Anandibai Joshi, isn’t it quite a familiar name for all of us who studied or grew up in Maharashtra? In fact, many people in India have heard this name in one way or another. However, many of us don’t know much about her except she was the first Indian woman who went to (or should I say ‘came to’) United States for higher education or some people know her as simply the first Indian woman to become a doctor, but believe me, there is more to the story and its really fascinating if you read about the struggle and circumstances under she travelled to the United States and completed her higher education. Well, I didn’t know her story either until a few months ago when one of our family friends, Mr. & Mrs. Sardesai mentioned about her and her memorial/headstone being in a cemetery in Poughkeepsie, NY. It was kind of a pleasant shock for us because who would have thought that an Indian (especially Marathi) woman who came to the US for advanced studies will have her monument here in the USA, so that night, I started reading about her on Wikipedia and few other websites and decided to visit the memorial to pay homage.  

A little bit about Anandibai:
Anandibai was born in a Brahmin family in Kalyan, near Mumbai on March 31st, 1865. Named Yamuna at birth, she was married at the age of nine to Gopalrao Joshi, a widower almost 20 years older than her. Gopalrao Joshi was a postal clerk and was a progressive thinker who was in support of education for women. He changed her name to ‘Anandibai’ after marriage and inspired and supported her to further her education. He was transferred from Kalyan to Alibagh and then to Calcutta. He sent her to mission schools whenever possible but took it upon himself to teach her English. He often would take her for long walks during which his teaching sessions continued. He was convinced that learning English was more important than learning Sanskrit. But Anandibai confessed that learning from her husband was not easy. He would hit her with pieces of wood or chairs or books sometimes.  

Anandibai delivered a child at fourteen. The boy lived for only ten days as both mom and baby did not receive proper medical care. This was the beginning of her ill-health, but the event made her determined to become a doctor so that she could help other Hindu women in need. Gopalrao fully supported her decision and also wanted to send her abroad for medical studies, even though they had no money. But here was a woman who believed that whatever the circumstances, nothing or nobody could stand in the way of her achieving her dreams. Her determination coupled with her husband’s encouragement was the first step towards achievement.

Gopalrao wrote to a missionary friend Royal Wilder in the US, asking for help to admit Anandibai to a medical school, and also find a job for himself. The missionary was willing to help on one condition, that they convert to Christianity. This was unacceptable to the couple. However, Wilder was good enough to publish Gopal’s letter in the Princeton Missionary Review. A woman named Theodosia Carpenter was touched by the earnestness of the letter. She offered to accommodate Anandibai when she came to the US. She struck up a correspondence with the girl, and they became good friends through their epistolary exchanges. They discussed Hindu culture and religion. They exchanged views on early marriages and the effect this had on women’s health, of the status of women in society and various other women’s issues. Anandibai’s clarity of thought on such issues was very mature. She was a feminist and believed that she had a right to live and grow and follow her heart.

Theodosia brought out the best in her. But Anandibai’s health began to deteriorate. While in Calcutta she suffered from fever, breathlessness and general debility. The medicines that Theodosia sent did not do much good. Gopalrao however, was determined to send her to the USA for her medical studies. There was much opposition from the conservative Hindu community. They were insulted, ostracized and sometimes physically attacked. In a letter to Theodosia she wrote, 
 “My designs meet with the approbation of a few, say one or two thousands. They are probably youth, reformists and patriots. I am not discouraged. I must not fear but show all, what Indian ladies are.”
Anandibai addressed the opponents in her community about the urgent need for female Hindu doctors. She talked convincingly about her son’s death and her own ill-health because there was no Hindu doctor to care for her. She also promised that she would never convert to Christianity. Her speech made an impact on the community. Donations began to pour in. Even the Viceroy made a donation of two hundred rupees.

In June 1883 at the age of nineteen, a weak but determined Anandibai sailed to the USA, chaperoned by two friends of Theodosia. She got admission to the first Women’s Medical Program offered by the University of Pennsylvania. She even won a scholarship of $ 600/- for three years. Her dissertation was on “Obstetrics among the Hindu Aryans.”

Anandibai in her 9-yard Maharashtrian sari must have been something of an oddity. With her arms and calves exposed, the cold was unbearable. In this weak state, she contracted Tuberculosis. But in spite of ill health, she persevered with her studies. She graduated on 11th March 1886. Her husband, Gopalrao and a social reformer Pandita Ramabai were present at this function. Even Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message. The Philadelphia Post wrote, “Little Mrs. Joshee who graduated with high honors in her class, received quite an ovation.”

 Anandibai sailed back to India on October 9, 1886 and received a rousing welcome on arrival. She was made physician in charge of the female ward in Albert Edward Hospital, Kolhapur. But her professional life was short lived. Illness claimed her on February 26th, 1887, at the early age of 22. As per Theodosia’s request, Gopalrao sent her ashes back to USA to be laid to rest in Theodosia Carpenter’s family plot at the Poughkeepsie Cemetery.                                                                     

Here was a brave child-woman whose determination empowered her, but her frail body gave out prematurely. Her last words were “I did all that I could.”    We visited Anandibai’s monument on August 5th, 2018 and paid our heartfelt homage. It's really mesmerizing to read about such a great lady who fought against the odds and set an example through her determination and courage.  

Major Rama Raghoba Rane

अमेरिकेत राहणाऱ्या अनेक कुटुंबात नवराबायको आपापल्या कार्यक्षेत्रात मग्न असतात. ऑफिस अधून थकून आलेली बायको जेंव्हा वसकन ओरडते 'दिवा बंद करा तो, आणि झोपा आता', तेव्हा मनात प्रश्न पडतो, कुठे गेली ती सुरेश भटांची प्रेयसी, जी प्रियकराला म्हणते 'मालवून टाक दीप, चेतवून अंग अंग, राजसा किती दिसात लाभला निवांत संग'. अमेरीकेतील कुटुंबात होणाऱ्या ह्या कुतरओढीचे चित्र डोळ्यापुढे उभे राहिले आणि खालील विडंबन साकार झाले.

(सुरेश भटांची क्षमा मागून)

मालवून टाक दीप ठेचले रे अंग अंग 
राजसा किती दिसांत  लाभली निवांत झोप !

त्या तिथे बेडरुमात, पेंगतोय आपला बाळ
जावूनी तू त्या खोलीत डायपराची बदल कर !

डीश वाशेरीच्या आत, ठेवूनी ती भांडी सात 
मोकळे करून टाक एकवार किचन सिंक !

सर्व दूर कीचनात पसरली दुर्गंधी घाण
सावकाश घे लिपून एकवार फरशी छान !

हे तुला आता कळेल ? एकटी मी किती करेल ?
सांग, का कधी खरेच एकटा उडे पतंग ?

काय हा तुझाच श्वास ? घोरतोय तू अजून !
घोर रे हळू उठेल पाळण्यातला श्रीरंग !

विडंबन कवी : प्रवीण कारंजकर

समोर बसलेल्या मुला-मुलींना आम्ही प्रश्न विचारण्यास सुरुवात केली. गावाचे नाव विचारले असता बरीचशी मुले ही मराठवाडा, विदर्भ ह्यातील दुष्काळी भागातून  आल्याचे लक्षात आले. शाळेत जाण्यासाठी किती किलोमीटर चालावे लागत होते असे विचारता सरासरी एकेरी अंतर ६ किमी म्हणजेच रोज १२ किमीची पायपीट करावी लागत होती असे उत्तर ऐकायला मिळाले. बहुसंख्य मुलांचे पालक हे अल्पभूधारक शेतकरी किंवा शेतमजुरीवर गुजराण करत होते हे त्यांनी सांगितलेल्या माहितीवरून समजले. आडगावी किंवा दुर्गम भागातील काही मुलांना शिक्षणासाठी अशा छात्रालयात पाठवण्याखेरीज पालकांना गत्यंतर  नव्हते  हे लक्षात आले. मी मुंबईसारख्या महानगरात वाढल्याने अशी मुले शिक्षणापासून वंचित असतात ह्याची त्यांच्याबरोबर झालेल्या संवादावरून  मला जाणीव झाली.
आपण इथून पाठवलेली आर्थिक मदत सार्थकी लागत आहे हे प्रत्यक्ष बघितल्यावर समाधान वाटले. आणि आमचा खारीचा वाट वाढविण्याचा निश्चय चिखलीहून मुंबईला परतताना केला!

सुघीर कुलकर्णी 

चिखली छात्रालय भेट
प्रसिद्ध अध्यात्मिक गुरु स्वामी चिन्मयानंद ह्यांचे शिष्य स्वामी दयानंद सरस्वती (सन १९३० ते २०१५) ह्यांनी Saylorsburg, PA  येथे अर्षविद्या गुरूकुलम १९८६ मध्ये स्थापन केले. ते दरवर्षी उन्हाळ्यात भारतातून येऊन उत्तर अमेरिकेतील शिष्यांना मार्गदर्शन करत असत. बाकीचे महिने ते भारतात राहत असत.

सुमारे २० वर्षांपूर्वी तामिळनाडू राज्यातील एक स्त्री त्यांच्याकडे तिची व्यथा घेऊन आली.  ती आडगावात शेतमजुर म्हणून काम करत होती. त्यामुळे तिच्या मुलाच्या शिक्षणाची आबाळ  होऊ लागली.तेंव्हा शिक्षण तसेच आरोग्य सुविधांपासून वंचित असणाऱ्या मुला-मुलींसाठी त्यांनी  भारतातील विविध राज्यात मोफत छात्रालये उघडण्याचे ठरवले. त्यासाठी त्यांनी AIM ( All India Movement ) for SEVA ह्या सेवादायी संस्थेची स्थापना सन २००० मध्ये केली. ( अधीक माहितीसाठी ). गेल्या १८ वर्षात संस्थेतर्फे भारतात अनेक छात्रालये (वसतीगृहे) उभी करण्यात आलेली आहेत. आणि त्यातील एक म्हणजे पुण्याजवळील चिखलीमधील छात्रालय.

ह्या मुलांच्या छात्रालयाची इमारत उभारण्यात आपल्या गावातील Radiologist-Oncologist डॉ. अरुण पुराणिक व त्यांचे Sayer, PA  मधील Cardiologist मित्र डॉ. प्रमोद देशमुख ह्यांचा पुढाकार होता. दोघांची ओळख गुरुकुलममध्ये झाली व त्यांनी उदारहस्ते १ कोटी २० लाख रुपयांची देणगी दिल्याने आज जवळजवळ ४० मुले ह्या छात्रालयाचा लाभ घेत आहेत. आपल्या Albany, NY भागात छात्रालयाच्या मदत फंडासाठी दरवर्षी जूनमध्ये ५ K शर्यत. यंदा ही शर्यत येत्या 15 जून ला आयोजीत करण्यात आली आहे ( अधीक माहितीसाठी ) तर सप्टेंबरमध्ये एक सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम आखण्यात येतो. २०१७ साली AimforSEVA अल्बनी  शाखेतर्फे भारतातील एकंदर ४५ मुलांचा वार्षिक खर्च पेलण्याची जबाबदारी घेतली आहे. 

२०१८च्या भारतवारीमध्ये चिखलीला जाऊन तेथील छात्रालयाला भेट देण्याचे ठरवले. पुण्याला नातेवाईकांना भेटून मुंबईला परत येताना वाटेतील निगडीजवळील चिखलीला २१ जानेवारीला थांबलो. छात्रालयाचे प्रमुख श्री.मच्छिन्द्रनाथ बुचुडे ह्यांच्याशी फोनवरून संपर्क साधला असता त्यांनी सुचविले की मुलांशी गप्पागोष्टी करायच्या असतील तर रविवार दुपार ही  त्यांच्या दृष्टीने सोईस्कर ठरेल. आमची Uber छात्रालयाच्या प्रवेशद्वारातून शिरताना एक मुलगा माझ्याशी हिंदीत बोलायला लागला. महाराष्ट्राच्या सांस्कृतिक राजधानीत आता हिंदी ऐकू येते परंतु ह्या छात्रालयातील विद्यार्थ्यांकडून मी मराठीची अपेक्षा केली होती. तेव्हा मी त्याला विचारले "तुला मराठी येते ना?" त्याने होय म्हंटल्यावर मी त्याला प्रेमाने उपदेश केला , "अरे मग मराठीत बोलायचे!".  

माझी पत्नी शीला व माझे, श्री.बुचुडे ह्यांनी स्वागत करून आम्हाला त्यांनी छात्रालयाच्या पहिल्या मजल्यावरील   हॉलमध्ये नेले. आम्ही बसलो त्या समोरच्या भिंतीजवळ देवादिकांच्या मूर्त्या  होत्या --छोटे देवालय उभे केले होते. बाजूला स्वामी दयानंद सरस्वतींचा फोटोही पाहायला मिळाला. श्री. बुचुडेंनी मुले जमण्याआधी माहिती दिली कि वयाच्या १०व्या वर्षी--म्हणजेच इयत्ता ५वि मध्ये विद्यार्थ्याला प्रवेश दिला जातो. व नंतर तो त्याच्या  १० वीच्या  परीक्षेपर्यंत इथे राहतो. इथली मुले बाजूच्या नाटेकर विद्यालयाच्या वसतिगृहात राहणाऱ्या मुलींबरोबर एकत्र त्या शाळेत शिकतात. मात्र छात्रालयात मुलींना प्रवेश नाही. त्या दिवशी आम्ही आल्याने छात्रालयातील ४० मुले व नाटेकर वसतिगृहातील १० मुली एकत्र जमले.स्वागताच्या भाषणासाठी श्री. बुचुडे ह्यांनी तेथील ९वीचा एक विद्यार्थी --प्रथमेश सोनावणे -ह्या चुणचुणीत मुलाला  निवडले. त्यांची निवड योग्य होती हे त्याच्या उस्फुर्त भाषणावरून समजले. येणारे पाहुणे अमेरिकेत राहतात असे त्याला सांगण्यात आले होते. त्यामुळे तो जेव्हा आम्हाला प्रवेशद्वाराजवळ भेटला तेव्हा त्याला आमच्याशी कोणत्या भाषेत बोलायचे असा प्रश्न पडला. खेडेगावातून आल्याने त्याला इंग्लिश एवढे  बोलता येत नव्हते त्यामुळे त्याने साहजिकच राष्ट्रभाषेचा आधार घेण्याचे ठरविले. त्या गोष्टीचा उल्लेख करून तो म्हणाला," ह्या आजोबांनी मला समजावले की  आपण मराठीत बोलले पाहिजे. इतकी वर्षे अमेरिकेत राहून त्यांना आपल्या मातृभाषेचा अभिमान आहे हे त्यांच्याकडून आपण शिकले पाहिजे !" नंतर तो आपल्या भाषणांत  पुढे म्हणाला ," ह्या छात्रालयात इतर मुलांबरोबर मलाही, तुमच्या सारख्या देणगीदारांमुळे शिक्षणाची संधी मिळत आहे ह्याबद्दल आभार मानावे तितके थोडेच!". नंतर मुला -मुलींनी पेटी व ढोलकाच्या साथीने सामूहिक प्रार्थना म्हणून दाखवली तसेच कविता, अभंग,व शिवाजीचा पोवाडा गाऊन काही मुला-मुलींनी आपली कला आमच्यासमोर सादर केली. 

Vidamban Kavya




3.      Book: Wonder women: 25 innovators, inventors, and trailblazers who changed history,   written by Sam Maggs

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संपादनाचं काम हातात घेतलं तेव्हा सदस्यांनी विचारपुर्वक निवडलेल्या विषयांची इतकी उत्सुकता आम्हालाच लागून राहील इतकं वाटलं नव्हतं. त्यांचे विचार वा संकलीत लेख वाचत असताना आम्ही साहीत्यीक रित्या समृद्ध होऊ वा संदर्भा पलीकडच्या सामान्य ज्ञानाने डोळे उघडतील, ह्याचा अपेक्षे पलीकडला आनंद होत आहे.
ह्या अंकात डॉक्टर आनंदीबाई जोशी आणि मेजर राम राघोबा राणे ह्या वीरांच्या आदरणीय, सन्माननीय आणि अत्यंत गर्वपूर्ण प्रेरणादायी आयुष्यांचा वैयक्तिक आढावा वाचा, अमोल जोगे आणि निखिल कोरतकर ह्यांच्या शब्ध शैलीत.
इतिहास शब्दांत संकुचीत करणं कठीण आहे. तसंच वर्षांनुवर्षे रसिक श्रोत्यांच्या मनात घर करून बसलेल्या काव्याचं विडंबन करणं म्हणजे खरं तर संकट. पण सर्व साधारण माणसांचे सामान्य प्रश्न त्या चालीचा आधार घेऊ पाहात असतील तर ? प्रवीण कारंजकरांनी प्रयत्न केला आहे.
सुधीर काकांनी ( कुलकर्णी ) एका छात्रालया च्या भेटी चा अनुभव आपल्या साठी दर्शविला आहे. AIMforSEVA च्या Albany Chapter नी हे छात्रालय प्रायोजीत केलेले आहे. लेखात काकांनी एक सुंदर शब्द प्रयोग केला आहे - “भारतवारी” … दुसऱ्या कोणता - visit, vacation, trip आदी शब्द आपल्या जन्मभूमिशी ‘वारी’ सारखं नातं जोडू शकत नाही असं मला वाटतं. ज्या मातीत रुजून आपल्या बीजाचं आज वृ्क्ष पसरलं आहे त्याच मातीत आपला एक अंश सांडून येणे म्हणजे परिपुर्णतेचा वाटेवरचा एक छोटासा अनुभव.

आपल्या ऑल्बनी कुटुंबाच्या ह्या प्रयत्नांना तुमच्या प्रोत्साहनाची गरज आहे. तसेच तुम्हाला जिव्हाळ्याचं हितगुज करण्यासाठी हा अगदी अनौपचारीक कट्टा. पुढील अंकासाठी आम्ही वाट पाहतोय...तुमच्या लेखाची !     

प्रीति आणि रोहित 

While we know a great deal regarding the great Maratha warriors of the Shivaji Maharaj and Bajirao Peshwa era, most of us know little about Maharashtrian soldiers of contemporary times. I would like to share with you the exploits of one such daredevil soldier – Major Rama Raghoba Rane. Major Rane’s distinguished himself in two respects: (1) He is the only Maharashtrian who has won the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), India’s highest award for gallantry and (2) He is the only PVC winner who did not belong to either the Infantry or the Armored (Tank) Corps. Major Rane belonged to the Indian Army’s Corp of Engineers. 
The year was 1948. After the horror of partition, independent India faced its first major crisis as Pakistani soldiers disguised as Tribesmen poured into Kashmir to annex it for Pakistan. At Pandit Nehru’s urging, the King of Kashmir signed the instrument of accession to join with India. Having secured the King’s signature, India was now legally free to intervene and repel the invaders. With Pakistani raiders mere hours away from Srinagar airport, Indian Airforce Dakota aircraft began transporting troops of the 4th Kumaon regiment to Srinagar. It was a close call (“Slender was the Thread”), but 4th Kumaon along with the 1st Sikh regiment that arrived soon after secured Srinagar and halted the advance of the raiders. Thereafter began the arduous and dangerous task of evicting the raiders from the rest of Kashmir. This took nearly 14 months of vicious fighting (independent India’s longest war) costing thousands of Indian soldiers their lives. It was during this phase of the fighting that Rama Rane won his Param Vir Chakra.
After Srinagar was secure, the India Army began to push westward towards the strategic town of Rajauri. The task of capturing Rajauri was assigned to the 4th Dogra regiment. This was a tough task since the road that connects Srinagar with Rajauri had been heavily mined and several formidable road-blocks had been set up by the Pakistanis. To help clear these obstacles, a platoon of combat engineers (under the command of Rama Rane) and a squadron of Sherman Tanks was assigned to 4th Dogra. At the crack of dawn on the 8th of April 1948, 4th Dogra began its advance towards Rajauri. Almost immediately the advance ran into serious trouble as they hit a minefield. Just as Rane and his men began work on clearing the mines, they were struck by enemy mortar fire. Rane was injured by a mortar blast, but he refused to be evacuated and immediately took charge of the situation. He began work to create a diversion for the tanks to proceed forward and circumvent the minefield. He worked continuously till 2200 hours that night in full view of the enemy and under heavy machine-gun fire. On 9 April, he again started work at 0600 hours and worked on till 1500 hours when the diversion was ready for the tanks to proceed. As the tank column advanced, he got into the leading tank and proceeded ahead. After proceeding about half a mile, he came across a roadblock made of pine trees. He at once dismounted and blasted the trees away and the advance continued. The next roadblock was a demolished culvert. Rane again dismounted from the lead tank, but before he could start work, the enemy rained furious machine gun fire onto Rane and his men. With great risk to his life, he worked under continuous enemy fire and made a diversion and the column proceeded ahead. The roadblocks were becoming numerous, but he blasted his way through each and every one of them. In all of these actions, he lead from the front, inspiring his combat engineers to superhuman acts of heroism and courage.  
It was now 1815 hours, and the light was fading fast. The column came across a formidable roadblock of five big pine trees surrounded by mines and covered by machine-gun fire and the advance once again ground to a halt. The next day (April 10) at 0445 hours, Rane started work on the roadblock in spite of intense machine-gun fire. With sheer will power, he cleared this roadblock by 0630 hours. The next thousand yards was a mass of roadblocks and blasted embankments. That was not all. The enemy had the whole area covered with withering machine-gun fire, but with superhuman efforts, in spite of having been wounded, with cool courage and exemplary leadership and complete disregard for personal life, he managed to clear the road by 1030 hours. 
Rane then decided to leave the tank column and return to clear the road for the supply trucks that were following the tanks. Rane understood that if supplies of food and ammunition did not reach the advancing troops, then the advance would inevitably stall. He, therefore, worked without rest or food till 2100 hours that night until the road became fully passable to trucks. On 11 April, he learned that the advancing tanks were once again held up near the town on Chingas. Unmindful of his own injuries and in spite of having worked continuously for nearly 96 hours without rest, he again rejoined the tanks at Chingas. He worked relentlessly for another seventeen hours to open the road to Chingas and beyond. The indomitable spirit, drive, and energy of this intrepid officer was instrumental in enabling the 4th Dogra regiment to finally capture Rajauri on April 12, 1948. His achievement is all the more staggering considering that this was not one single hot-blooded act, performed on the spur of the moment, and in the heat of battle. Rather, this was calm, calculated, deliberate and extreme valor that was sustained and repeated again and again over a one week period. His efforts not only cost the Pakistani forces about 500 dead and many more wounded but also saved many civilians in the area from Chingas and Rajauri. For his efforts, Rama Raghoba Rane was deservedly awarded the Param Veer Chakra by a grateful nation.
He retired with the rank of Major on 25 June 1968. He was subsequently employed as a member of the civilian staff of the Indian Army. He remained in the employment of the army until 7 April, 1971 at which time he retired. He died in 1994 at the Command Hospital in Pune, survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. Let us applaud the courage, devotion to duty and spirit of self-sacrifice of this great son of Maharashtra! 

For comments, Nikhil Koratkar could be reached at

Anandibai Joshi Monument, Poughkeepsie, NY


Albany Maharashtra Mandal