11 October 1902|
Sitabdiara, Saran, Bengal Presidency, British India
|Died||8 October 1979
Patna, Bihar, India
|Other names||JP , Jayaprakash, Lok Nayak|
|Organization||Indian National Congress, Janata Party|
|Political movement||Indian Independence movement, Sarvodaya movement, Indian emergency|
Jayaprakash Narayan ( listen (help·info)) (11 October 1902 – 8 October 1979), widely known as JP Narayan, Jayaprakash, or Lok Nayak (Hindi for The People's Hero), was an Indian independence activist and political leader, remembered especially for leading the opposition to Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and for giving a call for peaceful Total Revolution. His biography, Jayaprakash, was written by his nationalist friend and an eminent writer of Hindi literature, Ramavriksha Benipuri. In 1999, he was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in recognition of his social work. Other awards include the Magsaysay award for Public Service in 1965. The airport of Patna is also named after him.
Jayprakash Narayan was born on 11 October 1902  in the village of Sitabdiara, Bihar, India. He came from a Kayastha family. He was Harsu Dayal Srivastava and Phul Rani Devi’s fourth child.His father Harsudayal was a junior official in the Canal Department of the State government and was often touring the region. When Narayan was 9 years old he left his village to enroll in 7th class of the collegiate school at Patna. While in school, Jayaprakash read magazines like Saraswati, Prabha and Pratap, books like Bharat- Bharati, and poems by Maithilsharan Gupta and Bharatendu Harishchandra which described the courage and valour of the Rajput kings. Jayaprakash also read the Bhagwad Gita. . His essay, “The present state of Hindi in Bihar” won a best essay award.He excelled in school and by 1918 completed school and undertook the ‘State Public Matriculation Examination’ and won a District merit scholarship to Patna college.
In October 1920, Narayan was married to Braj Kishore Prasad’s daughter Prabhavati Devi, a freedom fighter in her own right. At the time of marriage, Jayaprakash was 18 years and Prabhavati was 14 years of age, which was a normal age for marriage in that period. After their wedding, since Narayan was working in Patna and it was difficult for his wife to stay with him, on the invitation of Gandhi, Prabhavati became an inmate at the Ashram of Gandhi. Jayaprakash, along with some friends, went to listen to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad speak about the Non-cooperation movement launched by Gandhi against the passing of the Rowlatt Act of 1919. The Maulana was a brilliant orator and his call to give up English education was “like leaves before a storm: Jayaprakash was swept away and momentarily lifted up to the skies. That brief experience of soaring up with the winds of a great idea left imprints on his inner being.” Jayaprakash took the Maulana’s words to heart and left Patna College with just 20 days remaining for his examinations. He joined the Bihar Vidyapeeth, a college run by the Congress.
Higher Education in America
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
After exhausting the courses at the Vidyapeeth, Jayaprakash decided to go to America to pursue his studies. At age 20, Jayaprakash sailed aboard the cargo ship Janus while Prabhavati remained at Sabarmati. Jayaprakash reached California on October 8, 1922 and gained admission to Berkeley in January 1923. To pay for his education, Jayaprakash picked grapes, set them out to dry, packed fruits at a canning factory, washed dishes, worked as a mechanic at a garage and at a slaughter house, sold lotions and accepted teaching jobs. All these jobs gave Jayaprakash an insight regarding the difficulties the working class faced.Jayaprakash was forced to transfer to Iowa State when fees at Berkeley were doubled. He was forced to transfer to many universities thereafter. He pursued his favourite subject, Sociology and received much help from Professor Edward Ross, the father of Sociology.
In Wisconsin, Jayaprakash was introduced to Karl Marx’s “Das Capital”. News of the success of the Russian revolution of 1917 made Jayaprakash conclude that Marxism was the way to alleviate the suffering masses. He delved into books by Indian intellectual and Communist theoretician M.N. Roy. His paper on Sociology, “Social Variation”, was declared as the best of the year.
Sandip Das, a biographer, says that
"... in 1920, he joined the non-cooperation struggle and gave up his studies. He joined the Bihar Vidyapeeth established by the Congress to pursue his education. The determination to continue the boycott of British educational institutions led him to study in the United States."
Returning from the US in late 1929 as a supporter of Marxist theories, Narayan joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1929; Mahatma Gandhi became his mentor in the Congress. He shared the same house at Kadam Kuan in Patna with his close friend and nationalist Ganga Sharan Sinha (Shrivastava). with whom he shared the most cordial and lasting friendship.
After being jailed in 1932 for civil disobedience against British rule, Narayan was imprisoned in Nasik Jail, where he met Ram Manohar Lohia, Minoo Masani, Achyut Patwardhan, Ashok Mehta, Yusuf Desai and other national leaders. After his release, the Congress Socialist Party, or (CSP), a left-wing group within the Congress, was formed with Acharya Narendra Deva as President and Narayan as General secretary.
When Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement in August, 1942, Yogendra Shukla scaled the wall of Hazaribagh Central Jail along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Suraj Narayan Singh, Gulab Chand Gupta, Ramnandan Mishra and Shaligram Singh with a view to starting an underground movement for freedom. As Jayaprakash Narayan was ill then, Yogendra Shukla walked a distance to Gaya, a distance of about 124 kilometres, with Jayaprakash Narayan on his shoulders.
Bihar Movement and Total Revolution
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
Narayan returned to prominence in State politics in the late 1960s. 1974 ushered in a year of high inflation, unemployment and lack of supplies and essential commodities. Jayaprakash was asked to lead a peaceful agitation by the Navanirman Andolan of Gujarat. On April 8, 1974, at the age of 72, he led a silent procession at Patna. The procession was lathi charged. On June 5, 1974, Jayaprakash addressed a mammoth crowd at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. He declared, “This is a revolution, friends! We are not here merely to see the Vidhan Sabha dissolved. That is only one milestone on our journey. But we have a long way to go... After 27 years of freedom, people of this country are wracked by hunger, rising prices, corruption... oppressed by every kind of injustice... it is a Total Revolution we want, nothing less!” In 1974, he led the students' movement in the state of Bihar which gradually developed into a popular people's movement known as the Bihar movement. It was during this movement that JP gave a call for peaceful Total Revolution. Together with V. M. Tarkunde, he found the Citizens for Democracy in 1974 and the People's Union for Civil Liberties in 1976, both NGOs, to uphold and defend civil liberties.
When Indira Gandhi was found guilty of violating electoral laws by the Allahabad High Court, Narayan called for Indira to resign, and advocated a program of social transformation which he termed Sampoorna kraanti (Total Revolution). Instead she proclaimed a national Emergency on the midnight of June 25, 1975, immediately after Narayan had called for the PM's resignation and had asked the military and the police to disregard unconstitutional and immoral orders; JP, opposition leaders, and dissenting members of her own party (the 'Young Turks') were arrested on that day.
Jayaprakash Narayan attracted a gathering of 100,000 people at the Ramlila grounds and thunderously recited Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar''s wonderfully evocative poetry: Singhasan Khaali Karo Ke Janata Aaati Hai.
Narayan was kept as detenu at Chandigarh even after he had asked for a month's parole for mobilising relief in areas of Bihar gravely affected by flood. His health suddenly deteriorated on October 24, and he was released on November 12; diagnosis at Jaslok Hospital, Bombay, revealed kidney failure; he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life.
After Indira revoked the emergency on January 18, 1977 and announced elections, it was under JP's guidance that the Janata Party (a vehicle for the broad spectrum of the anti-Indira Gandhi opposition) was formed. The Janata Party was voted into power, and became the first non-Congress party to form a government at the Centre. On the call of Narayan many youngsters joined the JP movement.
Narayan died in Patna, Bihar, on 8 October 1979, three days before his 77th birthday, due to effects of diabetes and heart ailments. In March 1979, while he was in hospital, his death had been erroneously announced by the Indian prime minister, causing a brief wave of national mourning, including the suspension of parliament and regular radio broadcasting, and the closure of schools and shops. When he was told about the gaffe a few weeks later, he smiled.
Jayaprakash was married to Prabhavati Devi, daughter of lawyer and nationalist Brij Kishore Prasad in October 1920. Prabhavati was very independent-minded and on Gandhi’s invitation, went to stay at his ashram while Jayaprakash continued his studies.
- Bharat Ratna, 1999 (Posthmus)for Public Affairs
- Rashtrabhushan Award of FIE Foundation, Ichalkaranji
- Ramon Magsaysay Award,1965 for Public Service.
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- A plea for the reconstruction of Indian polity
- Total revolution
- On Hindu revivalism
- Magsaysay award acceptance speech; Citation
- JP's visit to an RSS camp, as told by Sita Ram Goel in "Perversion of India's Political Parlance"
- JP information from Gandhi museum