125 Years of K. M. Munshi


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           FEBUARY 14 , 2013           11.25 P.M.

When in the beginning of January 2013 , President of India Pranab Mukherjee went to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan headquarters in Mumbai and paid tribute to K. M. Munshi , I suddenly realized that my favourite icon , a freedom fighter and an extraordinary litterateur of India has completed 125 years of his existence .

K. M. Munshi

K. M. Munshi

I have read Hindi translations of almost all his novels . I particularly love his historical and mythological novels like ; Jai Somnath and Bhagwan Parashuram . During my adolescent years I was enamoured by his personality . His role and contribution in the re-construction of Somnath Temple is unparalleled . It speaks volumes about his character and determination that he could achieve this feat , though Jawaharlal Nehru was dead against the idea .

Book 2

Book

K. M. Munshi was born on 30 December 1887 in the town of Bharuch in Gujarat, and educated in Vadodara , where he excelled in academics. One of his teachers at Baroda College was Sri Aurobindo Ghosh who had a profound impression on him. Munshi was also greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhulabhai Desai, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. After acquiring his degree in Law from the University of Bombay, he enrolled himself as an advocate in 1913 . About this time his first novel was being serialised in a Gujarati weekly.

Under Sri Aurobindo‘s influence, Munshi was attracted to armed rebellion against the British. He even learnt to make bombs, but when he moved to Bombay in 1915, he drifted towards the Home Rule Movement, and was later elected member of the Subjects Committee of the Indian National Congress in 1917. He started the movement for a Parliamentary wing of the Congress, and later became Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Board in 1938. The same year he founded the well-known Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Institute of Agriculture at Anand, Gujarat.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan - Mumbai

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – Mumbai

Munshi was an active participant in the Indian Independence Movement ever since the advent of Mahatma Gandhi. He joined the Swaraj Party but returned to the Indian National Congress on Gandhiji‘s behest with the launch of the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He was arrested several times, including during the Quit India Movement of 1942. A great admirer of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Munshi served in the Central Legislative Assembly in the 1930s.

After the independence of India, Munshi was appointed diplomatic envoy and trade agent (Agent-General) to the princely state of Hyderabad, where he served until its accession to India in 1948. Munshi was on the ad hoc Flag Committee that selected the Flag of India in August 1947, and on the committee which drafted the Constitution of India under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar. He and Purushottam Das Tandon were among those who strongly opposed propagation and conversion in the constituent assembly. He was also the main driving force behind the renovation of the historically important Somnath Temple by the Government of India just after independence.

Munshi served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957. In 1959, Munshi separated from the Nehru-dominated Congress Party and started the Akhand Hindustan Movement. He , along with Chakravarti Rajagopalachari , founded the Swatantra Party, which was right-wing in its politics, pro-business, pro-free market economy and private property rights. The party enjoyed limited success and eventually died out. Later, Munshi joined the Jan Sangh.

Being a prolific writer and a conscientious journalist, Munshi started a Gujarati monthly called Bhargava. He was joint-editor of Young India and in 1954, started the Bhavan’s Journal which is published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to this day. Munshi was President of the Sanskrit Viswa Parishad, the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, and the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from founding Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Munshi was instrumental in the establishment of Bhavan’s College, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Rajhans Balvatika and Panchgani Hindu School (1924). He was elected Fellow of the University of Bombay, where he was responsible for giving adequate representation to regional languages.

Besides being a politician and educator, Munshi was also an environmentalist. He initiated the Vanmahotsav in 1950, when he was Union Minister of Food and Agriculture, to increase area under forest cover. Since then Van Mahotsav a week-long festival of tree plantation is organised every year in the month of July all across the country and lakhs of trees are planted.

Works

Munshi was also a litterateur with a wide range of interests. He is well-known for his historical novels in Gujarati, especially his trilogy Patan-ni-Prabhuta (The Greatness of Patan), Gujarat-no-Nath (The Ruler of Gujarat) and Rajadhiraj (The Emperor). His other works include Jay Somnath (on Somnath temple), Krishnavatara (on Lord Krishna), Bhagavan Parasurama (on Parshurama), and Tapasvini (The Lure of Power) a novel with a fictional parallel drawn from the Freedom Movement of India under Mahatma Gandhi. Munshi also wrote several notable works in English.

Munshi has written mostly based on fictional historical themes namely

  1. Earlier Aryan settlements in India (What he calls Gaurang’s – white skinned)
  2. Krishna’s endeavors in Mahabharata kaal
  3. More recently in 10th century India around Gujarat, Malwa and Southern India.

K.M. Munshi’s novel Prithvi Vallabh was made into a movie of the same name twice. The adaptation directed by Manilal Joshi in 1924 was very controversial in its day: Mahatma Gandhi railed against it for excessive sex and violence. The second version was by Sohrab Modi in 1943.

images

List of works

Novels

In Gujarati & Hindi languages :-

  • Mari Kamala (1912)
  • Verni Vasulat (1913) (under the pen name Ghanashyam)
  • Patanni Prabhuta (1916)
  • Gujaratno Nath (1917)
  • Rajadhiraj (1918)
  • Prithvivallabh (1920)
  • Svapnadishta (1924)
  • Lopamudra (1930)
  • Jay Somanth (1940)
  • Bhagavan Parashurama (1946)
  • Tapasvini (1957)
  • Krishnavatara (in seven volumes) (1970)
  • Kono vank
  • Lomaharshini
  • Bhagvan Kautilya
  • Pratirodha (1900)
  • Atta ke svapana (1900)
  • Gaurava kā pratīka (1900)
  • Gujarat ke Gaurava (1900)
  • Sishu aura Sakhi (1961)

Dramas

  • Brahmacharyashram (1931)
  • Dr. Madhurika (1936)
  • Pauranik Natako

Non-fiction

  • Ketlak Lekho (1926)
  • Adadhe Raste (1943)

Notable works in English

Understanding Tamil Nadu – [ 2 ]


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VAITHEESWARAN KOIL – TAMIL NADU – INDIA           DECEMBER 24 , 2012      11.59 P.M. 

The political state of Tamil Nadu in India was...

The political state of Tamil Nadu in India was created in 1969 when erstwhile Madras State was renamed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last blog I have stated about the Self Respect Movement started by E. V. Ramasamy Naicker ” Periyar ” in Tamil Nadu in 1925 . This far – reaching movement changed the contours of Tamil Nadu , Tamil politics and Tamil society forever .

English: An image of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy हि...

A Young Periyar E. V. Ramasamy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It did give room to some misgivings but its effect and its contribution can’t be wished out . Instead of talking about the misgivings , let us look at the positive side .

1 – Periyar talked about the eradication of caste system . According to him lack of self-respect among weaker section of society and their uplifting should be the main aim of society and government . Periyar thought that a small number of people , mainly Brahmins have created caste system to dominate the weaker section , who are in majority . So there should be casteless society .

2 – Periyar talked about the women’s rights . Since he was a rationalist , he advocated women emancipation , widow re – marriage , education for women and jobs for them in police and army . He talked that women should be given equal rights and they should be given good education and must have right to property . He also advocated widow re – marriage . He wanted to abolish dowry system and advocated inter – cast marriages . It will be astonishing for many that in those primitive era , he advocated birth control also and it all happened much before government took the initiative .

3 – He talked about rationalism and criticized the inherent contradictions in the Hindu religion .

His espousal of above mentioned causes are laudable and praiseworthy . Almost every leader of that era supported these causes in one form or other . Method was definitely different but not the goal .

Now let us talk about two movements , which can’t be supported and because of that , Periyar is misunderstood in the rest of the country .

1 – In 1937 , the then Chief Minister of Madras State Chakravarthi Rajgopalachari introduced Hindi as compulsory language of education in school . Periyar opposed it whole – heartedly and he got massive support also . Leaders cutting party lines supported the movement . Later on all the Dravidian parties also took this as their demand and anti – Hindi movement slowly became anti – North Indian .

English: Front page of the Tamil Magazine Kudi...

Front page of the Tamil Magazine Kudiyarasu dated 03 September 1939. It was run by Periyar. E. V. Ramasamy. There is an editorial titled “Veezhga Indhi” (Down with Hindi) written as part of the Anti Hindi Agitations of 1937-40 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Frontpage of the magazine Kudiyarasu ...

Frontpage of the magazine Kudiyarasu (dated 20 November 1938). The magazine was run by Periyar E. V. Ramasamy in the Madras Presidency, British India. This issue reports about the Tamil Nadu women’s conference to be held on 13 November 1938. The conference was convened to showcase women’s support to the Anti-Hindi agitation of 1937–40 This particular scan is taken from Pollachi Nasan’s collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 – In 1939 Periyar become head of Justice Party and in 1944 changed its name to Dravid Kazhagam . He then started advocating independent Dravid Nadu .

English: Front page of the Dravida Nadu magazi...

Front page of the Dravida Nadu magazine dated 29 September 1946. The magazine was published by C. N. Annadurai from Kanchipuram. This particular scan is taken from the collection of Pollachi Nasan. It depicts Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and his speech in the court during the Anti-Hindi Agitations of 1937-40 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus anti – Hindi movement and propagating independent Dravid Nadu could be called sore points for the North Indians and thus Dravid movement and Tamil Nadu is misunderstood in the rest of the country .

But we should know that within 5 years of propagating independent Dravid Nadu , majority of Dravid leaders  left Dravid Kazhagam . C. N. Annadurai led the rebellion and formed Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam in 1949 . He participated in elections and formed the first non – Congress government in 1967 .

Therefore misgivings about independent Dravid Nadu should be put to rest because Periyar’s followers themselves didn’t pursue it .

Anti – Hindi agitation erupts here and there even today but there are fissiparous activities in many parts of the country . Why blame only Tamil Nadu for this . I have read many stories about anti – Hindi feelings of Tamil people . But during my stay in the province and that to in the hinterlands , I was astounded and would like to tell my North Indian friends that enmity does not exist . Every section of Tamil society and people tried to help me even though they genuinely can’t speak Hindi . They did struggle but tried to speak Hindi . So ” HINDI ILLAI ” slogan , which was given so much publicity in all the Hindi press in and after 1967 is completely wrong and mischievous .

I am sorry to say that many stories published in the news papers and magazines of Hindi in 1967 are not true . May be some things might have happened during the anti Hindi agitation of 1937 and 1967 , but they are things of the past . The emblem of Tamil Nadu says it all .

English: Emblem of the State Government of Tam...

Emblem of the State Government of Tamil Nadu used by the state government for public notices in the press and for publicity purposes. The emblem of India is the image used on the India Wikipedia article. தமிழ்: தமிழ் நாடு அரசின் சின்னம். (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to tell every one along with the students of my acting class Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , that Tamil Nadu is changing very fast or it has already changed .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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