Dhondo Keshav Karve

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Dhono Keshav Karve
Dhondo Keshav Karve 1958 stamp of India.jpg
Karve on a 1958 stamp of India
Native name
धोंडो केशव कर्वे
Born(1858-04-18)18 April 1858
Sheravali, Dapoli, Maharashtra, India
Died9 November 1962(1962-11-09) (aged 104)
  • Professor
  • Activist
  • Writer
  • Social Worker
Spouse(s)Radhabai and Godubai
ChildrenRaghunath Karve, Shankar Karve, Dinkar Karve, Bhaskar Karve

Dhondo Keshav Karve (18 April 1858 – 9 November 1962), popularly known as Maharshi Karve, was a social reformer in India in the field of women's welfare. In his honour, Queen's Road in Mumbai (Bombay) was renamed to Maharshi Karve Road. Karve was a pioneer in promoting widows' education.[1] The Government of India awarded him with the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1958, the year of his 100th birthday.[2]

The appellation Maharshi, which the Indian public often assigned to Karve, means ”a great sage”. He was also sometimes affectionately called "Annā Karve"; in the Marathi-speaking community to which Karve belonged, the appellation "Annā" is often used to address either one's father or an elder brother. He was also the first living Indian to appear on a postal stamp of India.

Personal life[edit]

Karve was born at Sheravali, his ancestral home, but spent most of his childhood at Murud, Ratnagiri. He completed his primary education at a government school in Murud. Since childhood, Anna was very brilliant, intelligent and obedient. Apart from good upbringing, daily recitations of religious texts like Ramavijay, Harivijay & Shivalilamrut, made his pronunciations clear and his language pure. It was on his guru’s advice that Karve used to read newspapers in Durga temple near the school, from 5 pm till sunset because it was during this time that the devotees flooded the temple, which served the intention of making maximum people aware of public issues. When he started earning, Anna took the lead and repaired the decaying baton of the same temple. His inspiring life as a responsible citizen truly started from this place. He loved Murud with all his heart and hence he did a lot of work for this place through ‘Murud development fund’.[3]

It was Murud where he spent pleasant time with his first wife, Radhabai. Raghunath Dhondo Karve[4] (Anna Karve’s elder son) too was born in Murud. After the death of Radhabai, he remarried a widow. This spread far and wide throughout Murud and Maharashtra. The then narrow minded society of Murud did not accept Anna’s decision. It was truly unfortunate. He took it as a challenge and eventually Pune became the place where he did most of his social work for women’s education.

Career as a college professor[edit]

During 1891–1914, Karve taught mathematics at Fergusson College in Pune, Maharashtra.[5]

Autobiographical works[edit]

Karve wrote two autobiographical works: Ātmawrutta (1928) in Marathi, and Looking Back (1936) in English.

Depictions in popular culture[edit]

The Marathi play Himalayachi Saavli (The Shadow of the Himalayas) by Vasant Kanetkar, published in 1972, is loosely based on the life of Karve. The character of Nanasaheb Bhanu is a composite character based on Karve and other Marathi social reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. The play itself depicts the tension between Bhanu/Karve's public life as a social reformer and his family life due to the social backlash and economic hardships his children and wife had to endure.

The 2001 film DhyasParva by Amol Palekar, based on the life of Karve's son Raghunath, also depicts the Karve family, and their social reformation projects.[6] Taluka Dapoli, a research based initiative, made a documentary on life of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve in 2017.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Remembering Maharshi Karve, the man who set up India's first university for women India Today. 18 April 2016.
  2. ^ "महर्षी कर्वे मराठी प्राथमिक शाळा – मुरुड". talukadapoli.com. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve | Taluka Dapoli". www.talukadapoli.com. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Raghunath Dhondo Keshav Karve | Taluka Dapoli". www.talukadapoli.com. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Fergusson College Department of Mathematics web page". Archived from the original on 19 June 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2006.
  6. ^ "Dhyasparva – A film by Amol Palekar". IMDb.
  7. ^ a b "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2007)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2010.