BANARSIDAS CHATURVEDI - WRITER AND EDUCATIONIST
He was born in Ferozabad in Uttar Pradesh on 24 December 1892. He passed intermediate examination of U.P. Board in 1913. Since there were very few colleges then in India for courses of Bachelor and Master, passing of Intermediate was sufficient for starting a career. Teaching was a respectable profession. So he began as a teacher in a High School in Farrukabad, very close to Ferozabad, After some time, he moved to a degree college in Indore where Dr. Sampurnanand, the famous educationist, was also a teacher. Soon, a Hindi Sahitya Sammelan was held in Indore with Mahatma Gandhi as the President where most of the Indian Hindi writers and educationists were present. His interaction with them inspired him to be a journalist.
His career as a journalist began as the editor of Hindi journal “Vishal Bharat”. Ramanand Chatterjee living in Calcutta was the owner of this journal and “Modern Review”. He was much impressed by his work and brought him to Calcutta where he came to know several Indian National leaders. He then moved to Shanti Niketan, the town of the great Indian Rabindra Nath Tagore on the invitation of Andrews. At the request of Mahatma Gandhi, he joined “Gujrat Vidhyapith” as a teacher. In 1920, he decided to give up teacher’s job and be a full time journalist. He made “Vishal Bharat” a monthly journal with contributions from all famous writers of the time. He then moved to Tikamgar and became the editor of the journal “Madhukar” The king of Orcha was a great admirer of Hindi literature and writers. He was much impressed by the knowledge of Hindi, Sanskrit and English of Banarsidas. He advised him to become a full time writer with his financial support. Banarsidas agreed and began writing on contemporary subjects. His books Rekhachitra, Sahitya aur Jiwan, Satyanarayan Kaviratn, Sansmaran, Bharatbhakt Andrews, Fiji Deep Me Mere 21 Varsh, Hamare Aradhya, Setubandhs became very popular and are being read even now.
He played leading roles in setting up of several literary Hindi institutions at home and abroad. In 1973, Government of India recognised his contributions as a writer and social worker by giving award of Padma Bhusan. He died on 2 May 1985 at the ripe age of 93 years.
Bihari Lal Chaturvedi
Bihari Lal Chaturvedi was born in Govindpur near Gwalior in 1595. He spent his boyhood in Orchha in the Bundelkhand region, where his father, Keshav Rai lived. After marriage, he settled with in-laws in Mathura. His father, Kesav Rai, was a twice born (Dwija) by caste, which means an offspring of a Brahman father by a Kshatriya mother. Early in his life, he studied ancient Sanskrit texts.
In Orchha state, he met the famous poet Keshavdas from whom he took lessons in poetry. Later, when he had shifted to Mathura, he got an opportunity to be present in the court of visiting Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who immediately got impressed by his work and invited him to stay in Agra. Once at Agra, he learnt Persian language and came into contact with Rahim, another famous poet. It was also at Agra that Raja Jai Singh 1 (ruled. 1611–1667), of Amer near Jaipur, happened to hear him. He invited him to Jaipur. He composed here his greatest work “Bihari Satasai” in Brajbhasha. It is a collection of approximately seven hundred distichs, perhaps the most celebrated Hindi work of poetic art, as distinguished from narrative and simpler styles. His poetry is in “Shringar Ras”, depicting the divine love of Krishna and Radha. A couplet in “Bihari Satsai” states that it was completed in A.D. 1662. His patron was Jai Shah, Raja Jai Singh I (1611–1667), of Amer, near Jaipur, during the reigns of the Emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. A couplet (No. 705) appears to refer to an event which occurred in 1665 concerning Raja Jai Singh. The couplets were composed for him. For each Doha or couplet, the poet received a gold coin worth sixteen rupees.
Today it is considered as the most well known book of “Ritikavya Kal” or “Riti Kal” of Hindi literature. The language is in Brajbhasha, spoken in Mathura where the poet lived. The couplets are inspired by the worship of Krishna in the shape of amorous utterances of Radha, the chief of Gopis or cowherd maidens of Braj, and her divine lover, the son of Vasudeva. Each couplet is independent and complete in itself, is a triumph of skill in compression of language, felicity of description and rhetorical artifice. The distichs, in their collected form, are arranged, not in any sequence of narrative or dialogue, but according to the technical classification of the sentiments which they convey as set forth in the treatises on Indian rhetoric.
Though “Bihari Satsai” is only known work of Bihari, an estimation in which the work is held can be measured by the number of commentators who have devoted themselves to its elucidation. Dr G. A. Grierson mentions seventeen. The collection has also twice been translated into Sanskrit. The best–known commentary is that of Lalluji Lal, titled “Lala Chandrika”. The author was employed by Dr Gilchrist in the College of Fort William, where he finished his commentary in 1818. A critical edition of it has been published by Dr G. A. Grierson in Government of India Press 1896 at Calcutta. It is presumed that he died in1669.
One of the famous Dohas (couplet) written by Bihari is:
Satsaiya ke dohre jyun naavik ke teer
Dekhan men chote lage ghaav kare ghambir.
Its meaning is that the couplets of “Bihari Satsai” are like the arrows of a sailor, they look small but cut deep.
Poet and Writer Kulpati Misr
Exact date of his birth is not known. It is assumed that he was born 300 years ago in Agra. His father was Parushram whose sister was married to the great Hindi poet Bihari Lal Chaturvedi. He was a disciple of Pandit Jagan Nath Sharma, writer of “Ganga Lahri”. He and his uncle Bihari Lal were the courtiers of the then King of Agra. His migration from Agra to Jaipur is an interesting episode.
Kings used to go from one place to another by sitting in a Palki which subjugated kings carried on their shoulders, but family friends and some important kings were exempted. Kulpati one day saw the king of Amer doing this. He was sweating profusely. He asked one of the servants to call another king to replace him. Amer king was a strong, well built, brave, intelligent and good fighter. He asked him whether he wished to be exempted from doing this humiliating act. Amer king requested for his help. He went to the king and told him that king of Amer was a very brave fighter and could win for him the state of Assam where the king himself had failed. King gladly agreed. Kulpati himself was a good warrior. He had an excellent sense of hearing the movement of troops away 24Kms. He could calculate also the numbers of soldiers on feet, horses and elephants. He also wanted to go for the battle. Agra king agreed. They went and won the battle. Agra king personally welcomed them. He asked the Amer king to take a gift from him. He said that he had everything except a person like Kulpati. So he could be king’s gift to him. King agreed. Since Amer king had given 12 villages to many of his near relatives, Kulpati said that he could accept his proposal if he was given 13 villages of his choice. The king gladly agreed and Kulpati moved from Agra to Amer on the out skirts of Jaipur. Since his relatives were at Agra and Mathura, he selected13 villages 3km away from Rajgarh in district Alwar, established a new village with full religious rituals and named it Govind Pura after his elder son Govindram. He built a fort like house on a hill here and land to his relatives for building houses. Their descendants are now residing here. His younger son was Ballav. He migrated from there to Sikanderpur village near Kayamganj in Uttar Pradesh. All Misras here are Kulpati’s descendants.
King of Jaipur was much impressed by Kulpati’s writings. To build a house, he gave him about 20 bighas of land 1km.away from his palace and 3100 gold coins. Kulpati held a big Gayatri Yugya here and built a small house with stones on nearly 3 bighas of land. It was named “Bori Kothi” where his descendants are residing now. He wrote 12 books here, gifted them to king which are preserved in the archives of the king. Names of some of these books are “Sangram Sar, Durga Bhakti, Chandrika Rash Raharsya, Nisani Swarup Kurup, Vish Bimukh etc.”
In the ancient time, entry to residences of queens of kings was very restricted. Only trusted persons were allowed to go there. Since Kulpati was the Guru of king Ramsingh of Jaipur, he was teaching the queens also in the palace. It was on his advice that he obtained release of the great Maratha king Shivaji and his Guru Tej Bahadur from the jail of Mugal king Auranjeb. His book “Nisani” is based on this. Apart from Braj Bhasha, he had written many couplets in Punjabi also.
Freedom Fighter Sidh Gopal Chaturvedi
Sidh Gopal Chaturvedi was born on 23rd February 1925 in village Jahangirpur in district Etah in Uttar Pradesh (earlier known as United Province) in a Brahmin farmer family. His forefathers, a family of two brothers, had migrated from Mathura to the present village, nearly 60 kms away, during the rule of Mughal King–Aurangzeb around 1660 A D to save themselves from his tortures and humiliations. They made the land suitable for farming with the help of their maternal uncles living in the nearby village of Pharauli and started growing crops, keeping animals and building houses of bricks and mud. To avoid harassment and gain the goodwill of the Mughal Ruler, they named the village as Jahangirpur. As the size of the family increased, they developed and occupied more land, built new houses, cattle sheds and gave land and jobs to others required to help them in their living. In course of time, their possession of land increased to nearly 1400 bighas with 7 houses of Chaturvedis and 20 of others.
Sidh Gopal (lovingly called Siddho) was the fourth son of Dayu Dayal and Shyama Dayu Dayal was the eldest son of Ram Ratan, who in his younger days had worked as a Khajanchi (present day’s Treasurer) in one of the Princely States of U P and had to settle down in the village when he was in the mid forties after the death of his younger brother to look after the farming and the family. Shyama was the eldest daughter of Gopinath living in Mainpuri. As there was no school in and around the village, she sent all her children four sons and two daughters to her father at Mainpuri for schooling. Since Dayu Dayal had also studied upto middle school, he knew the importance of education in life and gave full support to his wife. At the young age of 18 years, he came to Calcutta and started working as a Stock Broker. He had later joined in his profession by his eldest son Onkar Nath who passed High School and Intermediate Examinations of the U P Board of Education from Mission High School, Mainpuri and Stephen College, Agra.
Sidh Gopal also did his High School from the same school at Mainpuri, but had to give up further studies at the young age of 17 years in 1942 August when he joined the ‘Quit India’ movement of Mahatma Gandhi as a ‘Freedom Fighter’. During one of the regular demonstrations in front of the Mainpuri Kotwali, he hoisted the National Flag on the top of the Kotwali Building after bringing down the British Flag in the middle of heavy Police firing. Though injured in the leg, he could avoid arrest and remained underground for a long time. However, one day when he was undergoing the dressing of the wound by a doctor, Police came to know about his presence there and arrested him. He was produced in the Court of District Judge, Mainpuri for trial. Considering his young age of 17 years, the Judge asked him to request for pardon for participating in the agitation so that he could be released. He refused and was sentenced for imprisonment of 19 months in the Mainpuri jail with extradition from the State thereafter. So he had to come to Kolkata to live with his elder brother who was also a strong follower of Mahatma Gandhi and had given up his western attire for simple Khadi Dhoti – Kurta – Gandhi Cap and believed in following the Gandhiji’s ideology of ‘Ahinsa’ in daily life.
After Gandhiji’s death, he got actively involved in the “Bhoodan Movement” of Vinoba Bhave. As average Indians are very good in giving names, he got the nickname “Vinoba” from the relatives. Though this was the gift to him of “Mean and Polluted Minds” for his Gandhian living and thinking, in real life he always endeavoured to live according to Gandhian ideology.
Onkar Nath was like a father to Sidh Gopal who got the respect for the Gandhi an ideology for him. Being younger to his brother by nearly 13 years, he was full of energy and liked to participate openly in agitation and demonstration movements. In Kolkata also he was involved in struggle of India’s Independence. Like Gandhiji, he was against the partition of India. During the Hindu- Muslim riot in 1946 in Kolkata, when people were mercilessly killing each other on the basis of religion, some real incidents of Sidh Gopal are worth mentioning.
He used to live with his brother in the Hindu dominated are of Vivekananda Road, very close to the house of another great son of India, Swami Vivekananda. There was a hostel of the Calcutta University exclusively for the Muslim girls hardly ten houses away. Hindus of the locality were planning to kill girls and set the building ablaze. He knew of the plan and tried to convince them not to do so. They attacked the hostel in the middle of the day. He saw Late Basant Lal Murarka, a member if the legislative council then, passing through the locality in his car with police escort. He stopped him, told him of the plan of the people and requested him to do something to save the girls. The MLC refused to help and advised him to keep out of it for his and his family’s safety.
Sidh Gopal went to Police Station of his locality. Though the Police had also got biased during the riot, he forced them to accompany him to the hostel. The girls were taken out safely from the hostel and sent to Muslim area. Police asked him to go with them so that he was not harmed physically. He refused and was severely assaulted by his Hindu of the locality. Instead of returning to his brother’s house, he went to live with one of his friends in the nearby Muslim dominated area of Colootola, where he also saved some Hindu lives. This shows how courageous and fearless he was.
After India was freed from the British rule, he got involved in the power politics of the Kingdom of Nepal when Ranas occupied the throne forcing King Tribhuvan to seek shelter in India. He worked with Koirala’s Nepali Congress, was extradited with him but succeeded in restoring the King’s rule there. Afterwards, he returned to India and lived like a common man till his death in a truck accident on 24th May 1968 at Robertganj, in which he was returning home in the night from Varanasi to Mirzapur to attend his job in the morning inspite of the warning of his friends not to travel in the truck. This is another example of his boldness and dedication to his duty. His love to the members of the family was so intense that he seldom destroyed their letters. At the time of his death, he had with him a letter of his nephew written nearly two m0nths ago from Kolkata which helped the Police in identification of the body and relatives.
Inspite of the suggestions of friends and admirers that he should continue political activities in the independent India, he refused to do so. Probably, he had the foresight to visualise the shape of the things to come. However, he continued to help the people and established a school in Jahagirpur in 1952 for boys and girls by making his father to donate land and arranging funds from relative and friends. On the occasion of the 25 years of India’s independence on 15th August 1972, the Government of Uttar Pradesh honoured him by accepting him as a ‘Freedom Fighter’.
LAKSHMI PATI MISRA
He was born on 5July 1888 in Mainpuri, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, as the second son of Banarsi Das Misra. He lost his father at a very young age resulting in financial difficulties which he overcame through to his strong will power, hard work and honesty. He began his education at the Mission School, Mainpuri; passed school final examination of U.P. Board of Education from there and B.SC. in1907 from St. Johns College, Agra. He started working in Thomson College, Roorkie; took admission in 1908 in the Engineering College there and obtained the degree of B.E. in 1911. He was interested in sports from young age. Tennis, swimming and boating became his regular exercises giving him healthy body and mind. His son Sumant became a leading Indian tennis player; won several national and international tournaments, represented the country in Davis Cup and grandson, Gaurav, also emulated his father. Immediately after becoming an engineer, he picked the job of Assistant Engineer in 1911 in Awadh Bundelkhand Railways and became the Executive Engineer in a year; worked from 1924 to 1927 at Baroda as Chief Engineer; was sent to Europe in 1927 to study the working of railways there; worked with the railways at several places; set up railway connections in the remote areas of the country; built Okhla Port at Kathiyabad; guided the railways in setting up locomotive building workshop at Chittaranjan; introduced three tier sleeper coaches in long distance passenger trains; advance reservations; short stoppages at the stations of suburban trains and retired from there in 1945 as Chief Commissioner. In 1946, he began a new service career in Hindustan Motors Ltd. as General Manager and played a big role in the growth of the company as a leading manufacturer of cars and trucks.
His desire from the beginning was to be useful to society and nation. So he was on the Executive Boards of various commercial, national and social organisations throughout the life. During the second world war, he assisted the Indian Army in its battle at eastern border. For this, the Government of India honoured him with the Honorary rank of "Lieutenant General". He advised the leaders of Independent India to build more roads; automobiles, rail workshops, bridges and link the rivers for regular irrigation and navigation. Apart from being honoured by the British Government with Knighthood for his services to the railways, he was bestowed with the degree of "Doctor of Engineering" by University of Roorkie in 1959. For financial help for education of needy children, widows, social and religious institutions etc, he set up "Shree Lakshmi Pati Misra Trust" which is being run by his family now. He worked without sickness till his sudden death on 8 February 1964 at the age of 76 years.
He was the third son of Sir Lakshmi Pati Misra of Mainpuri and Shyama Chaturvedi of Mallepur; was born in Faizabad on 11 January 1923; was the first National Tennis Champion of India; was a member of Indian Davis Cup team for nine years from 1947 to 1956 and captained the team in 1952 and 1953; reached the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon Men's Doubles Championship with Jimmy Mehta in 1947 and 1948 and the US National Doubles at Forest Hills in 1947, being the only pair in the championships to take a set of Schoder and Kramer, the winners, who had won both Wimbledon and the US Nationals at Forest Hills that year. He won the last All India Tennis Championship in 1944-45 and then went on to win the first newly christened National Lawn Tennis Championship of India at Calcutta South Club in 1946-47 beating Man Mohan Lal. In 1952-53, he won the National Championship again and was the finalist on three other occasions. In the 1947-48 final, he lost to Lennart Bergelin of Sweden (better known as Bjorn Borg's coach).
In 1972, his son, Gaurav, beat Ramanathan Krishnan to win the National Lawn Tennis Championship of India at Calcutta South Club, making them the first father and son to win the National Championship.
He also won the men's singles title at both the Ceylon and Malay Nationals in 1958-59 and 1959 respectively. Since there was no ATP Tour then, each country held its own national events. He was the finalist at the inaugural Asian Tennis Championship in 1949. His game was dominated by cannon ball serves and lethal backhands. Nicknamed 'Tiny', he carried the moniker like a crown on his 6 feet and 2 inches frame. Also called 'the grandfather of Indian tennis', he was initiated into the game by his father Sir L. P. Misra, then Chief Commissioner of Indian Railways. As a 14-year-old, his favourite turf was the lawns of Calcutta South Club. He met here his contemporaries, Narendra Nath, Man Mohan Lal and Dilip Bose. He was the only one to participate in the junior, the men's and senior National Championships.
He was secretary of the All India Tennis Association (AITA, then known as AILTA) from 1963 to 1966 and was on the Committee of Management of ITF (International Tennis Federation) during 1965-67.
Besides tennis, he was an accomplished squash and golf player. He began the service career at a young age from Calcutta Port Commissioners and retired from Indian Aluminium Company Ltd., a unit of multinational Alcan, as General Manager Coordination. His wife, Sharda, was the eldest daughter of Dayu Dayal Chaturvedi of Jahangirpur and Shyama Misra of Mainpuri. He had two sons and two daughters. He passed away at New Delhi, the city which was his home after he moved out of Calcutta in mid seventies, on 3 September 2011 at the age of 88 years.