Mahamana Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya Ji’s life while richly distinguished by varied and high attainments, epitomized the quintessential Indian values of patriotism, probity and religiosity. He was known as much for his acceptance of noble ideas from all corners of the world as for his deep and abiding faith in Sanatan Dharma.
Malaviya Ji was renowned for his matchless eloquence and wonderful grasp of key political questions. Although he started life as a teacher of English in the DistrictHigh School, he found his true calling in the field of law. As a practicing lawyer of the Allahabad High Court, Mahamana set an example for others by his honesty, impartiality and unshakeable resolve to uphold the truth. Mahamana left the Bar in 1913 to return after ten years only to successfully plead the cause of the 156 accused in the Chauri Chaura case. His eloquent oratory moved Justice Grimwood Myers so much that he rose from his chair on three separate occasions to bow before Mahamana.
Malaviya Ji was conscious of the power of the written word to form public opinion. Mahamana believed that responsible journalism entails educating, training and guiding the reader. He looked on journalism as a means of serving the society and the nation. Mahamana was the Chief Editor of ‘Hindosthan’ for few years. It become the first daily to be published in Hindi, under the able helmsmanship of Mahamana and the patronage of H.R.H. Raja Rampal Singh Ji of Kalakankar. Malaviya Ji was associated later with the English Daily ‘Indian Opinion’ too in the capacity of Chief Editor. He was founder of the English daily ‘Leader’, Hindi weeklies ‘Abhyudaya’ and ‘Sanatan Dharma’ as well as Hindi fortnightly ‘Maryada’. He also graced the position of Chairman of “Hindustan Times” from 1924 to 1940. His efforts resulted in the launch of its Hindi edition in 1936.
Malaviya Ji was committed heart and soul to the cause of Swaraj and Swadeshi which he believed were intwined with each other. While seconding the resolution on Swadeshi moved by P. Anand Charulu in the Congress session of 1906, Mahamana, said “it is a religious duty cast upon every man of healthy feeling to promote to the utmost extent, the production of Indian manufactures by giving them preference, wherever he can find them, over foreign commodities even at some sacrifice”.
Malaviya Ji was a sagacious statesman who had a keen understanding of the political issues facing the country. He was one of the earliest and most devoted workers in the Congress cause. His association with the Indian National Congress started in 1886 when a youthful Malaviya Ji made a deep impression on the minds of the congress gathering by his incisive and profound arguments. The promise shown by Mahamana was abundantly fulfilled when he was elected the President of Indian National Congress for a record four times in 1909, 1918, 1932 and 1933. Under Mahamana’s leadership the Congress was transformed from a party of the educated elite to one which would welcome all sections of society particularly the rural population.
Malaviya Ji was an elected member of representative bodies like the Provincial and Central Councils as well as the Central Legislative Assembly for most of his political life. In these years he spoke with conviction and courage on a number of issues which were to have grave impact on the life of Indian people. His speeches opposing the Rowlatt Bill, Punjab Marshal Law Bill, Tariff Bill and Indemnity Bill to name a few reflect his passionate love for the motherland. Although an orthodox Hindu his concern for his countrymen led him to cross the sea to attend the Round Table Conference at London in 1931.
Malaviya Ji felt that the culture and ethos of a people are preserved through its language. His reverence for Hindi led to the founding of “Hindi Uddharini Pratinidhi Sabha” in 1884 and later the ‘Kashi Nagari Pracharini Sabha’ in 1893. He was also instrumental in the establishment of ‘Hindi Sahitya Sammelan’ at Allahabad. His untiring efforts resulted in the adoption of Devnagari script in Indian courts and acceptance of Hindi as a medium in the country’s Competitive Examinations. Malaviya Ji was the founder of ‘Akhil Bharatiya Vikram Parishad’ at Kashi whose objective was to translate ancient Sanskrit texts into Hindi.
Malaviya Ji’s contributions towards the eradication of untouchability are often lost in the plethora of his other achievements. ‘Antyajodhar’ was a cause close to the heart of Mahamana. The ‘Mantradiksha’ given by Mahamana to the socalled outcastes of Hindu society on the occasion of Mahashivaratri in Kashi was the first of its kind in India. Malaviya Ji was undaunted even in the face of orthodox opposition and continued his mission of including the Dalit castes in mainstream of Hindu society.
Malaviya Ji was shaken to the core of his being by the atrocities heaped on unarmed Hindus. The Moplah revolt proved a turning point in the life of Mahamana. He decided to take the initiative to unite the fragmented Hindu society along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Swami Shradhanand Ji. The ‘Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha’ was born out of these efforts. This was to prove a momentous step in the direction of reconciling the various factions of Hindu society with each other.
Malaviya Ji looked on ‘Gram’ and ‘Gau’ as the two pillars for reconstruction of a prosperous India. Malaviya Ji was closely related with the Gorakhsa movement. He took particular care to ensure that concern for cow slaughter does not stay limited to mere precept but is translated into action. He not only chaired many conventions on this issue but also established Goshalas at many places. In addition, he took the lead in freeing land from other uses for the purpose of grazing by convincing zamindars, jagirdars and princely rulers. Malaviya Ji was instrumental in shaping the resolutions on ‘Goraksha’ which were adopted by the Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha in 1928. These resolutions can be called a blue print for the preservation of Gaumata.
Malaviya Ji had deep reverence for the holy life line of India- the river Ganga. The British Government came up with a plan in 1914 to divert the water of Ganga from Har ki Paudi to a canal in Bhimgonda. This was successfully opposed by Mahamana and he could ultimately extract an assurance from the British Government in 1916 that the natural flow of Ganga will never be obstructed.
Malaviya Ji was deeply troubled about the condition and prospects of the Hindu community. He felt that education was the only way to revive the national pride of Indians in general and Hindus in particular. He initiated the idea of establishing a HinduUniversity in 1904 at Varanasi for the first time. His ceaseless efforts finally bore fruit in 1916 with the founding of BanarasHinduUniversity. The prospectus of the University clearly mentioned that its first object was “to promote the study of the Hindu Shastras and of Sanskrit literature generally as a means of preserving and popularizing for the benefit of the Hindus in particular and of the world at large in general, the best thought and culture of the Hindus and all that was good and great in the ancient civilization of India”. This again finds an echo in the fourth object which speaks of “making religion and ethics an integral part of education”. At the same time Malaviya Ji realized the importance of scientific and technical knowledge in the promotion of indigenous industries and developing the material resources of the country. Thus the third object is imparting of scientific, technical and professional knowledge, while the second is the promotion of learning and research in arts and science. The four objects of BanarasHinduUniversity provide us with a glimpse of the vast, all encompassing vision of Mahamana. In a way, the objects themselves reflect a perfect balance between the material aspirations and the spiritual quest.
Dr Padmini Ravindra Nath
Associate Professor in Economics
Banaras Hindu University
Varanasi 221005 (India)