Born On: October 31, 1889
Born In: Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
Died On: February 19, 1956
Career: Socialist Leader, Nationalist, Educationist
"The death of Acharya Narendra Dev is something much bigger for many of us and, I think, for the country than just the passing away of an important person... He was a man of rare distinction--distinction in many fields--rare in spirit, rare in mind and intellect, rare in integrity of mind and otherwise... There is the public sense of loss and there is the private sense of loss and a feeling that somebody of rare distinction has gone and it will be very difficult to find his like again." The very words of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in the emotional obituary in Rajya Sabha are enough to explain the importance of Acharya Narendra Dev and his contribution to the country. He was a socialist leader, a nationalist, and an educationist who believed that education as the primary means for bringing an economic, social, and political revolution in the country. Even though he was a Marxist; he was believer of national identity and spirit. Even though he was an agnostic; he served with all sincerity, compassion, and love, like a god man. It's the things like these that separated him from the rest.
Narendra Dev, born on 31st October 1889 in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh was the second eldest son among the four sons of father Baldeva Prasad and mother Jawahar Devi. As a child, Narendra was deeply impressed by Swami Rama Tirtha and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya who were among the many saints and scholars welcomed by his father. Narendra was only ten when he accompanied his father to a session of Indian National Congress held at Lucknow in 1899. At the age of fifteen Narendra was married and had a son and a daughter. However, the children died soon and his wife after a few years later. His early education came in Sanskrit and scriptures from the pundits that used to visit his house.
His formal education, he joined the local high school and proved his brilliance by passing the entrance examination in first division in 1906. For further education he joined the Muir Central College at Allahabad and passed his intermediate, also, in first division. By 1911 he had completed his B.A, by 1913 he had completed his M.A, and completed his L.L.B in 1915. Many prominent leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh, Bipin Chandra Pal, and many others had left an inerasable impression on Narendra Dev during his stay at Allahabad. Soon after Bal Gangadhar Tilak had been released from the prison, Narendra met with him and conveyed his eagerness to participate in the Indian Freedom Movement on an active basis.
His political career officially initiated when he started a branch of the Home Rule League in 1916. It was about the same time when Jawaharlal Nehru asked him to join Kashi Vidyapeeth in Benares. With Dr. Bhagwan Das as the principal and Sri Prakash and Sampurnanand as his colleagues; he thought of it as a perfect opportunity to combine all his passions: studying, teaching, and active political work. It was in 1922 that his father passed away, Narendra Dev started to accept a small salary of Rs. 150 per month; before that he had refused to work for salary. From Narendra Dev to Acharya Narendra Dev; the transition happened when he was appointed as the Principal of Kashi Vidyapeeth after Dr. Bhagwan Das' retirement from the same.
In 1928, Acharya Narendra Dev joined and worked as a secretary of the Independence League of India. Later in 1929, he led the boycott of Simon Commission in Benares. And later in 1930, he participated in the Civil Disobedient Movement and was imprisoned for a period of three months. Twice in his career Acharya Narendra Dev was elected to the U.P. legislative Assembly but both times he refused to join the cabinet, as the Congress Socialist Party was not in favor of such participation. For the Satyagraha Movement (1940) and the Quit India Movement (1942), Acharya Narendra Dev was arrested yet again and imprisoned for three years. After Gandhi's death, he left the Congress party and formed the Socialist party that later merged with the Kisan Majdoor Praja Party of J.B. Kripalani in 1952 and became the Praja Socialist Party - to which he remained associated till the end.
It was in 1954 that the asthmatic attacks that Acharaya Narendra Dev had been suffering for nearly two decades and got even worse. It was then that his friends persuaded him to take a trip to Europe for treatment. The treatment did provide a relief, but too much strain in the professional lane proved to be of much pain and on 19th February 1956, Acharya Narendra Dev passed away in the city of Erode.
1889: Narendra Dev was born.
1899: Attended, with his father, a session of Indian National Congress at Lucknow.
1904: Got married at the age of fifteen.
1911: Completed his graduation as a B.A.
1913: Completed his post graduation as an M.A.
1915: Successfully completed L.L.B.
1921: Started teaching at Kashi Vidyapeeth in Benares.
1926: Became the Acharya or Principal of Kashi Vidyapeeth in Benares.
1928: Joined the Independence of India League as its secretary.
1947-1951: Served as the Vice Chancellor of the Lucknow University.
1951-1953: Served as the Vice Chancellor of the Benares University.
1956: Narendra Dev died at the age of 67