Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya was one of the most renowned and popular leaders who dominated the national scene during the Indian independence movement. He was a well-known educationists, and also a politician who became the President of the Indian National Congress on several occasions. He was respectfully addressed as ‘Pandit’, and ‘Mahamana’. The latter title was conferred on him by Rabindranath Tagore.
He was the founder of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at Varanasi in 1916, which is one the largest university in the world. He was also a founder and was instrumental in the existence of many English and Hindi newspaper. He was one of the founders of Scouting in India. Pandit Malviya was posthumously honored with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 2014.
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya was born in Allahabad, India on 25 December 1861. His father was Pandit Brij Nath, was a Sanskrit scholar and used to recite the Srimad Bhagavat, and his mother was Moona Devi. He changed his surname from Chaturvedi to ‘Malviya’ as his ancestors hailed from Malwa, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
Malaviya had his schooling at Hardeva’s Dharma Gyanopadesh Pathshala, and at another school run by Vidha Vardini Sabha. Later, he joined Allahabad Zila School where he started writing poems under the pen name Makarand, which were published in ‘Harischandra Chandrika’ and ‘Hindi Pradeepa’.
In 1879, Malaviya passed matriculation from the Muir Central College. He got a monthly scholarship which enabled him to complete his B.A. at the University of Calcutta. Despite his wish to study further, due to family compulsions he had to take up a job as an assistant master at the Govt High School in Allahabad, in 1884.
In December 1886, Malaviya attended the 2nd Indian National Congress session in Calcutta chaired by Dadabhai Naoroji. Malviya spoke on the issue of representation in Councils, which impressed everyone very much.
In July 1887, he left his school job and joined as the editor of the nationalist weekly, Hindustan, which he made into a daily newspaper. After two and a half years, he left for Allahabad to join L.L.B., during which he began co-editing The Indian Opinion, an English daily. In 1891, after getting his law degree, he started practising law at Allahabad District Court, and later moved to Allahabad High Court in 1893.
In 1909, Malaviya became the President of the Indian National Congress. He also gave up his practice of Law in 1911, and resolved to serve the cause of education and social-service. He belonged to the moderate group and opposed the separate electorates for Muslims under the Lucknow Pact of 1916.
He was made the President of INC again in 1918. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1912 and when in 1919 it was converted to the Central Legislative Assembly he continued to remain a member till 1926.
In 1924, following the Chauri-chaura case, when 170 freedom fighters were convicted to be hanged, he appeared before the court, and got 155 of them acquitted, and 15 had their sentences were also commuted from death to life-imprisonment.
In 1928 he joined Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru and others to protest against the Simon Commission. In 1932, he supported the “Buy Indian” movement, and also a delegate at the Second Round Table Conference in 1931.
In 1932, he was appointed as the President of Congress, but during the Civil Disobedience Movement, was arrested along with 450 other Congress volunteers in Delhi.
On 25 September 1932, Poona Pact was signed between Dr. Ambedkar (on behalf of the depressed classes among Hindus) and Malaviya (on behalf of the other Hindus).
In 1933, at Calcutta, Malaviya was again appointed as the President of the Congress, thus becoming the only leader before Independence to be appointed for four terms.
In protest against the Communal Award which sought to provide separate electorates for minorities, Malaviya left the Congress and started the Congress Nationalist Party, which contested the 1934 elections to the central legislature and won 12 seats.
Contributions to Journalism
Besides editing the Hindustan and the Indian Opinion in 1897 and 1891; in 1907, Malaviya started his own Hindi weekly “Abhyudaya” and was also its editor.
To protest against the Press Act and Newspaper Act in 1908, Malaviyaji with the help of Motilal Nehru started a highly influential, English daily newspaper the “Leader” in 1909 from Allahabad. In 1910, he started the Hindi paper ‘Maryada’.
In 1924, Malaviya with the help of national leaders Lala Lajpat Rai and industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla, acquired Hindustan Times and saved it from an untimely demise. He was also the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946. He also helped the launch of its Hindi edition ‘Hindustan Dainik’ in 1936. These newspapers were later owned by the Birla family.
In 1933, Malaviya started Sanatana Dharma from BHU, a magazine dedicated to religious, dharmic interests.
Founder of Banaras Hindu University
He founded the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at Varanasi in 1916, which was created under the B.H.U. Act, 1915. It is the largest residential university in Asia and one of the largest in the world, having over 40,000 students across arts, sciences, engineering, medical, agriculture, performing arts, law and technology from all over the world. He was also the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University from 1919–1938.
Other Social Work
Malaviya also contributed to the removal of untouchability, and supported Gandhi’s Harijan movement by founding the Harijan Sevak Sangh in 1933 at a meeting that he presided. He also followed a Hindu method of giving Mantradīkshā to untouchables. He also supported their entry in any Hindu temples.
Scouting in India was started during his time and Malaviya became the first Chief Scout; and also started an organization called All India Seva Samiti in 1913.
Pandit Malaviya gave the slogan “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth alone will triumph) at the 1918 Delhi session of the Indian National Congress, which he presided.
He also started the tradition of Ganga Aarti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar; which is performed till date.
In 1878, when he was 16, he was married to Kumari Kundan Devi of Mirzapur. They had five sons and five daughters, only four sons; Ramakant, Mukund, Radhakant and Govind survived and only two daughters Rama and Malati lived. His youngest son, Pt. Govind Malaviya was a Freedom Fighter; the Vice-Chancellor of BHU and a Member of Parliament till his death in 1961.
He passed away in Varanasi on November 12, 1946 at the age of 84.
Quotes by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
“If you admit internal purity of human soul, you or your religion can never get impure or defiled in any way by touch or association with any man.”
“I implore all Hindus and Mussalmans, Sikhs, Christians and Parsees and all other countrymen to sink all communal differences and to establish political unity among all sections of the people.”
“Let righteousness and Dharma prevail; and all communities and societies progress. Let our beloved Motherland regain its lost glory, and the sons of Bharat be victorious.”
“We believe religion to be the surest foundation of character and the truest source of human happiness. We believe patriotism to be a powerful elevating influence which inspires men to high-minded unselfish action.”
The nation remembers Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya as the most eminent educationist in India and many Engineering Institutes as well as Campuses and building in educational institutes have been named after him. The Indian Postal Department issued postage stamp in 1961 to celebrate his 100th birth centenary and again in 2011 to celebrate his 150th birth anniversary.
The first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad, unveiled Mahamana’s life size portrait at the Central Hall of Parliament; and in 1961, on his birth centenary, a life-size statue was unveiled at the entrance of BHU. In 2008, on his birth anniversary, the “Malaviya Smriti Bhawan” in Delhi was inaugurated by the President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
On December 24, 2014, a day before his 153rd Birth Anniversary, Madan Mohan Malaviya was honored with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor. In 2016, Mahamana Express train, between Delhi and Varansi, was named after him.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah