Patriots > Early Nationalist and Moderates > Madan mohan Malaviya
Malaviya,Madan Mohan (1861-1946)

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 Mohan’s ancestors were poor but had a good social status and were known for their Sanskrit scholarship.

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 Hardeva’s 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 his parents.

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 Mohan’s mother, Moona Devi, came to her son’s 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 was

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 British Government.

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.

Malaviya’s 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.

1 2