Dr. Sadanand Shridhar More 7
M.A., Ph.D. (Philosophy)
M.A. (Ancient Indian Culture & History)
Scholar a Literature of Saints and
social Customs & Practices in Maharasthra.
Established a new format of writing
history by revealing various facets of
the cultural history of Maharasthra
through the works 'Tukaram Pelee
‘Lokamanya te Mahatma’ and ‘Garja
Recipient of awards from various
importdat institutions including
Sahitya Akademi for 'Tukaram
An artistic portrayal of poljticsin .
Maharashtra through the plays ,
‘Ujalalya Disha’ and ‘Shivacharitré’
Editorial contribution to several ’
books and journals; extensive travel
on acgount of lectures, seminars and
symposiums; an active commentator
on contemporaryissues .
Office-bearer on various Government:
and Non-Government bodies like
Sahitya Akademi and Language
Advisory Committee so
Worked with Savitribal Phule Pune
University as Professor of of Philosophy
and retired as the:Head of .
Department; Chair Professor and
Director in various faculties
e Received the Best Teacher Award from
the Government of Maharashtra.
Lokamanya To Mahatma is indeed arare gem and a precious addition to Indian literature,
based on the independence movement in Maharashtra. This book is the translation of the
groundbreaking Marathi book 'Lokamanya Te Mahatma, that leaves readers spellbound
every time it is read.
The journey of any movement for independence is shaped by its leaders. While this is so, it
is also true that the decisions taken by the leaders, to’a great extent, are influenced by
their followers as well as the events that take place around them. Tracing the journey of
transition of the leadership of the;Indian freedom struggle from Lokamanya Bal
Gangadhar Tilak to Mahatma Gandhi, the book presents the reader with a
comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the unknown yet into intresting facets of history that
most readers are unaware of.
Giving a clear insight into the intricacies of the relationship§ between the two leaders,
their independent ways of thinking and the events that shaped it and compelled them to
take the decisions they did, the book highlights their respective paths and the results that
they brougHt about. Additionally, it also brings to light ?" contribution of the Marathi
theatre to the freedom struggle.
An authentic, well-researched and comprehensive volume of the poligical history of
Maharashtra during the independence struggle!
Mires gave Gandhi his guru, Gopal Krishna Gokhale; his most devoted
and scholarly disciple, Vinoba Bhave; and his murderer, Nathuram Godse. And
there were many other connections that this great Gujarati had with the state that
bordered his own. From the time he visited Pune in 1896 to his assassination more
than half a century later, Gandhi had close, and sometimes very contentious relations
with Maharashtra and Maharashtrians.
Sadanand More’s magisterial work takes as its overarching framework the
relations—at once personal, political and philosophical—between Gandhi on the
one side and Gokhale’s great rival, Bal Gangadhar Tilak on the other. As More writes
early in the narrative: ‘The process of transition from Tilak’s leadership to that of
Gandhi's was a traumatic and painful experience for Maharashtra. There was discord
not just between families but within households as well’ This conflict between Tilak
and Gandhi, he further notes, ‘lies at the heart of the history of Maharashtra’, and
therefore, unless the conflict ‘is understood in its entirety, it would certainly be
difficult to understand Maharashtra’.
Lokamanya to Mahatma is a colossal work of scholarship, at once very deep
and extremely wide. Deftly translated from Marathi by Abhay Datar, this two-volume
study covers an astonishing array of themes. It is sociological, investigating the politics
of caste, community and region. It is literary, exploring the meanings of dozens of
plays, poems, and novels. It is intellectual, analyzing the rhetoric and arguments
of major as well as minor political figures. It is biographical, exploring the career
paths of many influential and interesting individuals. It is political, documenting the
trajectory, not just of the Congress Party to which both, Tilak and Gandhi belonged, but
also the trajectories of the Hindu Mahasabha, the Muslim League, the Communists,
and the RSS. It is pan-Indian, skilfully integrating the history of princely states with -
that of British India. At times it is also global, paying attention to major developments
outside India, such as the Russian Revolution and the rise of pan-Islamism that had
resonances for the political life of the subcontinent.
Lokamanya to Mahatma has rich discussions of disputes and arguments
between individual politicians, their parties, and their ideologies. These multiple
strands are woven together by the historian as a master craftsman. The narrative
rarely flags, the readability enhanced by the remarkable range of sources that
the book uses. Sadanand More has consulted government records, newspapers,
pamphlets, plays, memoirs, biographies, diaries and more. His command of Marathi
sources is staggering, but More has also read and digested all the relevant secondary
literature in English.
Sadanand More observes that, as genuinely all-Indian leaders, Tilak and
Gandhi had no peers in the British period. As he writes: ‘The term ‘Gandhi’s Muslim
followers’ for example, would not astonish anyone, while the term ‘Jinnah’s Hindu
followers’ or ‘Savarkar’s Muslim followers’ would raise eyebrows or evoke laughter’.
Tilak was not of course followed by as many Muslims as Gandhi, but he did have some
very influential admirers among that community, most remarkably, M. A. Jinnah.
Among the many hallmarks of this book are the subtle comparisons between
its two central figures. Thus More writes, on their formative influences: ‘Both Tilak
and Gandhi thought, functioned and acted within the framework of tradition. But in
the case of Tilak, his caste background and status as also the Brahminical influence
and upbringing of his younger days meant that he leaned towards tradition more
than Gandhi did. ... While Gandhi in his younger days had been brought up in an
atmosphere suffused by the influence of Vaishnava and Jain religious traditions, he,
unlike Tilak, had never been influenced by the orthodox Hindu scriptures. Besides,
Gandhi went to and stayed in England and South Africa early in his career and hence
became acquainted with Christian, Muslim and modern religious traditions’.
Again, while commenting on their respective worldviews, More remarks:
‘Tilak, who otherwise deeply involved himself in the interpretation of the Geeta,
and emphatically proclaimed that he was a Vedic Hindu, knew that politics was a
distinct domain of human activity with an equally distinct value system, and was
of the opinion that religious principles should not be brought into politics’. On the
other hand, ‘Gandhi refused to compartmentalize human life into discrete segments.
His principled position was that whatever was inconsistent with religion or ethics
should not be allowed into politics’.
On their differing religious philosophies, More comments: ‘For Gandhi, the
real debate in the domain of religion was the one about whether violence or non-
violence should be accorded primacy. For Tilak, the conflict lay between action-
orientedness, on the one hand, and on the other, the attitude of detaching oneself or
retiring from the world, or to put it simply, between action and renunciation’.
Meanwhile, on the characteristics that these two patriots shared, More says:
‘The fact that both Tilak and Gandhi could emerge as national-level and all-India
leaders means that the two shared some leadership qualities in common. One of
these qualities was undertaking many tasks at the same time and performing them
with equal promptness’.
On the varying social bases of their politics, More observes: ‘During Tilak’s
times, there was hardly any political consciousness among women. It increased much
later, during the Gandhian period’.
Lokamanya to Mahatma contains a fascinating discussion of the respective,
extended prison terms of Tilak and Gandhi. The author tells us what they read
and wrote when in jail. In this connection, More illuminatively notes: ‘Gandhi was
the prison-going disciple of Gokhale, who had never been to prison. A conversely
similar example from within the Tilakite camp was that of N. C. Kelkar. Kelkar was
the disciple of the prison-going Tilak, but one who never went to prison’ And he also
writes, movingly and accurately: ‘The ability and willingness to undergo suffering as
well as bear pain is an essential part of the character of great men.
Beyond Tilak and Gandhi, this study contains many other closely observed
portraits of individuals. We have here fresh perspectives on major all-India figures like
Ambedkar, Jinnah, and Savarkar; and of people well-known in Maharashtra but not —
elsewhere, such as P. K. Atre and N. V. Gadgil. The cast of characters is capacious, and
each portrait is sensitively done. My own particular favourites were the descriptions
of the remarkable reformers V. R. Shinde and Sane Guruji, whose lives and legacies
surely need to be better appreciated outside their home state.
As the narrative of Lokamanya to Mahatma moves beyond Tilak’s death
in 1920, it focuses more closely on Gandhi, his supporters, and his adversaries.
Sadanand More writes: ‘Gandhi was an enigma for his contemporaries. He could not
be made sense of using any measure, whether old or new. Hence, he was variously
regarded as a saint, a hypocrite, a mere Bania, a spy for the British, an ignoramus, and
a shrewd political operator’. This is brilliantly put; and the book goes on to explore
in rich detail the range of perceptions, impressions, readings and misreadings of
Gandhi in Maharashtra. Particularly impressive in this regard is More’s fine grained
analysis of the Quit India Movement in Maharashtra and its un Gandhian resort to
While reading Sadanand More’s study, it struck me several times that there
was a comparable book waiting to be written on Gandhi and Bengal, another province
with which the Mahatma had complex and contentious relations. Thus More writes:
‘All the Maharashtrian opponents of Gandhi were unanimous that Gandhi was bereft
of rationality’. One could say much the same of Gandhi's Bengali opponents. A chapter
dealing with the 1920s is called ‘Maharashtra Falls by the Wayside’. That was the
decade when Bengalis likewise lamented that their previous political dominance had
been usurped by Gandhi. Indeed, the case can be made that the hostility to Gandhi
was even greater in Bengal, especially when the Mahatma’s acolytes intrigued against
Subhas Bose when he was Congress President in the late 1930s.
Several chapters at the end of Volume 2 of Lokamanya to Mahatma deal with
Bengal, placed in a comparative lens with Maharashtra. There is a companion work
waiting to be developed - of the many-sided, multi-faceted, controversial relations
between Gandhi and the province of Tagore, Aurobindo, C. R. Das and Bose. I wonder
if any Bengali historian will rise to the task. I wonder if there is indeed a Bengali
Sadanand More, with comparable intelligence, energy and erudition. Meanwhile, we
can all, whether Maharashtrian, Bengali or neither, feast on this splendid work of
scholarship that the original Sadanand More has offered us.
Mahareshtra holds a special Position as far as the history of medieval and modern
India is concerned, When the concluding struggle between the Mughal empire
of Delhi and the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda entered its final phase, and
it seemed that the entire subcontinent was about to pass into the control of the
Mughals, an unexpected uprising occurred in Maharashtra. Shivaji, the young son of
Shahaji Raje Bhosale who had risen to political and military strength by alternatively
Serving the two Muslim Sultanates then ruling Maharashtra, suddenly and swiftly
established a new kingdom of his own. The Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, himself left
Delhi and took to the field in the Deccan, with the twin intentions of destroying the
two Sultantates that had earlier established themselves in the South, and completely
uprooting this upstart Power of the Marathas. He did succeed in destroying the
Sultanates, but fighting the Marathas brought the Mughal empire to its knees. First
Sambhaji, the eldest son of Shivaji, then Rajaram, the younger son of Shivaji, and
later Tarabai, the wife of Rajaram, continuously fought the Mughals, completely
exhausting them, Finally, his desire to destroy the Marathas unfulfilled, Aurangzeb
died in Maharashtra.
The death of Aurangzeb was a game changer in the Political chessboard of the
country. While on his deathbed, Aurangzeb released Shahu, the son of Sambhaji, who
till then had been a prisoner of the Mughals, and had him sent to Maharashtra as his
representative, thus Sowing the seeds of internal dissension among the Marathas.
Factions formed around Tarabai and Shahu. The unity of the Marathas was sundered
and much of their Strength was wasted in internecine fighting. But the Maratha
power did not go into irreversible decline as a consequence of this. Rather, they
became powerful enough to capture territories hitherto held by the Mughal Empire
in Northern India, and later, by checkmating the traditional powers of the N orth - the
Rajput and Jats, actually established their control over the imperial throne at Delhi.
As the march of events continued, power slipped out of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s
Bhosale family into the hands of the Chitpavan Brahmins, a community that had
migrated from the Konkan, a narrow coastal strip abutting the Arabian Sea to the
upland Desh region of Maharashtra, to seek its fortunes. The post of Peshwa or
Prime Minister, long occupied by Deshastha Brahmins like Moropant Pingle and
others, now passed into the hands of the Bhat family, who belonged to the Chitpavan
Brahmin community. Not only did this shift take place, but many established families
that had played an important role in the politics of Chhatrapati Shivaji, now fell by
the wayside. Their place was taken by the newly risen Maharashtrian families. The
expansionist politics of the Marathas in this period required the services of many, —
and at the same time, there were ample opportunities available to those who wished
to make a career. Hence, even while accounting for the natural bias of the Peshwas
towards their own Brahmin community, it was inevitable that practically all castes
of Maharashtra would more or less secure opportunities to make their fortune in
this entire process. It was as a result of this process that a shepherd family like the
Holkars could establish themselves at Indore and rival a Maratha family, the Shindes
of Gwalior. In Maharashtra, while the Brahmin sub-castes competed for power and
positions and their rivalries flourished, the Chitpavans, as a community, never had
the numbers to ensure that they alone could effortlessly carry out the expansionist
politics of the Marathas. Whatever might have been the extent of rivalries between
the Englishmen, the Scotsmen and the Irishmen, the services of all three were
required to rule India. Similarly, in Central and North India, Karhade Brahmins were
equal participants in the activities of the Marathas along with the Chitpavans. The
Saraswat Brahmins, described by other Brahmins as being fish-eaters, wielded both
the pen and the sword in Gwalior, and the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus, who had
played an important role in the times of Shivaji Maharaj, now found opportunities
to prove their talent in Baroda. As time passed by, the Marathas became an all-India
phenomenon. It is true that much later Bengalis, South Indians and Sikhs spread
throughout the country with the increasing availability of employment and trading
opportunities, but it was the Marathas who moved across and spread throughout
India as rulers and political actors.
The accusation of the English and other foreign historians that the Marathas were
mere rebels or looters, or their claim that the activities of the Marathas lacked any
overall strategy, can be dismissed as part of their political posturing. This is not to
say that the Marathas might not have harassed people in order to collect the Chouthai
and the Sardeshmukhi - taxes levied on territories not under their rule in return for
protecting them. But it cannot be said that they lacked a sense of responsibility or
seriousness. When Ahmad Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afghanistan, marched on India
to capture Delhi, it was the Marathas who took an all-India view that since India was
a single nation, its internal quarrels were of no concern to foreigners, and hence, a
united front of all the Hindu and Muslim rulers of India should be set up to fight the
foreigners. In keeping with this approach, the Marathas rushed ahead and took upon
themselves the responsibility of dealing with the danger posed by Abdali.
That the later Peshwa period was characterized by decline, debauchery and
degeneration is of course known to all. But yet, even while taking into account the
striking flaws of the later Peshwa period like Raghunathrao’s lust for power, the
childish immaturity displayed by both Narayanrao and his posthumous son Sawai
Madhavrao, and the decadent lifestyle of Bajirao II, it cannot be denied that it was
during the rule of the Peshwas, and as a consequence of their policies, that the
activities of the Marathas became an all-India phenomenon. It is very easy to criticize
the Marathas and especially the Peshwas by comparing them with the English,
a young rival who had acquired certain dynamism both after having equipped
themselves with the latest technologies, and due to the ambitions unleashed by an
expanding capitalism. In fact, indulging in such self-criticism was essential during the
early benign phase of the British Raj i.e., during the time of Lokahitawadi Gopal Hari
Deshmukh and without doing so, it would have been difficult to awaken a society that
lay in a stupor of complacency and smug self-satisfaction.
But if these requirements ofa particular period are kept aside, it would be unfair to
compare the Marathas with the English. Instead, they should be compared with their
other Indian contemporaries, be they the Indian Muslims, Jats, Rajputs, Punjabis,
Bengalis or South Indians. Just as the English emerged superior by prevailing over
all their rivals in Europe, from the Portugese to the French, similarly, in India, the
Marathas forged ahead of their rivals and established a dominant position in the
country. Theoretically speaking, it seems as though the English acquired India from
the Muslim rulers of Delhi. But the stark reality is that they won India from the
Marathas only after having broken their resistance. After all, it was the Marathas who
were the guardians of Delhi when the English captured it.
The Maratha power fell in 1818 and since Justice M. G. Ranade, Vishnushastri
Chiplunkar and Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak were born within half a century
of this event, and that too, as a matter of coincidence, in the Chitpavan Brahmin
community - the erstwhile ruling caste, they came into contact with the generation
that could tell a thing or two about the past glories of which they had first-hand
experiences. The aggressively polemical aspects of the criticism of the Peshwa period
leveled by Lokahitawadi were set aside by Justice Ranade, only by rightly absorbing
the pertinent points that had been made on the basis of the lessons of history, and
thus laid the foundation of constructive activities in Maharashtra. His moderate
liberalism was forged through his wide-ranging activities in diverse fields. As far
as Maharashtra is concerned, this tradition was carried forward by Gopal Krishna
Gokhale and Wrangler R. P. Paranjpe.
On the other hand, Chiplunkar took up the cause of the Peshwas while deriving
inspiration from them, and launched a counter-attack against Lokahitawadi.
Tilak kept aside the aggressive polemical aspects of this counter-criticism, while
absorbing its message of proud patriotism and desire for self-rule. His extremist
nationalism was formed by this very counter-attack. Interestingly, during the process
of the formation of his extremist nationalism, Tilak had to battle the leaders of the
moderate school of politics - Ranade, Gokhale and Paranjpe, and he successfully
withstood their challenge.
But this also shows the fact that for half a century prior to Tilak’s death in 1920,
all the main players on the political stage of Maharashtra were Brahmins, and as far
as their sub-caste was concerned, Chitpavan Brahmins. Of these, Gokhale and Tilak
could lead their respective schools of political thought at the national level due to
their own capacities and achievements. Maharashtra once again became a key player
at the all-India level. Within the passing of a mere century (1818-1918), history
had repeated itself and the leading position of Maharashtra once again came to be
accepted throughout the country.
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