Patriots > Freedom Struggle under Mahatma Gandhi > Patwardhan, Achyut Sitaram
Patwardhan,(Bhai) Achyut Sitaram (1905 - ? )
Achyut Sitaram Patwardhan, alias Bhai Achyut Patwardhan, was born on 5 February 1905. The general way of writing full names in Maharashtra is first one’s own name then the father’s name and last the family name or surname, like Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Lately a few have started dropping the father’s name like Madhu Limaye, Bal Thakare and others. Achyut followed this new style. Thirty years back all leftists were for some years called ‘Bhais’ (brothers’) like Bhai Dange, Bhai Randive, etc. Hence the name Bhai Achyut Patwardhan came into vogue. Nowadays the appellation ‘Bhai’ has gone into disuse.

Achyut's father, Hari Keshav Patwardhan, was a prosperous legal practitioner at Ahmednagar. He had six sons of whom Achyut was the second. When Achyut was a boy of four years, Sitaram Patwardhan, a retired Deputy Educational Inspector, adopted him. Sitaram died in 1917, leaving considerable property for Achyut. Patwardhans are amongst the talented Chitpavan Brahmins who migrated from the Konkan region to all parts of Maharashtra and formed mostly the English-educated gentry from the end of the last century till recent times.

After finishing his primary and secondary education at Ahmednagar, Achyut passed the B. A. and M. A. examination from the Central Hindu College of Benares. His subject was Economics and he obtained a first class. Achyut’s own and adoptive fathers were both Theosophists and, therefore, he was sent to the college founded by Dr. Annie Besant. He was in contact with Dr. G. S. Arundale, the Theosophist Principal of the college, Dr. Annie Besant and Professor Telang. Their influence made him studious, meditative and ascetic. It must also be the reason of his life-long bachelorship.

After passing his M. A. he worked as Professor of Economics at the College till 1932. During this period he thrice visited England and other European countries and came in contact with Socialist leaders and scholars. He studied Communist and Socialist literature, resigned his Professorship and plunged in 1932 into Gandhiji’s civil disobedience movement. He was imprisoned several times during the next ten years.

His aim in joining the Congress, like his associates Acharya Narendra Deo, Jaya Prakash Narayan and others, was to turn the Congress to Socialism. In 1934 he and his associates in jail formed the Congress Socialistic Party with a view to working for socialistic objectives from within the Congress. Achyut was taken on the CongressWorking Committee by
Nehru in 1936, but he resigned in a few months and thereafter resisted Nehru’s invitations to join it. From 1935 to 1941 he organised Shibirs, i.e., education camps of young men, to teach them Socialism and to prepare them for socialistic activities.

He took a prominent part in the ‘Quit India’ movement which started in 1942.
In 1945-46 he went underground, and evading arrest, he ably directed the movement of a parallel government mainly in the Satara district. He was called thereafter by many as ‘Sataryacha Sinha’ (The Lion of Satara). The parallel government was established by terrorist methods. It was called ‘Patri Sarkar’. ‘Patri’ was the name given to the terrible and torturous punishments administered to Government servants and people who dared to obstruct the parallel government.

These punishments disabled people for life. The ring-leader of the gangs who looted Government offices, treasuries and trains was Nana Patil. The parallel government thus collected a loot of more than a lakh. Some of the associates in these atrocities were mere desperadoes who knew little of politics or socialism. The Government penetrated into the villages where the Government machinery broke down completely.

Achyut personally served the workers in this movement by washing their clothes and cooking their food. He became a popular hero thereafter, not so much for his Socialism as for his bravery and skill in carrying out this underground movement and establishing people’s government in the Satara district for over two years.

Annual Sessions of the Congress Socialist Party were held from 1934 onwards. But it was found difficult for Achyut and his co-workers to promote Socialism from within the Congress. In 1947 they formed the Socialist Party of India, independently of the Congress. In 1950 Achyut retired from politics and worked again as Professor in the Central Hindu College till 1966. Since then he was passing an entirely secluded and retired life in Poona, not appearing in public and not even answering correspondence.

All the Patwardhan brothers were good-looking, with a fair complexion. Achyut was always simple in his dress and habits. His speeches in Marathi, Hindi and English were appealing, pointed and well reasoned. He has little liking for music, art or drama. ‘The Communal Triangle of India’, written in collaboration with Ashok Mehta and published in 1942, is the only publication to his credit.
Author : G. V. Ketkar