M.G. Ranade and Prabodhankar Thakare

M.G. Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade, (born Jan. 18, 1842, Niphad (India)—died Jan. 16, 1901, Poona , India, one of India’s Citpavan Brahmans of Maharashtra who was a judge of the High Court of Bombay, a noted historian, and an active participant in social and economic reform movements.  During his seven years as a judge in Bombay (now Mumbai), Ranade worked for social reform in the areas of child marriage, widow remarriage, and women’s rights. After his appointment as instructor of history at Elphinstone College, Bombay (1866), he became interested in the history of the Marathas, a militaristic Hindu ethnic group that established the independent kingdom of Maharashtra (1674–1818). The publication of his Rise of the Maratha Power followed in 1900.

Ranade has been called the father of Indian economics for urging (unsuccessfully) the British government to initiate industrialization and state welfare programs. He was an early member of the Prarthana Samaj (“Prayer Society”), which sought to reform the social customs of orthodox Hinduism. He regularly voiced views on social and economic reform at the annual sessions of the Indian National Social Conference, which he founded in 1887. Ranade inspired many other Indian social reformers, most notably the educator and legislator Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who carried on Ranade’s reform work after his death.

Prabodhankar Thakare

Keshav Sitaram Thackeray (1885 – 1973), commonly known by his pen name Prabodhankar Thackeray, was an Indian social reformer who campaigned against superstitions and social evils in India such as Untouchability, Child marriage and Dowry. He was also a prolific author. He was one of the key leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti which successfully campaigned for the linguistic state of Maharashtra. He was the father of Bal Thackeray, who founded Shiv Sena, a Marathi Hindu regionalist party. He is also the grandfather of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. There is a school in Pune named after him.

Keshav Thackeray’s own CKP caste ranked just next to the Brahmins in the caste hierarchy, but he refused to accept this old social hierarchy. He is often described as a social activist or social reformer for his rejection of caste system.

When the prominent Marathi historian VK Rajwade the upper-caste Kshatriya status claimed by the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) caste in a 1916 essay, Thackeray became one of his fiercest critics, and denounced his research as casteist. He wrote a text outlining the identity of the CKP caste, and its contributions to the Maratha empire. In this text, Gramanyachya Sadhyant Itihas, Thackeray talked about the discrimination suffered by other communities at the hands of the Brahmins during the Maratha rule. He was not much concerned about the ritual caste status, but sought to prove that many non-Brahmin communities (specifically the CKPs) had played a major role in the history of the Maratha empire. He wrote that the CKPs “provided the cement” for Shivaji’s swaraj (self-rule) “with their blood”, and supported him even before the Kshatriyas of Rajput origin joined him. Thackeray also replied to him in the Marathi book Kodandache Tanatkar (1918). Thackeray was supported in his defence by another writer Keshav Trimbak Gupte who replied to Rajwade in his sanskrit and Marathi book Rajwadyanchi Gagabhatti(1919) in which he produced verbatim the letters written by the Shankaracharya in 1830 formally endorsing the CKPs Kshatriya status by referring to them as Chandraseniya Kshatriyas and letters from Banares Brahmins (1779, 1801) and Pune Brahmins ratified by Bajirao II himself in 1796 that gave them privilege over the Vedas.

Keshav Thackeray played an important role in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement aimed at establishing the linguistic state of Maharashtra. He joined the movement in 1951, demanding the inclusion of the Dang district in Maharashtra instead of neighbouring Gujarat state. He was one of the founding members of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, which campaigned for the formation of Maharashtra and the inclusion of Belgaum and Mumbai in it.

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