‘Maisaheb’ Savita Bhimrao Ambedkar: The doc behind the doc

Savita Ambedkar was the second wife of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Born on January 27, 1909, she was a doctor who assisted Babasaheb against his deteriorating health. When Ambedkar died, many alleged that she had poisoned him, but she was acquitted of charges through formal investigation.
The couple together; Source: Wikipedia; Public Domain

The couple together; Source: Wikipedia; Public Domain

Savita Bhimrao Ambedkar was Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s second wife, whom he had married after the death of his first wife, Ramabai Ambedkar. Savita Ambedkar was born on January 27, 1909 as Sharada Kabir, into a Brahmin family in Maharashtra. Despite the prevalence of caste discrimination in India, most of the children of the Kabir family were married exogenous of caste, that is, they had inter-caste marriages.

This, perhaps, can be attributed to the fact that Sharada Kabir’s family was highly educated and progressive, as was she.

Having been a bright student since the very beginning, she went on to pursue medical sciences after completing her school-level education. After becoming a highly skilled doctor, she started working as a medical officer. She was Dr. Ambedkar’s personal doctor, and the two met when he needed a check-up because of his fatal diabetes and high blood pressure problems. Both of them eventually grew close, as they discussed society, religion and the need for the upliftment of women.

Although Bhimrao Ramji had vowed not to marry anyone after the death of his first wife, the deteriorating condition of his health made him reconsider this decision. Being fearful of creating misunderstandings as to why Savita was spending such a large amount of time tending to his health, they both decided to get married and avoid any unnecessary attention.

At the time of their marriage, she was 39 years old while Babasaheb was 57.

Ambedkarites would endearingly call her ‘Maisaheb’, meaning ‘mother’. Undoubtedly, Savita Ambedkar was in constant support of her husband’s political activism.

Apart from tending to his health till his dying breath, she accompanied him in his conversion to Buddhism.

In one of his books, Dr. Ambedkar acknowledges the fact that his wife had enabled him to live 8-10 years longer than he would have without her by his side.

Unfortunately, when Bhimrao Ramji died in 1956, many alleged that Maisaheb had a role to play in his death, by poisoning him. She was acquitted of the charges through a legitimate investigation launched by Nehru, who later offered her a place at the Rajya Sabha.

Staunchly in line with Ambedkarite principles, she decided against the offer. After working for the Dalit movement for a few years, she died in 2003.


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