K. Gokhale was born on 9 May 1866 at Katluk in
Chiplun taluka in Ratnagiri district in a poor
Chitpavan Brahmin family. His father's name was
Krishnarao Shridhar and mother's Satyabhama. The
economic position of the family was so bad that
on Gokhale's father's death, Gokhale could continue
his educational career only because of his elder
brother's sacrifice of his own education.
After completing his elementary education at Kagal,
Gokhale went to Kolhapur (1876). He passed his
matriculation examination in 1881, at the early
age of 15. He had his University education in
the Rajaram College (Kolhapur), the Deccan college
(Kolhapur), the Deccan College (Poona) and the
Elphinstone college (Bombay). He took his B. A.
degree in 1884 and joined the Law College in Bombay,
but could complete the LL. B. course.
Gokhale was influenced by Ranade, whom he regarded
as his master in political and public life, by
G.V. Joshi of Sholapur, a brilliant economist,
by Dadabhai Naoroji, who was his hero, and by
Immediately after his graduation, Gokhale joined
the Deccan Education Society, Poona,as a Life
Member. When the Fergusson College was opened
in 1885, he was called upon to lecture to college
classes on English Literature and mathematics.
He retired in 1902 specifically to devote himself
to public life. He wrote a school text-book on
In 1889 he became a member of the Indian National
Congress. In 1890 he was elected Honorary Secretary
of the Sarvajanik Sabha, Poona, of which Ranade
was the most influential member. In 1893 he became
the Secretary of the Bombay Provincial Conference.
In 1895 he became Joint Secretary of the Indian
National Congress along with Tilak. In the same
year he was made a Fellow of the University of
In 1896 he became a member of the Deccan Sabha,
Poona, founded by Ranade. In 1897 he was appointed
the Deccan representative to the Royal Commission
known as the Welby Commission. In 1899 Gokhale
was elected a member of the Bombay Legislative
Council. In 1902 he was elected to the Imperial
Legislative Council. In 1904 he was made a C.
I. E. In 1905 he was elected President of the
Poona Municipality. In 1908 he gave evidence before
the Decentralization Commission as the principle
| In 1912 he was appointed
a Member of the Public Service Commission. In
1914 he was offered the K. C. I. E. but refused
it.In 1905 Gokhale founded the Servants of India
Society with the object of training men to devote
themselves to the service of India as national
missionaries and to promote by all constitutional
means the national interest of the Indian people.
In 1908 he founded the Ranade Institute of Economics.
Gokhale's mode of life suggested deep spirituality.
He was a front rank Reformer; he deprecated the
caste-system and untouchability, pleaded for the
emancipation of women and championed the cause
of female education. He was also a dedicated social
worker and rendered great services in the Plague
relief operations at Poona in 1897-98.
In Gokhale's opinion, the introduction of Western
education in India, with its liberalising influence,
was great blessing to the people. He was a firm
believer in the theory that mass education was
a prerequisite to national political consciousness.
He advocated that primary education should be
free in all schools throughout India at once.
He held pronounced views on the use of vernaculars
and favoured the creation of a separate Vernacular
University with English and Sanskrit as compulsory
As for Gokhale's ideas on nationalism and the
conduct of the nationalist movement, he sought
greater autonomy for Indians who would co-operate
with the Government in reforms and obtain through
constitutional means and by persuasion an advance
over the reforms granted until, finally, India
became a self-governing Dominion within the British
Commonwealth of Nations.
He was an upholder of national dignity and severely
criticized the treatment of Indians in South Africa.
While appreciating the benefits of British rule
in general, he never failed to criticize unjust
policies and highhanded actions of the Government.
He characterized the scheme of the Partition of
Bengal by Curzon as a complete illustration of
the worst features of the system of bureaucratic
In his opinion, the economic results of British
rule in India were absolutely disastrous, resulting
in a frightful poverty. He bitterly criticized
England for introducing Free Trade in India, for
it destroyed such small industries as had existed
in the country.