Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Ravishankar Vyas: A Selfless Constructive Worker and Social Reformer

Ravishankar Vyas, affectionately called as the Maharaj in Gujarat and all over India, was a true Gandhian, a leading freedom fighter and a humble servant of the people.

Born on February 25, 1884, Mahashivaratri Day, to a rural-based peasant Brahmin family of Radhu Village of Kaira District, Gujarat, Ravishankar dropped out of school just after the sixth standard and engaged himself to assist the parents, Nathiba and Pitamber Shivram Vyas in agriculture work.

Those were the days when the freedom movement of India was at the turning point towards independence from the British imperialism. Gandhi’s leadership based on Ahimsa was emerging. Besides Satyagraha in Champaran, Bihar, Gandhi was ready to lead another Kisan Satyagraha in Kaira, Gujarat. Vallabhbhai Patel had already accepted him as his leader. At this very time Ravishankar inspired by Gandhi’s ideas also joined the non-violent battle of the peasants of Kaira with courage and enthusiasm. His short-term association with Gandhi brought a drastic change in his vision of life. Therefore, by going from village-to-village in the Kaira district, he collected fact-based information regarding problems and difficulties of farmers proving himself to be a restless, tireless and a great constructive worker of his time.

The Gujarat region was the centre of activities pertaining to the national liberation movement of India in these days and strategies for all future programmes were also decided from there. Ravishankar Vyas was selected as the one of three [other two were Narhari Dwarkadas Parikh and Mohanlal Kameshwar Pandya], who were given the responsibility to decide strategy in making the Non-Cooperation Movement [the first mass action to be launched by Gandhi in 1920] as an unprecedented and successful movement under the able guidance of Vallabhbhai Patel. This very trio also accomplished the same task in launching of the Civil Disobedience Movement by Gandhiji in 1930.

Ravishankar Vyas actively participated in Borsad Satyagraha [1923-4] and Bardoli Peasants’ Agitation [1928]; he stayed at the forefront in Individual Satyagraha [1940] and Quit India Movement [1942] and suffered imprisonment for at least ten years.

Being a leading constructive-social worker and leader he established Rashtriyashala at Sunav, Gujarat, particularly with the purpose of making the youth self-reliant and instilling in them a sense of duty and values. He worked day and night at the time of a natural calamity that came in the form of floods in 1927 in the Central Gujarat and earn the title of Maharaj of the people.

Moreover, after India’s independence from the British Rule, Ravishankar Maharaj associated himself with the Sarvodaya and the Bhoodan programmes and concentrated his entire energy on practical and beneficial work for the welfare of the down-trodden people of Gujarat. Organizing relief works for the aid of the victims of natural calamities like cyclones, floods and draughts in villages, in making permanent arrangements for the implementation of relief work in view of the repeated onslaught of such natural calamities, and his noteworthy work for the common men and particularly rural masses became the source of inspiration for those concerned about reconstruction and rebuilding India. 

Ravishankar Maharaj as a matchless social reformer, worker and leader, was a real Gandhian and highly respected among the people of Gujarat. The Maharaj breathed his last on July 1, 1984 at the age of 100. In recognition and honour of the great services rendered by Ravishankar Maharaj, the Department of Post and Telegraph, Government of India, issued a commemorative stamp under the category of Leading Freedom Fighter and National Leader’.


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Comment by Uma Majmudar on March 21, 2011 at 22:31

Ravishankar Vyas, better known as "Ravishankar Maharaj," was one of those veteran Indian freedom fighters whose life was completely changed after listenting to and meeting with Gandhiji.  Even though younger than the Mahatma, Ravishankar Maharaj was highly revered by Gandhiji for his tireless service to the poor and the needy and for his spotless character.  Enjoyed reading this article highlighting the life and work of a silent, saint-like servant of India and a lifelong follower of Gandhiji.


Uma Majmudar

Comment by Uma Majmudar on March 21, 2011 at 22:22

Ravishankar Vyas, better known as Shri Ravishnakar "Maharaj," was one of the veteran freedom fighters who was so strongly and deeply influenced by GAndhiji that he dedicated his whole life to the service of the poor during and after the Indian incdependence movement.  Even though younger than Gandhiji, RAvishankar Maharaj was highly revered by the Mahatma for his tireless service to the needy and for his spotless character.

Loved to read Dr. Ravindra Kumar's tribute to such a pure, saint-like servant of India and a  follower of Gandhiji!


Uma Majmudar

Comment by Arya Bhushan Bhardwaj on March 20, 2011 at 2:50
Late Sri Ravishanker Maharaj, was off course a leading freedom fighter and national leader, but he was a true human being to the hilt, I had good fortune to come into contact with Ravishankerji during 1973 when JP gave a call to the nation for Total Revolution. I was a young activist and supported JP movement and suffered imprisonment during Emergency. Thanks to Ravinderji for reminding a true realised soul.

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