Originally named ‘Yamuna’, Joshi was born in Kalyan, where her family had been landlords before experiencing financial losses. As it was the practice at that time and due to pressure from her family, Anandi was married at the age of nine to Gopalrao Joshi, a widower almost twenty years her senior.
After marriage, Yamuna’s husband renamed her ‘Anandi’. Gopalrao Joshi worked as a postal clerk in Kalyan. Later, he was transferred to Alibag, and then, finally, to Calcutta (today, Kolkata). He was a progressive thinker, and supported education for women, which was not very prevalent at the time.
At the age of fourteen, Anandibai gave birth to a boy, but the child lived only for ten days because the medical care necessary for his survival was unavailable. This situation proved to be a turning point in Anandibai’s life, and inspired her to become a physician.
Gopalrao Joshi, Anandi’s liberal husband is one such person who stood by his wife’s side and acted as her biggest inspiration and push. Gopalrao, a postal clerk, was determined to educate his wife when she expressed her wish to study medicine at the age of 14, after losing their first child just 10 days after delivery because of unavailability of proper medical resources.
At a time when women’s education wasn’t taken seriously, Gopalrao appeared as a great exception. He had married Anandi on the condition that he should be permitted to educate the girl and that she should be willing to read and write.
Gopalrao started teaching Anandi how to read and write Marathi, English and Sanskrit. He also transferred himself to Calcutta to avoid direct interference of Anandi’s parents in her education.
Anandi gradually turned into a well-read intellectual girl. All this change took place in the face of stiff opposition from her parents, frequent bickering in the family and the stubborn attitude of her husband. (Source)
In 1880, he sent a letter to a well-known American missionary, Royal Wilder, stating his wife’s keenness to study medicine in America and if he would be able to help them. Wilder agreed to help the couple on the condition that they convert to Christianity. This proposition was not accepted by the Joshis.
Anandi died a few days after it. She passed away on 26th February 1887, a month before turning 22. Her ashes were sent to Mrs. Carpenter, her host in America who placed them in her family cemetery near New York.
Caroline Wells Healey Dall wrote Anandibai’s biography in 1888. 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.
Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS), a Non-governmental organization from Lucknow has been awarding the Anandibai Joshi award for Medicine in reverence to her early contributions to the cause of Medical sciences in India.
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