Bhagwan Das

Here we listed out some interesting facts about Philosopher and Freedom Fighter Bhagvandas Madhavdas Shah.

Born: 12 January 1869
Birth Place: Varanasi UP
Died: 18 September 1958 (aged 89)
Award: Bharat Ratna

  • Bhagvandas was born in a renowned Shah family of scholars, belonging to the Agarwal Lineage on Janurary 12, 1869 in Kashi (Varanasi).
  • His father Mr. Madhavdas Shah a rich zamindar was a highly cultured person who was respected in Varanasi.
  • Madhavdas treated his servants and subordinates with respect.  young Bhagvandas was brought up in a favourable atmosphere and he benefited from the rich cultural heritage.
  • He learnt Urudu and Farsi in his childhood and in learning the book “Gulista &Bosta” by Sheikh Sadi, he showed extra-ordinary talent. He also mastered the Sanskrit language. Even the teachers at school were surprised by his tremendous grasping power.
  • Bhagvandas went to Calcutta for higher education, and passed B.A. in 1885 and in M.A. in 1887 and secured 1st “Mental and Moral Science” was the subject he had chosen for M.A.
  • The British Government offered Bhagvandas a job as a Tehsildar. Later he was promoted to the post of Deputy Collector.  But he was cut out for greater things.  In1899, he resigned from his post after the death of his father.
  • Annie Besant had opened a branch of Theosophical Society of India in Benaras. The Society was propagating the ideas of brotherhood of man and treating all religious as equal.  The society had undertaken the task of making people aware of India’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Bhagvandas was greatly influenced by Annie Besant and in collaboration with her, later founded the Central Hindu College in Benaras. He contributed a great deal as an administrator and a professor.  This institution soon developed into the Benaras Hindu University.
  • Bhagvandas was one of the directors of the Theosophical Society. The society brought out a journal called; “Theosophical in India”.  He was the editor of his journal for many years and wrote several articles about Indian Philosophy in the journal.
  • Bhagvandas had great respect for Dr. Annie Besant. Around 1913, he had a difference of opinion with Mrs. Besant regarding the concept of re-incarnation.  This however did not have any adverse effect on either his relation with Dr. Besant or his work.
  • Besant and Bhagvan Das moved and brought the two separate groups of the Indian National Congress together.
  • These were represented by the Swarajist group led by ‘Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilalk’ and the Liberals by ‘Gopal Krishna Gokhale’. Lokamanya Tilak wanted to start an agitation to force the British Government to give ‘Swaraj’ to India, while Mr. Gokhale only wanted  to negotiate with the British freedom for India.
  • Besant, at this delicate juncture, managed to bring the differing groups together to work on a common platform. The birth of ‘Home Rule League’ took place in the year 1915.  They insisted on the following points:
    • To be free  in India, as the Englishman is free in England.
    • To be governed by Indians, freely elected.
    • To be a soverign nation with its own borders.
  • In 1917, Bhagvandas stepped into the political field. He was highly impressed with Gandhiji’s new techniques of Satyagraha and non violence to fight against the British rule.   Later, Gandhihi advised the educated workers to set up National (Indian) Schools.  He was the first Chancellor of the University.
  • In 1919, he was the honourable Chairman of the gathering of the Congress Committee held in Muradabad. In 1921, he became the Chairman of the district Congress Committee.  He was imprisoned the same year for participating in the non-co-operation movement and spent more than a year in jail.
  • Once he required a piece of land to build a hostel for the University students. Some landlords requested Dr. Bhagvandas to give  concession in water tax.  He strongly opposed this saying that the Municpality would not bear the loss.  Bhagvandas is the best example of selfless service, humility and commitment to work.
  • At the age of 30, Dr. Bhagvandas wrote, “Science of Emotion”, a unique volume, which received a lot of recognition. “Rasa Mimensa” is another famous book that contributed greatly in the field of Literature.
  • The Benaras University conferred him with “Doctorate of Literature” in 1929 and the Allahabad University in 1937. He was closely associated with “Aaj”, the Daily Newspaper in Benaras.  He worked not only as the editor but wrote many articles for the paper.
  • The Library of Benaras University is named after him and rightly called “Dr. Bhagvandas Swadhyaya peeth”. It is a true memorial for Dr. Bhagvandas who was a great lover of books.
  • Bhagvandas had studied deeply about the World Religion and World Order. In his voluminous book , “The Essential Unity of all Religions”, he expressed his ideology of Universal Religion.
  • He said, “Basically all religions are one as they teach the same principles. The true aspect of all the religions is being neglected by all nations.  This has led to unrest, non-co-operation and violence in the world.
  • He strongly propagated the unity of different faiths in the world. Bhagvandas suggested the probable solutions in his book, “World War and its only cure – World  Order & World Religion”.
  • He was a strong supporter of unity among Hindus and Muslims. Bhagvandas died on September 18, 1958 in Benaras at the age of  ninety.  He was a sage of the modern age.
  • This greater philosopher was honoured with the “Bharat Ratna”in 1955.  Dr. Bhagvandas received this highest civilian award from the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

bhagvan das

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