Here is Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji's life in a flash. A touch here, a touch there and an outline for a story and for a song.
1861. 25th December. Prayag -- beautiful of all cities in India. Twilight hour -- solemn silence reigns around. The world rejoices over the birth of Jesus Christ. Angels sing the song of peace and good-will among men. Tiny temple-bells chime in "Bharati Bhawan". Little lamps illumine a corner of the humble home. Air and earth are full of the sweet sounds of music. In such an auspicious hour, on such a glorious day a babe is born in the Malaviya family. The poor pious parents, devotees of Lord Krishna, hail the new comer. They call him Madan Mohan. In days to come the blessed babe is destined to become another apostle of peace and good-will among men.
1868. A seven-year old boy is seen preaching to a large concourse of people at the confluence of the three rivers in Prayag. He becomes the cynosure of neighbouring eyes. Thousands of people listen to him. The boy looks like an angel. He is so handsome. He speaks Hindi with wonderful ease and elegance. He recites Sanskrit slokas from Srimad Bhagavat. "Who is this boy?", an old mother asks. Madan Mohan, comes the reply from children gathered around. He has cast his magic spell on us to-day.
1880. Muir College, Allahabad. The College Dramatic society stages Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice'. A young man in his teens plays the part of Portia. He speaks so sweetly and pleads for mercy. His words drop as gentle rain. He looks like an embodiment of love and compassion. Exquisite is his acting. The youth is so beautiful to behold. He looks more like a girl than a boy with his soft velvety face, and fawn-like countenance. Principal Agustus Harrison feels proud of his pupil. Madan Mohan's pronunciation of English is perfect. The Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court goes up the stage after the play is over and congratulates the actor. "What is your name?" the English Judge asks. "Madan Mohan Malaviya", replies the young man who captivates the literary world. Once again the charmer charms his listeners on the stage.
1886. The scene is in Calcutta Town Hall. The second Indian National Congress is in session. The venerable old Dadabhai Naoroji is in the chair. On the third day of the Congress a young man of 25 summers hears voices. "May I speak", asks Madan Mohan his preceptor -- Pt. Adityaram Bhattacharya ? "Speak, Speak", advises the guru. A chit is sent round to the President. Madan Mohan goes upand makes his maiden speech before the national gathering. That short speech gives the Pandit a niche in the temple of fame. The sun shines on Malayiyaji that day and all through his eighty six summers.
1905. On the Gangetic shore in Kashi, Madan Mohan Malaviya dreams a dream. He resolves to do a big thing in life. It is a wonderful year in the history of India. Aurobindo Ghosh dreams of Swaraj through Swadeshi. Gopal Krishna Gokhale dreams of spiritualising the political life of India through public service. Malaviyaji dreams of liberating India through learning. Great spirits are in the air. The Pandit unfolds his dream to the leaders of the Congress. Blessings are showered on him. The voices utter "Go forth and win laurels and do that which cannot be done by anybody else." Malaviyaji prays to God to reveal Himself to him through the Benares Hindu University. The Lord is Merciful.
1909. Lahore. The nation places the crown on Malaviyaji's head. He becomes the President of the Indian National Congress. He exhorts the people to unite. "Be truthful, be humble he says and tells the story of Vasishtha and Viswamitra to the Congressmen.
1916. Once again in the holy city of Kashi. A galaxy of Governors, Ruling Princes and the Viceroy meet on a beautiful spring morning—scholars and savants recite ancient texts on the river bank. It is Vasant Panchami day. The foundation ceremony of the Hindu University takes place. A solemn occasion. A grand moment in life. Underneath the foundation stone is hidden in the bowels of the earth a copper plate. It bears an inscription which says:
“The prime instrument of the Divine will in this work is the Brahmana Madan Mohan Malaviya—Lover of his motherland. Unto him the Lord gave the gift of speech and awakened India with his voice, and induced the leaders and the rulers of the people unto this end."
1919. On the floor of the Imperial Legislative Council at Delhi. The Viceroy presides. India's heart is lacerated by the Punjab massacres. The nation's voice is muffled. One brave leader stands up. His heart bleeds for the cause of righteousness. He puts 93 questions in the Council. The British members are aghast. The Honorable Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya crosses swords with the Governor of the Punjab—His speech in the Council lifts him to the skies.
1921. The landscape in Kashi changes. Banaras bursts forth in all its lovely splendour. The heir to the British Throne, the Prince of Wales, visits Banaras, dons the Hindu University robe, puts on a turban and opens the buildings of the University. Temple towers of the University glisten in sunlight. The golden sunbeams fall on Malaviyaji's face. His dream comes true. India is wonder-struck by Malaviyaji's magic touch. Benares becomes the cultural capital of the Motherland.
1930. In drizzling rain the 69-year-old Malaviyaji sits with members of the Working Committee on a public road in Bombay. The battle for Freedom has begun again. The leaders are forbidden to walk along the King's highway. Who dares to prevent them from treading on India's sacred soil? Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji and his colleagues defy the ban of the Bombay Government. The night drags on. The city of two million souls is disturbed. The morning sun rises. People find Malaviyaji, Sardar Patel and friends still, squatting on the road. Suddenly a police van turns up. The five leaders are arrested and taken to Jail. Malaviyaji's imprisonment stirs the whole country. "Fearlessness is the only way to Freedom," says Malaviyaji.
1931. St James Palace in London. On a winter morning Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister, and members of the British Parliament listen to the silver-tongued orator of India. Malaviyaji pleads for the cause of independence for his country. "How beautifully Pandit Malaviya speaks in our tongue ! What a mastery he has over the English language", remarks the chairman of the Conference.
1935. The scene is in Calcutta where 49 years ago he made his first speech. A young Brahmachari takes a vow to stop the slaughter of animals in front ofthe Kali temple. It is the 35th day of his fast. Ramchandra is in a dying condition. Malaviyaji arrives in the city. He sits by the young man's side and recites with fervour the Durga Saptasati. He invokes the Goddess to save the Pandit from death. The recitation is over. Malaviyaji sprinkles the Ganga water over him. The sleeper wakes up from his swoon. His life is saved. Calcutta wonders at Malaviyaji's miraculous powers. Old Rabindranath Tagore hears the story, and is moved by Pandit Malaviya's tapasya. "God never forsakes his devotee," says Malaviyaji.
1942. Two sages sit side by side on a dais before a vast concourse of people in the campus of the Benares University. What is the occasion for this large gathering? It is the Silver Jubilee of the Benares Hindu University. Holy Kashi becomes holier by the presence of the Mahamana and the Mahatma. "Blessed is India that has given birth to Gandhiji and Malaviyaji". Lucky are we to hail the two men today — say the people.
1946. The End. How calm! Half a million people in mourning. The city of Banaras is in gloom. The funeral procession of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya passes slowly solemnly along the narrow lanes and alleys of the world's ancient city. Marigold flowers and roses shower over the bier all along the five-mile route. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Pandits join the mourners. At Manikarnika the pyre is lit. The flames leap up and consume the body of Malaviyaji. A hapless populace weeps aloud on the river-bank. Nature mourns. A whole nation is sorrow-stricken. There is universal grief. From Noakhali in Bengal, Mahatma Gandhi writes: "The adored of Bharatavarsh is dead. Long live Malaviyaji."
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji was a many sided genius of the Indian Renaissance. He was one of the rarest figures in Indian History — one of the noblest lives that Hinduism ever gave to mankind. He was the supreme architect of the temple of learning in Kashi, a pure devotee of God, an eminent educationist, father of a nation, a Karma-Yogi, lord of languages -- ancient and modern, a master-mind, a leader among politicians, a great parliamentarian, prince among patriots, religious reformer, scholar, savant, sage, and servant of India and mankind, torch-bearer and wonder-worker.
For eighty-five years Pandit Malaviyaji went about doing good. To do good was his mission in life. He became great, he became immortal, by doing ceaselessly good to all beings. He was good to the sub-human beings and to plants too. Mahamana Malaviyaji believed in the ancient religion of Sanatana Dharma and preached the gospel of the immanence of God. Sanatana Dharma was Eternal Dharma.
It was ancient, most sacred, most high. It was a Dharma, the Mahamana said, which could bring salvation to the whole world. Knowledge, devotion and renunciation were its three pillars. Knowledge was its soul. Sanatana Dharma believed in God's presence not only in mankind, but even in birds, insects, animals and plants. If the people could feel the presence of God in everything, none would think of injuring the other. "Do not do that unto others, what you wish others not to do to you' was the golden teaching of Hinduism.
Mahamana Malaviyaji was very fond of the cow and worshipped the Gomata. The divine gentleness, which one saw in the innocent face of the mother cow, was visible in Puudit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji's charming countenance, so full of purity and sweetness. The last act of the Mahamana's life on earth was to address a cow conference in Banaras.
Many years ago Malaviyaji was found to be lost in reverie on seeing a blue-winged bird, swinging and singing on a Deodar tree in Simla. When it flew away, Malaviyaji uttered in a painful voice the following words 'Ah truant, why are you so unfair? Why do you fly away so soon? Little did I know till then, that Panditji was such an ardent lover of birds. In his home at Allahabad, he used to feed the birds every day before taking his midday meal. At Rameswaram he was found welcoming the little messengers of the dawn. There was a Franciscan love in him for the blithe spirits of the air.
The Mahamana was passionately fond of flowers. Not merely of the lotus, the jasmine and the rose, which perfume the Indian air by their maddening fragrance, but the great Panditiji specially loved the beautiful wee little flowers on the fields, which one sees in millions in the Gangetic valley. Once while walking across the fields of the Viswa Vidyalaya, the Mahamana pointed out the lovely sapphire colored Sanka-Pushpi blossoms, which had covered the whole ground in early spring time, and asked his companion to tread gently over the flower-smiling land. Then he spoke of the medicinal value of the little Sanka-Pushpi and how very beneficial it was to the brain in hot weather. While talking about flowers the Mahamana's soul bowed in adoration to the creator of plants, animals and mankind.
As Panditji was greatly interested in the science of Ayurveda, he had studied the life and history of plants and knew hundreds of names in the vegetable kingdom. For hours he would talk to the gardener, the botanist, and the horticulturist, about the endless variety, the utility and the beauty of plants. 'Give me more money, I will make the Viswa-Vidyalaya into a lovely garden,' he would often say. He was a gardener and his excellence could be seen by the way he sowed the seed of the Viswa Vidyalaya and watched tenderly the growth of the plant and watered it during his life-time.
It is all a wonder, how he changed with his magic wand, the fallow fields of Nagwa in Banaras, into a cultural capital and a garden of learning.
The large-hearted Panditji was fond of the beautiful little ones of the world. He enjoyed their angelic company. He taught the children to sing in praise of Bal Ram and Bal Gopal and of Prahalad and of Dhruva. Whenever the children clung round the old sweet-voiced Panditji, he would pat the kids and talk to them in the child's language of love and joy.
To the mothers, the Mahamana was reverential and worshipful. He always addressed them as 'Deviyon'. There was purity in his expression and divinity in his look. He would tell the women of the immortal stories of Arundati, Droupadi, Maitreyi, Gargi, Savitri and Sita and transport his listeners to ethereal realms. The women of India adored the Mahamana. Who can forget the vast gathering of fifty thousand women, who had gathered on the Bombay beach to hear his soul-stirring address in 1930, during the Satyagraha days when he came out of Bombay Arthur Road jail. He exhorted the women of India tobe brave and fearless and to save their honour in moments of danger and practice methods of self-defence. The Mahamana's words infused a new hope into the hearts of the women of India.
Panditji moulded the lives of tens of thousands of young men and women. 'Practice truth, do your duty, he would say to everyone, who went to receive his blessings. On a score of occasions young India had heard the Mahamana's golden voice at the annual convocations of the Banaras University, when he chanted so beautifully ancient Vedic hymns and exhorted the youths to follow the path of 'Dharma'. The vibration of the word 'Dharma' when uttered by the Dharmatma, thrilled the hearts of the great national gatherings at Kashi.
Besides the large number of students, the poor folk used to flock to the annual gatherings. Panditji loved the poor, the needy, the sorrow-stricken. They were ever outside his door. He would talk to everyone of them in their dialect. Hundreds of poor people waited outside his small room to have his darshan—to have a glance at his God-like face, so full of grace and beauty. Malaviyaji's eyes were suffused with tears as he greeted the village people. He talked to them of Ram and Krishna and advised them to love one another and walk along the path of Dharma. His heart was moved by the sufferings of the ill-clad, starving millions of his countrymen.
From his childhood Malaviyaji was accustomed to meet large crowds. He began lecturing to them in the Magh Mela from his seventh year. For sixty-five years and more the Mahamana spoke to large gatherings in various parts of India. Millions of words must have fallen from his lips, lakhs of people must have heard the silver-tongued speaker of India. As an orator he was transcendental. He inspired his hearers by his moral fervour and by his patriotic words. He made great speeches in the Congress, Councils and Assemblies and some of them lifted him to the skies. His reputation grew as his golden voice became mellow. The people of India adored Malaviyaji for his sweet words and for his golden deeds.
Looking at the soaring, sun-lit spires of the Banaras Hindu University and the panorama of colleges, hostels, laboratories, pavilions, and residences, the mind wanders to Prayag, where amidst immemorial scenes of purity and beauty, the dreamer and builder of the Viswa-Vidyalaya was born. To breathe the air of the Mahamana one must go on a pilgrimage to Prayag -- his native city.
Beautiful is Allahabad. Beauteous are the lovely scenes in the city, where ethereal breeze blows at the confluence of the three rivers. There is Madan Mohan's cradle. There are his early memorials -- the schools where he studied in his boyhood, the famous Muir College, where the boy Madan Mohan acted the graceful part of Portia in 1882; the clubs, societies and Samajs, where he spoke are all at Allahabad. The school, where he taught, the Newspapers, which he edited, the newspaper "Leader" which he founded in 1909, are in Allahabad. Allahabad has the temple of justice, where Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya practised as a lawyer for eighteen years. The city is so rich in associations and is full of historic memories. That is the city of Malaviyaji's perennial inspiration. Earth had not anything to show more fair for him and whenever Pandit Malaviyaji went out, his heart fondly turned to Allahabad. 'It is the most beautiful city of India. It is noted for its health and purity. The sight of the confluence of the three rivers is exhilarating. I like it best," said the Mahamana, while referring to his beloved native city. Allahabad had exercised a tremendous influence on Malaviyaji for eighty-five years. One day in the month of Magh, when Allahabad looks like paradise on earth, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji took a plunge in the Triveni, heard voices calling him to consecrate his life and talents, came out of the river with a prayer on his lips, went home and shared the Himalayan vision which he saw, received his parents' blessings, and their precious gift, took a vow before them and with an indomitable will came down to Banaras to fulfil the dream of his life -- to raise the noblest monument in India to Hinduism. There is something Bhagirathian about the majestic and solemn fervour with which the Mahamana plunged into the greatest mission of his life.
Ten-thousand days in Kashi, from 1916 to 1946, dreaming, planning, working, preaching, praying, making use of every minute of his waking hour. Who would remember the by-gone days and yet who can forget the glorious years, when the Mahamana crowned the city of Kashi and immortalised it by his sacrifice and selfless service. It is not an easy thing to build a University which has become in the words of a world-renowned savant, 'unique'. 'It is the work of a superhuman being, said another distinguished statesman and scholar. The Mahamana breathed his soul into the University. Look at the institution! Look at the care, the labour behind the marvellous undertaking. It has taken half a century of thought, prayer and work to transform the dream into reality -- what pains-taking workmanship … behind this colossal enterprise. The University, as one sees it in its prosperity in 1947, did not just spring up. For thirty years, the Mahamana worked like a titan. He strove with the Gods, saved the University from all harms, and brick by brick, stone by stone, he built, what Mahatma Gandhi called "the majestic structure' of the Viswa-Vidyalaya, which stands on the rock of his patriotism, purity, and self-sacrifice. 'I have built this shrine of learning with my blood. I have drawn the picture. Let them praise or criticise it,' said the Mahamana, a month before his death. While sharing his hopes about the future of the Viswa-Vidyalaya with a friend, the Mahamana wrote down the following pregnant words: 'It is only men, who possess great courage and patience and who have developed in them a constant spirit of self-sacrifice and who possess undying devotion to the cause which they have understood to be great and glorious that can serve an institution like the Banaras Hindu University’.
With all those matchless qualities the Mahamana built the University, which has become the pride of India! Thank God India produced a savant and a sage like Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji.
So many lovely pictures of him float in my mind. His gracious personality is still a tender memory. Sweet as the water of the Ganga, pure as the snow on the Himalaya was Malaviyaji. We shall not see his like again. In silence I bow to his spirit.