Born: May 9, 1866
February: 19, 1915
Krishna Gokhale was one of the pioneers of the Indian Independence
Movement. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress.
He was one of the most learned men in the country, a leader of social
and political reformists and one of the earliest and founding leaders of
the Indian Independence Movement. Being one of the first generations of
Indians to receive college education, Gokhale was respected widely in
the Indian intellectual community.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born in Kothluk in Ratnagiri District,
Maharastra. His parents, Krishna Rao and Valubai. Gokhale received his
early education at Rajaram High School in Kothapur and later, in 1884
moved to Bombay to receive higher education.
Gokhale was reportedly, one of the first Indians to complete
graduation. In 1884, after the completion of his graduation in arts at
the Elphinstone College, Bombay, Gokhale joined as professor of history
and political economy at the Fergusson College, Poona. He remained on
the staff, finally as principal, until 1902. Becoming actively
identified with the National Congress movement, he was for some years
the joint secretary and in 1905 president at the Benares session. The
higher education made Gokhale understand the importance of liberty,
democracy and parliamentary system of the government.
In 1985-86, Gopal Krishna Gokhale met a great scholar and a social
reformer Mahadev Govind Ranade. Ranade was a great leader, judge,
scholar and above all social reformer. He regarded Mahadev Govinda
Ranade as his "Guru". Ranade helped Gokhale in establishing
the "Servants of India Society" in 1905. The main objective of
this society was to train Indians to raise their voices and serve their
country. Gokhale also worked with Ranade in a quarterly Journal, called
"Sarvajanik". The Journal wrote about the public questions of
the day in frank and fearless manner.
Gokhale was the secretary of the "Reception Committee" of the
1895 Poona session of Indian National Congress. From this session,
Gokhale became a prominent face of the Indian National Congress. For a
while Gokhale was a member of the Bombay Legislative Council where he
spoke strongly against the then Government.
Gokhale dedicated his life to the advancement of the nation's welfare.
In 1905, Gokhale was sent by the Congress on a special mission to
England to spread India's constitutional demands among the British
Gokhale was instrumental in the formation of the Minto-Morley Reforms
of 1909, which was tabled and eventually transformed into law. But
unfortunately, the Reforms Act became law in 1909 and it was
disappointing to see that despite Gokhale's efforts, the people were not
given a proper democratic system. However, Gokhale's efforts were
clearly not in vain. Indians now had access to seats of the highest
authority within the government, and their voices were more audible in
matters of public interest.
Gokhale, during his visit to South Africa in 1912, met Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi. Gokhale made him
aware of the issues confronting common people back in India. In his
autobiography, Gandhi calls Gokhale his "mentor and guide".
Not only Gandhi, Gokhale also guide Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of
Pakistan. Jinnah later aspired to become the "Muslim Gokhale".
The years of hard work and devotion of Gopal Krishna Gokhale did
immense contribution for the country. But, unfortunately, excessive
exertion and the resulting exhaustion only aggravated his diabetes and
cardiac asthma. The end came peacefully, on February 19, 1915, the great
leader passed away.