Dhondo Keshav (alias Annasaheb) Karve was born
on 18 April 1858 at Sherwali village in Khed taluka
of Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra, in a lower
middle-class Chitpavan Brahmin family. His father,
Keshav Bapunna Karve, was Manager of the Estate
of Barve of Koregaon in Ratnagiri district on
a meagre salary. Annasaheb was married twice.
After the death of his first wife, Radhabai, in
1891, he married a widow, Godubai, in 1893.
Annasaheb had his primary education at Murud,
first in a Shenvi school and in a Government school.
In those days, if a person wanted to become a
teacher in a primary school, he had to pass the
Sixth Standard (Marathi) examination. Annasaheb
passed this examination at the late age of 18
because of lack of facilities. Simultaneously,
he received the traditional Indian education.
For two or three years he could not do anything.
Then he came to Bombay and joined the Robert Money
School. He passed his Matriculation at the age
of 23. He passed his Previous from the Wilson
College and his B. A. from the Elphinstone College(1884);
he stood first at the First B.A. in Mathematics.
He taught that subject for one year in the Elphintone
High School. He also studied for the M. A. examination
with Physics and Chemistry but not so much with
the intent of passing it; he naturally failed
From 1888 to 1891 he taught Mathematics in the
Cathedral Girls' High School, the Alexandra Girls'
School and the Maratha High School, Bombay. He
joined the Fergusson College, Poona, as Professor
of Mathematics in November 1891. In April 1892
he was elected a Life Member of the Deccan Education
Society. He also taught Mathematics in the New
English School and for the Navin Marathi Shala,
Poona, all the three institutions being run by
the same Society. He retired from the Society
at the end of 1914.
Pandit Vishnushastri and Pandit Iswar Chandra
Vidyasagar inspired Annasaheb to work for the
uplift of the widows, while the work of Pandita
Ramabai actuated him to spend his life for the
cause of female education. He was also influenced
by the writings of Herbert Spencer.
After his retirement from the Deccan Education
Society, Annasaheb decided to devote his entire
life for the uplift of the widows and the promotion
of female education. In 1893 he had already founded
the 'Vidya vivahottejak Mandali' (Society for
the Promotion of Widow-marriages) which helped
the needy children of widows and looked after
their education. In 1895 the name of the institution
was changed to 'Vidhava Vivaha Pratibandh Nivarak
Mandali' (Society for the Removal of Obstacles
to widow marriages).
In 1898 he started the 'Mahilashram' (Widow' Home)
in Poona; in 1900 the Home was shifted to Hingne
where it is still working with full vigour. He
started the Mahila Vidyalaya' in 1907 and in the
following year the 'Nishkam Karma Math', a self-sacrificing
institution to train workers for the Widows Home
and the Mahila Vidyalaya. In 1916 he founded the
Indian Women's University, in 1917 a Training
College for Primary School Teachers and in 1918
the Kanya Shala.
In 1936 he started the Maharashtra Village Primary
| with the object of
opening schools to teach the 'three Rs.' In the
villages which had no schools run by the District
Local Boards; it wasproposed to make special efforts
to keep up the reading habits of the adults. In
1944 Annasaheb founded the 'Samata Sangh' (Association
for the Promotion of Human Equality).
In March 1929 Annasaheb left for England. He attended
the Primary Teachers' Conference at Malvern and
spoke on 'Education of Women in India' at a meeting
of the East India Association at Caxton Hall,
London. From 25 July to 4 August 1929, he attended
an educational conference in Geneva and spoke
on 'The Indian Experiment in Higher Education
for Women'. From 8 to 21 August he attended the
international meeting of educationists arranged
by the New Education Fellowship in Elsinor.
During this tour of America, Annasaheb delivered
lectured at many places on women's education and
social reforms in India. He also visited the Women's
University in Tokyo. During this round the world
tour, he collected Rs. 27,000 for his Women's
University. He returned to India in April 1930.
In December 1930, Annasaheb left for Africa. He
visited Mombasa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganayika, Zanzibar,
Portuguese East Africa and South Africa. During
the tour he collected Rs. 34,000. He returned
to India in March 1932.
Annasaheb stood for the abolition of caste and
untouchability. He spent his life in working for
the cause of widow-marriage and raising the status
of women by providing educational facilities for
He had a broad outlook on religion. He had faith
in the Supreme Being pervading the Universe. He
was in favour of National Education. In his opinion,
women should have the type of education useful
to them in their lives. He felt that freedom alone
was not enough; there should be social equality
and a castless society.
Annasaheb was awarded the D. Litt. By the Benares
University (1942), Poona University (1951), and
S.N.D.T. Women's University (1954), and LL.D.
by the Bombay University (1957). The President
of India confered on him the titles of Padma Vibhushana
(1955) and Bharat Ratna (1958). On 18 April 1928,
his seventy-first birthday, the Poona Municipality
named the road leading to Yerandavane as 'Karve
From 1885 he gave 5% of his earnings to the 'Maratha
Five Per Cent Fund' to promote the cause of education,
and in 1888 he started the 'Murud Fund' for the
development of Murud, his home town. He donated
Rs. 500 to the 'Murud Fund' for a scholarship
to be named after his first wife.
In July 1947 Annasaheb started the Manavi-samata,
a monthly bulletin, to popularize the object of
the 'Samata Sangh'. Among his important publications
are: 'Atmavritta' (Poona, 1928) and 'Looking Back'
(Poona, 1936).Annasaheb was a great social worker
and an educationist. He led a quiet, ascetic life.
His eldest son Raghunath was a Professor of Mathematics
and a pioneer in sex education in India. His second
son Dr. Dinkar was a Professor of Chemistry and
is an eminent educationist. His daughter-in-law
Dr. Irawati was a leading sociologist of India.