Childhood & Early Life
He was born on December 25, 1861, in Allahabad, India, in a Brahmin family to Pandit Brij Nath and his wife Moona Devi as their fifth child among five sons and two daughters.
His ancestors were Sanskrit scholars originally hailing from Malwa, Madhya Pradesh, hence called the ‘Malaviyas’, while their actual surname was Chaturvedi.
His father, a Sanskrit scholar, was an exceptional Kathavachak, who recited the stories from ‘Srimad Bhagavat’. Young Malaviya also aspired to become a Kathavachak like his father.
His elementary education began in Sanskrit at five years of age. He completed his primary education from ‘Dharma Gyanopadesh Pathshala’ of Pandit Hardeva and thereafter studied in a school run by ‘Vidha Vardini Sabha’.
Thereafter he studied at 'Allahabad Zila School’, an English medium school. Here he began to write poems with pseudonym ‘Makarand’, which were later published during 1883-84 in ‘Harischandra Chandrika’ magazine. His articles on contemporary and religious subjects were published in ‘Hindi Pradeepa’.
In 1879 he completed his matriculation from ‘Muir Central College’ (presently the ‘Allahabad University’).
As his family was going through a financial crisis, the Principal of ‘Harrison College’ helped him with a monthly scholarship with which he studied at the ‘University of Calcutta’ and earned a B.A. degree.
He wanted to pursue masters in Sanskrit, but the financial condition of his family forced him to take up a job of a teacher at the Government high school in Allahabad in July 1884, drawing a monthly salary of Rs. 40.
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While attending the second ‘Indian National Congress’ session in Calcutta in December 1886, he expressed his views on representations in Councils and impressed Dadabhai Naoroji, chairman of the session as also Raja Rampal Singh of Kalakankar estate (Pratapgarh District). Singh was in search of an able editor who could turn his Hindi weekly, ‘Hindustan’ into a daily.
Malaviya accepted the offer of Singh and left his school job to join the paper as its editor in July 1887. He served the position for 2 ½ years following which he returned to Allahabad to study Law.
While studying Law, in 1889 he started working as editor of English daily, ‘Indian Opinion’. His other journalistic endeavors included founding of Hindi weekly, ‘Abhyudaya’ in 1907 and serving as its editor, later transforming it to a daily in 1915; founding the English newspaper ‘Leader’ (1909), serving as its Editor (1909-11) and later as President (1911-19); starting Hindi paper ‘Maryada’ (1910); acquiring and thus saving ‘Hindustan Times’ from dying out in 1924 with the aid of M. R. Jayakar, Lala Lajpat Rai and Ghanshyam Das Birla and serving as its Chairman (1924-46); launching Hindi edition of ‘Hindustan Times’ called ‘Hindustan’ in 1936.
After earning his L.L.B., he began to practice in Allahabad District Court in 1891.
In 1893 he started practicing in Allahabad High Court.
He was elected the president of the 'Indian National Congress’ in In 1909 and 1918. A moderate leader, belonging to the ‘soft faction’ of the Congress led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Malaviya was against one of the main features of the ‘Lucknow Pact’ of 1916 that mentioned separate electorates for Muslims.
To dedicate fully to the cause of social work and education, Malaviya relinquished his well set up law practice in 1911 and vowed to lead a life of a Sanyasi. However in 1924, following the Chauri-chaura incident of 1922 he appeared before the Allahabad High Court to defend the 177 freedom fighters, who were sentenced to be hanged by the Sessions Court, and became successful in getting 156 acquitted.
Annie Besant, a leading British women's rights activist, socialist, theosophist, orator and writer, who founded the ‘Central Hindu College’ (1898), met Malaviya in April 1911. Both of them decided to set up a Hindu University at Varanasi. They came in unison of the pre-requisite of the Indian government to include ‘Central Hindu College’ as part of the upcoming University.
This is how the largest residential University of Asia, the ‘Banaras Hindu University’ was formed in 1916 after passing a Parliamentary legislation, the ‘B.H.U. Act 1915. He remained Vice-Chancellor of the University till 1939.
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In 1912 he became a member of the ‘Imperial Legislative Council’ and continued to be so when it was transformed into the ‘Central Legislative Assembly’ in 1919, his membership remained till 1926.
He got associated with Jawaharlal Nehru and Lala Lajpat Rai, and several others in 1928 to oppose the ‘Simon Commission’ and on May 30, 1932, he published a manifesto insisting to concentrate on the ‘Buy Indian’ movement in the country.
In 1931 he attended the ‘Second Round Table Conference’ as a delegate.
He presided the 1932 session of the Congress in Delhi. Malaviya played a major role in the Non-cooperation movement, although opposed Congress' participation in the Khilafat movement. On April 25, 1932, around 450 Congress volunteers along with Malaviya were arrested in Delhi.
The ‘Poona Pact’ agreement was signed between him and Dr. Ambedkar on September 25, 1932. It provided reserve seats for the depressed classes (denoting the untouchables among Hindus) in the general electorate in the Provincial legislatures, instead of forming separate electorate.
He became the President of Congress for the fourth time in Calcutta in 1933.
Disenchanted with the ‘Communal Award’, he split away from the Congress along with Madhav Shrihari Aney and the duo founded ‘Congress Nationalist Party’ in 1934. That year the party won 12 seats in elections to the central legislature.
In 1937 he retired from active political life.
Many places, institutes, hostel campuses were named after him like the Malviya Nagar in Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow and Allahabad among others; ‘Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology’ in Gorakhpur; and ‘Malaviya National Institute of Technology’ at Jaipur.
The train ‘Mahamana Express’, launched on January 22, 2016, is named after him.