Mahadev Govind Ranade
Born18 January 1842 (1842-01-18)
Died16 January 1901 (1901-01-17) (aged 58)
CitizenshipBritish Indian
Alma materUniversity of Bombay
Occupation(s)Scholar, social reformer, author
Known forCo-founder of Indian National Congress
Political partyIndian National Congress
SpouseRamabai Ranade
HonoursRao Bahadur
Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire

Rao Bahadur Mahadev Govind Ranade CIE (18 January 1842–16 January 1901), popularly referred to as Nyayamurti Ranade (lit. Justice Ranade), was an Indian scholar, social reformer, judge and author. He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress party[1][2] and held several designations such as Member of The Bombay Legislative Council and Member of The Finance Committee at the centre.[1] He was also a judge of the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra.[3]

As a well known public figure, his personality as a calm and patient optimist influenced his attitude towards dealings with Britain as well as reform in India. During his life, he helped establish the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Maharashtra Granthottejak Sabha and Prarthana Samaj. He also edited a Bombay Anglo-Marathi daily paper—The Induprakash, founded on his ideology of social and religious reform.

He was accorded the title of Rao Bahadur.[4]

Early life and family

Statue of Justice Ranade in Mumbai

Mahadev Govind Ranade was born into a Chitpavan Brahmin family in Niphad, a taluka town in Nashik district.[5] He studied in a Marathi school in Kolhapur and later shifted to an English-medium school. At the age of 14, he studied at Elphinstone College, Bombay.[6] He belonged to the first batch of students at the University of Bombay. In 1862, he obtained a B.A. degree in history & economics, and in 1864 an M.A. in history. Three years later, he obtained his L.L.B. (law degree) in 1866.[7]


After obtaining his L.L.B., Ranade became a subordinate judge in Pune in 1871. Given his political activities and public popularity, the British colonial authorities delayed his promotion to the Bombay High Court until 1895.[8]

Social activism

Ranade was a progressive social activist whose activities were deeply influenced by western culture and the colonial state. His activities ranged from religious reform to public education and reform within the Indian family. In every area, he was prone to see little virtue in Indian customs and traditions and to strive for reforming the subject into the mould of what prevailed in the west. He himself summarized the mission of the Indian Social Reform Movement as being to "Humanize, Equalize and Spiritualize," the implication being that existing Indian society lacked these qualities.[9]

Prarthana Samaj

This section needs expansion with: Ranade's theological and social reform views. You can help by adding to it.Find sources: ""Mahadev Govind Ranade" and "Prarthana Samaj"" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2023)

Ranade joined the Prarthana Samaj, a religious and social reform organization, in 1867, and the Poona Prarthana Samaj in 1869. Historians have regarded Ranade as an intellectual leader in the movement.[10][11] Ranade was influenced by Bishop Joseph Butler in linking the social justice work of the Prarthama Samaj with Christian metaphysics.[10]

Female Emancipation

His efforts to "Humanize and Equalize" Indian society found its primary focus in women. He campaigned against the 'purdah system' (keeping women behind the veil). He was a founder of the Social Conference movement, which he supported till his death,[1] directing his social reform efforts against child marriage, the tonsure of widows, the heavy cost of weddings and other social functions and the caste restrictions on travelling abroad. He strenuously advocated widow remarriage and female education.[1] In 1861, when he was still a teenager, Ranade co-founded the 'Widow Marriage Association'. It promoted marriage for Hindu widows and acted as native compradors for the colonial government's project of passing a law permitting such marriages.[12] He chose to take prayaschitta (religious penance) in the Panch-Houd Mission Case rather than insisting on his opinions.[13][14]

Girls' education

In 1885, Ranade along with Vaman Abaji Modak and historian Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar established the Maharashtra Girls Education Society to start Huzurpaga, the oldest girls' high school in India.[15][16] The school was established in the former stable yard of the Bajirao I Peshwa in Narayan Peth, Pune.

Personal life

This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (March 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Ranade was in his 30s when his first wife died. His family wanted him to remarry, especially since he had no children. His reformer friends expected him, who had co-founded the 'Widow Marriage Association' as far back as 1861, to act in accordance with his own sermons and marry a widow. However, Ranade yielded to his family's wishes and conformed with convention to marry Ramabai, a girl who was barely eleven years old and twenty years younger to him. Ramabai was born in 1862, nearly a year after Ranade had founded his 'Widow Marriage Association'. He acceded to the marriage because he anticipated that if he married an already wedded woman, the children born to her would be considered illegitimate outcasts by his society. The irony of the affair is that while Ranade faced ridicule and accusations of hypocrisy, his ardent wish remained unfulfilled: his second marriage also remained childless.

The wedding was held in full compliance with tradition and was a happy one. Ramabai was a daughter of the Kurlekar family, which belonged to the same caste and social strata as Ranade.[17] The couple had a completely harmonious and conventional marriage. Ranade ensured that his wife receive education, something that she was not keen about initially. However, like all Indian women of that era, she complied with her husband's wishes and grew into her new life. After Ranade's death, Ramabai Ranade continued the social and educational reform work initiated by him.

Published works

In popular culture

A television series on Zee Marathi named Unch Majha Zoka (roughly translated as 'My Swing Flies High') based on Ramabai's and Mahadevrao's life and their development as a 'women's rights' activist was broadcast in March 2012. It was based on a book by Ramabai Ranade titled Amachyaa Aayushyaatil Kaahi Aathavani. In the book, Justice Ranade is called "Madhav" rather than Mahadev. The series had actors Vikram Gaikwad as Mahadev Govind Ranade and Spruha Joshi as Ramabai Ranade.[note 1].

See also


  1. ^ He himself is quoted as saying that "I am Vishnu (Madhav) and not Shiva (Mahadev)" (see pages 12, 121). This anomaly was discovered by Ms. Vibhuti V. Dave, while translating the book into Gujarati, under the title Amaaraa naa Sambhaaranaa[18]"


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ranade, Mahadev Govind" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 884.
  2. ^ "Mahadev Govinde Ranade". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Encyclopaedia Eminent Thinkers (Vol. 22 : The Political Thought of Mahadev Govind Ranade)", p. 19
  4. ^ Mahadev Govind Ranade (Rao Bahadur) (1992). The Miscellaneous Writings of the Late Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.G. Ranade. Sahitya Akademi.
  5. ^ Wolpert, Stanley A. (April 1991). Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India By. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 302. ISBN 978-0195623925.
  6. ^ K. S. Bharathi (1998). Encyclopaedia of Eminent Thinkers: The political thought of Mahadev Govind Ranade. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-81-8069-582-7.
  7. ^ "Mahadev Govind Ranade – Biography & Contributions". IAS Express. 24 March 2023.
  8. ^ Stanley A. Wolpert (1962). Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India. University of California Press. p. 12. GGKEY:49PR049CPBX.
  9. ^ Hulas Singh (25 September 2015). Rise of Reason: Intellectual history of 19th-century Maharashtra. Routledge. pp. 303–. ISBN 978-1-317-39874-5.
  10. ^ a b Tucker, Richard P. (1977) [1st pub. University of Chicago Press:1972]. Ranade and the Roots of Indian Nationalism. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. pp. 60–63.
  11. ^ Oak, Alok (2018). "(In)Complete Rebellion: M.G. Ranade and the Challenge of Reinventing Hinduism". In Kim, David W. (ed.). Colonial transformation and Asian religions in modern history. Cambridge Scholar's Publishing. pp. 59–60. ISBN 9781527519121.
  12. ^ "THE GROWTH OF NEW INDIA, 1858-1905". 17 May 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  13. ^ Bakshi, SR (1993). Mahadev Govind Ranade. South Asia Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-81-7041-605-0.
  14. ^ "Loss of Caste". Retrieved 22 August 2015. He and a few other notables including Bal Gangadhar Tilak attended a meeting with the missionaries of the Panch Houd Mission, which still exists in Pune. Tea was offered to them. Some of them drank it and others did not. Poona in those days - late 19th century - was a very orthodox place and the bastion of Brahminism. Gopalrao Joshi made the affair public and all offenders were ordered to undergo prayashchitta for their offense of drinking the tea of Christian missionaries.
  15. ^ Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, ed. (2002). Education and the disprivileged : nineteenth and twentieth century India (1. publ. ed.). Hyderabad: Orient Longman. p. 239. ISBN 978-8125021926. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  16. ^ Ghurye, G. S. (1954). Social Change in Maharashtra, II. Sociological Bulletin, page 51.
  17. ^ Mukherjee, M., 1993. Story, history and her story. Studies in History, 9(1), pp.71-85.
  18. ^ Dave, Vibhuti (6 December 2014). Amaaraa Sahajivan naa Sambhaaranaa. Vadodara, Gujarat, India: Self. pp. 12, 121.