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Madan Mohan Malaviya biography

Madan Mohan Malaviya

(1861-1946)

biography

Madan Mohan Malaviya
Madan Mohan Malaviya
      A nationalist and educationist, Madan Mohan Malaviya was born in an orthodox and devout Brahmin family of Allahabad on 25 December 1861. He was the fifth son and eighth child of Pandit Brajnath Vyas.
His ancestors hailed from Malwa in Madhya Pradesh and thus the family was called Mallais, which gradually changed to Malaviyas. Madan Mohan’s grandfather, Premdhar, as well as his father Brajnath was learned Sanskrit scholars. Madan Mohan inherited their scholarship. He had his early education in Sanskrit at home under the guidance of his grandfather and father. Later, he was sent to Haradevaji Dharmopadesh Pathshala and then to the Vidyadharma Vardhini Sabha Pathshala. At the age of eight, he joined the local government Zila School and passed the entrance examination in 1879, after which he took admission in the Muir Central College, Allahabad affiliated to Calcutta University. He graduated in 1884. In college, Malaviya was a favourite student of Pandit Aditya Ram Bhattacharya, who had a great hand in moulding his life and character. When the Banaras Hindu University started functioning in 1921, Malaviya requested Bhattacharya to be the pro-vice-chancellor of the university, the post from which he resigned after two years due to ill-health.
While still a student, Malaviya was married in 1879 to Kundan Devi. They had five sons and three daughters.
After graduation, Malaviya joined M.A. classes but was compelled to leave studies due to financial difficulties. He accepted an appointment as a teacher in the Government High School at Allahabad. There were no restrictions imposed by the government on its employees joining political parties at the time. Malaviya attended the second session of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta in December 1886, and made his maiden political speech there, which was highly appreciated by everyone including A.O. Hume, secretary of the Congress. In fact, Malaviya had started public speaking while still a child and used to give discourses at religious gatherings. He had also taken part in dramatics as a student. In later life, became a forceful speaker both in Hindi and English. In his school days, Malaviya had also composed poems and written stories and essays on various topics which were published in magazines. Raja Ram Pal Singh of Kalakankar (Rampur) heard about Malaviyas and offered him the editorship of the Hindi weekly paper Hindustan, of which he was the proprietor. Malaviya accepted the offer and worked there from July 1887 to the end of 1889, converting it to a daily paper. The success of Malaviya as an editor brought him fame in journalistic circles, and in later life, emboldened him to launch a number of papers of his own.
At the persuasion of friends, Malaviya took up the law course at the newly established Allahabad University and passed the LLB examination in 1892 and entered the Bar as a junior to Beni Ram Kanyakubja. Soon he set up a lucrative practice of his own, and came to the rank immediately after Sir Sunder Lal and Motilal Nehru. However, Malaviya was not interested in amassing wealth in the legal profession because his heart was in social work and upliftment of the Hindus, for which he devoted all his energies during his life time. He was actively associated with Hindu Samaj, a social service organization set up in 1880, largely through the efforts of Aditya Ram Bhattacharya, Malaviyas Sanskrit teacher in the Muir Central College. When in 1884 the Kendriya Hindu Samaj (Central Hindu Samaj) was formed, Malaviya took active part in it. The Samaj had its annual functions held from 1884 to 1891 at different places. Malaviya continued serving the Hindu interests and tried organizing the community during this period. He founded the Hindu Dharma Pravardhini Sabha at Prayag in 1888. On the occasion of the Kumbh Mela at Prayag in January 1906, Malaviya called a grand assembly of the Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha, where he advocated Hindus to follow the ideals of Sanatan Dharma and for the first time revealed his scheme for founding a Hindu University at Banaras. The Sanatan Dharma Sabha became the All India Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha in 1928 and under its auspices two weekly journals were brought out in 1933, Sanatan Dharma edited by Malaviya from Banaras and Vishwabandhu from Lahore (the office and the library of which was shifted to Hoshiarpur, Punjab, after partition in 1947).
      By 1909, Malaviya had almost given up practice at the Bar and was devoting all his energies for social welfare of the community. However, he made an exception when he accepted the brief in the lawsuit of 225 accused in the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922 near Gorakhpur, and by his brilliant defence saved 170 accused from the gallows or transportation for life. He did not charge any fee. In 1912 Malaviya founded the Seva Dal to look after the comfort of pilgrims who came to have a dip in the Sangam in Prayag. The Dal under the presidentship of Malaviya did commendable work during Ardhkumbh Mela in 1912 and Kumbh Mela in 1918. Malaviya was a very popular leader in the Punjab along with Lajpat Rai and did much to promote the welfare of the Hindus and safeguarding their religious beliefs. After the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy in April 1919, he, along with Swami Shraddhanand, toured Punjab and after locating the affected Hindu and Sikh families, provided monetary and other help to the families of the deceased. Both of them collected funds for the purpose, people responding enthusiastically. Malaviya had no inhibition in joining the Arya Samaj leaders in making the Shuddhi movement success, their differences notwithstanding. Though a believer in Sanatan Dharma, he was against untouchability and took active part in opening the doors of temples for all Hindus. He treated B.R. Ambedkar as his son and Ambedkar on his part had great respect for Malaviya. As one of the founders of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, Malaviya figured prominently in it, presiding consecutively over its annual functions from 1922-24, and again in 1935.
Malaviya, from his early years, took active part in promoting the cause of Hindi in Devnagari script. Along with some other Hindu leaders, Malaviya played an important role in securing the order of the government in April 1900 for the use of Devnagari script, along with the Persian script, in the courts. When in 1910 the first Hindi Sahitya Sammelan was convened in Varanasi, Malaviya presided. He continued to take active part in the promotion of Hindi.
After his early journalistic stint in Hindustan as an editor, Malaviya launched his own papers. He started Abhudaya, a Hindi weekly in 1907; this was converted to a daily in 1915. He also started Maryada, a Hindi monthly in 1910. He also started another Hindi monthly, Kisaan, in 1921 to fight for the cause of poor peasants of Oudh. His greatest journalistic venture, however, was Leader, an English daily, started on 24 October 1909. Both Abhudaya and Leader played an important role in the cause of national movement as envisaged by Malaviya and his associates. He also edited Sanatan Dharma from 1933 as stated earlier.
Malaviya had joined the Congress party way back in 1886 and attended almost every session during his lifetime. He was elected president for the 1909, 1918, 1932 and 1933 sessions, though he could not be present during the 1932 and 1933 sessions as he was undergoing a jail term. However, Malaviya did not always approve of the Congress policies, especially after it came to be controlled by Gandhi, his respect for Gandhi notwithstanding. Because of his independent views, he was never elected a member of the Congress Working Committee. In politics, Malaviya was essentially a Moderate or a Responsivist or ‘Responsive Cooperator’ – responding positively for those actions of the government which he thought were good for the country. When Gandhi started the Non-Cooperation Movement, Malaviya opposed it strongly. He openly preached against Gandhi’s move for the closing down of educational institutions, boycott of legislative assemblies and burning of foreign clothes. He defied Gandhi on the question of closing of schools, colleges and universities; because Malaviya believed that the existing educational system could be made to serve the aim of national regeneration and questioned the wisdom of Gandhi’s policies.
When Gandhi visited Banaras in November 1920 to preach Non-Cooperation, Malaviya invited Gandhi to address the students and staff of Banaras Hindu University on 27 November 1920. Malaviya himself presided over the meeting and let Gandhi have his say. Gandhi told the students, Advantages are dangled before us. There are a number of facilities in this University. There is instruction in engineering and various other facilities. For the good of India these things must be sacrificed." Malaviya did not contradict Gandhi in the meeting because he was confident about the sanity of his students and teachers. Hardly any student or teacher left the university. Not only did Malaviya not close the university, he invited the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) to declare the newly constructed buildings of the university open on 13 December 1921. The university also conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, to the chagrin of Gandhi and his followers, who had boycotted the visit of Prince of Wales to India
The Banaras Hindu University remains the greatest achievement of Madan Mohan Malaviya. With the joint efforts of Malaviya and Annie Besant, the Banaras Hindu University Act was passed by the government in 1915. Lord Hardinge, the viceroy, laid the foundation stone of the university in 1916. Malaviya had collected over a crore of rupees to build the campus. The Maharaja of Banaras donated hundreds of acres of land for the purpose. The University had started functioning in the buildings of the Central Hindu College, which Annie Besant had founded in 1898 at Banaras. The University moved to the new campus in 1921 and soon many subjects of science and technology, arts and commerce were introduced along with the study of Hindu religion and culture. Malaviya served as the vice-chancellor of the University from 1919 to 1938 when he resigned because of ill-health but remained as Rector till his death. Soon Banaras Hindu University became preeminent among the Indian universities and still retains that status. It is interesting to note that Gandhi, who wanted the university to be closed in 1921, was the chief guest during the silver jubilee of the university in January 1942.
Malaviya was a member of the Allahabad municipality for many years and was elected its vice-chairman twice. In consequence of the active work which he did for the Allahabad municipality, he was elected to the Provincial Legislative Assembly in 1902, and in 1909 to the Imperial Legislative Council. He remained a member till 1920 and again from 1923 to 1930. He was one of the most important members of the Council. When the Swaraj Party was formed in 1923 by C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru, Malaviya joined the party because he was very much against the boycott of legislatures as advocated by Gandhi. But when he found that the Swaraj Party could not protect the interests of the Hindus who were suffering during communal riots in the country, he, along with Lajpat Rai, resigned from the Congress as well as from the Swaraj Party and founded the Indian Nationalist Party and fought the 1926 general elections under its banner. The Swaraj Party was completely routed in U.P. and Punjab and its number of seats depleted in other provinces. Again in 1932, after the announcement of the Communal Award, Malaviya was greatly upset. Malaviya had attended the Second Round Table Conference as a Hindu nominee of the government. Though the Round Table Conference ended in failure, Malaviya did not expect such an award from the British government. The award had recommended separate electorate, and heavy weightage, and much more for the Moslems at the expense of the Hindus. The Congress, while condemning the Award as intrinsically bad and anti-national decided neither to support nor oppose it. Malaviya, along with M.S. Aney, M.R. Jayakar, Ramanand Chatterjee and others, once again resigned from the Congress and floated the Congress Nationalist Party. During 1935 elections to the Legislative Assemblies, they won all the general seats in Bengal and all but one in Punjab. Again and again Malaviya was upset with the Muslim appeasement policies of the Congress and opposed it with remarkable success. In spite of his great regard for Gandhi, who was eight years his junior, he never succumbed to the gimmicks of Gandhi like spinning the charkha etc. He felt that he had more important things to do in life. Along with theology and Oriental learning, Malaviya advocated the use of western science and technology to build large scale industries in the country. The Banaras Hindu University was one of the first universities to start departments like mining, metallurgy, geology and various branches of engineering. Graduates from these departments played not an insignificant role towards the industrialization of the country. Because of his interest in industrialization, he was appointed a member of the Indian Industrial Commission (or the Holland Commission) in 1916. In his minute of dissent he made some important suggestions.
During the last years of his life, Malaviya stopped taking active part in politics. He spent his days in the Banaras Hindu University’s extensive the campus and was mighty pleased to see his dream come true. He died on that 12 November 1946 in Banaras at the ripe age of eighty-five, mourned by millions throughout the country. Nehru wrote in his Autobiography: “His (Malaviyas) long record of public service in various fields from early and youth upwards, his success in establishing a great institution like the ions Banaras Hindu University, his manifest sincerity and earnestness, his and impressive oratory, and his gentle nature and winning personality, have endeared him to the Indian public, particularly the Hindu public, and though many may not agree with him or follow him in politics, they yield him respect and affection. Both by his age and his long public record he is the Nestor of Indian politics".

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