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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Dr. Rajendra Prasad” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad


A prominent intellectual, a great educationist, an able lawyer, an outstanding leader and free India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was born on 3 December 1884, in an obscure village, Zeradei, in the Saran district of North Bihar. Rajendra Prasad’s life was an embodiment of the Gandhian principles. He was to Mahatma Gandhi, to quote Sarojini Naidu, what John was to Christ. Jawaharlal called him the symbol of Bharat and found “truth looking at you through those eyes.” In 1922 C.R. Das, the President of the Gaya session of the Indian National Congress, remarked, “At the moment Rajendra Prasad appears to be the sole excuse for a further honest trial of Gandhism to solve a political problem.” When this view was reported to Motilal Nehru in January 1923, his reaction was almost identical: “Das is certainly correct. We have given a fair trial to Gandhism for over two years. It seems to me that the only good result it has yielded—I do not say it will not yield better or more results—is Babu Rajendra Prasad.” Four years later Vithalbhai Patel remarked, “The one argument against the discontinuance of the Gandhian cult is Rajendra Prasad.” Gandhiji himself once said of him: “There is at least one man who would not hesitate to take the cup of poison from my hands.” In Rajendra Prasad he saw a great deal of himself. No wonder Gunther called him the heart of the Congress organisation.

Rajendra Prasad’s ancestors originally belonged to an aristocratic family of Kayasthas in the village Amroha, Uttar Pradesh from where they shifted to Ballia and finally settled in Bihar. He was the grandson of Mishri Lal and the youngest child of Mahadev Sahai and Kamleshwari Devi, in a family of two sons and three daughters.

Rajendra Prasad’s father was a country gentleman, a scholar of Persian and Sanskrit. His hobbies were wrestling and horticulture and he took delight in providing free Ayurvedic and Unani treatment to patients who flocked to him. Rajendra Prasad’s mother was a devout lady. Every day she used to narrate stories from the Ramayana to young Rajendra. She had great influence in shapping Rajendra’s personality. Sadly the death snatched her away in 1910 when Rajendra was 25. No wonder the Ramayana became his constant companion, though he loved to browse occasionally on the Upanishads and other scriptures also.

In his early and traditional education, at the age of five, young Rajendra was put under a Maulavi who taught him Persian. Later, he was taught Hindi and arithmetic. After this he was put in the Chapra Zilla School, from which he moved to R.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna. In 1897, Rajendra was admitted into the Hathwa High School. Soon he rejoined the Chapra Zilla School, from where he stood first in the Entrance examination of the Calcutta University at the age of eighteen, in 1902. Rajendra was hardly thirteen years old when he was married to Rajbansi Devi. Rajbansi Devi was a true-to-tradition Hindu lady, merging her identity totally in that of the husband.

After passing the Entrance examination Rajendra Prasad joined the Presidency College, Calcutta. Rajendra Prasad gained immense popularity. This was demonstrated in a remarkable early moment in 1904 when as a third year student he won in the first annual election for the post of Secretary of the College Union against a senior student belonging to a rich aristocratic family of Calcutta. Dr. P.K. Roy, the Principal, in whose presence the election had taken place by show of hands, was astounded by the result, more than a thousand against seven, and enquired as to what made Rajendra Prasad so -popular. The Calcutta University had at that time several distinguished Professors. Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose and Sir P.C. Ray wanted him to offer Science, but he preferred Arts, for though he had topped in I.A. he had not topped in the Science subjects. While his remarkably distinguished academic career continued and he capped it with a First in the M.A. and a First in Master of Law, other ideas occupied his mind and heart. He had been initiated into the cult of ‘Swadeshi’ by his elder brother even before his arrival in Calcutta. Now he joined, while in B.A. (Hons.) Class, the Dawn Society run by Satish Chandra Mukherjee. Sister Nivedita, Surendranath Banerjea and many other luminaries gave discourses here. There were debating and essay-writing competitions and he bagged many of the prizes. A new awareness was dawning on him. The anti-partition agitation stirred him. The processions, the slogans, the speeches touched new chords. He collected the Bihari students in Calcutta, started the Bihari Club in 1906, and they conducted activities similar to those conducted by the Dawn Society. Though much of Rajendra’s time was taken by the public activities yet he did not ignore his studies. In 1906, he graduated with distinction. Later he joined M.A. and B.L. classes in Calcutta. While he was doing his M.A. someone suggested to him to convene a conference of Bihari Students. So the formation of the Bihari Students’ Conference followed in 1908. It was the first organisation of its kind in the whole of India. It not only led to an awakening, it nurtured and produced practically the entire political leadership of the twenties in Bihar. While Rajendra Prasad was preparing for his L.L.B. he was introduced to Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Gokhale was much impressed by him and wanted to initiate him into his Servants of India Society. He wanted to join this Society but restrained himself from doing so on account of strong opposition from his family and his elder brother in particular.

In March 1907, Rajendra Prasad lost his father. He passed M.A. (English) in 1908 and in July 1908, he took up a teaching job in Muzaffarpur College. In 1909, he joined Calcutta City College as Professor of Economics. In 1911, after doing his Bachelor of Law, he started practice at the Calcutta High Court. And later Sir Asutosh Mukherjee was impressed by him and offered him a Professorship in the Presidency Law College.

Rajendra became associated with Indian National Congress in 1906 but it was only in 1911 that he formally joined the Congress and was elected to the All India Congress Committee.

At the time he set himself up as a legal practitioner in Calcutta in 1911, apprenticed to Khan Bahadur Shamsul Huda.

In 1916 Rajendra Prasad shifted to Patna on the establishment of the High Court of Bihar and Orissa. Soon, he succeeded in gaining a marked ascendancy, not only over the clients and his colleagues at the Bar, but even more so on the Judges. His incisive intellect and phenomenal memory were no doubt great assets, but what really established his supremacy, over the minds of the Judges in particular, was his innate integrity and purity of character, his inability to stoop to any tactics to score a point, to win a case. Often enough when his adversary failed to cite a precedent, the Judges asked Rajendra Prasad to cite a precedent against himself.

Rajendra Prasad had first seen Mahatma Gandhi at a meeting held in Calcutta in 1915. At Lucknow, in the December 1916 session of the Congress, he again saw Gandhiji. In the April 1917 A.I.C.C. session, held in Calcutta, Gandhiji and Rajendra Prasad sat very close to each other. He regarded his meeting with Gandhiji as the turning-point in his career. He stayed with Gandhiji till his trial was over.

In 1920, Rajendra Prasad gave up legal practice and in 1921 resigned from the Senate and the Syndicate of the Patna University to lead the historic Non-Cooperation Movement in Bihar. He withdrew his sons, Mrityunjaya and Dhananjaya, and his nephew, Janardan, from the Benares Hindu University and other schools to implement the Non-Cooperation Programme. The same year he started a Hindi weekly Desh at Patna. He was also a Director of English-bi-weekly Searchlight of Patna around 1920. He wrote articles for the Searchlight and the Desh and collected funds for these papers.

In 1924 he was elected Chairman of the Patna Municipality, which office he resigned a year later. He toured a lot, explaining, lecturing, exhorting. He visited Ceylon in 1927. He went to Britain in March  1928 in connection with the well-known Burma case. He went to Burma in November 1929. He was a strict vegetarian.

 He was the life-breath of the constructive programme and a great votary of Khadi. He was the first leading political figure in the Eastern Provinces to join forces with Gandhiji at a time when the latter was without a large and effective following. During the Nagpur Flag Satyagraha (1923) Rajendra and Vallabhbhai Patel came closer. He often went to Sabarmati and toured the country with Gandhiji. During Motilal Nehru’s last days, Rajendra stayed with him at Swaraj Bhawan, Allahabad. He suffered several terms of rigorous imprisonment. He suffered privations for want of a regular income of his own. All the while he suffered from asthma. He would not accept any financial assistance from the Congress or from any other source and depended mostly on his elder brother.

Rajendra Prasad organised the Salt Satyagraha in Bihar and Jawaharlal Nehru joined him. In 1929 and 1936, he was elected President of the Bihar Provincial Congress Committee. He took due part in Civil Disobedience Movement during the 1930s, and in July 1930 he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in Chapra jail and was later transferred to Hazaribagh.

Bihar was rocked by an unprecedented earthquake on 15  ,January 1934. Rajendra Prasad was in jail. He was released two days later. Though ailing, he set himself immediately to the task of raising funds and organising relief. The funds swelled to over 38 lakhs. The way relief was organised left nothing to be desired. In October 1934 he was elected as the President of the Bombay session of the Indian National Congress. At this juncture, Mahendra Prasad, his elder brother,. passed away. It was a great blow to Rajendra. The Congress through a resolution remembered his social services and his devotion to the national cause.

When the Congress Ministries were formed in 1937, a Congress Parliamentary Board with Sardar Patel as the Chairman, Rajendra Babu and Maulana Azad, as members was constituted, which played a significant role in the formation of Congress Ministries after the 19’27 elections.

In 1937, at the requisition of Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, the then Chief Minister of United Provinces, Rajendra Prasad accepted the Chairmanship of the Inquiry Committee to investigate the condition of the factory workers of Kanpur. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Allahabad University in 1937. In 1938, the Congress Ministry in Bihar appointed three important Committees, namely the Labour Inquiry Committee, the Education Inquiry Committee and the Hindustani Committee, and Dr. Rajendra prasad was on all the three Committees and as Chairman of the first one.

On April 30, 1939, Rajendra Prasad was appointed President of the Indian National Congress after the resignation of Subhas Chandra Bose. In 1940, inspite of indifferent health, he started writing his autobiography while at Sikar in Rajasthan. He had the honour of laying the foundation stone of India’s first ship-building yard of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company at Visakhapatnam.

Rajendra Prasad had been behind the prison bars for three long years from 9 August 1942 to 14 June 1945 under the Defence of India Act and was confined in Bankipur Jail, Patna. This long imprisonment, Rajendra Prasad devoted to the study and writing about the proposition of Pakistan. The manuscript was finalised in August 1945. The book India Divided was published in January 1946 and within months second edition of it appeared.

On 2 September 1946, Rajendra Prasad became India’s first Minister for Food and Agriculture. On 11 December 3946,, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was unanimously Elected Chairman of the Constituent Assembly. For the second time in 1946 he was appointed President of the Indian National Congress on the resignation of Acharya J.B. Kripalani and in 1947 he was elected its President for the second time.

On the night of August 14-15 in 1947, Dr. Rajendra Prasad alongwith members of the Constituent Assembly took pledge to serve India and her people and the Constituent Assembly assumed power for the governance of the Dominion of India. He resigned as Food and Agriculture Minister on 14 January 1948 after his election as the President of the Indian National Congress on 18 November 1947 as also he was the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly since its formation in 1946.

On 24 January 1950 Dr. Rajendra Prasad was unanimously elected by the Constituent Assembly which was also the Provisional Parliament of India, as the first President of India. This was in recognition of his outstanding services to the nation. On 26 January 1950 he was sworn-in as the first President of India.

As President of India he exercised his moderating influence and moulded policies and actions so silently and unobtrusively that many were led to think that, unlike any other Head of State, he neither reigned nor ruled.

After the first general elections of 1952, he was elected Head of the State for a term of five years. The swearing-in ceremony was held on 13 May 1952. After the second general elections of 1957, he was once again elected to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan for another five years. In 1960 he announced his intention to retire at the expiry of the term and refused the third term. On May 13,1962 he retired from the President ship of the Republic of India. He went to Sadaquat Ashram, Patna, his old hermitage. He breathed his last at this Ashram on February 28, 1963.

He knew all that the best farmer knows about agricultural operations and practices. But he also realised that certain improvements had to be effected on those methods. The slogan ‘Grow More Food’ was given by him and the campaign was initiated by the Food Ministry under his guidance.

His stewardship of the Constituent Assembly was exemplary. He guided, regulated, controlled, but did so with such infinite patience, skill, grace and firmness that not only none had a sense of grievance but all felt that the discussions were always full, free and frank and left nothing to be desired. During the very first session of the Constituent Assembly, he had announced that though the Assembly was born under limitations it would outgrow those and function as a sovereign body recognising no outside authority. The proceedings of the last day of the Constituent Assembly read like pages from a book of tributes and, in a way, indicate how loved and respected he was by each section of the House.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad enjoyed a position among the thinkers and philosophers of the highest order. He wrote a number of books in English and Hindi : History of the Champaran Satyagraha (1917), India Divided (1946), At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi (1955), Autobiography which he wrote while in prison from 1942-45 and later touched some events of 1946 as well (1957) and Since Independence (1960).

As President, he paid goodwill visits to: Nepal (1956), Japan (1958), Malaya and Indonesia (1958), Indo-China, Cambodia, North and South Vietnamand Laos (1959), Ceylon (1959) and USSR (1960). Rajendra Prasad realised that industrialism had disrupted the web of village life woven and integrated for centuries. It had to tie re-woven into a new pattern. He wanted that pattern to be inspired by Gandhian values; human needs and acquisitiveness to be regulated through self-discipline; agricultural production to be maximised; village industries to be resuscitated and their scope enlarged; the old sense of community to be recaptured. But he found that the country was unable to resist the pull of industrialisation, even hurriedly thought-out industrialisation, and he was not happy at the development. This was one reason why he declined to accept the Chairmanship of the Planning Commission. This was why, when Wavell informally enquired what portfolio he would choose if he were to choose it for himself, he said that he hardly needed time to think about it. It had to be Food and Agriculture.

In recognition of his great services, the nation conferred its highest honour Bharat Ratna on him in 1962.


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