Pandita Ramabai returned to the land of her birth on February 1, 1889, after six years of preparation determined to carry out her plans for the education of the high caste Hindu widows. She had been assured financially for a ten-year period
On March 11, 1889, the Sharada Sadan, the "Home of Learning," was opened with two pupils in Bombay. The very attempt was path-breaking and she had the support of several highly placed gentlemen, chief among them being Justice M.G. Ranade. Thus was Mukti Mission launched.
In November 1890, the school was moved to Poona, as it was cheaper to run a home and a school here. By 1891, the school had on its roll 26 widows and 13 non-widows.
A big success for the school was when, Godubai, one of Sharada Sadan's first students married Prof. D.K. Karve, Professor of Mathematics at Fergusson College, Poona. One big custom of the Hindu society was flouted that day.
It was in 1891, that Pandita Ramabai was led to a clearer understanding of the spiritual nature of Christianity and to a perception of the deep things of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Her personal life was bound to influence the pupils who requested to be permitted to join Bible studies and later requested baptism. There was strong opposition from the press and Indian reformers. As a result a few students were withdrawn from the school, but some returned. By the end of the turmoil in 1896, there were 39 widows and 9 non-widows in the school.
Meanwhile, in 1895, Pandita Ramabai had purchased a farm of 100 acres at Kedgaon, 55 kilometres beyond Poona. During the famine in Madhya Pradesh in 1896-97, 300 girls were rescued, and since the Municipal Corporation did not permit them to be kept in city limits, 260 of them were moved to Kedgaon, where they stayed in temporary sheds. The place was named Mukti Sadan.
Three important building activities were undertaken thereafter at Kedgaon. On September 24, 1898, the first permanent building in stone was opened. On March 20, 1899, the foundation stone for the Rescue Home was laid, followed by the foundation stone on September 20, 1899, for the Church.
Almost 2000 girls and women were rescued from the Gujarat famine of 1900-01, They were kept at Kedgaon in temporary shelters. In 1902, the Sharada Sadan was shifted from Poona to Kedgaon, as for four years epidemics of plague had forced the school to be closed for four to five months every year. In the same year, a separate home was established for the boys, while separate classes were held for the blind girls.
Around 1901, Ramabai had obtained a Demy Printing Press for Mukti. In 1903, the first issue of the "Mukti Prayer Bell" was printed at the Mukti Press. By 1904, there were 145 widows and 25 non-widows in the school. By the end of the decade, the Sharada Sadan and the Mukti School were amalgamated and all classes were held in the church building.
The year 1905 was an important one for the Mission. That was when a spiritual revival, with the infilling of the Holy Spirit took place at Mukti. Ordinary girls were made special by the happening. Prayer bands went to several places for evangelism.
In 1904, Ramabai had commenced the translation of the Bible into Marathi. In 1913, the first edition of the New Testament was published, and in 1924 the complete Bible printed at the Mukti Printing Press. Meanwhile, in September 1913, a new school, Shanti Sadan was opened in Gulbarga by Manoramabai for the Marathas. In 1919, Government recognition was granted to the Sharada Sadan School upto Matriculation.
The next decade was important in the history of Mukti Mission. First Manoramabai, on July 24, 1921, and then Ramabai herself, on April 5, 1922, left for their heavenly abode. However, a pattern for the work of the Mission was already set. In July 1922, the Trustees had renamed the mission, Ramabai Mukti Mission, which was eventually named Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission in 1969.
Ramabai had appointed Miss Lissa N. Hastie as her successor. In 1925, the Christian and Missionary Alliance took over the administration of the work, according to her will, "continuing the Mission as a distinct Indian organisation on the basis of faith in God to meet all its needs, with various Councils to represent the work overseas, the Christian and Missionary Alliance to serve in an advisory capacity."
Though the new Krishnabai Memorial Hospital was opened and dedicated in 1949, medical work was existing in the Mission since 1900. The Dispensary fulfilled whatever medical need arose to the best of its ability. The new Outside Dispensary for village people was dedicated in 1933. The request for a lady doctor was finally answered in 1957, when Dr. Sheela Gupta joined the Mukti Mission to serve in the Hospital. In 1962, a mobile medical unit was commissioned and in 1972, a dental unit was installed. Currently, the Hospital has some of the best equipments needed for immediate care.
Evangelism and Outreach has been one of the strongest points of the Mission. The first missionary was sent on February 9, 1904. As a result of the revival in 1905, a band of 750 was enrolled to work from Mukti in the villages around.
Mukti's first team of Biblewomen went to Pandharpur in November 1906. Until 1972, a team of Biblewomen continued to live in Pandharpur. By 1912, five Gospel Bands were functioning from Mukti. Hundreds of villages were visited and revisited by bullock-cart to seek, save and to help new believers grow in Christ.