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BJP's hero: Who is Madan Mohan Malaviya?

Last updated on: March 30, 2015 08:44 IST

President Pranab Mukherjee will be presenting the Bharat Ratna to the family of Indian independence activist Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya on Monday. 

Although much loved among the right-wing in India, few Indians know of and about Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.

So here are 10 facts you SHOULD know about Madan Mohan Malaviya.

Modi in Varanasi paying homage to the statue of Pandit Malaviya. 

1) Malaviya popularised the Upanishadic phrase Satyamev Jayate or truth alone triumphs, and is often credited with bringing it back into modern phraseological use leading up to its adoption as the national motto.

2) Malaviya was one of the founding fathers of scouting for Indians along with Justice Vivian Bose, Pandit Hridayanath Kunzru, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Annie Besant and George Arundale. He specifically started the Seva Samiti Scout Association, along with Kunzru in Allahabad.

Modi in Varanasi during the 2014 general elections. The BJP has invoked Malaviya in the past as well.

3) A prolific journalist himself, he had been the chairman of the Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946, and was instrumental in the launch of the newspapers Hindi edition. In his youth, he led the He also founded the now defunct English language newspaper The Leader as well as the Hindi monthly called Maryada and the Hindi weekly titled Abhyudaya.

The Benaras Hindu University was the brainchild of Pandit Malaviya.

4) He was the founder of the Benaras Hindu University, which he established in 1916, which remains one of the oldest institutes of learning in India.

5) As an important figure of the non-cooperation movement Malaviya protested against the Simon Commission. In an act of delicious irony, Malaviya, borrowing from the ‘Buy British’ movement in England, started the ‘Buy Indian’ movement against the British rule. He also wrote a detailed criticism of the Montagu-Chelmsford proposal for Indian constitutional reforms in 1918.

6) He was a ardent social reformer, and looked beyond the then prevalent caste barrier. Malaviya made massive efforts for the entry of Dalits into any Hindu temple.

Modi pays respect to Madan Mohan Malviya's statue in Varanasi. Sandeep Pal

7) By 1911, Malaviya had given up his legal practice and started living like an ascetic. However, this didn't stop him from re-entering public life to defend the freedom fighters who had been convicted to be hanged following the charges in the Chouri Choura case. Under his judicial counsel, of the 177 convicts, 156 were declared ‘ not guilty ’.

8) He was amongst the earliest proponents of Hindu nationalistic unity and had been, along with Lala Lajpat Rai, one of the earliest members of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. Although the party would eventually take a sharper turn to the right under the direction of Damodar Savarkar, it is evident that Malaviya laid the party’s foundation.

9) As an ardent Hindu, he was also one of the founding members of the Gorakshak Mandal -- intended to protect and preserve cows, which most Hindus consider holy. The mandal, along with similar organisations, were instrumental in making the prohibition of cow slaughter an article in the Directive Principles of State Policy.

10) Respected by Mahatma Gandhi, Malaviya was a long standing member of the Congress party. As a paternal figure to many of the second wave Congress leaders, he influenced, among others, Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru. In his part Gandhi, who considered him as an elder brother, gave him the honorific ‘ Mahamana ’ or great soul.

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