Pt. Janardan Rai Nagar : Remembering a Rishi

Pt. Janardan Rai Nagar : Remembering a Rishi

India is a nation that has always kept knowledge as supreme. Today we might name western philosophers like Foucault or Derrida as ones who talk of the power of knowledge but the history of India has shown that emperors have many a time abandoned their thrones in the pursuit of knowledge.


India is a nation that has always kept knowledge as supreme. Today we might name western philosophers like Foucault or Derrida as ones who talk of the power of knowledge but the history of India has shown that emperors have many a time abandoned their thrones in the pursuit of knowledge.

It was well established that knowledge was the basis of ultimate happiness of man. The famous couplet in Sanskrit talks of knowledge as the source of humility which in turn makes people deserving leading to their ability to earn money.

The money so earned enables them to practice religion which, the couplet says, is real happiness. The sources of knowledge were the learned and enlightened people who withdrew from the routine life of earning and spending and devoted their lives, time and energy exclusively to the pursuit of knowledge. Such people were Rishis who were treated with utmost respect in the society.

Pt. Nagar was a Rishi in this sense. Though he did not abandon the worldly affairs altogether, yet he sacrificed the opportunity of his personal growth as a politician and also to some extent his place in the literary world for the sake of empowerment of the people through education.

Having had an opportunity to get education in one of the premier institutions of the country namely Banaras Hindu University, he thought it his prime duty to impart education to the people who did not have access to it. Born on 16 June 1911 in the historic city of Udaipur, capital of the erstwhile princely state of Mewar, Pt. Nagar was very much influenced by his mother Vijayalakshmi (Vijaya Maa) who was a bold, courageous, progressive  and fearless lady with revolutionary ideas. She was a freedom fighter who contributed significantly to the rise of the spirit of liberation in the women of Mewar. His father Pt. Pran Lal Ji occupied an important portfolio in the court of Mewar.

The movement of independence was at its peak. People were courting arrest, were participating in turbulent activities and building up collective resistance against the colonial rule. It was natural for a young man to be attracted towards such activities.

Pt.Nagar did participate in such activities through his writing, spreading awareness and conveying messages. But more than anything else his heart was into educating the masses and thus enabling them to participate in the national mainstream.

Like an enlightened Rishi he had the capacity to look into future and build up the future of India, through a more sustained activity. Pt. Nagar had a family to support. His children had to be educated and looked after but he chose to cater to a larger family of his countrymen. Like a Rishi he abandoned these private pleasures and concerns and devoted himself to the public good.

He created a huge pool of knowledge in the form of his poems, short stories and the epic novel Shankaracarya. Patit Ka Swarg, Uda Hatyara, Acarya Chanakya, Vaivasta Manu and Amritam Gamayah are the plays composed by him.He wrote more than two hundred stories.

Two Collections of his stories namely Janardan Rai Nagar Ki Kahaniyan, part I and Part II are published by Rajasthan Sahitya Akademi.These stories had been earlier published in the magazines of national repute.His books Shala mein Balak,Ghar Mein Balak and Prathmik-Madhyamik Shiksha Yojana are precious works containing his novel thoughts about education.’Ek Shant Alok Mein Prasanna’ (A collection of prosaic poems) and ‘Swapna Ka Sangharsha (Autobiographical work) are great works of literature.His novel Jagatguru Shankeracarya published in ten parts consisting of five thousand pages and another work RamRajya are immensely useful treasure of Hindi Literature.

The genre of prose-songs was his creation. Pt.Nagar had firm faith in the power of word-the Shabda Brahma. He knew that words have the power to transform. He utilized this power in his writing as well as his speeches.

The main area of interest in his writings was philosophy. Pt.Nagar was a great scholar of Adwaitwad as enunciated by Shankaracarya.He believed in the enlightenment of the self which he described as Chaitanya.To him the success of an individual’s life was in elevating his Chaitanya.

The personality of Pt.Nagar with snow-white khadi apparel and ever bright Countenance had the aura of a Rishi.It is a refreshing experience to recall the memory of such a personality and to think that one had an occasion to spend some time under his brilliant canopy.

A Rishi is passionately devoted to his objectives to an extent that he becomes oblivious of his surroundings. He assumes a stance of trance and single-mindedly concentrates on the objectives he lays down for himself. For attaining these objectives he can sacrifice his personal happiness.

Pt. Nagar decided that he would work for social transformation through education. He went to remote areas of south Rajasthan amidst tribes and started institutions for educating them at a time when there was no transport available. He even went on horseback to visit such places. Very small villages like Looron Ka Fala and Badrana in Jhadol tehsil were developed as centers of education. Hostels for children whose parents were too poor to provide for them or those children who had lost their parents were opened in villages like Kanpur, Teedi, Sakroda, Bedla and Nai.

A college run in evenings was started to cater to the working class people. It was not easily accepted by the people in power in the field of higher education. They wondered how higher education could be imparted in an evening college. Amidst such criticism Pt.Nagar remained unperturbed and undaunted like a Rishi who remains in a state of equanimity in conditions favourable as well as unfavourable.

Pt.Nagar was a visionary. He knew what shape the institution will take in future. As back as 1948 he had conceived of Rajasthan Vidyapeeth as a university and had started using VishwaVidyapeeth as the nomenclature of the institution. It took another forty years for the institution to attain the status of a university.

With its own printing press, agriculture farm, dairy farm, colleges, schools, vigyan mandir, community centers, newspaper, media center, cooperative store, dispensary, cafetaria and mobile library the institution was a commune in itself. This comprehensive vision is not possible in any ordinary individual. This great genius said adieu to this world on 15 August, 1997 in Udaipur at the age of 88years.

Today , there is a deemed to be University in his name. His vision of creating a University after the model of Banaras Hindu University which he had seen from close quarters, has been realized. But much needs to be done to make it a University of National repute. Efforts have been made but the University has not seen a person of his vision and dedication.

The recent years, the University has passed through a rough time facing so many internal and external challenges caused by the policy of the state as well as the myopic vision of its administrators. Pt. Nagar wanted it to be a People’s University catering to the poorest of the poor. He had started  many projects in his life time which aimed at alleviating the life of the masses but those very projects are either abandoned or have been neglected.

Remembering on his death anniversary, one can only hope that his vision and mission will be taken to its logical conclusion by those who bear his legacy.

Written by -Dr.H.S.Chandalia

Professor, Dept of English, JRNRVU

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