Biography of Rajaji / Chakravarthy Rajagopalachari- Indian Political Leader


Known As:

Rajaji / “Moodharignar” in Tamil Meaning  “Elderly Wise Man” Rajaji / Mango of Salem / CR

Occupations:  Lawyer, Indian Independence Activist, Politician, Writer and Statesman

Date of Birth: 10th December 1878

Place of Birth:

Thorappalli Village, Salem District of Madras Presidency-
Thorappalli Village is now in Krishnagiri District of Tamilnadu State, at 6 kms from Hosur Town.

Father:  Mr. Chakravarti  Venkatarya  Iyengar- Munsiff of Thorapalli Village

Mother:  Ms.Singaramma

Education:  Central College, Bangalore / Presidency College, Madras

Date of Death: 25th December 1972 at Chennai

Rajaji In Politics: 

After education Rajaji had practiced as a lawyer and was a successful advocate and earned a lot of money and fame.

Then, Rajaji was interested in public service and entered into the Indian Political field.

Rajaji had been a devoted member and a strong leader of the Indian National Congress / INC and he was close to Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

Rajaji had been along with the top leadership of the INC in many important and crucial  matters and suggested solutions to the problems faced by the high command of the INC..

Rajaji had been in the Government of the INC in various high profile capacities, including Governor, Union Cabinet Minister and Premier of Madras Province and Chief Minister of the State of Madras.

However, Rajaji was having  differences of opinions with the leaders of the Indian National Congress / INC, including Mahatma Gandhi.

Rajaji was against Mahatma Gandhi’s / INC’s ‘Quit India’ Movement and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s army activities in the Indian Freedom Struggle.

Basically, Rajaji differed from them in the concept / approach of  ‘getting’  freedom / independence from the ‘British Rule’ and the modes of freedom struggle.

However, Rajaj had  been in the INC and he was given respect and importance by the party and he had been given key posts in the Government of INC.

In the year 1959, Rajaji resigned from INC and formed his own political party by name  ‘The Swatantara Party’ and his party contested against the INC in the General Elections of 1962, 1967 and 1972.

Rajaji was instrumental in forming an “United Anti-Congress Front” in the Madras State under the leadership of ‘Perarignar’ C.N.Annadurai, the founder leader of the political party ‘Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ / DMK.

The Madras/Tamil Nadu State’s Local Party-DMK came to power in the State of Madras in the 1967 elections with a large majority and displaced the INC from the Ruling Chair of the State of Madras / Tamilnadu.

The DMK could become the ruling party of the State of Madras due to many factors, such as the people’s wish to have an alternative to the Congress Rule, inspired by the thought provoking speeches of ‘Perarignar- C.N.Annadurai, and the support of the popular Tamil Silver Screen Hero- M.G.Ramachadran / MGR and by the support of Rajaji and his supporters.

After 1967 the Indian National Congress / INC could not become the ruling party in the State of Madras / Tamilnadu.

Only, the local  Dravidian Political Parties, especially, the DMK of C.N.Annadurai & M.Karunanidhi and the All India Anna Dravina Munnetra Kazhagam /AIAMDK of MGR & Ms. J.Jayalalitha have been dominating in the state’s politics and the ‘Vote Banks’..

Position Held By Rajaji in Indian Government:

Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari/Rajaji  had held the following Posts in the Government of India
(Right From the President of Municipality To The Governor General of India:

  • President of the Salem Municipality
  • The First Premier of Madras Presidency From 14th July 1939 To 09th October 1939
  • Governor of West Bengal  From 15th August 1947 To 1948
  • Last Governor General  of India, From 21st June 1948 To 26th January 1950, succeeding the late British Governor General of India-Lord Mountbatten, during his visit to his home country Britain. (Rajaji is the first, last and the only Indian who had been the ‘Governor General of India’, as the post itself was removed after India became  ‘Republic’. )
  • Indian Union Minister of Home Affairs From 26th December 1950 To 25th October 1951

Award/Honour  to Rajaji:

Rajaji has been respected by all the politicians of India and he  has been considered as one of the ‘rarest of rare politicians’ / leaders  in the true sense even in those days, despite his gross differences of opinions with the INC leaders and  many other Indian political leaders.

The name of Rajaji has been given to many roads in different parts of India and many parks and public places have been named after ‘Rajaji’.

The highest civilian award of the Union Government of India  the “Bharat Ratna” was conferred on Rajaji along with Dr.S.Radhakrishnan and Sir C.V.Raman in the year 1954,  when the award was first instituted and awarded.
On 26th January 1955, the Republic Day of India, Rajaji received the ‘Bharat Ratna’ Award from the first President of India Babu Rajendra Prasad.

Rajaji has been Praised and /or Criticized  for many of his bold and drastic steps taken and changes made by him in the State of Madras as detailed below:

In March 1938,  Rajaji  introduced the “Agricultural Debt Relief Act” to ease the burden of debt on the province’s peasant population.

Rajaji  issued the “Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act 1939”, under which restrictions were removed on Dalits and Shanars entering Hindu temples.

 Subsequently, in the year 1939,   the Madurai Meenakshi Temple  was opened to the people of all castes including Dalits and Shanars.

Rajaji introduce “Liquor Prohibition” and banned the sale and use of ‘Alcohol’ in the province of Madras,causing a heavy loss to the Government.

Rajaji introduced ‘Sales Tax’ to compensate the loss incurred by the Government due to ‘prohibition of alcohol’.in the State of Madras.

As a result of Rajaji’s closure of liquor shops in the State of Madras, the revenue  to the government declined and hundreds of government primary schools were closed down.

Rajaji felt that  because of the full day long school education system, the students who were from families having own skilled business / trade.could not learn the skills of the  trade of their parents.

So in the year 1953, he introduce a new Primary Education System known as the “Modified System of Elementarry Education”, with reduced syllabi and with only 3 hours of classes per day to enable the students to learn their family trade / business /vocation at home,  in the remaining time of the day.
However, the revised primary education scheme of Rajaji was criticized as ”Kula Kalvi”/ ”Caste-based Education” or “Hereditary  Education” by the opposition parties, especially by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of C.N.Annaduarai.

Rajaji introduced  ‘Compulsory Hindi’ in Indian Educational Institutions and ‘Anti Hindi’ violent protests were kindled and consecutively many protestors were arrested and 2 protestors, ‘Thalamauthu Nadar ‘and ‘Nadarasan ‘were killed in the violence.

When Rajaji had been the Chief Minister of the undivided ‘Madras State’ demands for a separate state for Telugu speaking people of the Madras state were intensified.

Rajaji as the Chief Minister of Madras along with Jawaharlal Nehru had been firm in not allowing linguistic segregation of the states of India .

However, an Indian Independence Activist and a Social Worker of Madras Potti Sriramulu died on 15th December 1952, in the prolonged and continuous fasting/hunger strike in support of the demand for a separate state for Telugu speaking people of the Madras state

 Subsequently, on 01st October 1953, on the eve of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,  (02nd October ) the fore-runner of ‘Satyagraha’/Fasting-Hunger Strike for demand for independent India, ‘Andhra State’  was  created with the  Telugu-speaking districts of Madras, Kurnool as the capital of the Andhra State.

Rajaji  did not allow the demands  for having the Madras City in the new Andhra State.

Also,  Rajaji was firm in not allowing the new ‘Andhra State’ to have Madras as the temporary capital of the new Andhra State / Common capital  of both the new Andhra State and the remaining Madras state)

The Following are some of the Works in the Field of Literature of Rajaji:

  • Rajaji formed  ‘Tamil Scientific Terms Society’  a society for coining new Tamil words in the various branches of Science, namely, Botony, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and  Mathematics in  the year 1916
  • Rajaji published his daily diary notes from 21st December 1921 to 20th March 1922 the period of his imprisonment by the British Government in the form of a book named  “Siraiyil Thavam”/’ Mediatation in Jail’ in English in the year 1922.
  • Rajaji wrote an abridged form of the Tamil Version (Translation from the Original Sanskrit)  of the epic ‘Mahabharata’ in the year  1951 and of the epic ‘Ramayana’ in the year 1957.
  • Rajaji wrote a Tamil version of the Sanskirt epic “Ramayana” as a serial in the Tamil Weekly Magazine ‘Kalki’ from 23rd May 1954 to 06th November 1955.
  • The episodes of Rajaji’s Tamil ‘Ramayana’ were published as a book named  ”Chakravarthi Thirumagan’, which  won the ‘Sahitya Academy Award’  in Tamil Language to Rajaji in the year 1958
  • Rajaji translated Kambar’s Ramayanam in Tamil into English in the year 1961.
  • Rajaji translated the Divine Tamil Poetry written by Thiruvalluvar“Thirukkural”– into English
  • Rajaji has written  books on the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads in English
  • Rajaji has written on Socrates, and Marcus Aurelius in Tamil
  • Rajaji is one of the founders of the ‘Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’   an organization dedicated to the promotion of ‘Education and Indian culture.  In the year  1959 the ‘Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’  published Rajaji’s book: “Hinduism: Doctrine and Way of Life”.

Devotional SongsBy Rajaji:

  • Rajaji composed the popular  Hindu-Religious Carnatic Song  devoted to Lord Venkateshwara  “Kurai Ondrum Illai- Marai  Moorthy Kanna”, which is sung in all the Carnatic Concerts and Religious Functions held in the State of Tamilnadu. The above devotional song has been sung by many singers, including the popular Carnatic Singer ‘ Bharat Ratna’ Ms. M.S. Subbulakshmi has sung the song.
  • Rajaji composed a ‘Benediction Hymn’ sung by Ms.M.S.Subbulakshmi at the United Nations General Assembly, in the year 1967.

Quotes By Rajaji:

“If India’s government is to be an institution integrated with her people’s lives,if it is to be a true democracy and  not a superimposed western institution staged in Indian dress,religion must have an important and recognized place in it  with impartiality and reverence for all the creeds and denominations prevailing in India.”-

“What is wanted to save parliamentary democracy is an opposition that will operate not privately and behind the closed doors of the party meeting, but openly and periodically through the electorate.”-

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Baldev Mahar
Baldev Mahar
8 years ago

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