The First Indian female physician who didn’t live to see her 23rd birthday

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A Hindu brahmin girl who became the first Indian woman to complete her studies in western medicine from United States, Anandibai Joshi. The complete journey of Anandibai Joshi from her birth to becoming the first female physician in India alongside Kadambini Ganguly is inspiring. Here’s the Anandibai Joshi biography, the first Indian female physician of Indiaanandibai joshi biography

Anandibai Joshi biography: First female physician in India

Born and Family
Anandibai Joshi was born as Yamuna in 1865 in Kalyan, Maharashtra. She was born in a family where the family had previously been landlords before experiencing financial losses. Because of pressure from her mother, she got married at the age of 9 to a widower Gopalrao Joshi, who was 20 years older than her. After marriage, Yamuna’s husband changed her name to ‘Anandi’. Gopalrao worked as a government clerk and was a supporter of women’s education.

A turning point in her life
At the age of 14, Anandibai gave birth to a child but due to lack of medical care, the child passed away just after ten days. This unfortunate incident proved to be a turning point in her life. It inspired her to become a physician and help other women in similar situations.

Anandibai Joshi biography

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And the journey begins…
Anandibai Joshi’s husband, Gopalrao Joshi encouraged her to study and the couple moved to Calcutta where she learned to read and write in Sanskrit, as well as English. After reading English and Sanskrit, Anandibai realized that ayurvedic knowledge and midwifery was not nearly enough to help with complicated pregnancies and births.

The couple searched many institutes and colleges but there was no institute of western medicine that accepted women in India. Then finally in 1880, Gopalrao sent a letter to Royal Wilder, who was a well-known American missionary, stating his wife’s interest in studying medicine in the United States. The letter was published in Princeton’s Missionary Review where it caught the attention of a New Jersy resident Theodicia Carpenter, who decided to help Anandibai. She wrote a letter to Anandi and Gopalrao offering them accommodation in America. Gopalrao couldn’t go but convinced Anandi to set an example in India by pursuing higher education although Anandi was struggling with poor health conditions frequently facing fever, headaches, weakness and breathlessness.

A physician couple named Thorborn suggested that Anandibai should apply to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania hence she got enrolled in that college.

Anandibai Joshi biographyanandibai joshi

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Anandibai’s journey in America
Anandibai travelled to New York from Kolkata by ship, accompanied by English missionary acquaintances of the Thorborns. Anandibai completed her medical training at the age of 19.

In America, her health started declining because of the cold weather and irregular diet. She was discovered to be suffering from tuberculosis.

In March 1886, Joshi graduated with an MD; the topic of her thesis was “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos.” In her thesis, she covered information from Ayurvedic texts and American textbooks. On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a message, congratulating her for her success.

Anandibai Joshi biography

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Returning India
In 1886, Anandibai returned to India and was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital, Kolhapur.

Death
Before turning 23, on 26 February 1887, Anandibai died of tuberculosis. Her ashes were sent to Theodicia Carpenter, who placed her ashes in her family cemetery in New York.

And the legacy of Anandibai continues…
Caroline Wells Healey Dall, an American writer and the admirer of Anandi, wrote her biography. Doordarshan aired a series “Anandi Gopal” based on her life. A novel on her was written by Shrikrishna Janardan Joshi which was also adapted into a play later. A Marathi book on her life was also written by Dr. Anjali Kirtane. An NGO in Lucknow, Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences, has been giving an award in her name. The government of Maharashtra also started a fellowship in her name. ‘Joshee’ a crater on Venus has also been named after her. On her 153rd birthday, in 2018, Google also created a Google Doodle in her honor. A Marathi movie has also been based on her life.

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