Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Balakrishna Shivram Moonje - Biography

B. S. Moonje or Balakrishna Shivram Moonje (12 December 1872 – 3 March 1948) participated in Congress movement as a Indian freedom fighter and later became participant and leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.

Moonje was born in 1872 at Bilaspur in Central Provinces (present day Chhattisgarh). He completed his Medical Degree from Grant Medical College in Mumbai in 1898, and was employed in Bombay Municipal Corporation as a Medical Officer. He partiicipated in the Boer War in South Africa through the Medical Wing, as the British Commissioned Officer, due to his keen interest in Military Life. After returning from South Africa, he started his medical practice at Nagpur. Moonje actively participated in the freedom movement  and he was a strong supporter of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In the Congress Party’s annual session held at Surat (Bombay province) in 1907, trouble broke out between the "moderate" and the "extremist" factions of the Congress party over the selection of a new President. The extremists were led by the triumvirate of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipinchandra Pal (known as Lal-Bal-Pal). Moonje and his followers literally gave physical protection to Tilak when he was attacked by a few people throwing chairs and stones. From then onwards, the relationship between Tilak and Moonje became very close. Moonje toured entire Central India and collected funds for Tilak's activities on many occasions. Moonje also introduced Ganesh and Shivaji Festivals in Central India which were started by Tilak. He also accompanied Tilak to Calcutta for this purpose. Moonje acted as  The General Secretary of Central Indian Provincial Congress for many years.

As a social reformer, he established many social institutions and organisations such as schools, orphanages, gymnasiams, rifle clubs, hostels for untouchables (Dalits). All the institutions he founded are still running in good condition, some of them have completed their Diamond Jubilee. He also started a Marathi Newspaper known as Daily Maharashtra in Nagpur.

After the death of Tilak in 1920, he dissociated from Congress. He disagreed with pro-Muslim Khilafat policy of Congress. He took up the Hindu cause and continued to pursue it until his death in 1948. He was the All India President of the Hindu Mahasabha from 1927 until he handed over the charge to Veer Savarkar in 1937. Till his death, he was very active in the Mahasabha and used to tour all over India.  He supported Savarkar, worked  with him in building a strong organisation. He also attended the Round Table Conferences (in London) twice to represent the views of Hindus.


Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia
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