Friday, April 30, 2010

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya: An Unparalleled Visionary

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the patriot, educationist, statesman, orator, lawyer, journalist, social reformer and an unparalleled institution maker was born in a family of great luminaries and materially indifferent parents at Prayag (Allahabad)on December 25, 1861.

His forefathers were originally hailing from the Malwa region and known for scholastic leanings, they moved to Allahabad in late 15th century to escape the atrocious treatment of contemporary Muslim rulers. Allahabad turned out to be their home and locale of learning pursuits. Malviya, also known as Mahamana was born in a modest locality then known as Diggi (now Malaviya Nagar) in a small house in Kucha. Sanwaldas of the Syrakund or Lal Malaviya Jee was the fifth of the eight children of Pandit Brajnath and Moona Devi.

His father, a great Sanskrit scholar wrote a remarkable book titled 'Siddhant-Darpana', an exposition of the Bhakti or devotion - the book was published in the year 1906, by his worthy son from Abhudya press. Because of no material leaning, the family circumstances didn’t permit Pandit Brajnath to provide higher education to his children but the case of Malaviya went in a different positive direction, as the great man was steadfast to sail against the tides.

After his basic education at home, he admitted to free Haradeva Guruki Pathsala under the great disciplinarian, Haradevji. There, he learned the intricacies of life and how to cope with the challenges. Further, he enrolled to another school, run by Vidya Vardhini Sabha. At this institution, he came closer to some young scholars like Pandit Devaki Nandan - and developed a taste for public life and knowledge.

He matriculated from the Allahabad Zila School, then the exam was conducted by the Calcutta University in that region. Apart from being an avid learner and extraordinary student, Malaviya was equally passionate for music and sports. He had masterly command over traditional music instruments like, flute, sitar. With music as well, he inherited a lot from his father - and brother, Jai Krishna - a distinguished Sitar player of his time.

Malviya laid stress on the significance of good health which according to him was essential for public spirit and consistency in life. In adolescence, he sensed his duty for the motherland and started shaping his life as per the requirements which made him ready for independence struggle and anti-communal activities.

His commitment for higher education brought him to prestigious Muir Central College (then housed at Darbhanga Castle. Soon, his principled and meritorious capabilities drawn the attention of school's visionary principle, Mr. H.Harison. He took special care of young Malaviya and remained gracious even after a grand reception led by Malviya against the will of British Raj, for Lord Ripon, a kind man for India.

In 1881, he married with Kundan Devi of Mirzapur. By that time, he was eighteen year old and was an undergraduate at the Muir Central College, Allahabad. In 1884, he awarded with B.A from Calcutta University. Three years later, the city of Allahabad had its first University which was born out from Muir College. At later phases, Allahabad University epitomized the anglicized education in eastern India.

It’s hardly a well known fact that his surname 'Malaviya' was broken from his forefathers' surname 'Malai'. He in fact made his surname 'Malviya' on his own. After completion of university education, he took a modest job of school teacher. Subsequently, he founded in December 1889, a remarkable public institution Bharati Bhawan Library - and built a hostel for outstation students in Allahabad University during that phase.

This man in Chaugoshia (turban) shot to high fame in the Indian National Congress's Calcutta session of 1896. Raja Rampal Singh of Kalankankar offered him to edit a Hindi daily Hindustan, which he accepted with some conditions. He brought effective changes for heralding for culture of Hindi press and freedom of press at large.

The mission was quite tough, but for a man on mission for motherland's independence like Malaviya - it was doable. He raised the tone of resistance against the colonial suppression, with a fine show of journalism and civil activism. Abhudaya was another publication under his editorship that radicalized freedom movement in that terrain. This publication was finally converted into a daily in 1915, with the support of Purushottam Das Tandon and Pandit Krishnakant.

His zeal for academics persisted even after his University education and that encouraged him to get a degree in law in 1891. He joined the Bar at Allahabad High Court, besides doing a job of Assistant Editor at The Indian Opinion. Even in midst of such time-consuming engagements, he always managed time to think for his dream institution which he had been shaping inside his mind and heart.

Malaviya was an incorrigible multi-tasker, so as next move for motherland’s liberty - he played a formidable role in establishing an English daily The Leader(1909). For better grouping of nationalists, he persuaded Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru to settle in Allahabad. Moreover, the presence of Sir Sundar Lal, Pandit Motilal Nehru and Mr.Chaudhury kept him in action for the great causes he stood with.Indeed, the period was most memorable from a point of view of Allahabad’s high stake in academic and other significant matters.

He equally volunteered for the cause of Hindi and other public initiatives, including Kashi Nagri Prachirini Sabha. These efforts were crucial and pertinent from the sake of 'identity revival' among the masses. His apperance as a lawyer was very impressive which he had shown on crucial occasions. Among other immensely important cases his took for national causes were for Chauri Chaura incident, Round Table Conference in 1932 and for Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in Parliament bombing case.

Lord Curzon, then the Viceroy was greatly alarmed by the proliferation of nationalist activities inside the academic circle, and appointed an Indian Universities commission in 1904 to probe into the working of Indian Universities. All the Universities were brought directly under government control. Lord Curzon, by this act, again left a reason for mass-scale dissatisfaction and discontents.

This errant move of British rule couldn’t stop Malviya to think further for Kashi Hindu Vishwavidlaya or Banaras Hindu University.In 1904, he hold a resolution for establishing a Hindu University at Kashi under the presidentship of the Maharaja of Banaras. For that matter, he received first token donation of fifty-one rupees for the University from his father.

Debate over the University grew more during Banaras session of Indian National Congress held on December 31, 1905, Banaras. This took place at the Town Hall, under the presidentship of Shri B.N.Mahajani. The scheme of the Hindu University was placed before the representatives of all religious and renowned educationists. With such positive development, the public announcement of Banaras Hindu University was finally enunciated on January 1,1906.

The other contemporary moves boosted confidence in Mahamana - and the Central Hindu College, after witnessing a great success under the visionary leadership of Annie Besant, applied for statuary Royal Charter for the establishment of a 'University of India' under the signatures of influential personalities. The Bharat Dharma Mahamandal of Kashi under the presidentship of the Maharaja of Darbhanga, had simultaneously launched a scheme for the establishment of a Sanatan Dharma University.

In the year 1911, the Maharaja of Darbhanga along with Annie Besant incorporated his scheme with that of the Hindu University - he personally too took great interest and met Lord Harding (then the serving Governor General) with plan of University and received his consent. However, the Education Secretary Harcourt Buttler became alarmed to see the prominence of Hindi in proposed University, he gave mandate for English, as the medium of education in Banaras Hindu University that for time being accepted by Mahamana.

Malaviya had vision to see the future changes and their imminent effects. So, he had shown flexibility on his earlier plan to use mother tongue as medium of instruction at B.H.U. Finally the dream came true on the Vasant Panchami day, February 4, 1916 - and foundation stone of Banaras Hindu University was laid by Lord Harding in the presence of august gathering and thousands of city dwellers.

Although, Malaviya's compulsions were well understood but the conferment of Doctorate of Letters to Prince of Wales on December 13, 1921 was an unusual decision that was critically seen within the political and academic circle. Albeit, he stood on his reason as he thought universalization of education, is a key factor for human development.

His convictions were universalist at times. Soon, B.H.U was shifted from its Kamaccha Campus to the new (existing) campus at Nagwa Ghat. He spent considerable time in the capacity of University's Vice Canceller. In 1938, he resigned from the post of VC and continued as its Rector till his death on Nov 12, 1946. It was a good fortune of this university that it was served in early phases by a numbers of distinguished scholars and benign human beings, likes of Dr. Amarnath Jha, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Pandit Govind Malaviya, Acharaya Narendra Deo, Dr. C.P.Ramaswamy Aiyer.

For making his dream coming true, Malaviya intertwined with privations and never took even a pittance from the University and remained concerned for its further development in different domain. For the size of University, he founded and maintained throughout his life, could become possible only through preserving best human values in its administration. He faced several incidences of insults from cynical feudal heads, but a graceful Malaviya had always maintained his stature and conquered those narrow irritants with his pragmatic actions.

While remaining absorbed in University's works, he remained equally focussed on independence movement and created an interface between these two in manner where the newly founded University became the centre of pro-independence activities. Malaviya did justice to the diverse roles he played, including of being top brass in Indian National Congress through his unparalleled will and sacrifice on family front.

While he was an epoch-maker, he was always surrounded with the tragedies, right up from the loss of his siblings at young ages to the accidental death of his supportive wife. He had four sons and three daughters - they followed the father's great path but only Pandit Govind Malaviya could touch the level of fame which one could expect from a worthy descendant of Mahamana.

Right up to the day of foundation to now, the University of Mahamana has always played a formidable role in strengthening of the national causes. Its culture is blended with both modernity and tradition. The ethics and humanity stay on course here along with the pastime for high standard education in 'Guru-Shishya' tradition.

Many changes have taken place inside the University and its reputation as 'Center of Excellence' has expanded to all major streams. Its old hostels and few old nameplates like, 'College of Arts', 'Bharati Mahavidyalaya', 'Mahila Mahavidyalaya' and others are suddenly give a chance to roam in down memory lane.

Mahamana through his great humane value never let disoriented the middle nomenclature of the university and truly succeeded to establish an unparalleled institution. As an alumni of Mahamana’s great institution, I have reasons to look back on my own time spent there and the life-long bond that I have with my Alma Mater. The Kulgeet of the University says best about it "Madhur manohar ativ sundar, ye hai sarva vidya ki rajdhani."

Atul K Thakur
April 27,2010


  1. Thanks for this beautiful article.Malviya ji was realty a great visionary of his age and still relevant in present scenario where education malls are taking place in the form of educational institutions.

  2. Sushant Kumar MishraMay 5, 2010 at 3:40 AM

    Indeed a good and detailed article. I wish you could have further analysed the impact of BHU in its days. Also, another possible line of thought is the way the university was conceptualised. If you see the proposal of Maharaja of Darbhanga, it was about traditional learning [certainly the visiion was important and today from hindsight, we can understand the relevance of this vision in the age when Macalay's education had really made deep inroads in the Indian educational system]. / Then of course, providing modern education was good. One may think on these lines. You have really good details of life of Mahamana - let us look analytically at his works.

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  4. ki haal-chaal, ki sab bha rahal aichi? eitey din bha gel kono khabrie nahi lagal. thanx to facebook.
    badda nik kelhoon ki MAHAMANA par post likhlahoon aichi. Namhar vision rakha wala lok sabhak abhaw bha rahal chai, tahi lel jaroori chai.

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  6. Congratulations Atul
    you wrote Great Article for great Man .

    Pandit madan mohan malviya was really man of salt. He was great philosopher and great patriotic Person. Among Malaviyaji's many achievements, the most monumental was the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University or Kashi Hindu Vishvidyalaya. In the course of his lifetime Banaras Hindu University came to be known as a Capital of Knowledge acknowledged across India and the World. Malaviya popularized the famous slogan "Satyameva Jayathe" (Truth alone will win).
    From the Presidential Address - Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya ,N.C. Session, 1933, Calcutta , this presidential address prove that Madan Mohan Malviya ji was good visionary man of our future .
    Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Address in Calcutta.
    I appeal to my countrymen to wake up to the reality of the situation. I take it that every Indian wants that we should have complete freedom for the management of our own affairs. The attainment of this freedom will become easier if we unite and work with one mind and purpose to achieve it. I implore all Hindus and Musalmans, 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 the drawn 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".

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  8. Malviya ji was realty a great Visionary,because of whom lifetime Banaras Hindu University came to be known as a Capital of Knowledge acknowledged across India and the World.Also write about BHU unforgetable moments and activities of relative humanity. thank a lot.....!

  9. The esssay sums up activities of Madan Mohan Malavya but fails to present his character in totality emcompassing weaknesses along with his bright personality.
    Chowdhary Afzal Haq's volume "Pakistan and Untouchability" published in 1930s [I regret I do not remember the exact year] from Lahore brings out his orthodoxy by interesting illustration. Sardar Bhallavbhai Patel along with Madan Mohan Malaviya togther with Afzal Haq were arrested and lodged in a jail in Delhi. Patel was very jovial man, who used to tease Malavyaji for his orthodox attitude. At the time of launch, Patel would visit the Brahmin leader and stood in the sun in such a manner that his shadow would fall either on Malavya's body or over his food. Terrified, he would jump to other place to avoid the touch of Patel's shadow, lest his food was polluted as a result. And Patel would have a hearty laugh when Malavya jumped like a frog from place to place to evade shadow of a Shudra.

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  11. Dear atul ,

    I am big fan of your blog,thanks for prompt reply and i am sanguine of your newer posts.
    your writing has rhythm which is most enchanting and i think it is that thing which attracts connoisseur like me and regarding BHU it is majestic and divine what can i say ....
    i fall short of words to portarit this city . as an orthodox hindu i will prefer to die here.

    मरणं मंगल यत्र वियूतिर्यत्रभूषणम्।
    ओषधं जाह्नवीतोयं वैद्यो नारायणों हरि:।।

    -जहाँ पर मरना मंगल है, चिताभस्म जहाँ आभूषण है। गंगा का जल ही ओषधि है और वैद्य जहाँ केवल नारायण हरि हैं।

    with warm regards,
    Dileep Kumar
    Research Fellow,
    Pharmaceutical Chemistry Research Lab.
    Department of Pharmaceutics,
    Institute of Technology,
    Banaras Hindu University,
    Varanasi - 221 005. (U.P)

  12. I am intrigued about the circumstances in which Malaviya's motto, "Satyameva Jayate" was included in our national emblem. I am not able to find any references as to why it was done, and by whose initiative.

    I'll be thankful if you' enlighten us on that.

    Thank you, your post is informative and I really did enjoy reading it.

  13. Lots of hostels also offer single rooms, which might be a good choice if your budget allows it and you really want privacy.

    Pousada Ubatuba

  14. Let me another annecdot on Malaviya. Mahadevi Verma, the Jnanpeeth Awardee for her contribution in literature, was a student of Benares Hindu University. She wanted to study Ssanskrit but she was denied the opportunity by Madan Mohan Malviya on ground that she was not a Brahmin. This she told in the BHU when the university awarded her honorary D. Litt. [Patna University former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. S. N. Sinha highighted this in a National Seminar on dynamicss of Dalit Exclusion in Contemporary India organized by Centre of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, Patna University 25-27 June 2012.]