Prabodhankar Thackeray

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Prabodhankar Thackeray
Prabhodankar Thackeray Commemorative stamp.jpg
Commemorative stamp by India Post, 2002[1][2]
Born Keshav Thakre
(1885-09-17)17 September 1885
Panvel, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died 20 November 1973(1973-11-20) (aged 88)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Residence Shivaji Park, Mumbai, India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater Calcutta University
Occupation Writer, politician, social activist
Movement Samyukta Maharashtra Movement
Children Bal Thackeray, Shrikant Thackeray, Ramesh Thackeray, Pama Tipnis, Sarla Gadkari, Susheela Gupte, Sanjeevani Karandikar.
Parent(s) Sitaram Thackeray
Relatives Raj Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray

Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, (17 September 1885 – 20 November 1973), commonly known by his pen name Prabodhankar Thackeray, was an Indian politician, social activist and author. He was one of the key leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti which successfully campaigned for the linguistic state of Maharashtra. He was the father of Bal Thackeray, who founded Shiv Sena, a Marathi Hindu regionalist party. He is also the grandfather of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.

Early life[edit]

Keshav Thackeray was born on 17 September 1885 in Panvel in a Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu family. According to his autobiography Mazhi Jeevangatha, one of his ancestors was a kiladar of the Dhodap fort during the Maratha rule.[3] His great-grandfather Krishnaji Madhav ("Appasaheb") resided in Pali, Raigad, while his grandfather Ramchandra "Bhikoba" Dhodapkar settled in Panvel. Keshav's father Sitaram adopted the lastname "Panvelkar" as per the tradition, but while admitting his son in the school, he gave him the surname "Thakre", which was apparently their traditional family name before "Dhodapkar".[4][5] An admirer of the India-born British writer William Makepeace Thackeray, Keshav later anglicized the spelling of his surname to "Thackeray".[6][4]

When Keshav was still a teenager, his father died in a plague epidemic, in 1902. Keshav was educated at Panvel, Kalyan, Baramati and Bombay (now Mumbai). Outside the Bombay Presidency, he studied at the Victoria High School in Dewas (Central Provinces), and later, at the Calcutta University.[7] He finally settled in Bombay.

Literary career[edit]

Keshav Thackeray wrote in the Marathi language. He started a fortnightly magazine named Prabodhan ("Enlighten"), which is the origin of his pen name Prabodhankar.[3] His other Marathi language works include the following:

  • Mazhi Jeevangatha ("My autobiography")
Historical research
  • Pratapsingh Chhatrapati and Rango Bapuji
  • Gramanyachya Sadhyant Itihas Arthat Nokarashiche Banda (A Comprehensive History of Rebellion or the Revolt of the Bureaucrats), published by Yashwant Shivram Raje in 1919, at Mumbai
  • Bhikshushahiche Band
  • Kodandacha Tanatkar
  • Hindu janancha rhaas aani adhapaat
  • Shanimahatmya
  • Shetkaryanche Swarajya (The self-rule of the farmers)
  • Khara Brahman
  • Sangeet Vidhinishedh
  • Taklele Por
  • Sangeet Seetashuddhi
  • Shri Sant Gadgebaba
  • Pandit Ramabai Saraswati
Collected Articles
  • Uth Marathya Uth (Arise Marathi People Arise; This is a collection of his 12 articles which appeared in the weekly 'Marmik', following the establishment of Shiv Sena, first published in 1973, it will be published again in 2013 by 'Navta Book World')

Social activism[edit]

Keshav Thackeray is often described as a social activist or social reformer for his rejection of caste system.[8] He campaigned against the dominance of the upper-caste Brahmin community in the society, calling it bhikshushahi ("the rule of the bhikshus").

When the prominent Marathi historian VK Rajwade contested the upper-caste Kshatriya status claimed by the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) caste in a 1916 essay, Thackeray became one of his fiercest critics, and denounced his research as casteist.[9] He wrote a text outlining the identity of the CKP caste, and its contributions to the Maratha empire. In this text, Gramanyachya Sadhyant Itihas, Thackeray talked about the discrimination suffered by other communities at the hands of the Brahmins during the Maratha rule.[10] He was not much concerned about the ritual caste status, but sought to prove that many non-Brahmin communities (specifically the CKPs) had played a major role in the history of the Maratha empire. He wrote that the CKPs "provided the cement" for Shivaji's swaraj (self-rule) "with their blood", and supported him even before the Kshatriyas of Rajput origin joined him.[9]

Political activism[edit]

Keshav Thackeray played an important role in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement aimed at establishing the inguistic state of Maharashtra.[11] He joined the movement in 1951, demanding the inclusion of the Dang district in Maharashtra instead of neighbouring Gujarat state. He was one of the founding members of the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, which campaigned for the formation of Maharashtra and the inclusion of Belgaum and Mumbai in it.

Personal life[edit]

Keshav Thackeray's wife was Rama-bai Thackeray; she died around 1943. He had at least 6 children : Bal Thackeray, Shrikant Thackeray (father of Raj Thackeray) and Ramesh Thackeray; daughters - Pama Tipnis,Sarla Gadkari, Susheela Gupte, Sanjeevani Karandikar. Prabodhankar Thackeray also had two brothers named Vinayakrao Thackeray and Yeshwant Thackeray.


  1. ^ "IndianPost". IndianPost. Retrieved 31 March 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ "Stamps 2002". Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India. Retrieved 31 March 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ a b Jñāneśa Mahārāva (2001). Thackeray, life & style. Pushpa Prakashan. p. 24. ISBN 978-81-7448-092-7. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Sreekumar (18 November 2012). "Why Bal Thackeray had an English surname". One India. 
  5. ^ Baban Walke (9 September 2012). "प्रबोधनकारांनी काय लिहून ठेवले आहे?". Tarun Bharat (in Marathi). 
  6. ^ Soutik Biswas (19 November 2012). "The legacy of Bal Thackeray". BBC. 
  7. ^ Keshav Thackeray. माझी जीवनगाथा (Mazhi Jeevangatha) (PDF) (in Marathi). Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Johannes Quack (22 November 2011). Disenchanting India:Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. pp. 263–. ISBN 978-0-19-981260-8. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Prachi Deshpande (2007). Creative Pasts: Historical Memory And Identity in Western India, 1700–1960. Columbia University Press. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-0-231-12486-7. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Anupama Rao (13 October 2009). The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India. University of California Press. pp. 304–. ISBN 978-0-520-25761-0. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Gyan Prakash (21 September 2010). Mumbai Fables. Princeton University Press. pp. 228–. ISBN 978-0-691-14284-5. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 

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