B. S. Moonje
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Balakrishna Shivram Moonje (B. S. Moonje, also B. S. Munje, 12 December 1872 – 3 March 1948) was a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha in India.
Moonje was born into a Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmin (DRB) family in 1872 at Bilaspur in Central Provinces. He completed his Medical Degree from Grant Medical College in Mumbai in 1898, and was employed in Bombay Municipal Corporation as a Medical Officer. He left his 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. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.
1907–1920: Career and Involvement with Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Moonje was recognized as a freedom fighter and a strong supporter of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1907, the Congress Party's annual session was held at Surat, where conflict arose between the "moderate" faction and the "extremist" faction, led by Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipinchandra Pal, over the selection of a new president. Due to Moonje's support of Tilak during the session, Tilak's trust in Moonje led to a strong relationship between the two. As a result, Moonje toured the 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.
The Bhonsala Military School in Nasik was established by him to provide military training to Hindus. All the institutions he founded are still running, some of them have completed their Diamond Jubilee. He also started a Marathi Newspaper known as Daily Maharashtra in Nagpur.
Following the death of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1920, Moonje dissociated from Congress. He disagreed with the two main policies of M. K. Gandhi, namely his non-violence and secularism. Following his departure from Congress, Moonje was the All India President of the Hindu Mahasabha from 1927 until he handed over the charge to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1937. Until his death, he was very active in the Mahasabha and toured all over India. Savarkar had his strong support. He also attended the Round Table Conferences (in London) twice, despite strong opposition from Congress leaders on his views.
In 1931, Moonje travelled to Italy, where he met with Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. Moonje also visited the Accademia della Farnesina and other military schools and educational institutions, and observed the Opera Nazionale Balilla, which he praised.
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.
Death and legacy
Moonje died in 1948.
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