Madan Mohan Malaviya was born at Allahabad on
25 December 1861, in a family belonging to the
Chaturvedi sub-division of Shri Gaud Brahmins,
which along with some other families migrated
from Malwa in 1449 on account of the oppressive
character of the administration. These families
settled at Allahabad and round about it. Madan
Mohans ancestors were poor but had a good
social status and were known for their Sanskrit
His grandfather, Pandit Prem Dhar, was known
for his Sanskrit learning and so was his father,
Pandit Braj Nath. They were both Vaishnavas,
deeply religious and devotees of Radha Krishna.
Several Princes, like the Maharajas of Rewa,
Darbhanga and Benares, were among those who
paid reverence to Braj Nath and regarded him
almost as a guru. He was well-known for his
popular exposition of the Ramayana and the Bhagvat.
Madan Mohan had two sisters and five brothers.
Young Madan Mohan learnt many Sanskrit slokas
at home which he used to recite in public, but
his education began at the age of five when
he was sent to Pandit Hardevas Dharma
Gyanopadesh Pathshala where, as its name shows,
stress was laid on discipline and religion rather
than on formal education. He left the pathshala
and joined the 3rd class of the Zilla School
in 1869. The question of his admission to the
School where he could be taught English, which
he was anxious to learn, created a problem for
The family which consisted, besides the parents,
of six sons and two daughters depended entirely
on what Braj Nath could earn by reciting the
Ramayana and Bhagvat. Braj Nath was, therefore,
not in a position to pay the school fees. In
this predicament Madan Mohans mother,
Moona Devi, came to her sons help. She
mortgaged her gold bangles every month in return
for the money required to pay his school fees
and took them back when her husband was so lucky
as to receive substantial offerings.
Madan Mohan, who was a diligent boy, matriculated
in 1879 and joined the Muir Central College,
where he came under the influence of the Professor
of Sanskrit, Pandit Aditya Ram Bhattacharya,
whom he revered. As a student he took an enthusiastic
part in many extra-curricular activities. In
consequence of this, he lost a year and graduated
from the Calcutta University only in 1884.
He was married to Kundan Devi, the third daughter
of Pandit Nand Ram, a school teacher at Mirzapur,
in 1878. He had three daughters and four sons.
Kundan Devi died in 1942.
Malaviya wanted to study for the M.A. examination
but poverty compelled him to earn his living.
He was appointed as a teacher in his old school
on forty rupees a month and soon became popular
among his pupils. Public life, however, had
a great attraction for him. As there were no
rules in those days preventing Government servants
from attending political meetings, he attended
the second Congress session held in Calcutta
in 1886 with his Sanskrit Professor, Pandit
Aditya Ram Bhattacharya, and delivered a speech
which held the audience spellbound.
A.O. Hume, the General Secretary of the Congress,
made a very appreciative reference to it in
his annual report. Soon after his return from
Calcutta he was offered the editorship of the
Hindi weekly, the Hindustan, on Rs. 200/- a
month by Raja Rampal Singh, an enlightened Taluqdar
of Oudh who formed a high opinion of Malaviya
after listening to his Calcutta speech. Malaviya
accepted the offer and edited the paper from
July 1887 to the end of 1889, during which period
it was converted into a daily.
Raja Rampal Singh continued to give him Rs.
100/- per month even after he left the paper
and became a lawyer. He was also the editor
of the weekly, the Indian Union, which was started
by Pandit Aditya Ram Bhattacharya, from 1885
to 1890. Pandit Ajodhya Nath, who was the leading
political figure in the U.P., took charge of
it in 1891. After his death in January 1892,it
amalgamated with the Advocate, Lucknow.
Malaviya wanted to devote himself entirely to
the service of the country. The legal profession
did not attract him, but on the advice of Hume,
Pandit Ajodhya Nath, Raja Rampal Singh and others,
he began to study law in 1889 and passed the
LL. B. examination in 1891.
With few exceptions Malaviya regularly attended
the annual Congress sessions from 1886 to 1936.
In 1887, he invited the Congress to Allahabad,
where it met in 1888 under the leadership of
Pandit Ajodhya Nath, who was the Chairman of
the Reception Committee. During the session
great enthusiasm prevailed among the delegates
and its success was phenomenal. Malaviya was
the Secretary of the Committee. He invited the
Congress to Allahabad again in 1892, and its
success was largely due to his devoted efforts.
In the Congress sessions he spoke generally
on the political subjection of the country,
the poverty of the masses owing to the British
economic policy and the monopoly of the higher
posts by officers recruited in England. On account
of his services to the Congress he was elected
its President in 1909,1918,1932 and 1933 ,but
owing to his arrest by the Government of India,
he could not preside over 1932 and 1933 sessions
which had been banned.
Perhaps, he tried to popularise the national
cause more than many other leaders. Pattabhi
Sitaramyya has said of him in his History
of the Congress that in the dark days
of 1932, In all moments of doubt and difficulty,
it was to him that the Congress workers turned
and were never disappointed. Although
he was a strong supporter of the Congress he
founded the Hindu Mahasabha in 1906. It was
established, according to its supporters, to
oppose not the just claims of the Muslim community
but the divide and rule policy of the
Malaviya became a High Court Vakil in 1893,
but the litigants began to approach him even
while he was studying law. Cases began to pour
in from the commencement of his legal career.
His fame as a lawyer spread quickly through
the province, but though he had to look after
a large family, the prospect of becoming a prosperous
lawyer held no attraction for him. He always
gave preference to public work over his legal
work. Not unoften he sent his would-be clients
to other lawyers.
He practically suspended his legal practice
in order to collect funds for the MacDonnell
University Boarding House which was built in
1903. He virtually withdrew from the legal profession
in 1909, but he made an exception in 1922 in
regard to the appeal of 225 persons condemned
to death in connection with the Chauri Chaura
riots (Gorakhpur District, U.P.) on account
of which Mahatma Gandhi suspended the civil
disobedience movement, and saved 153 accused
from the gallows.
Malaviyas zeal for public work made him
realise the necessity of starting newspapers,
particularly in Hindi, for the education of
the public. He started the Abhyudaya as a Hindi
weekly in 1907 and made it a daily in 1915.
He also started the Maryada, a Hindi monthly,
in 1910, and when questions relating to the
peasants of Oudh came to the fore, the Kisan,
a Hindi monthly, in 1921.
He started the Leader, an English daily, on
24 October 1909. He was mainly responsible for
the collection of the funds needed to keep the
papers alive. Both the Abhyudaya and the Leader
rendered valuable service to the cause of national
freedom for nearly half a century.He was the
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hindustan
Times from 1924 to 1946.
In consequence of the active work that he did
as Senior Vice-Chairman of the Allahabad Municipality,
he was elected to the Provincial legislative
Council in 1902. The ability and independence
which marked his speeches in the Council led
to his election in 1909 to the Imperial Legislative
Council, of which he soon became one of the
most important members.