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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Purushottam Das Tandon” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Purushottam Das Tandon


Rajarshi—fondly called by Mahatma Gandhi—Purushottam Das Tandon, appeared on the Indian horizon during the Gandhian era, and occupied a significant position in the national history of India. He can be regarded as the lineal successor of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Lala Lajpat Rai, without their social conservatism, which, perhaps, was a product of their times.

Tandon was born at Allahabad (U.P.) on 1 August 1882,’in the middle-class family of Shaligram Tandon. Purushottam got his early education at home. He graduated from the Muir Central College, Allahabad, in 1904, qualifying subsequently for a degree in Law and a Master’s degree in History.

In 1897, after passing the High School examination, Tandon was married to Chandramukhi Devi. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Lala Lajpat Rai influenced his ideas and ideals. In the national movement he was associated with Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru and Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant.

He joined the Indian National Congress in 1899 when he was a student, and owing to his nationalistic activities, he was expelled from the Muir College for a year. In 1906 he represented Allahabad at the All India Congress Committee.

He joined the legal profession in 1906. Joined the Bar of the Allahabad High Court in 1908 as the junior of Sir Tej BahadurSapru and soon achieved eminence. In 1914, on the advice of Pandit

Malaviya, he became the Law Minister of the Nabha State but resigned in 1917 to devote his services to the propagation and development of Hindi.’He left his legal practice in 1921 on account of his involvement with public affairs. He occupied an executive position in the Punjab National Bank in Lahore from 1923 to 1929.

Tandon was associated with the Congress Committee which enquired into the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of 1919. He took active part in the Non-Cooperation Movement and was imprisoned in 1921. He was elected President of the Gorakhpur District Congress Committee in 1923 and the same year presided over the Provincial Congress Committee session. In 1918 he organised the Allahabad District Peasants’ Committee to ameliorate the miserable condition of the agriculturists. The organisation was reinvigorated in 1929, and under his leadership, it was recognised, that it played an important part in the development of the agrarian situation. In 1930 it had given the lead in starting the no-tax campaign in the province.

He was arrested again during the Civil Disobedience Movement. He became a member of the Congress Working Committee at the 1931 Karachi Session. From 1932 onwards he was arrested several times for organising peasant movements through Kisan Sabhas. With great distinction, he held the Speaker ship of the U.P. Legislative Assembly in 1937-38, and again in the reconstituted Assembly till 1948. His refusal to follow the established convention of resigning from his Party on election as Speaker led to a controversy which he set at rest by undertaking to resign if any charge of partisanship was brought against him. It was a compliment to his fair and just discharge of his responsibilities that not only was there no complaint of discrimination against him but the members were all praise for his tenure.

Tandon was imprisoned for the seventh time during the 1942 movement. He was unconditional released on health grounds. He devoted his services in reorganising the Congress organisation. He was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. In 1950 he was elected President of the All India Congress Committee, but resigned in 1951 on the eve of the 1952 General Elections on account of differences with Jawaharlal Nehru over the constitution of the Working Committee and the relationship between the Organisational and Governmental wings of the Party. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and to the Rajya Sabha in 1956. In 1956 his indifferent health forced him to retire from active public work.

He was closely associated with the Servants of the People Society, the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan and the Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samiti. He was an Editor For a long period of the influential Hindi paper, the Abhyudaya. From 1910 onwards, when he became the Chief Secretary of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, he was unanimously elected its President of the Kanpur session of 1923. He strove zealously for the propagation of Hindi and for the development of its literature, nurturing the institution with loving care.

He was a religious man and had great regard for the beliefs, ideals and values of Hinduism, but, undoubtedly because of the influence of his Radhaswami faith, he was free from any narrow and sectarian prejudices. He did not believe in “the caste-ridden, touch-me-not-loving, and exclusion-seeking system of the Hindus”. He had a faith in the spirit of toleration. He held a synthetic and rational view of religion and a sympathetic recognition of the essential goodness of other religions. For him peace, progress and happiness lay in the recognition of this great principle of religious toleration, propounded by the Bhagavad Gita, in dealing with persons professing different faiths. He believed in the essential oneness of Hindu-Muslim culture, in spite of palpable differences. He was a dreamer of absolute Hindu-Muslim fusion. He wanted Hindus and Muslims to live in the same Mohallas, in adjoining houses, and to have most cordial social relations. He also wanted Hindu and Muslim women to have social relations as much as men. He expressed his such desires in the report of a Congress Commission enquiring into the communal riots of 1930-31. He attributed the Hindu-Muslim problem to the divide and rule policy of the British Government. He was totally against the scheme of partitioning India, and when it fructified he expressed his disenchantment and disappointment by refraining from attending the celebrations marking India’s truncated independence.

Throughout his career in the national movement, Tandon espoused the cause of the depressed classes in India, especially the peasantry. He, whole-heartedly, criticised the British Government’s increasing intransigence in suppressing the civil liberties of the people “with the object of crushing the national and labour and peasant movements.” In a resolution on “Congress and Mass Contacts”, moved by him at the 49th Congress Session at Lucknow in 1936, he stressed the need of making the Congress a broad-based organisation, by embracing within its fold all forces opposing British imperialism and by developing closer co-operation with the masses so that “they may take greater share in the shapping of the Congress policy and in its activities and the organisation might become even more responsive to their needs and desires.”

To his understanding the Imperial Connection was responsible for the political and economic ills of India. By making India a part of international capitalism, he held, the British Government had drawn India into the vicissitudes facing the world capitalist order. He sought the alleviation of agrarian distress, not only in independent India, but also in the diligent promotion of cottage industries and objective education among the rural masses. He had full faith in democratic institutions, as is substantiated by his distinguished record as the Speaker of the U.P. Legislative Assembly. On his relinquishment of the Speakership in 1938 the Leader of the Opposition paid rich tributes to his stewardship of the House . Education was to be imparted, in his view, through the mother-tongue, and, with all his passionate advocacy of Hindi, he sought due place for the other regional languages in the new order. His linguistic cosmopolitanism is borne out by the fact that besides being an accomplished scholar of Hindi, he was well-versed in Urdu and Persian languages and literature. He was of the view that knowledge of the ancient cultural heritage of India is essential to the education of students.

His whole life was a saga of courage and sacrifice for the national cause and of resolute attachment to his beliefs even under the most adverse circumstances. In personal life he was austere and ascetic, without any pretensions, candid and unassuming. He had to face long spells of privation and suffering, which he bore with uncomplaining dignity.

In his political philosophy, Tandon represented the section of the Congress which looked up to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. His advocacy of the ancient Indian cultural heritage has been responsible for the general misunderstanding of his principles and beliefs that prevails. His unflinching enthusiasm for Hindi made him the target for most unfair and all too familiar charges of linguistic chauvinism. But his speeches and writings and his genuine concern for a just place for the regional languages vindicate his position as a person with a cosmopolitan outlook and a real breadth of vision. His services to the peasantry and to the development of democratic institutions and his persistent efforts to prevent the partition of India have specific relevance today, especially when the agrarian discontent is being exploited for violent revolutions in the countryside, when anti-democratic movements are proliferating out of the failure to prevent the stagnation of our economy and when the developments in our neighbouring country are filling us with misgivings about the equanimity with which we accepted and even tacitly welcomed the settlement of 1947.

On 3 October 1960, in a public ceremony at Allahabad, he was presented the Tandon Abhinandan Granth by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India. Further cognition of his valuable services to the nation came in 1961, when the Bharat Ratna was conferred. He died on 1 July 1962.


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