Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Muthulakshmi Reddy’s efforts to abolish the Devadasi system

Content for Mains Enrichment


Source: TH

The Devadasi system was a traditional practice in India where young girls were dedicated or married to deities or temples. However, over time, it degenerated into a system where some Devadasis were forced into a life of prostitution.


Muthulakshmi Reddy was a prominent figure in the Madras presidency and had achieved several milestones in her career, including being the first Indian woman medical graduate in Madras in 1912 and holding various legislative positions.


The Trigger for Her Campaign: Her campaign against the Devadasi system began in 1927 after she received a poignant letter from a 13-year-old girl, Shanpakvalli. Shanpakvalli came from a family of Devadasis and wanted to avoid her fate as Devadasi.


Influential Women and Movements: Muthulakshmi was influenced by her mother, who was also from the Devadasi community and had revolted against the system.


Empowering Women: Muthulakshmi advocated for education as a means to liberate women from the system and proposed granting lands to those women entitled to economic benefits from the temples.


Despite opposition, including within the Congress party, Muthulakshmi persisted. The Devadasi system was eventually abolished in 1947 by the Madras Legislative Assembly.


Her Legacy: Muthulakshmi Reddy’s campaign against the Devadasi system remains an enduring and inspiring example of social reform.


Usage: The example can be used as a story in an Essay/ Ethics (to show values of Social Justice, Empowerment, Persistence, Leadership etc. )/ Indian History/ Indian Society