Remembering Mahamana Malaviya on his death anniversary

By Nithin Sridhar

Madan Mohan Malaviya is a well-known name across India. He was an educationist, journalist, lawyer, and, most importantly, a foremost freedom fighter. On this day, 69 years ago in 1946, he died at the age of 85.

Let us have a brief look into his life and legacy on his 69th death anniversary.

Malaviya was born in Allahabad on December 25, 1861. His father Pt Baijnath was a Sanskrit scholar and a Kathavacak who used to narrate Srimad Bhagavatham. He had his early schooling in Sanskrit pathashala but later joined an English school. He completed his BA from Calcutta University in 1884.

Though he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and practice Kathavachan, due to the abject poverty of the family, he was forced to take up the job of a teacher at the Govt High School, Allahabad for a salary of Rs 40 per month.

He passed his LLB in 1891 and began practicing in Allahabad district court. Later, in 1893, he started practicing in Allahabad High court. On his 50th birthday in 1913, Malaviya left his legal career for serving the country.

Malaviya also worked as a journalist for few years. He joined the Hindi daily “Hindosthan” in 1887 as its editor. In 1889, he joined “Indian Opinion” as its editor. He also published an English newspaper ‘Leader’ in 1909 to campaign against British’s attempt to bring Press Act and then a Hindi newspaper ‘Maryada’ in 1910. He also served as the chairman of the Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946.

He was firmly rooted in Hindu religious ideals and tirelessly worked for Hindu issues. He worked as a secretary of ‘Prayaga Hindu Samaj’ in 1880, organized ‘Madhya Bharat Hindu Samaj Conference’ in 1885, and organized a conference of ‘Sanatana Dharma Mahasabha’ in 1906.

In the political field, he served as Congress President for four times-1909 (Lahore), 1918 (Delhi), 1930 (Delhi) and1932 (Calcutta). He vehemently opposed the provision for the separate electorate for Muslims under the Lucknow Pact. In 1928, he joined Lala Lajpat Rai in protesting against Simon commission. He was also arrested during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932.

Though, Malaviya had left his legal career in 1913, he once again donned his lawyers robe in 1924 for defending 170 people who were convicted in Chauri Chaura incident, and were sentenced to death by the sessions court. He managed to save 155 of them from death penalty.

Malaviya worked tirelessly for the upliftment of Dalits. He also worked for the protection of cows and founded Gorakshak Mandal. The poor and downtrodden received his attention as well. He was also one of the founding fathers of scouting for Indians.

But, it is in the field of education, that Malaviya’s work has had the greatest influence on Indian society. He established Benares Hindu University in 1916 in Varanasi, which is today one of the largest residential universities in Asia with over 20,000 students studying arts, science, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. He is also credited to have popularized the Upanishadic slogan “Satyameva Jayate” that was later adopted as the national motto.

Thus, ‘Mahamana Malaviya’, as he was fondly called, made an enormous contribution to Indian politics, education, and society. He is rightly considered as one of the founding fathers of Modern India. On his death anniversary, people should remember his dedication, hard work, and sacrifice for the sake of India and try to imbibe those qualities in their own lives.