Patriots > Social and Religious Reformers > Deshmukh , Gopalhari
Deshmukh , Gopalhari ( Lokhitwadi ) (1772 - 1833)
Gopal Hari Deshmukh, alias Lokhitwadi, was born in Poona in a well-to-do middle class Chitpavan Brahmin family. His ancestors were hereditary Deshmukhs in konkan. The grandfather of Lokhitwadi, with his brothers, came to Poona in 1754 in search of service in the Peshwa’s Government. His uncle Chinto became Fadnis, and Krishnaji, another uncle, that of Sardar Vinchurkar. His father Hari was Fadnis of Bapu Gokhale, the last Commander-in-Chief of the Peshwa. Lokhitwadi studied in the Poona English High school from 1841 to 1844.

In 1844 he was appointed a Translator. Simultaneously, he held the office of the Agent to the Sardars in the Deccan. In 1846, he passed the Munsiff’s examination. In 1852, he was appointed First Class munsiff at Wai, District Satara; in 1855 Sub-Assistant Inam Commissioner and in 1857 Assistant Inam Commissioner. In May 1861 he was appointed by the Government to prepare a Digest of the Hindu and Muslim Religious Practices.

He was appointed Assistant Judge, Ahmednagar, in July 1862; Acting Judge, in August 1865; Acting Judge, Small Causes Court, Bombay, in October 1865; Acting Judge, Small Causes Court, Ahmedabad, in March 1866. In March 1867 he became was confirmed as Judge. In 1877 he became Joint Judge at Nasik, from which position he retired in 1879.

He was President of the Arya Samaj, Bombay, of the Theosophical Society, Bombay, and of the Gujarati Buddhivardhaka Sabha, Ahmedabad. In 1877 he was made Rao Bhadur, in August 1877 justice of the Peace and in March 1881 Sadar (First Class).

He edited the Lokhitwadi, a monthly magazine in Marathi. Through his writings he criticized the Brahmins for arresting the progress of the Hindu society by fostering anti-social traditions. He advocated widow-remarriage and the raising of the social status of women, and condemned child-marriage, tonsure of widows, caste-system and slavery in any form.

He was fond of making speeches; in fact, he never refused an invitation to speak. He delivered lectures at Ahmedabad, Nashik and Bombay. At Ahmedabad, he arranged a series of lectures on behalf of the Premanbhai Institute, and himself delivered many lectures under the auspices of the Institute. The main

topic of these lectures was, of course, social reform. But other topics like politics, economics, religion, history, industrialization and boycott of foreign goods were also discussed.

He opened a branch of the Prarthana Samaj and started a Punarvivaha Mandal (Widow Remarriage Institute) at Ahmedabad, and arranged remarriages of widows. He was instrumental in starting the Hitechhu, a weekly newspaper in Gujarati, and contributed many articles to it. He took an active part in the publications to its credit. He also started the Gujarati Vaktrittwa Sabha, under whose auspices eminent persons delivered lectures. During his stay in this city, he often distributed money and medicine to the poor and the needy.

At his residence, he maintained a dispensary and distributed medicine to the poor, free of charge. He helped poor students by paying their tuition fees and giving them books. He helped the poor who were robbed of their property by employing competent pleaders to secure the restitution of their property. He continued these activities in Nasik, Poona and Bombay. While he was working with the Inam Commission, he helped many who had no Watan-Sanads but had other evidence in their favour to retain their Inams.

Lokhitwadi helped to start the Induprakash and the Dnyanprakash, Marathi newspaper in Bombay and Poona respectively, and the Nagar Wachan Mandir in Poona.

He was one of the promoters of the Anathbalakashram and Sutikagraha at Pandharpur. He contributed more than Rs. 15,000/- to various institutions and funds like the Anath Fund, Gujarat Provincial College and School, Public Libraries, Public Wells and Dharmashalas, the prarthana Samaj and such other institutions.

He had many publications to his credit but these were mostly in the form of pamphlets like ‘Nibandha Sangraha’, ‘Vidyalahari’, ‘Hindustanalit Balvivah’, ‘Agam Prakash’ , and ‘Nigam Prakash’. His historical writing were translations in Marathi but with very informative notes: ‘Panipatchi Ladhai’, ‘Hindustanacha Itihas ( Purvardha)’ , ‘Udepurcha Itihas’ , ‘Gujarathacha Itihas’, ‘Saurashtra Deshacha Itihas’, and ‘Lankecha Itihas’.
Author : N.R.Phatak