Madan Mohan Malaviya

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

Malaviya in 1941
President of the Indian National Congress
In office
1909–10; 1918
Personal details
Born (1861-12-25)25 December 1861
Allahabad, India
Died 12 November 1946(1946-11-12) (aged 84)
Nationality Indian
Political party

Indian National Congress

All India Hindu Mahasabha
Alma mater Allahabad University
University of Calcutta
Profession Educationist
Freedom Activist
Religion Hinduism
Awards Bharat Ratna (2014) (posthumous)

Madan Mohan Malaviya ( pronunciation  (1861–1946) was an Indian educationist and politician notable for his role in the Indian independence movement and as the two time president of Indian National Congress. He was respectfully addressed as Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya[1] and also addressed as 'Mahamana'.[2]

Malaviya is most remembered as the founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at Varanasi in 1916, which was created under the B.H.U. Act, 1915. The largest residential university in Asia and one of the largest in the world,[3] having over 35,000 students across arts, sciences, engineering, medical, agriculture, performing arts, law and technology. Malaviya was Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University from 1919–1938.[4][5]

Malaviya was the founder of Ganga Mahasabha at Haridwar in 1905, Malaviya was the President of the Indian National Congress on two occasions(1909,1918). He left Congress in 1934. He was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. He was a president of the special session of Hindu Mahasabha in Gaya in 1922 and in Kashi in 1923.

Malaviya was one of the founders of Scouting in India.[6] He also founded a highly influential, English-newspaper, The Leader published from Allahabad in 1909.[7] He was also the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946. His efforts resulted in the launch of its Hindi edition named Hindustan Dainik in 1936.[8]

Malaviya was posthumously conferred with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, on 24 December 2014, a day before his 153rd Birth Anniversary.[9]

Early life and education

Malaviya was born in Allahabad, North-Western Provinces, India on 25 December 1861,[10] to Pandit Brij Nath and Moona Devi. His ancestors, known for their Sanskrit scholarship, originally hailed from Malwa (Ujjain), Madhya Pradesh and hence came to be known as 'Malaviyas'. Their original surname was Chaturvedi. His father was also a learned man in Sanskrit scriptures, and used to recite the Srimad Bhagavat.[11]

Malaviya was traditionally educated at two Sanskrit Pathshalas and later continued education at an English school.[12] Malaviya started his schooling at Hardeva's Dharma Gyanopadesh Pathshala, where he completed his primary education and later another school run by Vidha Vardini Sabha. He then joined Allahabad Zila School (Allahabad District School), where he started writing poems under the pen name Makarand which were published in journals and magazines.

Malaviya matriculated in 1879 from the Muir Central College, now known as Allahabad University. Harrison College's Principal provided a monthly scholarship to Malaviya, whose family had been facing financial hardships, and he was able to complete his B.A. at the University of Calcutta.

Although he wanted to pursue an M.A. in Sanskrit, his family conditions did not allow it and his father wanted him to take his family profession of Bhagavat recital, thus in July 1884 Madan Mohan Malaviya started his career as an assistant master at the Govt High School in Allahabad.[12]

Political career

Malaviya with Gandhi.

In December 1886, Malaviya attended the 2nd Indian National Congress session in Calcutta under chairmanship of Dadabhai Naoroji, where he spoke on the issue of representation in Councils. His address not only impressed Dadabhai but also Raja Rampal Singh, ruler of Kalakankar estate near Allahabad, who started a Hindi weekly Hindustan but was looking for a suitable editor to turn it into a daily. Thus in July 1887, he left his school job and joined as the editor of the nationalist weekly, he remained here for two and a half years, and left for Allahabad to join L.L.B., it was here that he was offered co-editorship of The Indian Opinion, an English daily. After finishing his law degree, he started practising law at Allahabad District Court in 1891, and moved to Allahabad High Court by December 1893.[13][14]

Malaviya became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1909 and 1918. He was a moderate leader and opposed the separate electorates for Muslims under the Lucknow Pact of 1916. The "Mahamana" title was conferred to him by Rabindranath Tagore.

To redeem his resolve to serve the cause of education and social-service he renounced his well established practice of law in 1911, for ever. In order to follow the tradition of Sannyasa throughout his life, he pursued the avowed commitment to live on the society's support. But when 177 freedom fighters were convicted to be hanged in the Chauri-chaura case he appeared before the court, despite his vow and got acquitted 156 freedom fighters.[15]

He remained a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1912 and when in 1919 it was converted to the Central Legislative Assembly he remained its member as well, till 1926.[16] Malaviya was an important figure in the Non-cooperation movement.[17] However, he was opposed to the politics of appeasement and the participation of Congress in the Khilafat movement.

In 1928 he joined Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru and many others in protesting against the Simon Commission, which had been set up by the British to consider India's future. Just as the "Buy British" campaign was sweeping England, he issued, on 30 May 1932, a manifesto urging concentration on the "Buy Indian" movement in India.[18] Malaviya was a delegate at the Second Round Table Conference in 1931.

However, during the Civil Disobedience Movement, he was arrested on 25 April 1932, along with 450 other Congress volunteers in Delhi, only a few days after he was appointed in 1932 at Delhi as the President of Congress after the arrest of Sarojini Naidu.[19] In 1933, at Calcutta, Malaviya was again appointed as the President of the Congress. Thus before Independence, Malaviya was the only leader of the Indian National Congress who was appointed as its President for four terms.

On 25 September 1932, an agreement known as Poona Pact was signed between Dr. Ambedkar (on behalf of the depressed classes among Hindus) and Malaviya (on behalf of the other Hindus). The agreement gave reserved seats for the depressed classes in the Provisional legislatures, within the general electorate and not by creating a separate electorate. Due to the pact, the depressed class received 148 seats in the legislature, instead of the 71 as allocated in the Communal Award proposal of the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. After the pact, the Communal Award was modified to include the terms as per the pacts. The text uses the term "Depressed Classes" to denote Untouchables among Hindus who were later called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under India Act 1935, and the later Indian Constitution of 1950. [20]

In protest against the Communal Award which sought to provide separate electorates for minorities, Malaviya along with Madhav Shrihari Aney left the Congress and started the Congress Nationalist Party. The party contested the 1934 elections to the central legislature and won 12 seats.[21]

Journalistic career

Malaviya started his journalistic career as the Editor of the Hindi daily '‘Hindosthan’' in 1887. Raja Rampal Singh of Kalakankar (Pratapgadh District) impressed by the speech and the personality of Malaviyaji, during the 2nd Congress Session in Calcutta held in 1886. requested Malaviya to take up this position.[22][23]

Then in 1889, he became the Editor of the "Indian Opinion". After the incorporation of "Indian Opinion" with the "Advocate" of Lucknow, Malaviya started his own Hindi weekly "Abhyudaya"(1907-1909 under his editorship).[12]

Also, his poems (sawaiyas) were published (sometime in 1883-84) under the pseudonym of ‘Makrand’ in ‘Harischandra Chandrika’ magazine (brought out by the famous Bharatendu), articles on religious and contemporary subjects published in ‘Hindi Pradeepa’.[22]

When the English Government tried to bring in the Press Act and Newspaper Act in 1908, Malaviyaji started a campaign against the Act and called an All India Conference in Allahabad. He then realized the need of an English Newspaper to make the campaign effective throughout the country. As a result, with the help of Motilal Nehru he started an English daily the "Leader" in 1909, where he was Editor 1909-1911 and President 1911-1919.[22]

In 1910, Malaviyaji started the Hindi paper `Maryada'.[22]

In 1924, Malaviya along with the help of national leaders Lala Lajpat Rai and M. R. Jayakar and industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla, acquired Hindustan Times and saved it from an untimely demise.[24] Malaviya raised Rs.50,000 rupees to acquire the Hindustan Times and industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla paid most of the cash. Malaviya was the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946. His efforts resulted in the launch of its Hindi edition 'Hindustan' in 1936. The paper is now owned by the Birla family.

In 1933, Malaviya started Sanatana Dharma from BHU, a magazine dedicated to religious, dharmic interests.[22]

Legal career

In 1891, Malaviya completed his LL.B. from Allahabad University and started practice in Allahabad District Court and then from 1893 practised at the High Court. He soon earned huge respect as one of the most brilliant lawyers of the Allahabad High Court. He gave up his legal practice when he was at his pinnacle in 1911 on his 50th birthday so that he could serve the nation thereafter.

About his legal career, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru mentions of him - ...a brilliant Civil Lawyer and Sir Mirza Ismail said - I have heard a great lawyer say that if Mr.Malaviya had so willed it, he would have been an ornament to the legal profession.[25]

Malaviya only once again donned his lawyers robe in 1924, following the Chauri Chaura incident in which a police station was attacked and arsoned in February 1922, as a result of which Mahatma Gandhi called off the then launched Non Cooperation movement. The sessions court had sent to gallows 170 persons for the attack. However, Malaviya defended them in the Allahabad High Court and was able to get 155 persons saved from the gallows. The remaining 15 also were recommended for clemency by the High Court, whereafter their sentences were also commuted from death to life-imprisonment. During these arguments, the then Chief Justice Honble Sir Grimwood Mears bowed thrice to Malaviya as a Mark of great appreciation for the sheer brilliance of his arguments.

Banaras Hindu University

In April 1911, Annie Besant met Malaviya and they decided to work for a common Hindu University at Varanasi. Besant and fellow trustees of the Central Hindu College, which she had founded in 1898, also agreed to Government of India's precondition that the college should become a part of the new University. Thus Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was established in 1916, through a Parliamentary legislation, the 'B.H.U. Act 1915', and today it remains a prominent institution of learning in India.[4][26] In 1939, he left the Vice-Chancellorship of BHU and was succeeded by S. Radhakrishnan, who later became the President of India.[27]

Spread over 16.5 square km and a student population of about 30000, BHU is the largest residential university in asia.

Social work

Malviya founded Ganga Mahasabha to oppose the damning of Ganges.He compelled the British government to sign an agreement with Ganga Mahasabha and other Hindu religious leaders on uninterrupted flow of Ganges in Haridwar and protect Ganges for future obstructions.This agreement is known as Aviral Ganga Raksha Samjhuata 1916 also known as Agreement of 1916. Malaviya played an important part in the removal of untouchability and in giving direction to the Harijan movement. The Harijan Sevak Sangh was founded at a meeting in 1933 at which Pandit Malaviya presided.[12]

Malaviya asserted - 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.[28]

To solve the problem of untouchability, Malaviya followed a Hindu method, of giving Mantradīkshā to untouchables. He said that - Mantras would be a certain means of their upliftment socially, politically and spiritually.[28]

He worked for the eradication of caste barriers in temples and other social barriers. Malaviya made massive efforts for the entry of so-called untouchables into any Hindu temple. In March 1936, Hindu Dalit (Harijan) leader P. N. Rajbhoj along with a group of 200 Dalit people demanded entry at the Kalaram Temple on a Rath Yatra day.[29] Malaviya in the presence of priests of Kalaram Temple, gave diksha to the assembled people and gave them entry into the temple.[29] Then these Dalit members also participated in the Rath Yatra of Kalaram Temple.[29]

In 1901 Malaviya established a boys' hostel named Hindu Hostel (Hindu Boarding House) in Allahabad.[30]


Though, Scouting in India was officially founded in British India in 1909, at the Bishop Cotton's Boys School in Bangalore, scouting for native Indians was started by Justice Vivian Bose, Malaviya, Hridayanath Kunzru, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Annie Besant and George Arundale. Malaviya became its first Chief Scout.

In 1913, he also started a scouting inspired organisation called All India Seva Samiti.[31]


Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering his respects to the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the entrance of Banaras Hindu University.

The slogan "Satyameva Jayate" (Truth alone will triumph) is also a legacy given to the nation by Pandit Malaviya as the President of the Indian National Congress in its session of 1918 at Delhi, by saying that this slogan from the Mundakopanishad should be the slogan for the nation.[32]

He started the tradition of Aarti at Har ki Pauri Haridwar to the sacred Ganga river which is performed till date. The Malviya Dwipa, a small island across the ghat, is named after him and carries his bust.

The Indian Postal Department issued postage stamp in his honour in 1961 to celebrate his 100th birth anniversary[33] and then in 2011 to celebrate his 150th birth centenary.[34]

Malviya Nagar in Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Dehradun, Bhopal, Durg and Jaipur are named after him. A square in main city at Jabalpur is named after him and is called Malviya chowk.Malaviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT) at Jaipur is named after him, as is Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology in Gorakhpur, UP. The Hostels of IIT Kharagpur, IIT Roorkee Saharanpur Campus and BITS Pilani, Pilani and Hyderabad campuses are also named Malviya Bhawan after him. In memory of him, Shrigoud Vidya Mandir, Indore celebrate his birth anniversary as MAHAMANA Divas on every 25 December. They have also declared a fellowship programme for poor Sanatan Vipra boys on this day.

Mahamana's life size portrait was unveiled in the Central Hall of India's Parliament by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and his life-size statue was unveiled in 1961 by the then President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in front of the BHU main gate on the occasion of his birth centenary. In front of the main Gate leading to the Assembly Hall and outside the porch, there exists a bust of Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, which was inaugurated by the former Lt. Governor of Delhi, Dr. A.N. Jha on 25 December 1971.[16]

On 25 December 2008, on his birth anniversary, the national memorial of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, "Malaviya Smriti Bhawan" was inaugurated by the then President of India A P J Abdul Kalam at 53, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, in Delhi.[35]

2011 was celebrated as his 150th birth centenary by the Government of India under the Chairmanship of India's prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who announced the establishment of a Centre for Malviya Studies at the Banaras Hindu University in addition to scholarships and education related awards in his memory, and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi released a biography of Madan Mohan Malaviya.[36]

On December 24, 2014, Madan Mohan Malaviya was honored with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.[9]

A train Mahamana Express between Delhi and Varansi has been flagged off by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 22nd Jan 2016. The train named after Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya is equipped with modern facilities such as bio-toilets in every coach and air-conditioned compartments.




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