Shyamji Krishna Varma was born in the year 1857 and completed his primary education from the current day state of Gujarat before heading on to teach Sanksrit at Oxford University, He was also well versed with the law as a subject and frequently shuttled between the two countries alternating roles between learning and building a career in law. Upon reaching England, his recommendation was given by Professor Monier Williams. In 1883 he was able to present a lecture on the topic of ‘The Origin of writing in India’ at the Royal Asiatic Society which was lauded and he was eventually elected as a non-resident member for the same. In 1881 he also represented India in the Berlin Congress of Orientalists.
When he returned to India he was appointed as a Diwan by the King of Ratlam State but he could not pursue that path longer due to his health condition. He then shifted to Bombay (current day Mumbai) and started closely working with Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati and simultaneously worked for the position of Diwan of Junagarh. But in 1897 often an unpleasant encounter with the Crown and the British Officials he resigned his faith from the British government and went on a journey to question the British rule and become a staunch nationalist himself.
In 1875 he got married to Bhanumati, who he had met through the Arya Samaj and he went on further to conduct lectures and gained a reputation as a public speaker who spoke about the Vedic philosophy and Indian diaspora through his lectures and speeches.
Shyamji Krishna Varma: Contribution to Indian Nationalism
Shyamji Varma was highly influenced by the work of Satyarth Prakash and Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Especially the works of nationalism which imbibed a sense of Indian-ness within the people was key to Shyamji Krishna Verma’s own growth as an Indian nationalist. He was also closely associated with Swami Dayanand Saraswati himself and over frequent talks and discussions he was motivated to reach out to India House in England and furthermore inspire several other revolutionaries- Veer Savarkar being one of them. Eventually with Lokmanya Tilak came up with his reforms he also gained support from Shyamji Krishna Varma especially for the Age of Consent Bill which was a controversy back in the year 1890. Despite his support for Tilak Varma always remained sceptical of the actions undertaken by Congress as he didn’t agree to their approach of protesting and collaborating with the Britishers at the same time.
Shyamji Krishna Varma: The Indian Sociologist
India’s absolute independence was the primary goal of Shyamji Varma and to further this goal he went ahead to publish a journal called, ‘The Indian Sociologist’ which begun in the year 1905 and was edited by him. The tone of the journal begun fairly mild and mellow only to slowly introduce radical elements into it which criticised several actions of the British government. Several of its editors including two of its printers in 1909 for highlighting the importance of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Indian Home Rule Society
The Indian Home Rule Society was an organisation that was inaugurated and founded in 1905 by Shyamji Krishna Varma to contest the Indian National Congress as an organisation that served to cater to the Indian perspective. The aim of the institution as per its constitution was to ‘secure Home Rule for India, and to carry on a genuine Indian propaganda in this country by all practicable means’. This was one of the first Indian-only organisations which were established to bring forth political discussions about the welfare of the nation and encouraged the participation of students and activists to bring about a loyalist discussion about independence. Eventually, when Varma moved to Paris in the year 1907 it led way to the establishment of Abhinav Bharat Mandal led by Savarkar and aimed to reestablish the power dynamics and power within the nation of India.
Establishing India House
Back in the day several Indian students went to England to study and were on the receiving end of several racist attitudes and bullying which proved to be detrimental for their stay. To tackle this problem, Shyamji Krishna Varma established the India House which enabled hostel facilities and services to the Indian students only to ensure their stay over there in exchange for ensuring that they take up no jobs offered by the British government. The place also acted as a hotbed for discussions regarding the absolute independence of India and discussions about the arrests that are taking place imbibing a sense of nationalism among the students
Paris and onwards
In 1907 Shyamji Krishna Varma reached Paris and played a pivotal role in garnering support from the European nations of the Indian nationalist movement as he travelled to Paris. While several French politicians lauded his courage and the work he was putting in for the struggle for Independence in India, it must be noted that several organisations despite reserving their support to the cause often found it difficult to express the same in international forums due to external pressure from Britain like when he approached the League of Nations asking for a lectureship to be named President Woodrow Wilson Lectureship which will enable narratives and discoursed based along the lines of preserving safeguard to a nation’s welfare and guard its independence through the means of freedom and justice. His last two issues of The Indian Sociologist came out in the year 1922 before his health deteriorated and he passed away on 30th March 1930.
Shyamji Krishna Varma in his own capacity refuted the British government and brought about a wave in the national revolutionaries who tackled the British government headfirst. He questioned the very premise of having Indian National Congress which as per his own belief was too moderate with their approach. He was one of the pioneers of revolutionary and radical nationalism within the nation which shaped several young revolutionaries like Vinayak Savarkar, Lala Har Dayal, VVS Aiyar who went on to spread his politics with reform for the national struggle for independence in India. He was an important figure in the pages of history and in understanding the ideological moorings from the struggle for independence to contemporary times.
Making Britain. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/makingbritain/content/shyamaji-krishnavarma
Shah, A. (2020, August 15). India House: A Home for India’s Revolutionaries in London. Retrieved from https://www.livehistoryindia.com/history-daily/2020/08/14/india-house