Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar

Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar was born at Honovar, in Kanara, in December 1855. As a young boy, Chandavarkar attended Elphinstone  College where he excelled, receiving the “James Taylor” prize for proficiency in history and political economy, as well as the Junior Dakshina Fellow awards. His interests in various social issues were largely shaped by the teachings he received and the habits of thought he cultivated during college. With the question of caste and inequalities of classes surfacing to the forefront of modern thought, Mr Chandavarkar’s attitude toward the depressed classes and some of the crude superstitions of stubborn orthodoxy were increasingly defined within the college milieu. In 1878, Chandavarkar took the post of English Editor to the Indu Prukash, which he conducted  for eleven years with great success. In 1881, he was enrolled as a Pleader in the High Court where he had a successful career. In 1885, Chandavarkar was part of a party of Indian representatives sent to England with the purpose of stirring up a sense of responsibility amongst the British democracy to India. His oratorical skills during the tour surprised even his best friends but it was not until 1886 that his reputation as an able platform orator was widely recognised. Once his oratorical abilities became well known, Chandavarkar’s services were in demand in every aspect of public life from education to politics. However, it was as a social reformer, rather than a political enthusiast that he was most widely known. The education of women, the re-marriage of child widows, the removal of caste restrictions on foreign travel were some of the topics that engaged his interest. As a Brahmo and President of the Theistic Church in Bombay, Chandavarkar believed in the efficiency of religion and held that the system of theism inculcated in the Vedas ought to be brought back without all later ceremonials and developments. Source: “Sir Narayan Chandavarkar: A Sketch of His Life and Career”, Indian Biography: Vol. 5 (Madras: G.A Natesan & Co.), 1-45  


English Impressions Gathered in Connection with the Indian Delegation to England During the General Election of 1885 (Bombay: R.A. Sagoon, Aryan Tract & Book Depot’s Print. Press, 1887) The Heart of Hinduism (Bombay and Calcutta: The “Times of India” Offices, 1912)

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