Madan Mohan Malaviya
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Madan Mohan Malviya was…
A multifaceted personality, Madan Mohan Malviya was an educationist who founded the Banaras Hindu University and became one of the torchbearers of the freedom struggle acting as a bridge between the Moderates and the Extremists.
Freedom fighter-educationist & lawyer Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya was a Allahabad-born visionary.
Great minds and personalities like Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Shyama Charan De and many others joined hand with him in his quest for knowledge, arousing the national spirit in India and winning freedom with the power of education and righteousness.
Born on December 25, 1861 Born in an educated orthodox Hindu family, in a family of six brothers and two sisters, at Prayag (Allahabad) in 1861 His was a family of Sanskrit scholars. He began his education in Sanskrit at the age of five. His ancestors hailed from Malwa, Madhya Pradesh and hence came to be known as 'Malviyas'. His grandfather Pt. Premdhar and his father, Pandit Baijnath were kathavachaks and his father a teacher. They used to recite the Bhagavata Purana for a living.
Initially, Malaviya wanted to be a good Kathavacak like his father. However, due to poverty in the house, he was forced to join the government school as a teacher.Malviya started his career as a teacher in Allahabad District School but continued to pursue his education. After completing his graduation and the job of a teacher in 1884, he pursued his education from 1889 and passed the LLB course in 1891. He practiced in the district court and then in the High Court.
Malviya passed LLB and first practiced in the district court and then in the High Court.
Malaviya, who practiced as a lawyer at Allahabad High Court, defended most of the accused in the 1922 Chauri Chaura riots in Gorakhpur in UP and is said to have saved 153 accused from getting death penalty. Mahatma Gandhi had suspended his civil disobedience over the riots.
Malaviya decided to give up his roaring practice on his 50th birthday to serve the country.
Giving an insight into his contribution, freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale had said, "Malviyaji's sacrifice is a real one. Born in a poor family, he started earning thousands monthly. He became a millionaire from his practice of law but gave it all up when he reached 50, to “serve” his country. He tasted luxury and wealth but giving heed to the call of the nation, renouncing all, he again embraced poverty
Madan Mohan Malviya was an Indian educationist and freedom fighter notable for his role in the India’s Independence movement and his espousal of nationalism.
He was founder of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) the largest residential University in Asia and one of the largest in the world, at Varanasi in 1916. Now this center of higher education learning has various streams in the academic, professional and technical on its vast campus. He also remained its Vice Chancellor for about two decades (1919-1938).
Today is his birth anniversary and is being celebrated across the country including Jammu and Kashmir. Since last year a Centre for Malviya Studies has been set up at the Banaras Hindu University, and in addition, some scholarships and education related awards in his memory have been established.
He was also the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 for 22 years and during his tenure its Hindi edition was also launched in 1936.
Kick-start in Learning
Pandit Malviya was born in Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) on December 25, 1861in the Gaur Brahmin family of Brijnath and Moona Devi. His ancestors, known for their Sanskrit scholarship, originally belonged to Malwa, a small principality in Madhya Pradesh but shifted and settled in Parag, Allahabad and hence came to be known as ‘Malviyas’. His father was also a learned man in Sanskrit scriptures and used to recite Bhagvat Katha and Ramamyan to earn a living. Pandit Malviya’s education began at age of five only in Sanskrit. Later, on he joined Allahabad school where he started writing poems under the pen name Makarand and were published in some journals.
Malviyaji became the president of the Indian National Congress and held this post four times in 1909-10, 1918-19, 1932 and 1933 playing a crucial role in the freedom struggle.
At Jammu every year the alumni of the Banaras Hindu University hold commemorative function, like elsewhere in the country, in which hid broad nationalism and ‘liberal educational outlook are deliberated upon. The former students comprising of engineers, lawyers, professors, administrators and others in this State assemble to remember the founder of BHU and also an illustrious nationalist leader. It is stated that he visited Jammu and Kashmir and infused spirit of nationalism, and harmony among masses.
He was a unique political leader of mass following and was a widely respected educational luminary. To redeem his resolve to serve the cause of education and social service, he renounced his well established practice of law in 1911 but subsequently when 177 freedom fighters were convicted to be hanged in the Chouri-Choura case; he appeared before the court, despite his vow and got acquitted 156 freedom fighters!
Founder of BHU
In April 1911, Madan Mohan Malviya along with another prominent leader Annie Besant decided to work for a common Hindu University at Varanasi. Thus Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was established in 1916 as a prominent institution of higher learning in India.
He remained a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1912 to 1919 and when this House was converted into Central Legislative Assembly, Mr. Malviya remained its member till 1926. During the Non-Cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi in 1920s, he emerged as key figure and later became the President of Congress party after the arrest of Sarojini Naidu. Then in 1928 he joined Lala Lajpat Rai, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and many others in protesting against the Simon Commission. Just while the “Buy British” campaign was then sweeping England, Mr. Malviya issued, on 30 May 1932, a manifesto launching “Buy Indian” movement in our country India.
He also represented India at the First Round Table Conference in 1930. In 1939, he left the Vice Chancellorship of BHU and was succeeded by none other than S. Radhakrishnan, who later rose to become the President of India. It is a noteworthy feature that it was Malviyaji who popularized the slogan Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone will Triumph).
Visionary of Insaniyat
It is noteworthy that he worked tirelessly for the eradication of caste barrier in temples and other social barriers and rid the society of many social ills. Significantly, he organized a rally of 200 Dalits including their leader P. N. Rajbhoj to demand entry at the Kalaram temple on a Rath Yatra day. While participating in this event they took a dip in river Godavari and chanted sacred mantras.
(Starline Syndicate Service)
Journalism and writing
He was an avid journalist and writer, he launched a Hindi-language weekly, the Abhyudaya, in 1907
He also founded a highly influential English newspaper- The Leader- published from Allahabad in 1909.
He also founded a Hindi monthly magazine called Maryada in 1910. He was the chairman of the board of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946, and facilitated the launch of its Hindi edition in 1936.
Banaras Hindu University
An educationist with a vision, Malviya's main achievement was the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University in 1916
He was the founder of one of Asia’s biggest residential universities—the Banaras Hindu University. DNA India informs us that today BHU is the largest residential university in Asia and one of the largest in the world, having over 12,000 students across arts, sciences, engineering and technology
It took nearly 10 years to get the foundation stone laid—the idea of a Hindu university was floated in the form of a prospectus in 1905. He gave up his legal practice and launched his mission in January, 1911, and made an appeal to raise 1 crore rupees for the establishment of the university to the public. By early 1915, fifty percent of the target was achieved through donations made by all sections of society—rich and poor, peasants and princes. The foundation stone was laid on 4th February, 1916 by Lord Hardinge.
Malaviya’s mission was to set up a university for Indians, regardless of faith or caste, and BHU was born from donations big and small. “There is no greater saintly beggar than Malaviya ji” said Mahatma Gandhi, who was extremely fond of him. Recording his drive for funds to build the university, a contemporary wrote: The Maharajas of Darbhanga, Bikaner and many other states not only donated funds, but accompanied him during his fund collection tours. A sadhu gave him his chadar, a beggar a rupee, a poor 80-year-old widow a rupee, a mail runner two annas, a herdsman eight annas, poor chaprasis, patwaris and mudarrises their salaries. That made him also the beggar of the beggars!”
On being denied funding to set up the university by the Nizam, he is said to have auctioned his slipper at a market. Eventually, it was the same Nizam who bid for the chappal and bought it at a massive price.
Malaviya envisioned Banaras Hindu University to serve as a premier centre of world knowledge for vigorous search of deeper quest and knowledge in all possible disciplines ranging from classical ancient Indian culture, philosophy, religion, humanities, arts to modern science, medicine, agriculture, engineering and technology. According to BHU scholars as well as history available at varsity, Malaviya was a strong proponent of science and engineering education in India. Prior to establishment of the BHU, he had realized the role of modern science in building a strong India.
He was aware that science and technology could be the prime movers for the prosperity of resurgent India. He was of the view that India cannot regain its prosperity until the application of modern science becomes naturalized in the country. When Malaviya established the BHU in 1916, he had authored the prospectus of the university encompassing a comprehensive educational programme to impart the students the knowledge of Indian cultural heritage, ethics, and human values so that they do not get carried away by western civilization.
Engineering and industry
At the same time, he served as a crusader to introduce the teachings of various disciplines of basic as well as modern science and engineering including agriculture and medicine so that large number of scientists, engineers and industrial leaders could be produced from the university capable of alleviating the sufferings of the masses by scientific solutions to the problems, by increasing agricultural and industrial production and creating wealth.
Malaviya always advocated for revival of Indian industries. With the donations received from Maharaja of Patiala and the Jodhpur Darbar, Malaviya initiated degree courses in Electrical and Mechanical engineering in BHU in July 1919, on the pattern of the courses run in British universities. He had realized the vast potential of mineral wealth of India and the deficiency of expertise to handle metals and mineral resources.
Therefore Geology as a degree course was started in 1920 at BHU and degree courses in Mining and Metallurgy were started in the Engineering College in 1923. The first department of Industrial Chemistry in India was initiated in 1921 at BHU. Malaviya pioneered the beginning of the courses in Ceramics and Glass Technology in the Engineering College in 1924 where soaps, cosmetics, glass-wares and porcelain materials were manufactured.
For the first time in India BSc and MSc degree courses in Pharmacy were initiated by Malaviya at BHU in the year 1935.
He was the president of the Indian National Congress for two terms and was also among the first leaders of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha.
Malviya was catapulted into the political arena immediately after his first moving speech at the second Congress session held in Kolkata in 1886.
Malviya was actively involved with the Allahabad Municipal Board and was also member of the Provincial Legislative Council during 1903-1918, Central Council during 1910-1920, elected member of the Indian Legislative Assembly during 1916-1918 and attended the second Round Table Congference in 1931
He was an important figure in the non-cooperation movement, and was opposed to Congress’ participation in the Khilafat movement. He initiated a “Buy Indian” movement in India, and was arrested in 1932 with 450 other Congress volunteers. Malayiva left the Congress to form the Congress Nationalist Party and won 12 seats in the 1934 general elections.
By 1918, his political vision took the form of an Akhil Bharatiya Seva Samiti with centers at many places and a broad based objective of service to the needy during Kumbh Mela, floods, earthquakes, other natural calamities. In 1918, a sub unit modelled like the ‘Boy Scouts’ was started under the Akhil Bharatiya Seva Samiti. The main difference was that a patriotic leader was its Chief Scout and ‘Vande Mataram’ was sung instead of the British National Anthem.
He went on to serve Congress for almost 50 years. He served as Congress President for four times- in 1909 (Lahore), in 1918(Delhi), in 1930 (Delhi) and in 1932 (Calcutta). He was the President of INC in 1909 and 1918.
He popularised the phrase Satyameva Jayate, from the Mundaka Upanishad, which means Truth Alone Triumphs. It was adopted as India’s national motto and appears on its emblem.
A disenchanted Malaviya then left the Congress party to form the Congress Nationalist Party along with Madhav Shrihari Aney. The party contested the 1934 elections to the central legislature and won 12 seats.
Malaviya was one of the stalwarts of India's long freedom struggle. “He was a committed anti-imperialist but he also believed in the Hindu cause, especially cow protection. He also worked tirelessly to promote Hindi,“ said Salil Misra, who teaches history at Ambedkar University Delhi.
Malaviya was among the founders of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and was its national president in 1916-17, 1923, 1926 and 1934. “But when ABHM entered its extreme communalism phase in the late 1930s, he completely broke off his ties with the party,“ Misra said.
He bid farewell to active politics in 1937.
Known for his espousal of Hindu nationalism- being one of the initial leaders of the far-right Hindu Mahasabha- Malviya was a social reformer and a successful Parliamentarian
He was one of the early leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, a far-right Hindu Nationalist party, but was a passionate advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity, and by far one of the most moderate voices in the organisation.
He always strived for Hindu-Muslim unity. He gave two famous speeches on communal harmony- one in Lahore in 1922 and in Kanpur 1931. Here is another one, an excerpt from his presidential address at the INC's Calcutta session in 1933.
At the Congress session in Kolkata in 1913, he said: “India belongs to the Hindus, the Mohammedans, the Sikhs, the Parsis and others. No single community can run over the rest. Your hand has five fingers. If you put off the thumb, the power of your hand will be reduced to one-tenth of its original power. Act in such away that all may unite… Let there be mutual trust.”
"I implore all Hindus and Mussalmans, Sikhs, Christians and Parsees and all other countrymen to sink all communal differences and to establish political unity among all sections of the people. In the midst of much darkness, I see a clear vision that the clouds which have long been hanging over our heads are lifting. Let every son and daughter do his or her duty to expedite the advent of dawn of the day of freedom and happiness. Truth is on our side. Justice is with us. God will help us. We are sure to win. Vande Mataram."
The BJP and the R.S.S. have its origins in the Hindu Mahasabha—the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925, a former member. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a precursor to the BJP, was also a former member.
In the freedom struggle, Malaviya was midway between the liberals and the nationalists, the moderates and the extremists, as the followers of Gokhale and Tilak were respectively called.
In 1930, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience Movement, he participated in it and courted arrest.
1937: work after politics
Bidding farewell to active politics in 1937, he focused his attention on social issues.
The most important achievement in this decade by him was to get government acceptance of use of Devanagari script in court works.
He gave much emphasis on spreading and providing form of education because he considered it the major part of cultural revival.
He was influenced by cultural revival of India during the last decades of the 19 century which finds expression in his speeches, thought and beliefs that enlivened many nationalists of his era.
Even after freedom from active politics and university administration, he maintained his old association with Sanatan Dharma Sabha whose office was at his residence where from carne out the weekly Sanatan Dharma. The office would encourage and award religious scholars and work for cow protection and welfare.
One of the founders of Scouting in India, he founded the Seva Samiti Scout Association (Humanity Uplift Service Society) in 1917 in Allahabad.
Social work started from the very beginning of Malaviya's life, when as a youth in 1889 he founded the Bharati Bhavan Library, which is still serving the citizens of Allahabad. He also started a Boy Scout Unit in 1918 under the Prayag Seva Samiti to inculcate the spirit of service from a young age. Malaviyaji's work for uplifting the oppressed classes was not due to any political motive, but more due to his own inner conscience and firm belief. In 1912, Malaviya encouraged his son Ramakant, to start the Yatri Seva Samiti, which later became Prayag Seva Samiti.
The main objective was to extend help to the thousands of illiterate and helpless pilgrims.
…the oppressed classes
Malaviya has also worked towards the eradication of the caste system, and for this he was temporarily expelled from the Shi Gaud Brahmin samaj. He even organised a mass of 200 Dalit people, including the Dalit leader PN Rajbhoj to demand entry into the Kalaram Temple on a Rath Yatra day.
Former Information and Public Relations Officer of BHU Dr Vishwanath Pandey said Malaviya's life was replete with innumerable social causes and commitments, which tested and proved the character of the happy warrior in him.
In January 1933, he persuaded the Sanatana dharma leaders to ameliorate the condition of the deprived classes. When the Harijan tour undertaken by Gandhiji ended on 29 July 1934 at Banaras, a meeting was held at the Central Hindu School grounds. Malaviya spoke in support of equal civil and religious rights to Harijans.
According to Pandey, Malaviya was keen on educating the oppressed classes and the poor. His work started as early as in 1909 when he stressed the need for educating them. When BHU was established, he helped many poor, backward and needy persons to receive quality education there.
In 1925, Malaviya had gone for the Mahasabha Conference to Patna and on the way back he addressed a huge gathering in Arrah. When he was getting into the car someone brought a young lad, Jagjivan Ram, and said that he had matriculated but had difficulty in pursuing further studies.
Malaviya spontaneously told him to bring this boy with him to the university. Admitting him to the university, housing him in the hostel, waiving his fees and hostel expenses were all within the power of the vice chancellor, but what mattered most was the invitation to study along with his own son Govind.
This was the humane side of Malaviya.
He worked for the emancipation of women. He worked for the education of women besides supporting widow remarriage and opposed child marriage.
He opened a separate Women's College in the BHU campus in 1928, for undergraduate courses in the disciplines of the arts, sciences and humanities. He also encouraged women to take admission in other advanced courses.
Mahatma Gandhiji considered him as an elder brother and would call Him "Maker of Modem India". Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said, "He was a great soul, one Of those who laid foundation of Modern Indian Nationalism".
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, wrote at the time of Malviya’s death, "A great soul has left us. His name and work would inspire future generation and give – message that for a determined person nothing is impossible. His service to nation is beyond words. The vacuum created by his death can't be filled. He was a real patriot".
He had many titles bestowed upon him—Rabindranath Tagore gave him the title “Mahamana”, Mahatma Gandhi called him a “Pratah Smaraniyah” and “Devata Purush”. He’s also been called a ‘Dharmatma’, “Karmayogin” and “Prince of Beggars”.
He died in 1946 a year before India's independence.