Madan Mohan Malaviya, known as Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, also called Mahamana, was an Indian scholar, educational reformer, and leader of the Indian nationalist movement. He played a key role in the Indian independence struggle against British rule and founded the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Read here to know more about his life.
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya is known for his contribution to India’s education system and his role in the Indian Independence movement.
In 1916, he established the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), playing a significant role in the fight for Indian freedom from British domination. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya was also one of the founders of Scout and Guide in India.
Malaviya was one of the most powerful political leaders of his time and was elected Congress president on four occasions. He was conferred with the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian honor, posthumously in 2014.
The early life of Madan Mohan Malaviya
Malaviya was born in Prayagraj, India on 25 December 1861, to Pandit Brijnath and Moona Devi. Since they originally hailed from Malwa (Ujjain) in the present-day state of Madhya Pradesh, they came to be known as ‘Malaviya’.
His early education took place in Sanskrit pathshalas.
Malaviya graduated from Muir Central College, Allahabad, (now University of Allahabad) in 1879, and later completed his B.A from the University of Calcutta on a scholarship.
In 1884, he took up teaching in a local school in Allahabad.
He was a diligent scholar and instructor, but he was more attracted to politics, and he made his political debut at the 1886 Calcutta (Kolkata) session of the Indian National Congress.
The political career of Madan Mohan Malaviya
Malaviya made his political debut at the 1886 Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress.
In 1886, Malaviya attended the second Indian National Congress session in Calcutta under the chairmanship of Dadabhai Naoroji, where he spoke on the issue of representation in Councils.
In 1887, he resigned from the school and joined as editor of the nationalist weekly, Hindustan– founded by Raja Rampal Singh, ruler of Kalakankar estate near Allahabad. Malaviya worked for the week for two years.
In 1889 he started studying law in Allahabad where he was also offered the co-editorship of the English daily The Indian Opinion.
In 1891 he started practicing law in Allahabad district court and moved to Allahabad high court in 1893.
Malaviya helped establish the Hindu Mahasabha in 1906, which brought diverse local Hindu nationalist movements together.
Malaviya became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1909, a position he held until 1918. He was a moderate leader and opposed separate electorates for Muslims under the Lucknow Pact of 1916.
Gandhi ji gave him the title of “Mahamana”, meaning the great soul.
He renounced his law practice in 1911 but appeared to fight for the acquittal of freedom fighters convicted to be hanged in the Chauri-Chaura case of 1922.
He dedicated his life to the causes of education and social service.
He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1912 until 1919 when it was converted to the Central Legislative Assembly, of which he remained a member until 1926.
He was an important leader in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Malaviya opposed 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.
Malaviya was a delegate at the Second-Round table conference in 1931.
In 1932, he was appointed as the President of Congress after the arrest of Sarojini Naidu, but later he was also arrested.
In 1933, at Calcutta, Malaviya was again appointed as the President of the Congress.
- Before Independence, Malaviya was the only leader of the Indian National Congress to be appointed as its president for four terms.
In 1934, Malaviya and Madha Shrihari Aney left Congress in protest against the communal award as a result of the Poona pact between Gandhi and Ambedkar.
- They went ahead to start the Congress Nationalist party.
- The party contested the 1934 elections to the central legislature and won 12 seats.
Madan Mohan Malaviya the Journalist
Malaviya started his journalistic career as the editor of the Hindi daily Hindostan in 1887.
In 1889, he became the Editor of the English daily The Indian Opinion.
- After the incorporation of The Indian Opinion with The Advocate of Lucknow, Malaviya started his own Hindi weekly “Abhyudaya” which was under his editorship from 1907 to 1909.
He wrote poetry under the pseudonym of Markand and wrote articles on religious and contemporary subjects.
Malaviya protested against the Newspaper (Incitement to Offences) Act in 1908 and the Indian Press Act, of 1910.
In 1909, he started an English daily The Leader with the help of Motilal Nehru to fulfill the need for an English newspaper for effective campaigning in the country.
In 1910 he also started the Hindi paper Maryada.
In 1924, Malaviya along with the help of national leaders Lala Lajpat Rai, M. R. Jayakar, and industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla acquired The Hindustan Times and saved it from an untimely demise.
- He was the chairman of the Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946.
- The Hindi edition of the paper was launched in 1936.
In 1933, Malaviya started Sanatana Dharma from BHU, a magazine dedicated to religious, dharmic interests.
Malaviya the educationist
A gifted orator, he participated actively in debates on issues including free and compulsory primary education.
In 1911, Annie Besant met Malaviya and they decided to work for a common Hindu University in Varanasi.
Malaviya and Annie Besant were the principal founders of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1916.
- He served as the university’s vice-chancellor for some two decades (1919–38) and remained active at the school until his death.
- In 1939, he left the Vice-Chancellorship of BHU and was succeeded by S. Radhakrishnan, who later became the President of India.
- Malaviya’s son Pandit Govind Malaviya served as the Vice-Chancellor of BHU from 1948 to 1951.
- His grandson Justice Giridhar Malaviya is currently the Chancellor of BHU since 2018.
Malaviya founded Ganga Mahasabha to oppose the damming of the Ganga.
Malaviya played an important part in the removal of untouchability and in giving direction to the Harijan movement.
- He worked for the eradication of caste barriers in temples and other social barriers.
- Malaviya contributed significantly to ensuring the entry of the so-called untouchables into any Hindu temple.
Malaviya started an organization called All India Seva Samiti under the Sewa Bharti unit to conduct scouting activities with the support of Hridayanath Kunzru, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Annie Besant, and George Arundale.
- Scouting in India was initially introduced by Robert Baden Powell, though only British, European, and Anglo-Indian students could join the organization known as British Boy Scouts.
- Scouting for native Indians was started by Justice Vivian Bose, after independence in 1947.
- Through Malaviya’s efforts scouting units from across the sub-continent came together to create the Hindustan Scouts Association.
- Later, the Guides association in India managed by Ms. Besant also joined to form the Hindustan Scouts and Guides Association.
Legacy of Madan Mohan Malaviya
He died in 1946 at the age of 84 and is remembered for his innumerable contributions to society, education, and nationalist movement.
- He played an important role in ending the Indian indenture system, especially in the Caribbean.
- One of the most famous slogans, ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (from the Mundaka Upanishad) was said by Pandit Malaviya in the session of 1918 when he was the President of the Indian National Congress.
- He worked diligently for communal harmony.
- He was posthumously awarded the prestigious Bharat Ratna in 2014.
-Article written by Swathi Satish