e n

Photo Feature : Saluting Satyashodak Samaj’s Pioneering Work

On 24 September 1873 Jotirao Phule and his friends and business colleagues launched the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth-Seekers Society) with Phule as its first president and treasurer. The main objective of the organisation was to liberate the Shudras and ati-Shudras from Brahmin exploitation

Satyashodak Samaj founded: 24 September 1873

After meeting every Sunday to discuss the plight of the Shudras, Jotiba Phule and his friends and business colleagues decided to form themselves into a society. On 24 September 1873 they launched the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth-Seekers Society) with Phule as its first president and treasurer. The main objective of the organisation was to liberate the Shudras and ati-Shudras from Brahmin exploitation. All the members of the Satya Shodhak Samaj vowed to worship only the one Creator (‘Nirmik’) without the help of any mediator and to treat all human beings as equal children of God. The October 1873 issue of Satyadipika reported that “a great revolution is at present going on in Pune” – with 700 families from the Kunbi, Mali, Kunwar, Badai and other Shudra castes uniting to free themselves from Brahmin bondage on spiritual and social matters. Historically, as noted by Phule scholar Rosalind O’Hanlon, the Samaj “was the first of many efforts of organisation that were to be made by lower caste politicians and ideologues in the last three decades of the [nineteenth] century.”



Weddings sans Brahmins: In the very first years, the Samaj encouraged its members to dispense with superstitious and expensive Brahmins to celebrate their family weddings. Sometimes in the face of community conservative pressures and, once at least, under police protection, the Samaj’s radical debrahmanising of social life began.


Jaya Karadi Lingu was among a group of Telugu Mali merchants and contractors who joined the Samaj in Bombay. They generously supported the Samaj’s programmes as well as took it to their own communities.


Samaj flag parade: In April 1885, on Gudi Padva (the Hindu NewYear), in contrast to religious flags flown, the Satyashodak Samaj joined with its fraternal Din Bandhu Sarvajanik Sabha to take out a flag procession through the streets of Pune. Led by a Mahar band and followed by Phule and other prominent Bahujan leaders, a huge crowd paraded the newly designed Samaj flag for five full hours.


Feeding famine victims, orphans : During the great Maharashtra famine of 1875-77, the Phules led the Samaj to organize programmes to feed the victims, especially those forced to leave their villages to seek refuge in Pune. It was to care for the orphans of this famine that the Samaj founded the Victoria Orphanage.



Published in the September 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine

Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +919968527911, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

The Common Man Speaks Out

Mahishasur: A people’s her

About The Author

FP Desk

Related Articles

For Ambedkar, Mahad Satyagraha was the end of a road and the beginning of a new one
The burning of the Manusmriti on 25 December 1927 during the Mahad Satyagraha marked the end of Ambedkar’s attempts to reform Hinduism, writes Siddharth
How the Tricolour can inspire us, the Bahujan, to fight for freedom in its truest sense
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd writes about imagining the nation and the flag not in terms of who were or are in power – Nehru and...
Journalism for Dalit liberation was a study in contrast during Hindi renaissance
While Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi was writing 'Draupadi-Vachan Banawali', portraying women as vile and lowly, Maithlisharan Gupta was singing paeans to Hindutva in his 'Vyas-Stavan',...