Moreshwar Vasudeo Abhyankar - 29 August 1886

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Moreshwar Vasudeo Abhyankar - 29 August 1886

Moreshwar was born in the Dhanodi village of Wardha District on 29 August 1886. His father Vasudeorao alias Dadasaheb was a rich Malguzar, His mother too came of a rich family. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Moreshwarpant lived luxuriously throughout his life. He had two sisters and two brothers.

Young Moreshwar did his primary education at Dhanodi and joined Middle School at Bhandara. In 1898 he went to Nagpur for higher education. He passed the Matriculation examination in 1901 after one failure, and joined the Morris College. Having failed in the First Year, he sailed for England in 1906 to become a Barrister. In 1909 he returned to India as a Barrister.

In 1905 he was married to Ramabai, daughter of a leading pleader of Wardha. Moreshwarpant was blessed with three daughters and two sons, of whom Sarojini, Kamalabai and Vasudeorao are alive.

When in England, he came in contact with Dadasaheb Khaparde, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpatrai. After returning to Nagpur, he started his legal practice. His keen interest in politics brought him in contact with Dadasaheb Udhoji and Dr. Moonje. But it was Lokamanya Tilak whom he regarded as his guru. He toured with Tilak the whole of Berar and Madhya Pradesh advocating his Home Rule Movement.

In the Amritsar Congress he opposed Gandhiji’s resolution regarding acceptance of the Reforms of 1919. He did not favour the boycotting of educational institutions and Courts. He frankly thought that spiritualism should not be mixed up with politics. After the Gaya Congress of 1922 he joined the Swarajists. He led the protest march against the Simon Commission. He plunged into the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930-32 and courted arrest.

Abhyankar joined the Hindu Mahasabha in 1922 taking it as a social organisation but left it in 1927 when it got a political colouring.

Abhyankar hated the British Imperialists but admire their democracy. Influenced by Western thought, he was rational in his approach to social problems. He did not believe in the caste- system and out-dated rituals. He advocated equality of status for women. He was President of the Harijan Seva Mandal. He also held high positions in the Congress party.

By his impressive personality, tall stature, heroic spirit and patriotism he was truly a lion among men, “Nara Kesari”.

(S. A. Deshpande) B. K. Apte



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

Darbar Gopaldas - 19 December 1887

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Darbar Gopaldas - 19 December 1887

Darbar Gopaldas was born on 19 December 1887 at Vaso in the Nadiad taluka of Gujarat. His maternal grandfather, who was a Talukdar of the VIth Order, adopted Gopaldas as he had no children of his own. On his grandfather’s death, Gopaldas became the ruler of a small principality consisting of Dhasa, Rayasankali and Vaso. Gandhiji conferred upon him the title of ‘Darbar’. By caste he was a Patidar and belonged to a landowning family. Gopaldas was married twice, first at the age of 11 and, after his first wife’s death, a second time in 1912 to Bhaktiba, daughter of Zaverbhai Nathabhai, Diwan of Thakore of Limbi State in Kathiawar.

Gopaldas was educated in a local primary school at Vaso and in a secondary school at Baroda. He joined the Baroda College in 1907 but left in 1911 when he succeeded his grandfather. The most overpowering influence in his life was that of Gandhiji who transformed Gopaldas from a prince to a nationalist leader. Motibhai Amin, the educationist, social reformer and founder of the library movement in Baroda State, influenced Gopaldas’s social and educational thinking. His political career was influenced by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and also by Vithalbhai Patel.

Darbar Gopaldas’s activities in the nationalist movement extended for thirty years, from 1920 to 1951. It started with his refusal to contribute to the World War I Fund which was almost compulsory for the rulers of Indian States. His principality observed a strike in protest against the Rowlatt Act. In 1920 Gopaldas attended a meeting addressed by Gandhiji at Vadhavan for collecting contributions for the Tilak Fund, and when volunteers began the collection, the Darbar removed his golden anklet, a royal insignia, and quietly put it in the collection bag. From then onwards he made no secret of his sympathies with the nationalist movement, and in 1920 invited a Harijan Conference in his State. He started wearing khadi and presided over meetings advocating boycott of foreign goods.

His nationalist activities and his ignoring and defying the warnings of the Political Agent led to the loss of his State in 1922. With the loss of his State, Darbar Gopaldas became a full-time political worker. He took an active part in the Borsad Satyagraha (1923), Bardoli Satyagraha (1928), Dandi March, Individual Civil Disobedience and Quit India Movement. In 1938, as Chairman of the Reception Committee, Gopaldas took a leading part in the Haripura session of the Congress.

Before Independence, Darbar Gopaldas was an active organiser of the States People’s Movement in Baroda, Laktar, Limbi and Rajkot. He often presided over the Baroda Praja Mandal Conferences and Kathiawar Political Conferences. After 1947 he used his personal influence in bringing the small States of Kathiawar and Gujarat within the Union of Saurashtra. When the Nawab of Junagadh declined to join, the Darbar took a leading part in organising the Arzi Hakoomat, which finally succeeded in getting Junagadh to accede to*the Indian Union. In 1946 Gopaldas was given back his State, but he handed it over to the government of free India.

In the few years during which Darbar Gopaldas ruled over his State, he was in many ways an ideal ruler. He introduced land reforms, made attempts to remove untouchability and did relief work during famines, floods and plague. In 1947 when Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in his principality, he immediately rushed there and tried to reduce communal tensions.

In 1915 Darbar Gopaldas helped in establishing the first pre-primary school of Gujarat run on the Montessori method in Vaso. Both the Vithal Kanya Vidyalaya at Nadiad and the Vallabh Kanya Vidyalaya at Rajkot owed much to him. He generously patronised libraries and schools. Education of girls and adult education programmes received his whole-hearted support.

The Darbar’s views on social reform were influenced first by Motibhai Amin and later by Gandhiji. He attended inter-caste marriages as a matter of principle and tried to prevent child marriages and encourage widow remarriages. He also made an effort to improve the position of the Harijans. He was broad-minded and catholic in his religious outlook and had friends following different religions. He was an ardent advocate of pre-primary education and of basic education.

A dedicated disciple of Gandhiji, Darbar Gopaldas was simple in dress and appearance, and his colleagues uniformly praise his high sense of duty, generosity and deep patriotism.

(Kumud Prasanna) Aparna Bose



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

Motibhai Amin - 11 November 1673

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 Motibhai Amin - 11 November 1673

Motibhai Amin, son of Sm. Jeeba and Narasimhabhai Amin, was born at Alindra, South Gujarat, in the house of his maternal uncle on November 11, 1673. The Amin family of the Leua Patidar community hailed from Vaso, a town in South Gujarat. Motibhai was married to Sm. Roopha at the age of six in 1879. He passed Matriculation in 1894, securing a scholarship from the Vaso English School. He joined the Baroda College in 1895 and took his B.A. with History and Roman Law as special subjects in 1900.

Being of the conviction that social awakening should precede political emancipation, Motibhai rejected the offer of a coveted post in the Gaekwad’s administrative service and chose to become a school teacher at Baroda in 1901 and later at Patan in 1902. He was appointed Head Master of the English High School at Petlad in 1905. He considered hostel life and library habit important for young students and encouraged local people to organise these two institutions. He himself started the Simdar Pustakalaya at Vaso in 1889 and the Mitra Mandal Pustakalaya at Petlad in 1906.

Motibhai was appointed Assistant Director of Libraries, Baroda State, in 1911; Assistant Curator in charge of District and Travelling Libraries in 1921; Honorary Secretary, Baroda State Library; and President, Baroda Pustakalaya Sahayak Sahakari Mandal in 1935. One thousand one hundred and sixteen villages contributed their mite to have a library each, thanks to the persuasion of Motibhai.

In 1925 he organised the first Baroda State Library Conference and published a classified list of 8000 Gujarati books, in 1929. He also encouraged his friend Bhikshu Akhandananda of Sastu Sahitya Prakashan to publish and make available at nominal price the originals and translations of works of lasting importance.

Following Gokhale’s advice of doing intensive work in a small unit, Motibhai, while concentrating on the home town of Vaso, dedicated himself to the comprehensive development of the Charotar region in South Gujarat. He established the Vaso Young Men’s Association in 1913; Vaso Education Society, 1916; Charotar Yuvak Mandal, 1917; Charotar Education Co-Operative Credit Society, 1920; Charotar Education Society, 1921; Charotar Boarding House at Baroda, 1929; Vaso Co-operative Bank, 1936; Granthavardhak Sabha, Vaso, 1937; and Charotar Rushi Mandal in 1937. The moral and material support of Motibhai enabled many a brilliant student to pursue higher studies in India and abroad. Social service was his second nature and due to the exertions of Motibhai much progress was made in the Charotar region in the fields of education, eradication of adult illiteracy, untouchability, obsolete customs and agricultural debts. Under his guidance Vaso could boast of child education classes run according to the Montessori system as early as 1915.

Paying tribute to Motibhai’s signal services to the Charotar, Gandhiji described him as ‘Charotar nu Moti’, meaning ‘Gem of Charotar’. The Akhil Hind Gram Pustakalaya Parishad, recognising Motibhai’s services to the library movement, awarded him the title of ‘Granthalaya Udyama Pitamaha’ in 1933. The Gujarat Vernacular Society honoured him by bestowing Honorary Membership of the Society, the only other individual to be so honoured being Gandhiji. 




Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972


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Ram Ganesh Gadkari was born on 26 May 1885 in a Kayastha Prabhu family at Ganadevi in the Navsari District of the former Baroda State which at present forms part of the Surat district of Gujarat. The Kayastha Prabhus are Kshatriyas. Gadkari’s father, Ganesh, was in the Baroda State service. The family was a lower middle-class one. Ram had two brothers, one older and one younger. His father Ganesh died when Ram was only ten. His mother Saraswatibai with her three sons came to Karjat in Kolaba district. For the English education of her sons Saraswatibai came to Poona with them. Owing to poverty, Ram had to take up odd jobs. He passed the Matriculation in 1904 as an external student. He failed in the first-year college examination which he managed to pass five or six years later. He worked in the Kirloskar Natak Mandali’s dramatic troupe as a teacher of boys (1905- 09). Thereafter he worked on the editorial staff of the Poona daily, the Dayanaprakash for eighteen months.

He avidly read Marathi and English dramas and poems. While working in the Dramatic Company he came in contact with reputed Marathi drama-writers. He started to write poems, dramas and humorous essays in 1911, and in six yean he achieved topmost popularity and fame. His poems were published under the pseudonym ‘Govindraja’ and humorous essays under the pseudonym ‘Balakram’. Both were hailed with admiration by the public. His long poem ‘Murali’, depicting Krishna-Radha love, was the best. In his humorous essays he exposed to ridicule the prevalent social evils. His first drama, ‘Prema-Sanyasa’ (1911), dealt with the problem of re-marriage; and his second, ‘Punya-Prabhava’ (1913), highlighted wife’s faithfulness. His ‘Ekacha Pyala’ (only one glass) which came out in 1917 was on the evil of drinking and secured greatest popularity. His next drama, ‘Bhava Bandhana’ (1918), was of a mediocre quality. Two more dramas, ‘Raja-Sanyasa’ and ‘Vedya- cha Bazar’, which he had started to write remained unfinished.

‘Ekacha Pyala’ was staged 259 times in ten years after his death and gave the Dramatic Company an income of two lakhs and thirty- four thousand rupees.

        He was self-centred and easy-going. He married two wives, Sitabai (1904) and Ramabai (1917). Though a nationalist and a reformer, he never stirred out of his literary field. Several prominent writers after him became his devotees and published many of his works. Gadkari’s contribution to literature has been admiringly reviewed in several publications. No other Marathi writer has been so much written about. He died (23 January 1919) when he was barely thirty-four and did not survive to enjoy this wide popularity.


(C. B. Khairmoday) G. V. Ketkar



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 2 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

Mahabir Prasad Dwivedi (Pandit) 1862 - 1938

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Mahabir Prasad Dwivedi (Pandit)

Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi full biography and he wrote books

Mahabir Prasad Dwivedi (also known as Acharya) was born in 1862 in a lower middle class Brahmin family of village Daulatpur in the district of Rae Bareli (in modern Uttar Pradesh). His father Ram Sahai began service in the Indian army, but his unit mutinied in 1857 and Ram Sahai fled back to his village almost in a destitute condition. Later he got employment in Bombay where he passed the rest of his life. Dwivedi’s grandfather was a scholar the traditional orthodox type, and as such vestiges of scholarly tradition had persisted in the family which the child Mahabir Prasad imbibed.

Mahabir Prasad was married but had no children. Mahabir Prasad’s earliest schooling was at home in Sanskrit religious texts and the ‘Amar Kosh’. He read Urdu in village school and at the age of thirteen joined the district High School to learn English. But owing to extreme poverty, his academic career did not last long, and he had to leave school even before matriculation. He joined the railway service as a telegraphist, and it was during hu stay at Hoshangabad that he came into contact with educated people and his innate love for learning found a concrete expression. Later in Jhansi he developed his taste for scholarship and made a deep study of Hindi literature and the English works of Bacon, Mill and Herbert Spencer. He cherished the ambition of being a poet and learnt prosody, but did not pursue this line far enough. He cultivated a good prose style and translated some English classics into Hindi.

It was in 1903 that he entered journalism and became the editor of the Saraswati at Kanpur. It is as a literary critic and journalist that Dwivedi made his impression on the public life of the country. His chief field of work lay in Uttar Pradesh, and continued from 1903 till his death.

Mahabir Prasad was essentially a self-made man and derived little from home influences or close contact with others. He was considerably helped in the making of his character and personality by his studies, specially of the Ramayana of Tulsidas, poetical works of Harish Chandra and the writings of Mill. A peculiar mixture of orthodoxy and liberalism is therefore evident in his thought and actions. He played scarcely any significant part in the national movement, for politics was not his field of work. His contribution was mainly in the realm of the progress of Hindi prose, which he helped to develop as editor of the premier Hindi monthly journal, the Saraswati. He was a great stickler for Sanskritisation and moulded the Hindi style in the frame-work of Sanskrit grammar and etymology. He has left a great mark on Hindi literature and its devotees, and for his services to this cause he was given the appellation of “Acharya” or “Great Teacher”. As the editor of the Saraswati, he corrected the writings of others and introduced a style which bears his appellation, and is based-largely on Sanskrit. His poetic works were modelled on Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti; but it is largely as an essayist that Dwivedi has a place in Hindi literature. His essays arc devoid of originality but convey information culled from Western literature and science. He wrote profusely, translating Sanskrit and English literary pieces, communicating knowledge through essays or children’s books and commenting on style and form of language. More than a journalist, Dwivedi is known for his literary production and influence on contemporary Hindi literary style.

As a journalist, he occasionally commented on contemporary political, economic, social and international affairs, but there was little of originality in his observations. In the field of nationalism, he reiterated the conventional ideas about the utilitarian and materialistic character of the educational system inaugurated by the British Government, the poverty and backwardness of the rural population as compared to the urban professional classes, disunity among the Indians and the apathy of the Englishmen to the Indians. He advocated the cause of peasant welfare, largely as a result of his close contact with them and insight into their miserable conditions. He spent the last 18 years of his life in his village home. He had respect for Mahatma Gandhi, but it is doubtful if he had any living faith in his ideas. There is little evidence of any contribution to social reform, for Dwivedi remained orthodox in his personal conduct. He died in 1938, highly respected as a leader of reform and progress of Hindi. In recognition of his services, he was given an ‘Abhinandan Granth’ on his 70th birthday by the Nagri Pracharini Sabha at Benares, which ended his long feud with the Sabha since 1904.

(Mantosh Singh) Bisheshwar Prasad



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

Surendranath Dwivedy - 11 February 1913

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Surendranath Dwivedy

Surendranath Dwivedy was born on 11 February 1913 in the village Khandasahi under Salepur Police Station in the district of Cuttack, Orissa. He comes of a lower middle class Brahmin family. His father, Maguni Dwivedy, was an agriculturist. His mother’s name was Labh- mi Devi. Surendranath married in 1948, Gayatri Devi, daughter of Antaryani Panda, a well-known nationalist worker in Orissa.

Surendranath Dwivedy did not have much formal education, being drawn into politics quite early in life. While a student at the Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack, he joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, which abruptly ended his formal education. Later on, however, in spite of his busy political life, he read extensively not only Oriya but also English and European literature. He was deeply influenced by the writings of Swami Vivekananda, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Romain Rolland, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Maxim Gorky, Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky. Besides numerous journalistic writings, he has written a book, ‘Asia on the Path of Socialism’, and has also translated into Oriya some of the writings of Jawaharlal Nehru.

His political initiation was during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, in which he courted imprisonment. He came into prominence at quite an early age. In the thirties he chose the Peasants front as his sphere of work, and was General Secretary of the Peasants’ Organisation in Orissa from 1933 to 1938. He was also active in the popular movement in the Princely States of Orissa from 1938 to the merger of the States in 1947. From 1940 to 1948 he was the General Secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee and also a member of the All-India Congress Committee. He joined the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was one of the leaders of the movement in Orissa. He was arrested and sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment.

After independence, because of differences with the Congress policy, Surendranath Dwivedy, like many other old workers of the Congress in different parts of India, left the organisation and joined the Praja Socialist Party. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1957 to 1962 and of the Lok Sabha from 1962 to 1971. He was chosen leader of the PSP Party in the Lok Sabha. In 1963 he visited U.S.A. as a member of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation. He also visited a large number of countries in Asia and Europe.

Surendranath Dwivedy has been an active journalist for many years. He is the founder editor of the Krushaka, an Oriya weekly devoted to the cause of the uplift of the peasants. He has also contributed numerous articles to different papers on current political and economic problems. Besides these serious writings, he has also written a number of children’s books in Oriya which are very popular.

Surendranath Dwivedy is not interested in conventional religion, but he is greatly attached to the Ramakrishna Mission, mainly for the social service work which the Mission undertakes. He holds liberal views on social reform. He condemns the caste-system and has thrown away his own sacred thread, symbol of his Brahmin status. He is also opposed to untouchability and has fought hard for throwing open the Hindu temples to the Harijans.

(J. C. Rath) P. Mukherjee


Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

Abdul Aziz Mian - January 1881

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Abdul Aziz Mian

Mian Abdul Aziz was born in Lahore in January 1881. He was the fourth son of Haji Shaikh Muhammad Gaus, a prominent Ulema of Lahore. He was a traditional Indian who started his education under a Maulvi in a small Muktab and then entered a school in Lahore. He passed the Entrance Examination at the age of thirteen, and in 1899 passed the B.A. Examination from the Punjab University, Lahore, topping the list of the successful candidates. He took his M.A. in 1901 from the Government College, Lahore.

In public life Mian Abdul Aziz held a very prominent position in the Punjab. He started his life as a Lecturer in the Islamia College, Lahore. But after a short time he entered the Punjab Civil Service in 1903. He served the Government of the Punjab in various capacities and retired as Financial Commissioner in 1936. In spite of his long service under the Government he was a nationalist, as was clear from some of his speeches in the Legislative Assembly where he served as a nominated member for a number of years. Although a prominent member of the Muslim League after retirement from Government service, he worked for Hindu Muslim unity. He was Secretary of the Young Muslim unity. He was Secretary of the Young Men's Muhmmedan Association. For his services to the Government, he was given the titles of Khan Sahib in 1917, Khan Bahadur in 1925, and the Order of the British Empire in 1930.

He travelled widely in Europe and America in 1926 and again went to England in 1930 during the Round Table Conference. A broadminded man, Aziz was an advocate of social reforms, like widow re-marriage and removal of untouchability, in his speeches. Though a devout Muslim, he was free from any tinge of' fanaticism. For him religion was a personal affair and had nothing to do with public life. He was very much in favour of extension of education in India, especially he wanted that people from the villages should be provided with more facilities for education.

The period of his greatest contribution to nationalism was from 1936 to 1947. It was after his retirement from Government service in 1936 that Mian Abdul Aziz started taking an active interest in the nationalist movement. He was a prominent member of the Muslim League till the partition of the country in 1947. He wanted the nationalist movement to be carried on by constitutional means, and was against, any type of violence and revolutionary activities.

He had great admiration for the Indian peasantry, and did much to publicize their cause. He pleaded in the Legislative Assembly that "one had to live with them, work with them and work for them to realise the real greatness of the men”. “What has really happened is that, on account of the very complex social and religious system, the peasant has been ground down to a kind of obedience to certain conventions which arc very difficult to get out of him. He is not given an opportunity to cultivate his intellectual capacity and latent faculties. He is not given an opportunity by the leaders of public opinion to improve himself in social matters.”

Mian Abdul Aziz genuinely endeavoured to preserve communal harmony in the province. During the critical year of 1946-47 he tried his utmost to bring about a compromise between the Congress and the League and urged the League to join the Interim Government and give it a fair trial. His efforts proved fruitless and the partition came in August 1947. He thus represented that progressive and enlightened class of Muslim leadership in the Panjab who opposed fanaticism and division of the country till events overtook the class and turned the history of India in an altogether different direction.



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972