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Hardekar Manjappa (1886-1947) "Karnataka Gandhi "


Hardekar Manjappa

Hardekar Manjappa was born on 18th February 1886 as son of Madhukeswarappa in a poor family of Banavasi village of Uttara Kannada district.

He studied in Sirsi and passed the Mulki or primary school final examination in 1903. He was started his career as a teacher on a salary of seven rupees a month.

In 1906 swadeshi movement was on he was very much influenced by Tilak’s movement and left his teacher's job and came to Davangere and on 2nd September 1906 started a weekly Dhanurdhari, with more than 10,000 subscribers.

Karnataka Gandhi Hardekar Manjappa

Manjappaji decided to serve the society and to lead the austere of life of a celibate for this he gave up salt, spice and even sugar from his normal diet of dal and rice.

He was slowly influenced by Saint-Reformist Basava’s teachings. He was shocked to observe so many groups and sects among Lingayats. This sect was born to eliminate casteism and a myriad evils & superstations connected with it.

He wrote several booklets to bring out essential teachings of Basaveshwar & tried to bring out unity among his later day followers. In 1911 started "Shravana Upnyasa Male" (Programs on social prayers (bhajan) and lectures/preaching’s) in Davangere with the help of His holiness Mruthanjaya Maha Swamy of Murugha Matha Dharwad.

In 1913 started celebrating Basava Jayanti publicly, in 1905 published first book 'Swa Kartavya Siddhanta' [ ’ಸ್ವಕರ್ತವ್ಯ ಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತ’]

In 1909 influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's activities and involved in his Satyagraha and other activities and first time in Kannada published a book about Mahatma "Mahatma Gandhi Charitre" [ ’ಮಹಾತ್ಮಾ ಗಾಂಧೀಜೀ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’].

In 1922 published a book "Satyagraha Dharma" [ ’ಸತ್ಯಾಗ್ರಹ ಧರ್ಮ’] and started "Satyagraha Samaja" in Hubballi.

In 1923 established "Satyagraha Ashram" [ ’ಸತ್ಯಾಗ್ರಹ ಆಶ್ರಮ’] near Harihara bank of Tungabhadra river.

In 1924 'Basava Charitre' [ ’ಬಸವ ಚರಿತ್ರೆ’] a research book published, in the month of March he stayed for three weeks in Sabarmati Ashram of Gandhiji, to have firsthand experience of a Satyagrahi. He had a leading role at 1924 session of Belgaum of Congress Party with his organization "Basaveshwara Seva Dala' [’ಬಸವೇಶ್ವರ ಸೇವಾದಳ’]. He gave a book 'Satyagrahi Basaveshwara' to Gandhiji.

In 1925 he toured hundreds of villages of Bijapur District with Bathanala Maha Swamy, to stop bad habits of village people and create awareness about, patriotism, nationalism, gender-equality etc.

In 1926 'Basava Bhodhamruta' [ ’ಬಸವ ಭೋಧಾಮೃತ’] book published.

In 1927 he met Gandhiji at Gulbarga and requested to guide to open an education society, He opened an ashram school in Almatti

In 1931 started 'Sharana Sandesh' [ ’ಶರಣ ಸಂದೇಶ’] weekly magazine.

In 1935 to provide equal rights to women and create awareness about gender equality, started Akka Mahadevi Jayanti.

In 1938 published two books ‘Shuddhi Mattu Sanghatane' [ ’ಶುದ್ಧಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸಂಘಟನೆ’] and 'Vachanakarara Samaja Rachane' [’ವಚನಕಾರರ ಸಮಾಜ ರಚನೆ’]

In 1942 due to world war there is a scarcity of paper, prepared the paper by hand and continued the weekly magazine 'Sharana Sandesh' [’ಶರಣ ಸಂದೇಶ’]

He has written 40 books including his autobiography. He underwent several trials and tribulations to see his country become independent.

In 1947 January 3rd took his last breath.


Hardekar, Manjappa is the well-known social reformer, political thinker, journalist and writer, was born at Banavasi and educated at Sirsi. Starting his career as a teacher, he was drawn into the national movement with the partition of Bengal, and started at Davangere a paper which reflected the political opinion of Tilak. Later he came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi whose disciple he remained till the end by practising celibacy and the principle of Satyagraha and propagating the use of handspun cloth. He was the first man to write in Kannada about Gandhiji and his teachings.

Like Gandhiji, Manjappa was equally concerned about social reform, especially about the uplift of the depressed classes and education and proper status of women in society. There could be no social reform without improving on both these fronts, he maintained. Not less concerned about the right type of education for the future citizens, he started his own school in his ashram at Almatti. He fought against the caste system which he said was the root cause of communal tensions and social violence. All his life he struggled against the evil forces that vitiated Indian life and impeded its progress along moral lines.

His writings cover a wide range and relate to every aspect of his life dedicated to national resurgence and social reform. He wrote about the life and teachings of saints and savants and social reformers like Mahatma Gandhi, the Buddha, Vivekananda, Swami Ramatirtha and Basava, great figures in history and mythology and many a tract and treatise of immediate topical interest inculcating patriotism, self-reliance and ethical values, all directed towards social harmony and national progress. His books number more than fifty but the man, greater than all his writings, practised what he preached and lived a life which made people regard him as the Gandhiji of Karnataka (Karnataka Gandhi).

Philosophy of Hardekar Manjappa

The socio-political and religious thoughts of the people of Nizam's Karnataka particularly in Gulbarga district were very much influenced by the provoking thoughts of Hardekar Manjappa who is famously known as Karnataka Gandhi. Hardekar Manjappa never missed the opportunities to preside over the functions particularly organized by the Nizam provincial Veerasaiva Parishat, Udgir in different places of Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur districts on the occasion of Basavajayanti, Dasara and Ganapati utsava.

Gandhism and the philosophy of Vachanakaras remained the central theme of his lectures. He commended the works of Basaveswara, Arya Samaj, Tilak Gandhiji and Swami Ramanand Tirth and emphasized on the tool of Satyagraha to achieve freedom. During the course of his lectures, he urged the people to inculcate Swadeshi spirit to secure the democratic set up of government and to preserve the secular out-look of Indian culture.

He translated Tilak's Kesari and Satyartha-Prakas of Arya Samaj into Kannada, which enabled the common people of Nizams Karnataka to understand their values and promoted in them the religious patriotism in ending the rule of aliens

Hardekar Manjappa who opposed the views of Gandhiji on Chatruvarnas, did not mind to cite the reasons to say why he dislikes the Islam. While addressing the audience at Udgir in 1935 as chief-guest of the Nizam provincial Veerasaiva Parishat, he said that – "Islam is quite distinct from Hinduism and Christianity, especially with regard to the concept of religious tolerance. Islam is no doubt, a militant or aggressive religion. To the Muslims the religious spirit excels National spirit. We know that numbers of Muslim countries are in Asia. Naturally the Muslims try to establish their own regime in India. When such is in case, it is quite logical that the Hindus should aim at preserving their own religion on one hand and safe-guard their own Swaraj on the other”. This message of Hardekar Manjappa was a clarion call for Hindus to fight with tooth

As journalist, he published papers in Kannada such as Dhanurdhari, Swadesabhimi, Khadi-Vijay, Udyoga and Sharana Sandesa. Through these papers Hardekar Manjappa wrote thought proking articles on foreign yoke, justifying the need to offer Satyagraha to have human rights and liberties protected. In 1934-35, Sirur Veerabhadrappa worked as program coordinator, chalked out programs of Hardekar Manjappa in places of Hyderabad Karnataka such as Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, Rajur, Sanganahalu, Kollur, Yelaburga,

Mudhol, (Yelburga-Koppal taluk places). Hardekar Manjappa during the course of his lecturers utilized the occasion to sort out the differences between the Arya Samajists and the Lingayats. He convinced Arya Samajists not to speak ill of the customs and traditions of Lingayats and convinced the Arya Samajists to work unitedly with Lingayats to fight for the noble cause of freedom. He assorted that the obedience to slavery was a National crime. The Nationalists of Hyderabad Karnataka during the time of “library movement utilized the works and journals of Hardekar Manjappa to educate the people and develop the political consciousness.

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