Widhawa Wiwahottejak Mandali in 1893 to encourage widow remarriage and this was renamed as Widhawa Wiwaha Pratibandh Niwarak Mandali. He made his 20 year old widowed sister in law to join the school. In 1916 he established the first university for women in India with five students. He established Training College for Primary School Teachers and school for girls named Kanya Shala.

He toured Africa in 1930 to spread his work for women in India and in 1931 the first college of SNDT was established. In 1936 he started Maharashtra Village Primary Education Society and in 1944 he founded Samata Sangh. He received Bharat Ratna award in 1958, and Padma Vibhushan award in 1955 and many other awards and honors from various institutions.