Anandi Gopal Joshi

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Anandi Gopal Joshi

A photo of Anandi Gopal Joshi with her signature on it
Born 31 March 1865(1865-03-31)
Pune, Maharashtra
Died February 26, 1887 (aged 21)
Spouse Gopalrao Joshi

Anandi Gopal Joshi A (or Anandibai Joshi) (Marathi:आनंदी गोपाळ जोशी/आनंदीबाई जोशी)(March 31, 1865 - February 26, 1887) was one of the two first Indian women to obtain a medical degree through training in Western medicine. (Kadambini Ganguly earned a medical degree the same year, 1886, as Anandibai.) She was also the first Hindu woman to do so.[1]

Contents

Early life

Anandibai was born as Yamuna in Pune ( Maharashtra ) in an orthodox wealthy Brahmin family. At her age 9, she was married by her family to Gopalrao Joshi, who was a widower and almost twenty years her senior. After the marriage, the husband renamed Yamuna as Anandi.

Gopalrao worked as a postal clerk in Kalyan. Later, he was transferred to Alibag, and finally to Calcutta. He was a progressive thinker, and supported the education of women, which was not very prevalent in India in his times.

It was common for Brahmins in those times to be proficient in Sanskrit; however, through influence on Gopalrao's mind of Lokhitawadi's Shat Patre, he had regarded learning English well to be more important than Sanskrit. Noticing Anandibai's interest in acquiring education, he helped her receive education and learn English.

At age of 14, Anandibai gave birth to a boy. But the child survived only ten days because of nonavailability of needed medical care. This situation proved a turning point in Anandibai's life, and inspired her to become a physician.

Towards a medical career

Gopalrao encouraged his wife to study medicine. In 1880, he sent a letter to Royal Wilder, a well-known American missionary, stating Anandibai's interest in studying medicine in the United States, and inquiring about a suitable post in the U.S. for himself. Wilder offered to help if the couple would convert to Christianity. This proposition, however, was not acceptable to the Joshi couple.

Wilder published the correspondence in his publication, Princeton's Missionary Review. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Anandibai's desire to learn medicine and Gopalrao's support for his wife impressed her, and she wrote to them, offering Anandibai accommodation in America. An exchange of many letters between Anandibai and Theodicia ensued, in which they discussed, among other things, Hindu culture and religion.

While the Joshi couple was in Calcutta, Anandibai's health was declining. She suffered from weakness, constant headaches, occasional fever, and, sometimes, breathlessness. Theodicia sent her medicines from America, without results. In 1883, Gopalrao was transferred to Serampore, and at that time, he decided to send Anandibai by herself to America for her medical studies despite her poor health. She was apprehensive, but Gopalrao convinced her to set an example for other women by pursuing high education.

A physician couple named Thorborn suggested to Anandibai to apply to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. On learning of Anandibai's plans to pursue high education in a Western country, the then orthodox Hindu society very strongly censured her. Many Christians supported her decision, but they wanted her to convert to Christianity.

Anandibai addressed the community at Serampore College Hall, explaining her decision to go to America and obtain a medical degree. She discussed the persecution she and her husband had endured. She stressed the need for Hindu female doctors in India, and talked about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India. She also pledged that she would not convert to Christianity. Her speech received publicity, and financial contributions started coming in from all over India. The then Viceroy of India contributed 200 rupees to a fund for her education.

In America

Anandibai traveled to New York from Calcutta by ship, chaperoned by two English female acquaintances of the Thorborns. In New York, Theodicia Carpenter received her in June 1883. Anandibai wrote to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, asking to be admitted to their medical program[2], (which was the first women's medical program in the world). Rachel Bodley, the dean of the college, enrolled her.

Anandibai began her medical education at age 19. In America, her declining health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet. She contracted tuberculosis. Nevertheless, she graduated with an M.D. on March 11, 1886, the topic of her thesis having been "Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos". On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message.

Return to India

In late 1886, Anandibai return to India, receiving a hero's welcome.

The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.

Death

Anandibai died early next year on February 26, 1887 before reaching age 22. Her death was mourned throughout India. Her ashes were sent to Theodicia Carpenter, who placed them in her family cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Biography

Caroline Wells Healey Dall wrote Anandibai's biography in 1888[3].

Doordarshan aired a Hindi serial named "Anandi Gopal" based on Anandibai's life. (Kamlakar Sarang directed the serial.)

Shrikrishna Janardan Joshi wrote a fictionalized account of Anandabai 's life in his Marathi novel Anandi Gopal. (The novel has been translated in an abridged form in English by Asha Damle.) It has also been adapted into a play of the same name by Ram G. Joglekar.

References

  1. ^ Eron, Carol (1979). "Women in Medicine and Health Care". in O'Neill, Lois Decker. The Women's Book of World Records and Achievements. Anchor Press. p. 204. ISBN 0385127332. "First Hindu Woman Doctor" 
  2. ^ Scan of letter from Anandibai Joshi to Alfred Jones, June 28, 1883; DUCOM Archives
  3. ^ The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee: A Kinswoman of the Pundita Ramabai, published by Roberts Brothers, Boston
  • Documents at the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy referencing Anandi Gopal Joshi
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