Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 30, paid homage to Indian revolutionary and freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma on his death anniversary, lauding him as a devout nationalist and courageous personality.
“A devout nationalist and courageous personality, he was at the forefront of India’s struggle against injustice and colonial rule. Inspired by his ideals, we will keep working for the people of our great nation,” PM Modi tweeted.
Shyamji Krishna Varma, a fervent nationalist, established India House, The Indian Sociologist, and the Indian Home Rule Society in London. Through the Indian Home Rule Society, he criticised British rule in India, and the bimonthly Indian Sociologist developed into a forum for nationalist ideas.
In the Gujarati town of Mandvi, Shyamji Krishna Varma was born on October 4, 1857. After completing his elementary schooling in Bhuj, he was admitted to Mumbai’s Wilson High School. Shyamaji wed Bhanumati in 1875, the sister of his classmate Ramdas and the daughter of affluent Bhatia businessman Seth Shri Chahbildas Lallubhai. He contacted Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the Arya Samaj founder, radical reformer, and proponent of the Vedas. He adopted him as his pupil. Shyamaji was a well-known figure and a founding member of the first Arya samaj Center, which was established in Kakadvadi, Mumbai, on April 10, 1875.
Shyamji’s proficiency in Sanskrit and religious literature greatly delighted Swamiji. He helped Shyamji and inspired him to give lectures on Vedic philosophy and religion. Shyamji travelled throughout Bharat in 1877, spreading the Vedic ideology. During this visit, he received widespread praise from the general public and many eminent academics for his knowledge and public discourse. Professor Monier Williams, an Oxford-trained expert in Sanskrit, attended Pandit Shyamaji’s speech in Mumbai in 1876.
He was greatly struck by Shyamaji’s depth of understanding, his command of the Sanskrit language and works of literature, and the brilliance of his oratory. He recognised the young man’s promise and initially offered Shyamaji a position as his assistant. In 1879, Shyamji travelled to England at the request of Oxford University professor Monier Williams. In 1883, Shyamji earned his arts bachelor’s degree. The Royal Asiatic Society asked him to give a speech on the “Origin of Writing in India” theme. He quickly rose to fame after giving the speech to the point that the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain decided to accept him as a non-resident member. After receiving his barrister of law degree in 1885, he went to India and worked in various positions.
The Ratlam state first chose him to serve as diwan or chief minister, but he was forced to resign due to his failing health. He also worked for the Maharaja of Udaipur as the diwan of the state of Junagadh under his rule. On January 19, 1885, he officially registered as an advocate with the Bombay High Court and began his legal career. He founded the India House in London due to Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s inspiration, bringing together Madame Cama, Veer Savarkar, Virendranath Chattopadhyay, S.K. R. revolutionaries like Rana, Lala Hardayal, Madan Lal Dhingra, and Bhagat Singh. Shyamji was a fervent admirer and ally of Gangadhar Tilak. He thought the Congress Party’s attitude toward the British was deplorable and dishonourable.
A supporter of the Chapekar brothers’ 1897 murder of the Poona plague commissioner, Shyamji Krishna Varma, fled to England to continue India’s independence struggle.
Shyamji disagreed and refused to participate in the operations of the Indian Congress, primarily overseen by Mr Hume, Mr Waddenburn, and their associates. Shyamji published the inaugural issue of his English monthly “The Indian Sociologist” in 1905, marking his official political entry into Indian politics. Shyamji officially launched the Indian Home Rule Society on February 18, 1905.
Home rule society’s goals were to secure home rule for India, spread awareness of freedom and national unity among Indians, and carry out propaganda in England using all available means. The British authorities were alarmed by Shyamji Krishna Verma’s nationalist writings and actions. They realised that the British intelligence agency was keeping a careful eye on their efforts, so they decided to make Paris the focal point of their operations. To do this, they covertly left for Paris and gave Veer Savarkar control of India House.
He resumed his operations after arriving in Paris in 1907, leading the British government to exert pressure on the French government to extradite him but in vain. Shyamji successfully explained his views to many French leaders by staying in Paris. In 1914 he moved to Geneva, where he conducted his activities. Shyamji Krishna Varma’s health was often poor in the 1920s. Although he continued to publish The Indian Sociologist in Geneva, his ill health prevented him from doing so after September 1922. On March 30, 1930, he passed away in a hospital in Geneva.
The British government tried to keep the news of his passing secret. Although Shyamaji Krishna Varma did not live to see India become independent from British rule, he made pre-paid arrangements with Geneva’s municipal government, Ville de Geneve, and St. Georges Cemetery to preserve his and his wife’s ashes (Asthis) at the cemetery for 100 years and to send their urns to India whenever India becomes independent during that time. His ashes finally arrived in India on August 22, 2003, 55 years after independence, when the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, received them from the Swiss government. A memorial called Kranti Teerth dedicated to him was built and inaugurated in 2010 near Mandvi.