Shyamji Krishna Varma

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Shyamji Krishna Varma
Shyamji krishna varma.jpg
Native name
શ્યામજી કૃષ્ણવર્મા
Born(1857-10-04)4 October 1857
Mandvi, Cutch State, British India (now Kutch, Gujarat)
Died30 March 1930(1930-03-30) (aged 72)
MonumentsKranti Teerth, Mandvi, Kutch
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
OccupationRevolutionary, lawyer, journalist
Organization Indian Home Rule Society, India House, The Indian Sociologist
Movement Indian Independence Movement
Spouse(s)
Bhanumati(m. 1875)
Parent(s)Karsan Bhanushali (Nakhua), Gomatibai

Shyamji Krishna Varma (4 October 1857 – 30 March 1930) was an Indian revolutionary fighter, [1] an Indian patriot, lawyer and journalist who founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London. A graduate of Balliol College, Krishna Varma was a noted scholar in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. He pursued a brief legal career in India and served as the Divan of a number of Indian princely states in India. [2] He had, however, differences with Crown authority, was dismissed following a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh [3] and chose to return to England. An admirer of Dayanand Saraswati's approach of cultural nationalism, and of Herbert Spencer, Krishna Varma believed in Spencer's dictum: "Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative". [2]

The Revolutionary movement for Indian Independence is a part of the Indian independence movement comprising the actions of the underground revolutionary factions. Groups believing in armed revolution against the ruling British fall into this category, as opposed to the generally peaceful civil disobedience movement spearheaded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The revolutionary groups were mainly concentrated in Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, the United Provinces and Punjab. More groups were scattered across India.

The Indian Home Rule Society (IHRS) was an Indian organisation founded in London in 1905 that sought to promote the cause of self-rule in British India. The organisation was founded by Shyamji Krishna Varma, with support from a number of prominent Indian nationalists in Britain at the time, including Bhikaji Cama, Dadabhai Naoroji and S.R. Rana, and was intended to be a rival organisation to the British Committee of the Indian National Congress that was the main avenue of the loyalist opinion at the time.

India House India House was a student residence that existed between 1905 and 1910 at Cromwell Avenue in Highgate, North London

India House was a student residence that existed between 1905 and 1910 at Cromwell Avenue in Highgate, North London. With the patronage of lawyer Shyamji Krishna Varma, it was opened to promote nationalist views among Indian students in Britain. This institute used to grant scholarships to Indian youths for higher studies in England. The building rapidly became a hub for political activism, one of the most prominent for overseas revolutionary Indian nationalism. "India House" came to informally refer to the nationalist organisations that used the building at various times.

Contents

In 1905 he founded the India House and The Indian Sociologist , which rapidly developed as an organised meeting point for radical nationalists among Indian students in Britain at the time and one of the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India. Krishna Varma moved to Paris in 1907, avoiding prosecution.

<i>The Indian Sociologist</i>

The Indian Sociologist was an Indian nationalist journal in the early 20th century. Its subtitle was An Organ of Freedom, and Political, Social, and Religious Reform.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Early life

Shyamji Krishna Varma was born on 4 October 1857 in Mandvi, Cutch State (now Kutch, Gujarat) as Shamji, the son of Krushnadas Bhanushali (Karsan Nakhua; Nakhua is the surname while Bhanushali is the community name), a labourer for cotton press company, and Gomatibai, who died when Shyamji was only 11 years old. He was raised by his grandmother. His ancestors belonged to Bhachunda (23°12'3"N 69°0'4"E), a village now in Abdasa taluka of Kutch district. They had migrated to Mandvi in search of employment and due to familial disputes. After completing secondary education in Bhuj he went to Mumbai for further education at Wilson High School. Whilst in Mumbai, he learned Sanskrit. [4]

Mandvi Town in Gujarat, India

Mandvi is a town with municipality in the Kutch district in the Indian state of Gujarat. It was once a major port of the region and summer retreat for Maharao (king) of the Cutch State. The old city was enclosed in the fort wall and remains of the fort wall can still be seen. The city has a four-hundred-year-old ship building industry, which was started by the caste of Kharva that still builds small wooden ships.

Cutch State Indian princely state, 1147-1948

Cutch, also spelled Kutch or Kachchh, was a relatively large Indian princely state during the British Raj. Its territories covered the present day Kutch region of Gujarat north of the Gulf of Kutch. Bordered by Sindh in the north, Cutch State was one of the few princely states with a coastline.

Gujarat State in India

Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India with a coastline of 1,600 km (990 mi) – most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula – and a population in excess of 60 million. It is the sixth largest Indian state by area and the ninth largest state by population. Gujarat is bordered by Rajasthan to the northeast, Daman and Diu to the south, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Maharashtra to the southeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea and the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west. Its capital city is Gandhinagar, while its largest city is Ahmedabad. The Gujarati-speaking people of India are indigenous to the state. The economy of Gujarat is the fifth-largest state economy in India with 11.62 lakh crore (US$170 billion) in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of 156,000 (US$2,300). Gujarat ranks fifteenth among Indian states in human development index.

In 1875, Shyamji got married to Bhanumati, a daughter of a wealthy businessman of the Bhatia community and sister of his school friend Ramdas. Then he got in touch with the nationalist Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a radical reformer and an exponent of the Vedas, who had founded the Arya Samaj. He became his disciple and was soon conducting lectures on Vedic philosophy and religion. In 1877, a public speaking tour secured him a great public recognition. He became the first non-Brahmin to receive the prestigious title of Pandit by the Pandits of Kashi in 1877.[ citation needed ] He came to the attention of Monier Williams, an Oxford professor of Sanskrit who offered Shyamji a job as his assistant. [4]

Vedas Ancient scriptures of Hinduism

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".

Arya Samaj Hindu religious organization

Arya Samaj is a monotheistic Indian Hindu reform movement that promotes values and practices based on the belief in the infallible authority of the Vedas. The samaj was founded by the sannyasi (ascetic) Dayanand Saraswati on 10 April 1875. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols.

Brahmin is a varna (class) in Hinduism specialising as priests, teachers (acharya) and protectors of sacred learning across generations.

Oxford

Shyamji arrived in England and joined Balliol College, Oxford on 25 April 1879 with the recommendation of Professor Monier Williams. Passing his B.A. in 1883, he presented a lecture on "the origin of writing in India" to the Royal Asiatic Society. The speech was very well received and he was elected a non-resident member of the society. In 1881 he represented India at the Berlin Congress of Orientalists.

Monier Monier-Williams Linguist and dictionary compiler

Sir Monier Monier-Williams, KCIE was the second Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, England. He studied, documented and taught Asian languages, especially Sanskrit, Persian and Hindustani.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

He returned to India in 1885 and started practice as a lawyer. Then he was appointed as Diwan (chief minister) by the King of Ratlam State; but ill health forced him to retire from this post with a lump sum gratuity of RS 32052 for his service. After a short stay in Mumbai, he settled in Ajmer, headquarters of his Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and continued his practice at the British Court in Ajmer. He invested his income in three cotton presses and secured sufficient permanent income to be independent for the rest of his life. He served for the Maharaja of Udaipur as a council member from 1893 to 1895, followed by the position of Diwan of Junagadh State. He resigned in 1897 after a bitter experience with a British agent that shook his faith in British Rule.

Ratlam City in Madhya Pradesh, India

Ratlampronunciation  known historically as Ratnapuri is a city in the northwestern part of the Malwa region in Madhya Pradesh state of India. The city of Ratlam lies 480 metres above sea level. It is the administrative headquarters of Ratlam district, which was created in 1947 after the independence of India.

Ajmer Metropolis in Rajasthan, India

Ajmerpronounced [ədʒmeːr](listen) is one of the major and oldest cities in the Indian state of Rajasthan and the centre of the eponymous Ajmer District. It is located at the centre of Rajasthan, and is home to the Ajmer Sharif shrine.

Dayananda Saraswati founder of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement in India

Dayanand Saraswatipronunciation  was an Indian social leader and founder of the Arya Samaj, a reform movement of the Vedic dharma. He was the first to give the call for Swaraj as "India for Indians" in 1876, a call later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak. Denouncing the idolatry and ritualistic worship prevalent in British India at the time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies. Subsequently, the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan called him one of the "makers of Modern India", as did Sri Aurobindo.

Nationalism

Having read Satyarth Prakash and other books of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Shyamji Krishna Varma was very much impressed with his philosophy, writings and spirit of Nationalism and had become one of his ardent admirers. It was upon Dayanand's inspiration, he set up a base in England at India House where were produced many revolutionaries like Madam Cama, Veer Savarkar, Lala Hardyal and Madan Lal Dhingra. Shyamji Krishan was also an admirer of Lokmanya Tilak and supported him during the Age of Consent bill controversy of 1890. However, he rejected the petitioning, praying, protesting, cooperating and collaborating policy of the Congress Party, which he considered undignified and shameful. In 1897, following the atrocities inflicted by the British government during the plague crisis in Poona, he supported the assassination of the Commissioner of Plague by the Chapekar brothers but he soon decided to fight for Indian Independence in Britain.

England

Ordained by Swami Dayanand Saraswati the founder of Arya samaj, Shyamji Krishan Verma upon his arrival in London stayed at the Inner Temple and studied Herbert Spencer's writings in his spare time. In 1900 he bought an expensive house in Highgate. His home became a base for all political leaders of India. Lokmanya Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi, Lenin etc., all visited him to discuss the Indian Independence Movement. Avoiding the Indian National Congress, he kept in contact with rationalists, free thinkers, national and social democrats, socialists, Irish republicans, etc.

He was much inspired by Herbert Spencer's writings. At Spencer's funeral in 1903, he announced the donation of £1,000 to establish a lectureship at University of Oxford in tribute to him and his work. A year later he announced that Herbert Spencer Indian fellowships of RS 2000 each were to be awarded to enable Indian graduates to finish their education in England. He had also announced additional fellowship in memory of the late Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, along with another four fellowships in the future.

Political activism

In 1905, Shyamji focused his activity as a political propagandist and organiser for the complete independence of India. Shyamji made his debut in Indian politics by publishing the first issue of his English monthly, The Indian Sociologist, an organ and of political, social and religious reform. This was an assertive, ideological monthly aimed at inspiring mass opposition to British rule, which stimulated many intellectuals to fight for the independence of India.

Indian Home Rule Society

On 18 February 1905, Shyamji inaugurated a new organisation called The Indian Home Rule Society. The first meeting, held at his Highgate home, unanimously decided to found The Indian Home Rule Society with the object of:

  1. Securing Home Rule for India
  2. Carrying on Propaganda in England by all practical means with a view to attain the same.
  3. Spreading among the people of India the objectives of freedom and national unity.

India House

The Indian Sociologist, September 1908, London Indian sociologist.jpg
The Indian Sociologist , September 1908, London

As many Indian students faced racist attitudes when seeking accommodations, he founded India House as a hostel for Indian students, based at 65, Cromwell Avenue, Highgate. This living accommodation for 25 students was formally inaugurated on 1 July by Henry Hyndman, of the Social Democratic Federation, in the presence of Dadabhai Naoroji, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madam Cama, Mr. Swinney (of the London Positivist Society), Mr. Harry Quelch (the editor of the Social Democratic Federation's Justice) and Charlotte Despard, the Irish Republican and suffragette. Declaring India House open, Hyndman remarked, "As things stands, loyalty to Great Britain means treachery to India. The institution of this India House means a great step in that direction of Indian growth and Indian emancipation, and some of those who are here this afternoon may live to witness the fruits of its triumphant success." Shyamji hoped India House would incubate Indian revolutionaries and Bhikaiji Cama, S. R. Rana, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, and Lala Hardayal were all associated with it. [5]

Later in 1905, Shyamji attended the United Congress of Democrats held at Holborn Town Hall as a delegate of the India Home Rule Society. His resolution on India received an enthusiastic ovation from the entire conference. Shyamji’s activities in England aroused the concern of the British government: He was disbarred from Inner Temple and removed from the membership list on 30 April 1909 for writing anti-British articles in The Indian Sociologist . Most of the British press were anti–Shyamji and carried outrageous allegations against him and his newspaper. He defended them boldly. The Times referred to him as the "Notorious Krishnavarma". Many newspapers criticised the British progressives who supported Shyamji and his view. His movements were closely watched by British Secret Services, so he decided to shift his headquarters to Paris, leaving India House in charge of Vir Savarkar. Shyamji left Britain secretly before the government tried to arrest him.

Paris and Geneva

He arrived in Paris in early 1907 to continue his work. The British government tried to have him extradited from France without success as he gained the support of many top French politicians.[ citation needed ] Shyamji’s name was dragged into the sensational trial of Mr Merlin, an Englishman, at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, for writing an article in liberators published by Shyamji’s friend, Mr. James.

Shyamji's work in Paris helped gain support for Indian Independence from European countries. He agitated for the release of Savarker and acquired great support all over Europe and Russia.[ citation needed ] Guy Aldred wrote an article in the Daily Herald under the heading of "Savarker the Hindu Patriot whose sentences expire on 24 December 1960", helping create support in England, too. In 1914 his presence became an embarrassment as French politicians had invited King George V to Paris to set a final seal on the Entente Cordiale. Shyamji foresaw this and shifted his headquarters to Geneva. Here the Swiss government imposed political restrictions during the entire period of World War I. He kept in touch with his contacts, but he could not support them directly. He spent time with Dr. Briess, president of the Pro India Committee in Geneva, whom he later discovered was a paid secret agent of the British government.

Post-World War I

He offered a sum of 10,000 francs to the League of Nations to endow a lectureship to be called the President Woodrow Wilson Lectureship for the discourse on the best means of acquiring and safe guarding national independence consistently with freedom, justice, and the right of asylum accorded to political refugees. It is said that the league rejected his offer due to political pressure from British government. A similar offer was made to the Swiss government which was also turned down. He offered another lectureship at the banquet given by Press Association of Geneva where 250 journalists and celebrities, including the presidents of Swiss Federation and the League of Nations. Shyamji’s offer was applauded on the spot but nothing came of it. Shyamji was disappointed with the response and he published all his abortive correspondence on this matter in the next issue of the Sociologist appearing in December 1920, after a lapse of almost six years.

Death and commemoration

Shyamji Krishna Varma 1989 stamp of India Shyamji Krishna Varma 1989 stamp of India.jpg
Shyamji Krishna Varma 1989 stamp of India
Kranti Teerth, Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial, Mandvi, Kutch (replica of India House is visible in background) Varma Memorial.JPG
Kranti Teerth, Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial, Mandvi, Kutch (replica of India House is visible in background)

He published two more issues of Indian Sociologist in August and September 1922, before ill health prevented him continuing. He died in hospital at 11:30 pm on 30 March 1930 leaving his wife, Bhanumati Krishnavarma.

News of his death was suppressed by the British government in India. Nevertheless, tributes were paid to him by Bhagat Singh and other inmates in Lahore Jail where they were undergoing a long-term drawn-out trial. [6] Maratha, an English daily newspaper started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak paid tribute to him.

He had made prepaid arrangements with the local government of Geneva and St Georges cemetery to preserve his and his wife’s ashes at the cemetery for 100 years and to send their urns to India whenever it became independent during that period. Requested by Paris-based scholar Dr Prithwindra Mukherjee, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi agreed to repatriate the ashes. Finally on 22 August 2003, the urns of ashes of Shyamji and his wife Bhanumati were handed over to then Chief Minister of Gujarat State Narendra Modi by the Ville de Genève and the Swiss government 55 years after Indian Independence. They were brought to Mumbai and after a long procession throughout Gujarat, they reached Mandvi, his birthplace. [7] A memorial called Kranti Teerth dedicated to him was built and inaugurated in 2010 near Mandvi. Spread over 52 acres, the memorial complex houses a replica of India House building at Highgate along with statues of Shyamji Krishna Varma and his wife. Urns containing Krishna Verma's ashes, those of his wife, and a gallery dedicated to earlier activists of Indian independence movement is housed within the memorial. Krishna Verma was disbarred from the Inner Temple in 1909. This decision was revisited in 2015, and a unanimous decision taken to posthumously reinstated him. [8] [9]

In the 1970s, a new town developed in his native state of Kutch, was named after him as Shyamji Krishna Varmanagar in his memory and honor. India Post released postal stamps and first day cover commemorating him. Kuchchh University was renamed after him.

The India Post has issued a postal stamp on shyamji Krishna Varma on 4 October 1989.

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References

  1. Chandra, Bipan (1989). India's Struggle for Independence. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. p. 145. ISBN   978-0-14-010781-4.
  2. 1 2 Qur, Moniruddin (2005). History of Journalism. Anmol Publications. p. 123. ISBN   81-261-2355-9.
  3. Johnson, K. Paul (1994). The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge. SUNY Press. p. 119. ISBN   0-7914-2063-9.
  4. 1 2 Sundaram, V. (8 October 2006) Pandit Shyamji Krishna Verma. boloji.com
  5. ब्यावरहिस्ट्री डोट काम पर आपका स्वागत है. Beawarhistory.com. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  6. Sanyal, Jitendra Nath (May 1931). Sardar Bhagat Singh.
  7. Soondas, Anand (24 August 2003). "Road show with patriot ash". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  8. "Modi dedicates 'Kranti Teerth' memorial to Shyamji Krishna Verma". The Times of India . 13 December 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  9. Bowcott, Owen (11 November 2015). "Indian lawyer disbarred from Inner Temple a century ago is reinstated". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2015.

Further reading