HARDAS, BABU LAXMARIRAO NAGRARE (1904-1939)
(Rememering on his 115th B Day falling today the 6th Jan.2019,the man who Gave Jai Bhim Salutaion)
Shri Hardas Laxmarirao Nagrare, a Mahar by caste was a great believer in the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar.He was also a committed follower of B.R. Ambedkar. Shri Hardas was born on 6th January, 1904 at Kamathi, Nagpur in Maharashtra. His father Shri Laxmarirao Nagrare was a clerk in the Railway Department. Shri Babu Hardas had sharp intellect and passed his matriculation in 1920 from Patwardhan High School at Nagpur. Shri Hardas gained nearness to Swami Brahmanand of Arya Samaj Nagpur who taught him Sanskrit. Shri Hardas had also gained proficiency in the Marathi language. He was pained to see deplorable conditions of untouchables of his locality. Accordingly he decided to work for their all round development. He achieved a great success in his desired goals in 1921 when he started a
weekly Maharatha from Nagpur for spreading social awakenings among the Dalits.
Babu Hardas met Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1928 for the first time. Though he had started his social activities long back, his political career got a push with this meeting. In the same year, Dr. Ambedkar requested him to give his witness in front of Simon Commission. Later in year 1930-31, with regards to the Second Round Table Conference, when question arouse about the real leadership of untouchables, Babu Hardas sent a telegram to Ramsay MacDonald, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, that Dr. Ambedkar is the real leader of untouchables and not Mahatma Gandhi. He also created an opinion about this in different parts of the country He managed to send a total of 32 telegrams to Mr. McDonald by various untouchable leaders from different states. Both Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Babu Hardas wanted greater participation of the depressed classes in the legislative assemblies. A meeting of Depressed Classes of CPand Berar was organized on 29th March, 1929 at Jalgaon-Jamod. Dr. Ambedkar presided over this important meeting. Babu Hardas started the practice of exchanging the greeting Jai Bhim as a mark of friendly gesture in the year 1937.This showed his love and commitment to the ideals of his leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.
Shri Hardas Laxmarirao Nagrare observed that the Bidi (a thin, Indian cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a tendu or possibly even Bauhinia racemosa leaf tied with a string at one end.) workers were the most exploited lot in the un-organized sector. Majority of Bidi workers were Dalits including women and children. So he started the bidi work on cooperative basis. His idea became a great successful. Presently over 3 million Indians are employed in the manufacture of beedies. He founded in 1930 Madhaya Pradesh Bidi Mazdoor Sangh for the welfare of Bidi workers. He was elected its Secretary and Shri Ramachandra Phule (M.L.C) as President.
Shri Hardas was convinced that women are back bone of the successful nation and to train them shall benefit the whole society. So he opened a Mahila Ashram (Women Home) at Nagpur to impart training to Dalit women in household activities. He thought that emancipation of the Dalits from the man made discriminately lies in their unity to challenge the perpetrators of atrocities. Consistent with the social customs of that time, he married at a very early age of 16 with Shahubai. They got married in 1920.
Babu Shri Hardas founded the Mahar Samaj organization in 1922 to rally Dalits communities under one banner. He was Secretary of organization. He also knew that to maintain discipline in the Dalits a disciplined youth wing was needed. Therefore he formed Mahar Sevak Pathak to organize the decentralized youth force to protect the Dalits against atrocities and to maintain discipline in the society. It was to act as volunteer corps. Shri Hardas was convinced that sub Castes concept among Dalits was working against their unity. In the caste concept every caste thinks it superior to the other castes. This was causing a hindrance in Dalit unity, whereas all their social, education, economic problems are in common. He was convinced that the solution to their miseries lies in Dalit unity. Therefore he sincerely endeavored to remove the sub-caste barrier from the Depressed Classes. He used to invite the members of all sub-castes among the Depressed Classes to the community dinner arranged on the occasion of death anniversary of the great saint Shri Chokhamela. This was arranged in the temple of revered Dalit Saint Chokhamela at Nagpur. Saint Chokhamela was a great 14th century saint from Mahar community. The Depressed people normally gave a very nice response to the same but it needed great deal of persuasions. During all these years, Babu Hardas kept himself informed with the movements elsewhere in the country being organized for the betterment of Dalits and to get them all civil rights as per global norms.
Since Babu Shri Hardas was of the opinion that Depressed Classes people need to get political power to bring them in the main stream. So in 1923 he appealed to the Governor of CP and Berar to nominate members from the Depressed Classes to the Legislative Council, District Local Boards and Municipalities. The Governor, however, assured that he would consider the demands sympathetically.
He was convinced that all the irrational, immoral and superstitious habits of the Hindu society have ruined the depressed classes of their vision and well being. Therefore to arouse the opinion of the people against the evils of the society he wrote a book named Maridai Mahatme in October 1924. He distributed the copies of the book free of cost among the Dalits. It proved to be very effective. After reading the contents of the book, the Dalit women and men who used to go to witness obscene Krishna Leela abandoned this practice.
Shri Hardas Laxmarirao Nagrare's next welfare step was to provide educational facilities to Dalit students. So he started the Mahar Samaj night schools at Bail Bazaar, Kamsari Bazaar and Naya Bazaar Kamathi. These schools marched towards the desired goal and in 1924 as many as 86 boys and 22 girls were enrolled in these schools. At the same time he opened one Saint Chokhamela library at Kamathi to provide reading material to the students.
Since he had association with Arya Samaj, Mahatma Shri Swami Brahmanand of Nagpur. So he had clear vision about fruitless worship of idols and wanted to spread this message among his depressed classes' people. Shri Hardas organized a meeting of Dalits at Ramtek near Nagpur In 1927 under the presidentship of Kisan Faguji Bansod. Shri Babu Hardas forcefully exhorted Dalits to stop worshipping at the steps of the temple at Ramtek and to stop bathing in the dirty Ambada tank. Since Depressed class people were not allowed to enter the temple, so these people worshiped at the steps from a distance. These people were allowed
only to bathe in the out flow of the tank water which used to be full of filth.
Meanwhile he wrote a play named Veer Balak (Brave Boy) The Veer Balak Act performance helped to bring a new awareness among the people. The play proved to be very effective in giving the desired message. He wrote and published Songs of the Market and Songs of the Hearth. His articles were also published in Weekly Janta, edited by Dr. Ambedkar. Babu Hardas organized a meeting at Paturda in District Akola under the chainmanship of Dr. Ambedkar. In this conference a resolution was passed in support of religious conversion in support of the public declaration of Dr. Ambedkar's (13th October 1935 at Yeola Distt Nasik) to leave Hindu religion as it was immune to reforms. The Depressed Class peoples under Hindu fold continued suffering from man made agony of irrational Laws. The Hindus shall never agree to grant Human Rights to the Depressed Classes people. Babu Hardas was a front runner in organizing these meeting which had blessing and participation of Dr. Ambedkar to spread his message to Dalit masses.
Shri Hardas was deadly against idol worship taking it as futile practice. However, he sent a group of Dalits under the leadership of Shri Shankar Mukunda Bele to participate in the Kalaram Temple Entry Satyagraha at Nasik. This Satyagraha started on 3rd March, 1930 under the leadership of Dada Sahib B.K. Gaikwad and was led by Dr.Ambedkar.
Shri Babu Hardas was one of the main organizers of the Conference of the Depressed Classes at Nagpur on 8th August, 1930. It was presided over by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The conference resolved to have separate electorate for the Depressed Classes. The conference formed the All India Depressed Classes Federation under the president ship of Rao Sahib Muniswamy Piliai (Madras). Babu Shri Hardas was elected as its Joint Secretary.
The second conference of the All India Depressed Classes was held at Kamathi on 7th May, 1932, under the president ship of Shri Muniswamy Pillai. Babu Hardasji was President of the reception committee. On 8th May, 1932 the national executive body of the All India Depressed Classes Federation was elected, which included Muniswamy Pillai (Madras) as President, M.B. Mullick (Bengal) as Vice-president, Shri L.N. Hardas as Secretary besides Shri Swami Achutanand (Ad-Dharma Hero of Lucknow) as its Joint Secretary. The Independent Labour Party (ILP) was launched by B.R. Ambedkar on 15th August, 1936 under his President ship and treasurer ship. Babu Hardas L.N was entrusted with the responsibilities of being the Secretary of the CP and Berar branch of ILP in 1936.
Babu Hardas L.N contested the assembly election in 1937 from Nagpur-Karnathi (R) constituency and got elected. He was nominated President of the CP and Berar branch of ILP in 1938.
In 1939, he fell sick of tuberculosis and his political career came to an abrupt end. Babu Shri Hardas Laxmarirao Nagrare shed his mortal body frames on 12th January, 1939 at the early age of 35. His services were very urgently needed when he shed his body frame .He shall be long remembered as a faithful solider of the Dalit empowerment movement in India under the able leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The contributions of Babu Hardas for the Dalit empowerment were much more to his age span.