Dhondo Keshav Karve (18 April 1858 – 9 November 1962) popularly known as Maharshi Karve, was a social reformer in India in the field of women’s welfare. He advocated widow remarriage and he himself married a widow. Karve was a pioneer in promoting widows’ education. He founded the first women’s university in India, the SNDT Women’s University in 1916. The Government of India awarded him with the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1958, the year of his 100th birthday

Life and Career

Dhondo Keshav Karve, also known as Maharishi Karve, was born on April 18, 1858, in Sheravali, Maharashtra, India. He came from a Brahmin family and grew up in a traditional Indian environment. He faced personal hardships, losing his wife at a young age, which motivated his commitment to social reform and women’s education.

Karve initially pursued education in Pune and then later completed his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Bombay. He became a prominent figure in the social reform movement in India, advocating for the upliftment of women and gender equality. He dedicated his life to promoting women’s education and empowering them to be self-sufficient.

In 1896, he established the Widow Marriage Association, encouraging the remarriage of widows which was taboo at the time. He also founded the Maharashtra Girls’ Education Society in 1896 to provide educational opportunities for girls. Karve played a significant role in establishing the SNDT Women’s University in Pune, which was the first women’s university in India and South Asia.


D.K. Karve passed away on November 9, 1962, in Pune, India, leaving behind a legacy of social reform and women’s empowerment.

Award and Legacy

Karve’s contributions were widely recognized and celebrated during his lifetime. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1958, in recognition of his immense contribution to women’s education and social reform.

D.K. Karve’s legacy is rooted in his tireless efforts to uplift women’s status in Indian society and promote their education. His initiatives and institutions continue to thrive and play a crucial role in women’s empowerment in India. SNDT Women’s University, in particular, remains a testament to his vision of providing quality education to women.


Karve’s work continues to inspire generations of social reformers and educators, emphasizing the importance of gender equality, education, and social justice. His life story stands as a beacon of hope and a reminder of the transformative power of individual dedication to societal progress.

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