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Swami Keshwanand: A Social-Reformer and Educationist

“Mass illiteracy is the root-cause behind backwardness of India. If we want speedily progress of the nation, we need to root it out as early as possible.”Swami Keshwanand   

          Swami Keshwanand was a renowned social reformer and a leading freedom fighter of the Gandhian era of freedom movement, who along with making the people conscious of the consequences of illiteracy, immorality, untouchability, intoxication and other social evils, worked for mass awakening, rural upliftment and propagation of nationalism and national language.

          Born in 1883 in a poor Jat family of Mangloona village in Sikar district, Rajasthan, Birma, renamed as Swami Keshwanand after becoming a Sanyasi of the Udaseen sect in 1904, was deprived of education in his childhood. His father Thakarsi died when he was only 7 years old and his mother Saran had no means even to meet the basic needs of the family.

          But, he was keen to study. Moreover, he was hard-working. Therefore, after becoming a Sanyasi he started learning Samskrit, Hindi and Punjabi and achieved unprecedented command over them within a short period. Thereafter he never turned behind. He having the spirit of extensive social reform as the nucleus stepped forward in the field of education on the one hand, and with the aim of freeing and reconstructing the nation jumped into the fight for freedom under the leadership of the Mahatma on the other. For, as mentioned already, he got himself enlisted in the ranks of great social reformers, freedom fighters and educationists of modern India.            

          In his lifetime Swami Keshwanand, besides laying the foundation of the Gramothan Mahilavidyapeeth, established 300 schools-colleges, 50 hostels and many social service centres, museums and community halls in the regions of Punjab and Rajasthan. He successfully organized the All India Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Abohar, Punjab in 1941 and also significantly contributed making the Prayag Hindi Sahitya Sammelan strong and people-friendly. He was a known constructive writer himself which could be comprehended from his work entitled, Marubhoomi Seva Karya. This book is a mirror of rural India and is still capable to guide those who desire understanding Indian villages or wish to work there.

          With the purpose of developing ethics, morality and values in common men and, side-by-side, filling in them the spirit of nationalism and humanity, Swami Keshwanand started ‘Deepak’,   a monthly in 1933, which tremendously contributed for the purpose in those days.          

          He was not only active in the Non-Cooperation and Swadeshi Movement [1920] and Civil Disobedience Movement [1930], but hundreds of men and women inspired by him too participated in them and they were time and again imprisoned along with Swamiji.

      Swami Keshwanand was a champion of communal harmony. By providing medical aids to people particularly to those Muslims who were severely injured in communal clashes at the time of the partition of India in 1947, especially in process of migration of people, he set an example to be followed by generations to come. Simultaneously, he by making relief and rehabilitation arrangements for refugees coming from West Pakistan also contributed to the cause of humanity. He did so till he breathed his last on September 13, 1972.

          In recognition to his matchless services rendered in propagation of human values, social reform and education among the laymen he was twice between 1952 and 1964 nominated to Rajya Sabha. A commemorative stamp was also released in his name by the post and telegraph department of India.

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