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Feminist Philosophical Thought in Colonial India

Savitribai Phule, Pandita Ramabai, Tarabai Shinde, Dr Anandibai Joshi, and Ramabai Ranade, the greatest women produced by modern India & one of the greatest Indians in all history, the one who lay the foundation for a movement for women’s liberation in India. Their goal was freedom from Indian tradition, freedom from religious practices and rituals. Despite coming from diver’s diverse social backgrounds they talk about individual development. They wanted to introduce practical philosophy of human being. In their philosophy they are talking about individual growth, care and humanism as virtue, they emphasis on self-reliance and wants to interpret Indian tradition in their own way. They fought against the tradition and fought for human rights, rights of education and rights of human development. They took a very revolutionary stand in their life in the history of India. Like Pandita Ramabai rejected Hinduism on gendered ground. She rejected traditional practice forced by so called traditions. On the other hand Savitribai was the teacher who educates all females and all underprivileged peoples of India. The truly liberating moments for Indian women happened in and through the life of Savitribai, who chose to walk tall, in step with her husband ahead of her time by centuries. The historic disadvantages of caste and gender filed to keep her down in the nineteenth century. In her writings she constantly emphasizes the importance of education and physical work for knowledge and prosperity. She felt that women must receive an education as they were in no way inferior to men; they were not the slaves of men. This paper is an attempt to discuss Savitribai Phule as feminist philosopher in colonial India. She raised the problem of women’s oppression and her thoughts on resolving women’s domination through their own efforts and autonomy makes her join the company of other nineteenth century male feminist Philosophers. In this small work I would like to focus on feminist philosophical aspect of her thought through her writings with special reference to Kavya Phule, moral values given by Savitribai will compare with Aristotle’s moral theory/virtue ethics and will conclude with remark on contemporary relevance of her philosophy of feminism.

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