K. M. Munshi
Munshi in June 1950
2nd Governor of Uttar Pradesh
In office
2 June 1952 – 9 June 1957
Chief MinisterGovind Ballabh Pant
Preceded byHomi Mody
Succeeded byVarahagiri Venkata Giri
3rd Minister of Agriculture
In office
13 May 1950 – 13 May 1952
Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru
Preceded byJairamdas Daulatram
Succeeded byRafi Ahmed Kidwai
Personal details
Born(1887-12-30)30 December 1887
Bharuch, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died8 February 1971(1971-02-08) (aged 83)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Political partySwaraj Party, Indian National Congress, Swatantra Party, Jan Sangh
Atilakshmi Pathak
(m. 1900; died 1924)
(m. 1926)
ChildrenJagadish Munshi, Sarla Sheth, Usha Raghupathi, Lata Munshi, Girish Munshi
Alma materBaroda College[1]
OccupationFreedom fighter, politician, lawyer, writer
Known forFounder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1938)
Home Minister of Bombay State (1937–40)
Agent-General of India in Hyderabad State (1948)
Member of the Constituent Assembly of India
Member of Parliament
Minister for Agriculture & Food (1952–53)
Writing career
Pen nameGhanshyam Vyas
LanguageGujarati, Hindi and English
PeriodColonial India
GenreMythology, Historical Fiction
SubjectsKrishna, Indian history
Years active1915-1970
Notable worksPatan trilogy

Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi[2] (pronounced [kə.nəi.ya.lal ma.ɳek.lal mun.ʃi]; 30 December 1887 – 8 February 1971), popularly known by his pen name Ghanshyam Vyas, was an Indian independence movement activist, politician, writer from Gujarat state. A lawyer by profession, he later turned to author and politician. He is a well-known name in Gujarati literature. He founded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational trust, in 1938.[3]

Munshi wrote his works in three languages namely Gujarati, English and Hindi. Before independence of India, Munshi was part of Indian National Congress and after independence, he joined Swatantra Party. Munshi held several important posts like member of Constituent Assembly of India, minister of agriculture and food of India, and governor of Uttar Pradesh. In his later life, he was one of the founding members of Vishva Hindu Parishad.

Early life

Munshi was born on 30 December 1887 at Bharuch, a town in Gujarat State of British India.[4] Munshi took admission at Baroda College in 1902 and scored first class with 'Ambalal Sakarlal Paritoshik'. In 1907, by scoring maximum marks in the English language, he received 'Elite prize' along with degree of Bachelor of Arts.[5] Later, he was given honoris causa from same university.[6] He received degree of LLB in Mumbai in 1910 and registered as lawyer in the Bombay High Court.[5]

One of his professor at Baroda College was Aurobindo Ghosh (later Sri Aurobindo) who had a profound impression on him. Munshi was also influenced by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Bhulabhai Desai.[7]

Political career

Indian independence movement

Due to influence of Aurobindo, Munshi leaned towards revolutionary group and get himself involved into the process of bomb-making. But after settling in the Mumbai, he joined Indian Home Rule movement and became secretary in 1915.[5] In 1917, he became secretary of Bombay presidency association.[5] In 1920, he attended annual congress session at Ahmedabad and was influenced by its president Surendranath Banerjee.[5]

In 1927, he was elected to the Bombay legislative assembly but after Bardoli satyagraha, he resigned under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi.[5] He participated in the civil disobedience movement in 1930 and was arrested for six months initially. After taking part in the second part of same movement, he was arrested again and spent two years in the jail in 1932.[5] In 1934, he became secretary of Congress parliamentary board.[8]

Munshi was elected again in the 1937 Bombay presidency election and became Home Minister of the Bombay Presidency.[5] During his tenure of home minister, he suppressed the communal riots in Bombay.[5] Munshi was again arrested after he took part in Individual satyagraha in 1940.[5]

As the demand for Pakistan gathered momentum, he gave up non-violence and supported the idea of a civil war to compel the Muslims to give up their demand. He believed that the future of Hindus and Muslims lay in unity in an "Akhand Hindustan".[9] He left Congress in 1941 due to dissents with Congress, but was invited back in 1946 by Mahatma Gandhi.[7][5]

Offices held

Post-independence India

Jawaharlal Nehru driving tractor with Munshi and Rajkumari Amrita Kaur. (From right to left, Munshi wore goggles and Gandhi cap)

He was a part of several committees including Drafting Committee, Advisory Committee, Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights.[10][11] Munshi presented his draft on Fundamental Rights to the Drafting and it sought for progressive rights to be made a part of Fundamental Rights.[12]

After the independence of India, Munshi, Sardar Patel and N. V. Gadgil visited the Junagadh State to stabilise the state with help of the Indian Army. In Junagadh, Patel declared the reconstruction of the historically important Somnath temple. Patel died before the reconstruction was completed. Munshi became the main driving force behind the renovation of the Somnath temple even after Jawaharlal Nehru's opposition.[13][14][15]

Munshi was appointed diplomatic envoy and trade agent (Agent-General) to the princely state of Hyderabad, where he served until its accession to India in 1948. Munshi was on the ad hoc Flag Committee that selected the Flag of India in August 1947, and on the committee which drafted the Constitution of India under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar.

Besides being a politician and educator, Munshi was also an environmentalist. He initiated the Van Mahotsav in 1950, when he was Union Minister of Food and Agriculture, to increase area under forest cover. Since then Van Mahotsav a week-long festival of tree plantation is organised every year in the month of July all across the country and lakhs of trees are planted.[16]

Munshi served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957.[8] In 1959, Munshi separated from the Nehru-dominated (socialist) Congress Party and started the Akhand Hindustan movement. He believed in a strong opposition, so along with Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, he founded the Swatantra Party, which was right-wing in its politics, pro-business, pro-free market economy and private property rights. The party enjoyed considerable success and eventually died out.

In August 1964, he chaired the meeting for the founding of the Hindu nationalist organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad at Sandipini ashram.[9]

Posts held

Academic career

Munshi was thinking of giving an institutional foundations to his ideas and ideals since 1923. On 7 November 1938, he established Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan with Harshidbhai Divatia and his wife Lilavati Munshi at Andheri, Bombay.[17] Later, he established Mumbadevi Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya to teach Sanskrit and ancient Hindu texts according to traditional methods.[18]

Apart from founding Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Munshi was instrumental in the establishment of Bhavan's College, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Rajhans Balvatika and Panchgani Hindu School (1922). He was elected Fellow of the University of Bombay, where he was responsible for giving adequate representation to regional languages. He was also instrumental in starting the department of Chemical Technology.

He served as Chairman of Institute of Agriculture, Anand (1951-71), trustee of the Birla Education Trust (1948-71), executive chairman of Indian Law Institute (1957-60) and chairman of Sanskrit Vishwa Parishad (1951-1961).[8]

Global policy

He was one of the signatories of the agreement to convene a convention for drafting a world constitution.[19][20] As a result, for the first time in human history, a World Constituent Assembly convened to draft and adopt the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.[21]

Literary career and works

Munshi, with pen name Ghanshyam Vyas, was a prolific writer in Gujarati and English, earning a reputation as one of Gujarat's greatest literary figures.[5] Being a writer and a conscientious journalist, Munshi started a Gujarati monthly called Bhargava. He was joint-editor of Young India and in 1954, started the Bhavan's Journal which is published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to this day. Munshi was President of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan [hi].[8][7]

Munshi was also a litterateur with a wide range of interests. He is well known for his historical novels in Gujarati, especially his trilogy Patan-ni-Prabhuta (The Glory of Patan), Gujarat-no-Nath (The Lord and Master of Gujarat) and Rajadhiraj (The King of Kings). His other works include Jay Somnath (on Somnath temple), Krishnavatara (on Lord Krishna), Bhagavan Parasurama (on Parshurama), and Tapasvini (The Lure of Power) a novel with a fictional parallel drawn from the Freedom Movement of India under Mahatma Gandhi. Munshi also wrote several notable works in English.

Munshi has written some fictional historical themes namely; Earlier Aryan settlements in India (What he calls Gaurang's – white skinned), Krishna's endeavors in Mahabharata times, More recently in 10th century India around Gujarat, Malwa and Southern India..

K.M. Munshi's novel Prithivivallabh was made into a movie of the same name twice. The adaptation directed by Manilal Joshi in 1924 was very controversial in its day: The second version was by Sohrab Modi in 1943.

In 1948 he wrote a book about Mahatma Gandhi called Gandhi: The Master.

Works in Gujarati and Hindi

His works are as following:[22][23]




Works in English

Personal life

In 1900, he married Atilakshmi Pathak, who died in 1924. In 1926, he married Lilavati Munshi (née Sheth).[4][5]

Popular culture

Munshi on a 1988 stamp of India

Munshi was portrayed by K. K. Raina in the Shyam Benegal's mini-series Samvidhaan.



  1. ^ "IndianPost – KANHAIYALAL M MUNSHI". indianpost.com. Archived from the original on 1 April 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  2. ^ Krishnavatara (Vol. I) – The Magic Flute. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 1973. pp. dust cover flap.
  3. ^ "Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi". Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b Sheth, Jayana (1979). Munshi : Self-sculptor (1st ed.). Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 239–243. OCLC 568760494. Archived from the original on 8 February 2024. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Thakar, Dhirubhai (2002). Gujarati Vishwakosh. Ahmedabad: Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust. pp. 236, 237.
  6. ^ "MSU doctorate for Mukesh Ambani". The Economic Times. 30 September 2007. Archived from the original on 16 November 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Bhagavan, Manu (2008). "The Hindutva Underground: Hindu Nationalism and the Indian National Congress in Late Colonial and Early Post-Colonial India". Economic and Political Weekly. 43 (37): 39–48. JSTOR 40277950.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Official Website of Governor's Secretariat, Raj Bhavan Lucknow Uttar Pradesh, India. / Shri Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi". upgovernor.gov.in. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b Katju, Manjari (2013). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-81-250-2476-7.
  10. ^ Constituent Assembly Members Archived 4 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Cadindia.clpr.org.in. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  11. ^ Speaker: K. M. Munshi. Cadindia.clpr.org.in (20 February 1947). Retrieved on 2018-12-07.
  12. ^ Speaker: K. M. Munshi Archived 16 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine. Cadindia.clpr.org.in. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  13. ^ Gabriel, Marie Cruz (1996). A Silence In The City And Other Stories. Orient Longman. ISBN 978-81-250-0828-6.
  14. ^ Vishnu, Uma (9 December 2017). "In Nehru vs Patel-Prasad on Somnath, a context of Partition, nation building". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 20 September 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  15. ^ Lal, Makkhan (30 December 2018). "On KM Munshi's birth anniversary, remembering his fight to rebuild Somnath Temple". ThePrint. Archived from the original on 19 October 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  16. ^ "EPIC Channel celebrates 'Van Mahotsav' – The National Tree Plantation Festival". TelevisionPost. 5 July 2019. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  17. ^ Kulkarni, V. B (2014). K.M. Munshi. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India. p. 268.
  18. ^ Kulkarni, V. B (2014). K.M. Munshi. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India. p. 269.
  19. ^ "Letters from Thane Read asking Helen Keller to sign the World Constitution for world peace. 1961". Helen Keller Archive. American Foundation for the Blind. Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Letter from World Constitution Coordinating Committee to Helen, enclosing current materials". Helen Keller Archive. American Foundation for the Blind. Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 3 July 2023.
  21. ^ "Preparing earth constitution | Global Strategies & Solutions | The Encyclopedia of World Problems". The Encyclopedia of World Problems | Union of International Associations (UIA). Archived from the original on 19 July 2023. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  22. ^ a b "Source: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai".
  23. ^ Open Library – Books of Kanhiyalal Munshi Archived 29 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Openlibrary.org. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  24. ^ Indian postage stamp on Munshi – 1988 Archived 1 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine. Indianpost.com. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Kulapati Munshi Award conferred". The Hindu. 12 March 2013. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.

Further reading