Introduction

The lesson “Anandi Gopal” is an autobiography which deals with the life story of Anandi Gopal and how she became the first Indian woman to receive education abroad. She was born on March 31, 1865 in Kalyan, Mumbai. Her childhood name was Yamuna Joshi. When she was nine years old, she was married to Gopal Rao,a broad minded man,and her name was changed to Anandi. He always supported widow remarriage and women’s education. He even began teaching Anandi because he wanted her to be an independent woman. At first he tried to enroll her in the missionary schools, but that did not work out.

After Anandi’s rapid progress, Gopal Rao was insistent that she should acquire higher education.In those days there was a great unavailability of female doctors and thus, many women reluctant to approach a male doctor would suffer a lot as a result. Anandibai herself had lost her young son when she was just fourteen. So, she decided to become a doctor. Gopal Rao tried hard to get her a seat in an American University.

The Abroad struggle

Mrs. Carpenter of Roselle, New Jersey, came to know of Anandibai’s story by chance. She offered to host her in the U.S.A. Since Gopal Rao could not find a job in America, Anandi left for America alone, despite opposition and criticism from the native people. She reached America in June 1883 and stayed in the house of the Carpenters.

Anandi found many things strange in America like their dress, their lifestyle, food habits were quite different. She was surprised when she found that they did not take bath every day. In the same way, the Carpenters found Anandibai’s dress, her not eating non- vegetarian food, her customs very strange. Despite the differences Mrs. Carpenter took care of Anandibai like her own daughter and she even cried like a child when she left Anandi at the Women’s College in Philadelphia. The Superintendent and the Secretary were also very kind to her. After knowing that she had come from India to study, they even offered her a scholarship of six hundred dollars for three years.

The college room in which she stayed was not comfortable and had no proper fireplace and ventilation. The fireplace discharged a lot of smoke when lit. Anandibai tried to shift to a different place, but people refused to rent a room to a brown Hindu girl.Cold and smoke affected her health very adversely. She suffered from high temperature and chronic cough. After managing to complete her education and received the medical degree, she was declared as the first woman doctor of India. It was one of the proudest moment of her life. With the passing of the days, her health were deteoriting. Gopal Rao admitted her to the Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia. There they diagnosed that she had tuberculosis. The doctors advised her to return to India. On the ship, the doctors refused to treat a brown woman.

Her return to India

After reaching India, she stayed with her cousin in Pune to receive treatment from an Ayurvedic specialist. But, he also refused to treat her for she had gone against the customs and traditions of Indian society. Anandibai was frustrated as all her achievements had gone in vain.She died on February 26, 1887. She was mourned throughout India. Her ashes were sent to Mrs. Carpenter, who kept them in her family cemetery in Poughkeepsie. Anandibai’s life and achievements have inspired many young women. She made us believe in our abilities and capabilities. Despite adverse situations and circumstances,one can achieve her/his goals. The Government of Maharashtra has founded a Fellowship in her honour for young women working on women’s health.