7 Inspiring Lessons You Can Learn from Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi, the Trailblazing Woman Who Became India’s First Female Doctor

Have you ever heard of Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi? 

If not, you are missing out on a remarkable story of courage, determination and resilience. 

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was the first Indian female doctor of western medicine. 

She was also the first woman from the erstwhile Bombay presidency of India to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States.  

She achieved this feat at a time when women in India were largely confined to their homes and denied education and opportunities. 

She overcame numerous challenges and hardships to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor and serving her country. 

She became an inspiration to generations of women to follow their passions and break the barriers of patriarchy and prejudice.

In this blog post, we will explore the life and legacy of Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi and learn some valuable lessons from her remarkable journey. 

Here are seven inspiring lessons you can learn from Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi, the trailblazing woman who became India’s first female doctor.

1. Never give up on your dreams, no matter how difficult they seem.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was born as Yamuna Joshi on March 31, 1865 in Kalyan, Bombay Presidency (present-day Maharashtra). ² Her family was once wealthy but had fallen into financial difficulties due to excessive taxes by the British and losses over the years. As was the custom at that time and due to pressure from her mother, she 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’.

Anandi’s husband was a progressive thinker and supported education for women. He encouraged Anandi to learn Sanskrit and English and to pursue her interest in medicine. Anandi was inspired to become a doctor after she lost her first child at the age of fourteen due to lack of medical care. She faced opposition from her family and society, who considered it inappropriate for a woman to study medicine or travel abroad. She also suffered from poor health and had frequent bouts of fever, headaches and breathlessness.

Despite all these obstacles, Anandi did not give up on her dream of becoming a doctor. She applied to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) in the United States and was granted admission. She also received financial support from Theodicia Carpenter, an American woman who read about Anandi’s story in a missionary magazine and became her friend and mentor. In 1883, Anandi left for America by herself, leaving behind her husband and family. She was only 18 years old.

2. Be curious and eager to learn new things.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was a curious and eager learner. She had a thirst for knowledge and wanted to learn as much as she could about medicine and other subjects. She faced many challenges in adjusting to a new culture and environment in America. She had to cope with the cold weather, different food, unfamiliar customs and language barriers. She also faced discrimination and racism as an Indian woman in a predominantly white society.

However, Anandi did not let these difficulties deter her from learning new things. She immersed herself in her studies and excelled in her classes. She also learned about American history, literature, music and art. She attended lectures, concerts, exhibitions and social events. She made friends with her classmates, teachers and hosts. She wrote letters to her husband and mentor, sharing her experiences and observations with them.

Anandi was fascinated by the advances in science and technology that she witnessed in America. She marveled at the inventions such as telephones, electric lights, trains and bicycles. She also admired the freedom and equality that women enjoyed in America. 

She wrote: “The women here do everything men can … They ride horses … They go about alone … They are free.” 

3. Be humble and grateful for your opportunities.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was humble and grateful for the opportunities that she received in America. She realized that she was fortunate to have a supportive husband who encouraged her to study medicine. 

She also appreciated the kindness and generosity of Theodicia Carpenter, who sponsored her education and hosted her in New Jersey. 

She expressed her gratitude to them in her letters: “I owe you much and respect for all you have done for me. I feel very thankful that I have found such a friend in you.” She also thanked the WMCP for giving her the opportunity to study medicine and the American people for their hospitality and friendship. She said: “I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”

4. Be courageous and confident in your abilities.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was courageous and confident in her abilities. 

She faced many challenges and difficulties in her pursuit of medicine, but she did not let them discourage her or diminish her self-esteem. 

She believed in herself and her potential to achieve her goals. 

She also stood up for her rights and dignity as a woman and an Indian.

Anandi was one of the only two Indian women who attended the World’s Medical Congress in Chicago in 1885. She presented a paper on “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos” and impressed the audience with her knowledge and eloquence. 

She also received praise from Queen Victoria, who sent her a congratulatory message.

Anandi was also confident in her skills as a doctor. She graduated from WMCP with a degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) on 11 March 1886. 

She was among the top graduates in her class and delivered a graduation speech on “The Oath of Hippocrates” in Sanskrit. She received a standing ovation from the audience.

5. Be passionate and compassionate about your work.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was passionate and compassionate about her work. 

She had a strong desire to serve her country and improve the health and welfare of women, especially those who suffered from childbirth complications. She wanted to use her medical knowledge and skills to make a difference in the lives of others.

Anandi returned to India in late 1886 with high hopes of starting a medical college for women. 

She was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward at Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur. She treated hundreds of patients, mostly women, with care and empathy. She also gave lectures on hygiene, nutrition and childcare to educate the public.

Anandi was also passionate about learning more about medicine and advancing her career. She planned to pursue further studies in gynecology and obstetrics in London. She also wanted to write a book on the health problems of Indian women.

6. Be resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity. She endured many hardships and struggles in her life, but she did not let them break her spirit or dampen her enthusiasm. She always looked at the bright side of things and hoped for the best.

Anandi contracted tuberculosis during her stay in America, probably due to the cold climate and stress. The disease affected her lungs and heart, causing her severe pain and discomfort. 

She also suffered from insomnia, depression and homesickness. However, she did not give up on her studies or her dreams. She continued to work hard and complete her degree despite her illness.

Anandi also faced many challenges after returning to India. She had to deal with the conservative mindset of the society, who disapproved of her western education and attire. 

She also faced hostility from some male doctors, who felt threatened by her presence and competence. Moreover, she had to cope with the loss of her husband, who died shortly after she came back to India.

Despite all these difficulties, Anandi remained resilient and optimistic. She focused on her work and tried to fulfill her husband’s wishes. 

She also kept in touch with her friends and mentors in America, who supported her emotionally and financially. She wrote: “I am trying my best to keep up my spirits … I am sure there is a bright future awaiting me.”

7. Be an inspiration and a role model for others.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was an inspiration and a role model for others. 

She broke many stereotypes and barriers that limited women’s potential and opportunities in India. 

She proved that women could achieve anything they set their minds to, if they had the courage, determination and support to do so.

Anandi inspired many other Indian women to pursue higher education and careers in Medicine and other fields. 

Some of the notable Indian women doctors who were inspired by Anandi Joshi include Dr Kadambini Ganguly, the first woman to graduate in medicine from India, Dr Rukhmabai Raut, the first woman to practice medicine in India, and Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, the first woman surgeon in India.   

Anandi also inspired many other women across the world who faced discrimination and oppression in their societies. 

She became a symbol of women’s empowerment and emancipation. 

She was honored by various institutions and organizations for her achievements and contributions. 

She received a congratulatory message from Queen Victoria, who called her “a brave lady”. 

She also received letters from prominent Indian leaders such as Lokmanya Tilak, who praised her for her courage and patriotism.

Anandi’s legacy lives on today through various initiatives and awards that are named after her. 

The Maharashtra University of Health Sciences has established an Anandi Gopal Joshi Award for young women scientists. 

The Government of Maharashtra has also instituted a fellowship in her name for young women working on women’s health. 

The Indian Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in her honor in 1993. 

Google also celebrated her 153rd birthday with a doodle on its homepage in 2018.

# Conclusion

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was a trailblazing woman who became India’s first female doctor. 

She overcame many challenges and hardships to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor and serving her country. 

She became an inspiration to generations of women to follow their passions and break the barriers of patriarchy and prejudice.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi taught us many valuable lessons that we can apply to our own lives. 

She taught us to never give up on our dreams, no matter how difficult they seem. 

She taught us to be curious and eager to learn new things. 

She taught us to be humble and grateful for our opportunities. 

She taught us to be courageous and confident in our abilities. 

She taught us to be passionate and compassionate about our work. 

She taught us to be resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity. 

She taught us to be an inspiration and a role model for others.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi was a remarkable woman who left a lasting impact on the world. 

She died at a young age of 21 due to tuberculosis, but she lived a full and meaningful life. She said: “I will lay down my life in the service of my country.” 

She fulfilled her promise and left behind a legacy that we can all be proud of.

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