‘Bharat Ratna’ means ‘Bharat Ratna’ in Hindi. Madan Mohan Malaviya was an Indian statesman, educationist, and freedom activist who lived during the British Raj. Malaviya’s long political career included four terms as President of the ‘Indian National Congress.’ He is well known for founding the ‘Banaras Hindu Institution,’ Asia’s largest residential university and one of the world’s largest (BHU). He was Vice Chancellor at BHU for almost two decades, a university with over 35,000 students with departments in sciences, medicine, engineering, technology, law, agriculture, arts, and performing arts. He was a supporter of Hindu nationalism and continued to be a member of the ‘Hindu Mahasabha,’ serving as President of two special sessions held in Gaya and Kashi. In Haridwar, he founded the ‘Ganga Mahasabha.’ Malaviya and other prominent Indian figures founded ‘Scouting in India’ as an overseas branch of the United Kingdom’s ‘Scout Association.’ He was the originator of ‘The Leader,’ an English-language newspaper based in Allahabad that grew in prominence over time. Out of respect, many referred to him as Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. Mahamana, a title bestowed by Mahatma Gandhi, was his nickname. He popularized the ‘Mundakopanishad’ slogan “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth alone shall prevail), saying that it should be the country’s slogan.
Childhood and Adolescence
Pandit Brij Nath and his wife Moona Devi had five boys and two daughters when he was born on December 25, 1861, in Allahabad, India, into a Brahmin family. His forefathers were Sanskrit intellectuals from Malwa, Madhya Pradesh, who were known as the ‘Malaviyas,’ despite their surname being Chaturvedi.
His father, a Sanskrit scholar, was a gifted Kathavachak, reciting stories from the ‘Srimad Bhagavat.’ Malaviya, like his father, desired to become a Kathavachak.
At the age of five, he began his elementary schooling in Sanskrit. He received his primary education at Pandit Hardeva’s ‘Dharma Gyanopadesh Pathshala’ and then went on to the ‘Vidha Vardini Sabha’ school. Following that, he attended ‘Allahabad Zila Institution,’ an English medium school. Here he began writing poems under the pen name ‘Makarand,’ which were ultimately published in the ‘Harischandra Chandrika’ journal in 1883-84. ‘Hindi Pradeepa’ published his articles on contemporary and religious topics.
He received his matriculation from ‘Muir Central College’ (now ‘Allahabad University’) in 1879. During a financial problem in his family, the Principal of ‘Harrison College’ assisted him with a monthly scholarship, which he used to study at the ‘University of Calcutta’ and get a B.A. degree. He intended to pursue a master’s degree in Sanskrit, but his family’s financial situation prompted him to accept a job as a teacher at the Government high school in Allahabad in July 1884, earning Rs. 40 a month.
Career of Madan Mohan Malaviya
He stated his views on representations in councils while attending the second ‘Indian National Congress’ session in Calcutta in December 1886, impressing both the session’s chairman, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Raja Rampal Singh of the Kalakankar estate (Pratapgarh District). Singh was looking for an experienced editor to help him turn his Hindi weekly, ‘Hindustan,’ into a daily.
In July 1887, Malaviya accepted Singh’s offer and resigned his school post to become the paper’s editor. He held the position for two and a half years before returning to Allahabad to study law. In 1889, while still studying law, he began working as the editor of the English daily ‘Indian Opinion.’ Other journalistic endeavors included founding the Hindi weekly ‘Abhyudaya’ in 1907 and serving as its editor, later transforming it to a daily in 1915; founding the English newspaper ‘Leader’ (1909), serving as its Editor (1909-11) and later as President (1911-19); starting Hindi paper ‘Maryada’ (1910); and acquiring and thus saving the Hindustan Times from extinction in 1924 with the help of M. R. Jayakar, Lala
At 1891, he began practicing law in Allahabad District Court after receiving his L.L.B. He began practicing law at the Allahabad High Court in 1893. In 1909 and 1918, he was chosen president of the ‘Indian National Congress.’ Malaviya, a moderate member of the Congress’s’soft group’ led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, was opposed to one of the primary components of the ‘Lucknow Pact’ of 1916, which included separate electorates for Muslims.
Malaviya gave up his well-established law business in 1911 to devote himself entirely to the cause of social work and education, and resolved to live the life of a Sanyasi. Following the Chauri-chaura event in 1922, he stood before the Allahabad High Court in 1924 to defend the 177 freedom fighters sentenced to death by the Sessions Court, and was successful in having 156 of them acquitted.
In April 1911, Annie Besant met Malaviya, a famous British women’s rights campaigner, socialist, theosophist, orator, and writer who created the ‘Central Hindu College’ (1898). They both resolved to establish a Hindu university in Varanasi. They got together in response to the Indian government’s need that ‘Central Hindu College’ be included in the new university. The ‘Banaras Hindu University,’ Asia’s largest residential university, was founded in 1916 after a Parliamentary act, the ‘B.H.U. Act 1915,’ was passed. He served as the University’s Vice-Chancellor until 1939.
In 1912, he became a member of the ‘Imperial Legislative Council,’ which he stayed a member of until 1919, when it was renamed the ‘Central Legislative Assembly,’ which he remained a member of until 1926. In 1928, he joined forces with Jawaharlal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, and others to fight the ‘Simon Commission,’ and on May 30, 1932, he published a manifesto urging the country to focus on the ‘Buy Indian’ movement. He was a delegate to the ‘Second Round Table Conference’ in 1931.
He presided over the Congress’s session in Delhi in 1932. Malaviya was a key figure in the Non-Cooperation movement, notwithstanding his opposition to Congress’ involvement in the Khilafat campaign. Around 450 Congress volunteers, including Malaviya, were detained in Delhi on April 25, 1932. On September 25, 1932, he and Dr. Ambedkar signed the ‘Poona Pact’ agreement. Instead of constituting a separate electorate, it offered reserve seats in the main electorate in the Provincial legislatures for the downtrodden classes (denoting the untouchables among Hindus).
In Calcutta in 1933, he was elected President of Congress for the fourth time. Dissatisfied with the ‘Communal Award,’ he and Madhav Shrihari Aney broke away from the Congress and created the ‘Congress Nationalist Party’ in 1934. In the central legislature elections that year, the party won 12 seats.
He stepped down from active politics in 1937.
Achievements & Awards
On December 24, 2014, a day before his 153rd birthday, he was posthumously awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the ‘Bharat Ratna.’
Personal History and Legacy
He married Kumari Devi of Mirzapur in 1878, and they had two sons, Ramakant and Govind Malaviya.
On November 12, 1946, he died in Varanasi.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Madan Mohan Malaviya is $10 million.
Malviya Nagar in Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, and Allahabad, among others; ‘Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology’ in Gorakhpur; and ‘Malaviya National Institute of Technology’ in Jaipur are among the places, institutes, and hostel campuses named after him.
He is commemorated by the ‘Mahamana Express,’ which debuted on January 22, 2016.