Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil
Founder of the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha, who took the torch of education to the masses
Bhaurao Patil was born on 22 September in 1887 in Kumbhoj village. Yetawde Budruk in Sangli district is his ancestral village. He was mutinous right from his childhood. Injustice would enrage him, as would the system of untouchability. He destroyed the pulley of a well because the untouchables were not allowed to fill water from that well. He completed his primary education at Vita in Sangli district and was admitted to Rajaram High School at Kolhapur for further education. His lodging was arranged at the Jain boarding. It was during this period that he became inspired and influenced by the work and thoughts of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj.
Later, he moved to Satara and started taking tuitions. During this period he established the Dudhgaon Shikshan Mandal at Dudhgaon along with Madwanna Master, Bhausaheb Kudale, Nanasaheb Yedekar and others. Under the aegis of this society, he started a hostel that was open to students of all castes and religions. The seeds of the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha were sown here. He also worked for a while in the Ogale Glass Factory and the Kirloskar Plough Factory.
On 4th October, 1919, he established the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha at Kale village and later its headquarters were shifted to Satara. The main objectives of Rayat Shikshan Sanstha were:
- To create and ameliorate the interest for education in the backward classes.
- To provide free education to the students of backward classes.
- To develop affection amongst students across all castes and religions.
- To do away with unnecessary traditions and superstitions and work towards social progress.
- To demonstrate the strength of working together through example if necessary.
- To try and make all the students prudent, independent, well mannered and enthusiastic.
- To establish branches of the institution and provide education to the masses.
Bhaurao endeavoured all his life to attain these objectives. He taught the principles of equality, fraternity, dignity of labour and commitment to society to his students in addition to the standard curriculum.
He established a large hostel in Satara. To run this, he even resorted to selling his wife’s jewellery. He successfully managed to run the educational institute and the hostel under extremely difficult circumstances. On 25th February 1927, this hostel was officially named Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Boarding House at the hands of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi started an annual donation of Rs.500 for this boarding house through his Harijan Sevak Fund. On 16th June 1935, the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha was officially registered. The same year, Bhaurao started the Silver Jubilee Training College in Satara.
Bhaurao Patil established the Maharaja Sayajirao High School in Satara, a free residential school and the first school that ran on ‘earn and learn’ principles. After this, a large number of schools came up all over Maharashtra. In 1947, Bhaurao Patil established the Chhatrapati Shivaji College in Satara and in 1954 the Sadguru Gadgebaba College in Karad. There was a dearth of good teachers and recognizing this need, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil started the Azad College of Education in memory of Maulana Azad in 1955. His chief objective in starting all these educational institutes was to spread education and the complete upliftment of the masses. Taking stock of his lifetime work, one can clearly see the influence of Mahatma Phule on him. He dedicatedly worked towards the three directives – school in each village, a teacher from the masses and teacher’s training.
He was conferred the DLit by Pune University in 1959. The Government of India bestowed on him the title of PadmaBhushan. Shri H. R. Mahajan has appropriately called Bhaurao Patil as Maharashtra’s Booker T Washington. His memory has been kept alive through his Samadhi and a memorial in Satara. This great educationist, who took the torch of education to the masses, expired on 9th May, 1959.