-By Dr. Burela Laxminarayana
We are now celebrating Swaraj 75, a year-long festival, and it is time to recollect unsung heroes who fought against invaders. We quote Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “it is the country’s misfortune that the present generations are not told about our national heroes” (1). Therefore, this is the right time to remember and acknowledge unsung heroes, particularly Swami Ramanand Tirtha whose Jayanthi falls on Oct 3.
Swami Ramanand Tirtha was a real Karma Yogi, a great educator, freedom fighter of Hyderabad State and also an activist of Arya Samaj. He always worked for the welfare of downtrodden people. He had immense love towards the poor and the persecuted and that made him a hero of the masses.
Swamiji was born on Oct 3, 1903, in Sindge, Bijapur District, in Karnataka and his family name was Vyenkatesh Bhagvanrao Khedgikar. Swamiji had his primary education in Ganugapur, the famous Datta Kshetram. He completed middle school from Kalyani and high school from Sholapur. He was a bright student all the way and completed BA and MA from Tilak Vidyapeeth and Pune University respectively with overwhelming success (2).
Swamiji started his career as Head Master in the year 1929 at Hipparga National School. While teaching at this National School, he laid himself a strong foundation for his future. In addition to teaching, Swamiji shared his ideas about politics and democracy and tried his best to inculcate values in students to become tomorrow’s leaders for people’s movement. Swamiji initiated a series of educational institutions, initiated many constructive activities and eventually became a leader of masses.
In those days, the princely state of Hyderabad (consisting of present day Telangana and parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka) was ruled by the tyrannical the Nizam VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan. The first Nizam, Mir Qamar-ud-din Khan, used to be Governor of Mughals and claimed independence in the year 1724. While granting independence to Bharat, the British authorised 600 princely states to merge with either Bharat or Pakistan. However, the Nizam of Hyderabad preferred to be independent without joining in Bharat as against the aspirations of native majority Hindus. This resulted in a standstill agreement between Bharat and Hyderabad State to continue the status quo for one year where the Bharat side will not attack the Nizam and Hyderabad State foreign affairs will be handled by Bharat.
During that time of uncertainty, Swamiji took upon himself the responsibility of gathering and leading the masses. He stressed the importance of a political platform irrespective of caste and religion for the freedom struggle against the Nizam to liberate Hyderabad State. He wished to establish Hyderabad State Congress Unit with members of Maharashtra Parishad of Marathas, Karnataka Parishad of Kannadigas and Andhra Mahasabha of Telugus. Swamiji proposed the establishment of Hyderabad State Unit of Congress in Haripura Congress Meeting (1937) headed by Subhash Chandra Bose. With his enormous efforts and great difficulty, the proposal was accepted. However, unfortunately, the dictatorial Nizam prohibited the Congress State Unit before its formation. Swamiji continued his struggle to establish the Congress State Unit, performed Satyagraha & non-cooperation movements and was thus arrested by the Nizam. Satyagraha started by him on Oct 24, 1938, is the first formal protest against the Nizam in the History of Hyderabad State. Swamiji filled masses with new energy and cognizance.
Eventually, Nizam lifted the prohibition on Congress. In 1947, Swami Ramanand Tirtha became the first President of the State Congress of Hyderabad. There he called for the final struggle against the Nizam for independence. He challenged Nizam and his gangster-in-chief, Kasim Rajvi. Swamiji proclaimed that the final war for independence of Bharat will be held in the land of Hyderabad State. He went on the path of non-violence to attack the Nizam and accomplished different Satyagraha movements. The Hyderabad State Congress campaigned for Hyderabad State to join Bharat, which the Nizam opposed. The State Congress Unit of Hyderabad declared Aug 7, 1947 to be “Join Indian Union” Day. Following this call, protests, strikes and flag-hoisting erupted across the State, prompting the Nizam’s government to once again outlaw the Congress and make huge arrests. Swamiji was jailed by Nizam for 111 days. The main contribution of Swamiji lies in mobilising masses against the Nizam of Hyderabad State. Meanwhile, there was a war-like situation due to atrocities of Rajakars in Nizam State. Finally, this led to “Police Action” by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel of Bharat. Military code for this was ‘Operation Polo’ or ‘Operation Caterpillar’. Police Action started on 13 September, 1948 and on 17th September, 1948, Nizam surrendered to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and the Military of Bharat (3).
In fact, soon after the Police Action, the transitional Government released the three prominent leaders of Hyderabad State, namely Swami Ramanand Tirtha, Pandita Narendra Ji and Vinayak Rao Vidyalankar requested and have taken their help in maintaining the law and order in twin cities.
Soon after the police action, Swami Ramanand Tirtha cautioned the Government of Bharat that the use of force against Communists would have to be augmented with farming reforms in order to strike at the fundamental cause of the movement.
Taken together, the leader of masses, Swami Ramanand Tirtha’s endeavours and unparalleled leadership and Bharat policies especially ‘Police Action’ by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel liberated the Hyderabad State and annexed it into Bharat.
Post-independence, Swamiji spent his time for the betterment of poor and underprivileged.
Swami Ramanand Tirtha breathed his last on 22nd January 1972 (at the age of 69 years). Shri PV Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister of Bharat, developed “Swami Ramananda Teerth Memorial” in Brahmanwadi, Hyderabad, as resting place for Swamiji’s mortal remains.
In the memory of Swamiji, Swamy Ramananda Tirtha Rural Institute was set up by then Prime Minister of Bharat, Shri PV Narasimha Rao in the year 1995. The campus of this Institute is at Bhoodan Pochampally, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri Dist., Telangana State. The objective and functioning of this institute is to empower rural people especially youth and women.
- తెలుగు వారి చరిత్ర: మైలు రాళ్ళు – మణి దీపాలు, డా. గుమ్మన్నగారి బాల శ్రీనివాస మూర్తి, శ్రీ పద్మావతి పబ్లికేషన్స్, రాంకోఠి, హైద్రాబాదు (2008).