ALIGARIAN MAHENDRA PRATAP ROYAL REFORMER
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, a freedom fighter, a political reformer, a social activist had a multi-faceted personality. An alumnus of the Aligarh Muslim University, Mahendra Pratap was a true nationalist to his finger tips. As a student and as a socio-political activist what was always uppermost in his mind was Swadeshi in letter and spirit. He had received education in the English medium but he never liked the Englishmen as the rulers of Hindustan. He left no stone unturned that his motherland gained independence in all respects after throwing off the foreign yoke. Mahendra pratap singh went forward to achieve Swaraj and Swadeshi lock stock and barrel. He succeeded in achieving his aim and became a living legend.
Born on 1st December 1886 in the princely family of Mursa in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh ( formerly United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in the British India) the three-year old Mahendra moved upward in the royal hierarchy when when Raja Harnarayan Singh of Hathras adoped him as his son and put him through his paces to acquire knowledge at higher rungs of the academic ladder. Of course, he got an opportunity to move in higher realm of Royalty when at the age of 16 years he married Kumari Balwinder Kaur, a princess of the Jat-Sikh ruling family of Jind State in the undivided Punjab. No worldly fascination, however, could quench his thirst of knowledge and he moved on and on in the academic sphere too.
Mahendra was initially admitted to the Government School, Aligarh but his quest of knowledge drew him to the portals of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (School wing), Aligarh. The move also underlined Mahendra Pratap’s wish to be close to all sections of the Indian society without any distinction of caste, creed, region and religion. No wonder when he became an adult and managed his Estate, he was liberal in donating land lavishly out of his fiefdom to the Aligarh Muslim University of which he was an alumnus.
It is a part of recorded history that the great academic institution founded by the giant among men, Syed Ahmed Khan in 1875, had met its major part of requirement of land by outright grant made by the then British government. It is learnt that 92 percent of land requirement was met by the British government of the day. The point of private donation of land, however, small is of great importance as landholders of the Hindu community had come forward voluntarily to donate their own land for the great cause of the Indian community.
It would be in the fitness of things to make a mention that the Aligarh Muslim University is now a Public institution, a Central University funded by tax payers money, majority being from the Hindu community. Indeed the motto of the University lays an emphasis on imparting education to one and all irrespective of the region or religion or gender that a student may belong to. Of course, the motto is taken from the holy Quran and translated into English it means:
TEACHETH MAN THAT WHICH HE KNOWS NOT
And true to the Word now the girls are permitted to enjoy the benefits of the main Maulana Azad Library, subsequent to the intervention of the Allahabad High Court and supported by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. If Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh were alive today, he would have been a happier man.
Raja Mahendra pratap Singh was a great exponent of technical education for the common man, especially those who came from the have-not sections of the society. He had established a Technical Institute in his palace at Vrindavan in 1909 and named it as Prem Mahavidyalaya. Indeed it was through mutual love that he wished to bring all sections of the Indian society to gether. What better mode could there be than imparting technical education to the new generation of the ignored sections of the society. Some historians of the time attribute it to Mahandra Pratap’s leanings towards Marxism, notwithstanding his close association with a favourite disciple of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, a movement of Hindu Renaissance. The favourite disciple of Rishivar was Shyamji Krishna Varma who had helped all Indians and all Indian causes in Europe with men, money and material. Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh and Shyamji Krishna Varma had met in Europe when Mahendra Pratap was touring many countries like Japan in the East, UK, France and Switzerland in the West to garner support for the freedom movement of India. Mahendra Pratap was impressed with the whole hearted support that the Arya Samaj had given to the Swaraj and Swadeshi movements in India and abroad.
Mahendra Pratap was dead against the curse of Untouchability that had infested the Hindu society. He knew that mere words were not enough and action to remove the curse was required. He took the courageous decision of dining with a Sweeper, a Jatav and a Tamta in various regions of the North India. A man so immersed in the principle and precept of amalgamation of sects and sections of all religions into one social order to work for the Independence of India could never have taken any step that would lead to vivisection of our social order.
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh was equally conscious of the fact that only political peaceful revolution would drive the British rulers away from shores of India. To achieve his aim he travelled to Calcutta in 1906 to attend an important session of the Indian National congress, much against the advice and persuation of his father-in-law and others of the royal family of Jind. It throws light on the determination of Mahendra Pratap Singh and his wish to follow his programme of liberation of India from the clutches of foreign masters, despite opposition from his wife’s loved ones. The said session of the Congress was held after the partition of Bengal by the British in 1905 and nationalist feelings were running high. VANDE MATARAM was sung from the rostrum and all and sundry participated in the mass singing. No less a person than Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel had stood on the stage and sang the song of patriotism in unison.
A mention of Quaid –e –Azam, founder of Pakistan, is relevant at this juncture. He made a will and wrote that one-third of his estate and residual wealth be donated to the Aligarh Muslim University after his demise. Let us take a leaf out of his book of life and donate lavishly to the cause of education of all Indians. Singing of Vande Mataram by one and all across the length and breadth of India should be encouraged whole heartedly as was done by Mohd Ali Jinnah. Let us say VANDE MATARAM in unison.
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