Mahadev Govind Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade (18 January 1842 – 16 January 1901) was an Indian scholar, social reformer, judge and author. He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress party[1][2] and owned several designations as member of the Bombay legislative council, member of the finance committee[1] at the centre, and judge of the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra.[3]

Mahadev Govind Ranade
Born18 January 1842 (1842-01-18)
Died16 January 1901 (1901-01-17) (aged 58)
Alma materUniversity of Bombay
OccupationScholar, social reformer, author
Known forCo-founder of Indian National Congress
Political partyIndian National Congress
Spouse(s)Ramabai Ranade

As a well known public figure, his personality as a calm and patient optimist influenced his attitude towards dealings with Britain as well as reform in India. During his life he helped to establish the [ Vedashastrottejak Sabha ] Vaktruttvottejak Sabha, the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha[ Maharashtra Granthottejak Sabha and the Prarthana Samaj, and edited a Bombay Anglo-Marathi daily paper, the Induprakash, founded on his ideology of social and religious reform.

He was given the title of Rao Bahadur.[4]

Early life and familyEdit

Statue of Justice Ranade in Mumbai

Mahadev Govind Ranade was born into a Chitpavan Brahmin family in Niphad, a taluka town in Nashik district.[5] He studied in a Marathi school in Kolhapur and later shifted to an English-medium school. At age 14, he went to study at Elphinstone College, Bombay. He belonged to the first batch of students at the University of Bombay. He obtained a BA degree in 1862 and four years later, obtained his LLB.

Social activismEdit

Ranade was a social activist whose whose and activities were deeply influenced by western culture and the colonial state. His activities ranged from religious reform to public education to reform within the Indian family, and in every area, he was prone to see little virtue in Indian custom and tradition and to strive for re-forming the subject into the mould of what prevailed in the west. He himself summarised the mission of the Indian Social Reform Movement as being to "Humanize, Equalize and Spiritualize," the implication being that existing Indian society lacked these qualities.[6]

His efforts to "Spiritualize" Indian society flowed from his reading that the Hindu religion laid too much stress on rituals and on the performance of family and social duties, rather than on what he called 'Spiritualism.' He viewed the reformed Christian religion of the British as being more focused on the spiritual. Towards making the Hindu religion more akin to the reformed protestant church, he co-founded and championed the activities of the Prarthana Samaj, a religious society which, while upholding the devotional aspect of Hinduism, denounced and decried mamy important Hindu social structures and customs, including the Brahmin clergy. Critics of Ranade's activities as relating to religion point out that he missed the insight that Hindu religion, prolific of sects, is nevertheless free from all sectarian strife because it is accepting of diversity of belief while insisting on conformity with social norms. In other words, Hinduism is a way of life rather than a narrow religion because it emphasises orthopraxy over orthodoxy; what matters is not what you believe about God but rather what you do as a good parent, child or spouse. Salient in this paradigm is the inherent liberalism and tolerance of Hinduism.

His efforts to "Humanize and Equalize" Indian society found its primary focus in women. He campaigned against the 'purdah' system (keeping women behind the veil).He was a founder of the Social Conference movement, which he supported till his death,[1] directing his social reform efforts against child marriage, the shaving of widows' heads, the heavy cost of marriages and other social functions, and the caste restrictions on traveling abroad, and he strenuously advocated widow remarriage and female education.[1] He was one of the founders of the Widow Marriage Association in 1861.[7] He chose to take prayaschitta (religious penance) in the Panch-houd Mission Case rather than insisting on his opinions.[8][9]

In 1885 Ranade, Vaman Abaji Modak, and historian Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar established the Maharashtra Girls Education Society and Huzurpaga, the oldest girls' high school in Maharashtra.[10][11][12] proof

Personal lifeEdit

Upon the death of his first wife, his family wanted him to marry again. His reform-minded friends expected that a co-founder of the would certainly defy prevailing social norms and marry a widow. However, Ranade yielded to his family's wishes and confirmed with convention to marry Ramabai, a maiden who was significantly younger than him, and who was a daughter of the Kurlekar family, which belonged to the same caste and social strata as him.[13] The couple had an entirely harmonious and conventional marriage but were not blessed with children. Ranade ensured that his wife receive a high education, something about which she herself was initially not keen about. However, she grew into her new life, and after Ranade's death, Ramabai Ranade continued the social and educational reform work initiated by him.

Published WorksEdit

  • Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1900). Rise of the Maráthá Power. Bombay: Punalekar & Co. OL 24128770M.; reprinted in 1999 as ISBN 81-7117-181-8
  • Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1990). Bipan Chandra (ed.). Ranade’s Economic Writings. New Delhi: Gyan Books Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 81-212-0328-7. OL 364195W..
  • Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1899). Essays on Indian Economics. Bombay: Thacker & Company. OL 11994445W.
  • Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1900). Introduction to the Peishwa's Diaries: A Paper Read Before the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Poona: the Civil Military Orphanage Press. OL 14015196M.; reprinted by CHIZINE PUBN as ISBN 9781340345037

In popular cultureEdit

A television series on Zee Marathi named Unch Maaza Zoka (roughly translated as 'I have leapt high in Life') based on Ramabai's and Mahadevrao's life and their development as a 'women's rights' activist was broadcast in March 2012. It was based on a book by Ramabai Ranade titled Amachyaa Aayushyaatil Kaahi Aathavani. In the book, Justice Ranade is called "Madhav" rather than Mahadev[note 1].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ He himself is quoted as saying that "I am Vishnu (Madhav) and not Shiva (Mahadev)" (see pages 12, 121). This anomaly was discovered by Ms. Vibhuti V. Dave, while translating the book into Gujarati, under the title Amaaraa naa Sambhaaranaa[14]"


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ranade, Mahadeo Govind" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 884.
  2. ^ "Mahadev Govinde Ranade". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Encyclopaedia Eminent Thinkers (Vol. 22 : The Political Thought of Mahadev Govind Ranade)", p. 19
  4. ^ Mahadev Govind Ranade (Rao Bahadur) (1992). The Miscellaneous Writings of the Late Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.G. Ranade. Sahitya Akademi.
  5. ^ Wolpert, Stanley A. (April 1991). Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India By. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 302. ISBN 978-0195623925.
  6. ^ "Rise of Reason: Intellectual history of 19th-century Maharashtra". Hulas Singh. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  7. ^ "THE GROWTH OF NEW INDIA, 1858-1905". 17 May 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  8. ^ Bakshi, SR (1993). Mahadev Govind Ranade. p. 42. ISBN 978-81-7041-605-0.
  9. ^ "Loss of Caste". Retrieved 22 August 2015. He and a few other notables including Bal Gangadhar Tilak attended a meeting with the missionaries of the Panch Houd Mission, which still exists in Pune. Tea was offered to them. Some of them drank it and others did not. Poona in those days - late 19th century - was a very orthodox place and the bastion of Brahminism. Gopalrao Joshi made the affair public and all offenders were ordered to undergo prayashchitta for their offense of drinking the tea of Christian missionaries.
  10. ^ Bhattacharya, edited by Sabyasachi (2002). Education and the disprivileged : nineteenth and twentieth century India (1. publ. ed.). Hyderabad: Orient Longman. p. 239. ISBN 978-8125021926. Retrieved 12 September 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Huzurpaga". Huzurpaga.
  12. ^ Ghurye, G. S. (1954). Social Change in Maharashtra, II. Sociological Bulletin, page 51.
  13. ^ Mukherjee, M., 1993. Story, history and her story. Studies in History, 9(1), pp.71-85.
  14. ^ Dave, Vibhuti (6 December 2014). Amaaraa Sahajivan naa Sambhaaranaa. Vadodara, Gujarat, India: Self. pp. 12, 121.
  • Brown, D. Mackenzie. Indian Political Thought: From Ranade to Bhave. (Berkeley: University of California, 1961).
  • Mansingh, Surjit. Historical Dictionary of India. vol. 20, Asian Historical Dictionaries. s.v. "Shivaji". (London: Scarecrow Press, 1996).
  • Masselos, Jim. Indian Nationalism: A History. (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1985).
  • Wolpert, Stanley. India. (Berkeley: University of California, 1991). 57.
  • Wolpert, Stanley. Tilak and Gokhale: Revolutions and Reform in the Making of Modern India. (Berkeley: University of California, 1962). 12.