MAHARSHI KARVE A Legend in his Lifetime, a Social Reformer who transformed the destiny of women in India
Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve
The Story of his Life and Work.
In my own small way I wish to present a review of biographical literature on Maharshi Karve in order to enable readers, especially modern women and the students and alumni of educational institutions who owe their very genesis to Maharshi Karve like the SNDT University and the numerous and multifarious women’s schools and colleges under the aegis of the Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha, get an insight into the life and work of this great social reformer whose ceaseless efforts played a cardinal role in transforming the destiny of the Indian woman.
I have before me three books on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve:
(i) His autobiography titled ‘Looking Back’ published in 1936.
(ii) Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar published in 1958 by Popular Prakashan Bombay (Mumbai)
(iii) Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years published on 18 April 1963 ( His 106th birth anniversary) by Hingne Stree Shiksan Samstha Poona (Pune)
Allow me to tell you, Dear Reader, a bit about these books which describe the life and times of Maharshi Karve and tell us about the monumental pioneering work of one of the foremost social and educational reformers of India.
LOOKING BACK by Dhondo Keshav Karve – Autobiography
It would be apt to start with his autobiography – Looking Back, and let Maharshi Karve describe his life and work from his own point of view in his simple yet fascinating style.
I am placing below a Book Review of his autobiography (which I had reviewed a few years ago) for your perusal:
Book Review of The Autobiography of Maharshi Karve: “Looking Back” by Dhondo Keshav Karve (1936)
Dear Reader, you must be wondering why I am reviewing an autobiography written in 1936.
Well, sometime back, for six years of my life, I stayed in a magnificent building called Empress Court on Maharshi Karve Road at Churchgate in Mumbai.
I share the same surname [ Karve ] as the author.
Also, I happen to be the great grandson of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.
But, beyond that, compared to him I am a nobody – not even a pygmy.
Maharshi Karve clearly knew his goal, persisted ceaselessly throughout his life with missionary zeal and transformed the destiny of the Indian Woman.
The first university for women in India – The SNDT University and educational institutions for women covering the entire spectrum ranging from pre-primary schools to post-graduate, engineering, vocational and professional colleges bear eloquent testimony to his indomitable spirit, untiring perseverance and determined efforts.
In his preface, Frederick J Gould, renowned rationalist and lecturer on Ethics, writes that “the narrative is a parable of his career” – a most apt description of the autobiography. The author tells his life-story in a simple straightforward manner, with remarkable candour and humility; resulting in a narrative which is friendly, interesting and readable.
Autobiographies are sometimes voluminous tomes, but this a small book, 200 pages, and a very easy comfortable enjoyable read that makes it almost unputdownable.
Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve writes a crisp, flowing narrative of his life, interspersed with his views and anecdotes, in simple, straightforward style which facilitates the reader to visualize through the author’s eyes the places, period, people and events pertaining to his life and times and the trials and tribulations he faced and struggled to conquer.
Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on 18th of April 1858. In the first few chapters he writes about Murud, his native place in Konkan, Maharashtra, his ancestry and his early life– the description is so vivid that you can clearly “see” through the author’s eye.
His struggle to appear in the public service examination (walking 110 miles in torrential rain and difficult terrain to Satara) and his shattering disappointment at not being allowed to appear for the examination (because “he looked too young”) make poignant reading.
“Many undreamt of things have happened in my life and given a different turn to my career” he writes, and then goes on to describe his high school and, later, college education at The Wilson College Bombay (Mumbai) narrating various incidents that convinced him of the role of destiny and serendipity in shaping his life and career as a teacher and then Professor of Mathematics.
He married at the age of fourteen but began his marital life at the age of twenty! This was the custom of those days. Let’s read the author’s own words on his domestic life: “… I was married at the age of fourteen and my wife was then eight. Her family lived very near to ours and we knew each other very well and had often played together. However after marriage we had to forget our old relation as playmates and to behave as strangers, often looking toward each other but never standing together to exchange words…. We had to communicate with each other through my sister…… My marital life began under the parental roof at Murud when I was twenty…” Their domestic bliss was short lived as his wife died after a few years leaving behind a son… “Thus ended the first part of my domestic life”… he concludes in crisp witty style.
An incident highlighting the plight of a widow left an indelible impression on him and germinated in him the idea of widow remarriage.
He married Godubai, who was widowed when she was only eight years old, was a sister of his friend Mr. Joshi, and now twenty three was studying at Pandita Ramabai’s Sharada Sadan as its first widow student.
Let’s read in the author’s own words how he asked for her hand in marriage to her father – “I told him…..I had made up my mind to marry a widow. He sat silent for a minute and then hinted that there was no need to go in search of such a bride”.
He describes in detail the ostracism he faced from some orthodox quarters and systematically enunciates his life work – his organization of the Widow Marriage Association, Hindu Widows Home, Mahila Vidyalaya, Nishkama Karma Math, and other institutions, culminating in the birth of the first Indian Women’s University (SNDT University).
The trials and tribulations he faced in his life-work of emancipation of women (widows in particular) and women’s education and how he overcame them by his persistent steadfast endeavours and indomitable spirit makes illuminating reading and underlines the fact that Dr. DK Karve was no arm-chair social reformer but a person devoted to achieve his dreams on the ground in reality.
These chapters form the meat of the book and make compelling reading. His dedication and meticulousness is evident in the appendices where he has given date-wise details of his engagements and subscriptions down to the paisa for his educational institutions from various places he visited around the world to propagate their cause.
He then describes his world tour, at the ripe age of 71, to meet eminent educationists to propagate the cause of the Women’s University, his later domestic life and ends with a few of his views and ideas for posterity. At the end of the book, concluding his autobiography, he writes: “Here ends the story of my life. I hope this simple story will serve some useful purpose”.
Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve wrote this book in 1936.
He lived on till the 9th of November 1962, achieving so much more on the way, and was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters ( D.Litt.) by the famous and prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1942, followed by University of Poona [Pune] in 1951, SNDT Women’s University in 1955, and the LL.D. by Bombay [Mumbai] University in 1957.
Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve received the Padma Vibhushan in 1955 and the India’s highest honour the “Bharat Ratna” in 1958, a fitting tribute on his centenary at the glorious age of 100.
It is an engrossing and illuminating autobiography, written in simple witty readable storytelling style, and it clearly brings out the mammoth contribution of Maharshi Karve and the trials and tribulations he faced.
I (the reviewer) was born in 1956, and have fleeting memories of Maharshi Karve, during our visits to Hingne Stree Sikshan Samstha in 1961-62, as a small boy of 5 or 6 can.
My mother tells me that I featured in a Films Division documentary on him during his centenary celebrations in 1958 (I must have been barely two, maybe one and a half years old) and there is a photograph of him and his great grand children in which I feature.
It is from some old timers and other people and mainly from books that I learn of his pioneering work in transforming the destiny of the Indian Woman and I thought I should share this.
I have written this book review with the hope that some of us, particularly the students and alumni of SNDT University, Cummins College of Engineering for Women, SOFT, Karve Institute of Social Sciences and other educational institutions who owe their very genesis and existence to Maharshi Karve, are motivated to read about his stellar pioneering work and draw inspiration from his autobiography.
Reviews of two biographical books on Maharshi Karve
As I have mentioned earlier, two other good books pertaining to the life of Maharshi Karve which I have read are:
Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar, Popular Prakashan (1958)
Maharshi Karve – His 105 years, Hingne Stree Shikshan Samstha (1963).
The biography ‘Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar’ was commissioned and published by the Dr. DK Karve Centenary Celebrations Committee on 18th April 1958 the birth-centenary of Dr. DK Karve.
(Thousands attended the main function on 18th April 1958 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai which was addressed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister).
The author, GL Chandavarkar, then Principal of Ram Mohan English school, has extensively researched the life of Dr. DK Karve, by personal interaction with the great man himself, reminiscences of his Professors, colleagues and students, and his two writings Looking back and Atma-Vritta.
The author acknowledges with humility: “This is the story of the life of a simple man who has risen to greatness without being aware of it in the least. It is being told by one who can make no claim to being a writer” – and then he lucidly narrates the story of Maharshi Karve’s life in four parts comprising twenty four chapters in simple narrative style.
Part I, comprising eight chapters, covers the early life of Dhondo Keshav Karve, from his birth to the defining moment in his life – his remarriage to Godubai who was widowed at the age of eight, within three months of her marriage, even before she knew what it was to be a wife.
The first chapter vividly depicts the life and culture of Murud and Konkan in a brilliantly picturesque manner and is a fascinating read. The narrative then moves in a systematic manner encompassing the salient aspects of Maharshi Karve’s life till his birth centenary in 1958.
The biographer comprehensively cover Maharshi Karve’s marital and work life, but does not throw much light on his relationships with his four illustrious sons, who were well-known in their own respective fields of work.
The author avoids pontification and writes in friendly storytelling style which makes the book very interesting and readable, making it suitable for the young and old alike.
I feel an epilogue covering the remaining years of his life would make the biography more complete.
There is a reference index at the end and I found this book to be quite a definitive biography which could serve as a source for knowledge and inspiration to readers interested in the life and work of Maharshi Karve.
The 233 page book was published by Popular Book Depot Mumbai in 1958 and I picked up a copy priced at rupees forty at the International Book Service at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune a few years ago.
Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years, published on his 106th birth anniversary, is a pictorial album depicting the life and activities of Maharshi Karve.
In today’s parlance it may be called a ‘coffee table’ book, but it is a memorable reference book of lasting souvenir value which is a must for every library.
The chronologically arranged sketches, photographs and captions tell Maharshi Karve’s life-story in a seamless manner. There are photographs of historical, heritage and sentimental value highlighting important milestones in his life and work.
[If you want to see my picture, turn to page 98 and have a look at the small boy holding Maharshi Karve’s hands and looking at the camera. I may have been just one and a half years old then and barely able to stand!].
This book is indeed a ‘collector’s item’ and was priced at a princely sum of rupees ten at the time of publication.
If you wish to learn more about Maharshi Karve and draw inspiration from his life and work, do read these three books.
And please do let us know if you come across literature on the life and work of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review article.
About the Author
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource and Training Manager by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book “Appetite for a Stroll”. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Vikram’s Creative Writing Blog – http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com
What rating would you give the lyrics on Guitar Hero III, Legends of Rock(Wii)? Is it appropiate for kids?
I have seen a partial list of the songs on GHIII, but I really don’t know the words to most of the songs anyway. If there are some questionable songs, is there a way to block those?
Actually I dont really know why they rate it T.I Have it the graphics are great the songs are good .The songs dont even have swears.My favorite song in that game has got to be paint it black by rolling stones.Next there are no ways to block the songs but ive been playing it and their are no swears.Its mostly Teen because of mild suggestive themes like crazy rockers.It was also rated Teen for lyrics which in the game all you can hear is the guitar.I know their where some swears on guitar hero II but like 2 other people said you cant tell if the songs swear or not.I also read somewhere that playing guitar hero can help you to play a real guitar.I tried playing a real guitar after i played guitar hero on hard for a while and it was easier.I do think it is appropriate for kids though it is really fun too.
Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock (360): Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames (Expert Guitar)
The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, Book III
The new Legacy of the Drow…This trade paperback omnibus collects the complete texts of The Legacy, Starless Night, Siege of Darkness, and Passage to Dawn—New York Times best sellers all—in a great value package. The Legend of Drizzt® 25th Anniversary Editions are perfect for both longtime fans and collectors, and readers new to the action and adventure of The Legend of Drizzt….
Dark Paths: The Legends of the Alfar Book III (The Legends of the Älfar)
The third in the fast-and-furious fantasy adventure The Legends of the Älfar: the worlds of the dark elves and the dwarves collide in what Malazan Empire calls ‘Tolkien with a dash of Gemmell and a sprinkling of George R.R. Martin’.There are four races: the Elves, the Dwarves and the Humans and the Älfar.The other three all know the Älfar to be dark, relentless warriors, set on conquest; they h…
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Vol. 3
Link must defeat evil at every turn in his perilous quest to help Princess Zelda!Once upon a time, wizards tried to conquer the Sacred Realm of Hyrule. The Spirits of Light sealed the wizards’ power within the Shadow Crystal and banished them to the Twilight Realm beyond the Mirror of Twilight. Now, an evil menace is trying to find Midna, Princess of the Twilight Realm, and the fragments of the …
adidas Performance Confederations Cup Glider Soccer Ball
Genuine Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Brush Roll #152584 Fits Classic, Classic Omega, Classic III, Tradition, Heritage I, Heritage II, Legend I, Legend II
Genuine Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Brushroller Beater Bar
Regular Brush Roller – Only hard woods like maple and beech are used for the body of Kirby Brush Rollers for extra durability. This brush roll has a magnet to easily determine when the brush roller is no longer spinning….
Legends Never Die Three Stooges Golf Black White Framed Photo Collage, 11 by 14-Inch
This beautifully matted collector’s photo presentation is an 11″ x 14″ collage. It contains an 8″ x 10″ photo offset with an additional 3″ x 5″ photo, coupled with a bio. All photos and bio are bevel-cut and double matted under glass. These quality collectors pieces are designed for visual appeal. This piece comes framed in a beautifully sculpted black lacquered frame. A unique collectible for any…
Legend 3 Piece Faux Leather Left-Facing Sectional Sofa Set with Free Storage Ottoman, Vanilla
Sectional sofa overall approximately dimension: 105″ x 73.5″ x 32″, high storage ottoman approximately dimension: 34″ x 24″ x 15.5″. High sofa upholstery material: faux leather. Package included: 2-piece sectional sofa set with a storage ottoman, 2-picese square pillows right chaise / left sofa / ottoman, 3 piece….