B. S. Moonje
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Balakrishna Shivram Moonje (B. S. Moonje, also B. S. Munje, 12 December 1872 – 3 March 1948) was an Indian freedom fighter and a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.
Moonje was born in 1872 at Bilaspur in Central Provinces (present day Chhattisgarh). He completed his Medical Degree from Grant Medical College in Mumbai in 1898, and was employed in Bombay Municipal Corporation as a Medical Officer on a handsome salary. He left this peaceful and dignified job to participate in the Boer War in South Africa through the Medical Wing, as the King's Commissioned Officer, because of his keen interest in Military Life. After returning from South Africa, he started his medical practice at Nagpur. He invented the method of operating on cataracts after testing his skills on dead bodies of goats. He also presented his thesis in a Medical Association but since it was dominated by British members he could not receive due credit. He could not pursue the claim afterwards since he got involved in social and political activities, dedicating his entire life to India's freedom struggle, thus leaving his stable Medical Practice at an early age. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.
A Congress leader and Tilak supporter
Moonje was a prominent freedom fighter and a strong supporter of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress Party’s annual session was held at Surat (Bombay province) in 1907. Trouble broke out between the "moderate" and the "extremist" factions of the Congress party over the selection of a new President. The extremists were led by the triumvirate of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipinchandra Pal (known as Lal-Bal-Pal). Moonje and his followers literally gave physical protection to Tilak when he was attacked by a few people throwing chairs and stones. From then onwards, the relationship between Tilak and Moonje became very close. Moonje toured entire Central India and collected funds for Tilak on many occasions. Moonje also introduced Ganesh and Shivaji Festivals in Central India and accompanied Tilak to Calcutta for this purpose. He was The General Secretary of Central Indian Provincial Congress for many years.
As a social reformer, he established many social institutions and organisations such as schools, orphanages, gymnasiums, rifle clubs, hostels for untouchables (Dalits). The Bhonsala Military School in Nasik was established by him to provide military training to Hindus. All the institutions he founded are still running in good condition, some of them have completed their Diamond Jubilee. He also started a Marathi Newspaper known as Daily Maharashtra in Nagpur. Gopalrao Ogale was its editor.
A staunch Hindu leader
After the death of Tilak in 1920, he dissociated from Congress. He disagreed with the two main policies of M. K. Gandhi, namely his non-violence and pro-Muslim policy. He took up the Hindu cause and continued to pursue it until his death in 1948. He was the All India President of the Hindu Mahasabha from 1927 until he handed over the charge to Veer Savarkar in 1937. Till his death, he was very active in the Mahasabha and used to tour all over India. Savarkar had his strong support, and they worked as a team in building a strong Hindu organisation. He also attended the Round Table Conferences (in London) twice to represent the views of Hindus, despite strong opposition from Congress leaders. However, the Congress leaders who opposed Moonje's participation in the first Round Table Conference took part in the second Round Table Conference.
Moonje, along with Savarkar, strongly advised Ambedkar to convert to any religion of Indian origin (and not any Abrahmic creed), when the question of Dalit exodus from Hinduism caught the imagination. Initially, Ambedkar thought of joining Sikhism but later settled for Buddhism.
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- Bapu, Prabhu (2013). Hindu Mahasabha in Colonial North India, 1915-1930: Construction Nation and History. Routledge. ISBN 0415671655.
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