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Mahrshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde (April 23, 1873 – January 2, 1944) was one of the most important social and religious reformers in Maharashtra, India. He was prominent among the liberal thinkers and reformists in India, prior to her independence. His greatest contribution was to remove the practice of untouchability and bring about equality to the depressed classes in Indian society.

Early life[edit]

He was born in April 23, 1873 in the princely state of Jamkhandi in Karnataka, India, a member of a Marathi-speaking Maharashtrian family. His early childhood was influenced by a liberal family environment. The family friends and acquaintances came from all religions and castes. He was brought up to think that religion was not just a matter of a blind faith and meaningless rituals or pujas, but meant getting personally and emotionally involved in the service of God.

He was influenced by the writings of many intellectuals such as John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and Max Müller.


In 1898 he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Fergusson College at Pune, India. He had also studied and passed the first year law and moved to Mumbai (Bombay) for the LL.B. examination; however, he gave up this course to attend to other compelling callings in his life. This same year he joined the Prarthana Samaj, where he was further inspired and influenced by G.B. Kotkar, Shivrampant Gokhle, Justice Mahadev Govinda Ranade, Sir Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar and K.B. Marathe. He became a missionary for the Prarthana Samaj.

The Prarthana Samaj selected him to go to England in 1901, to study comparative religion at Manchester College, Oxford, which had been founded by the Unitarian Church. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, of Baroda, a progressive and reformist, provided some financial help for his travels abroad.

Life work[edit]

After returning from England in 1903, he devoted his life to religious and social reforms. He continued his missionary work for the Prarthana Samaj. His efforts were devoted mainly to the removal of untouchability in India. In 1905 he established a night school for the children of untouchables in Pune, and in 1906 he established the Depressed Classes Mission in Mumbai (Bombay). In 1922 the mission’s Ahalyashram building was competed at Pune. In 1917 he succeeded in getting the Indian National Congress to pass a resolution condemning the practice of untouchability.

From 1918 to 1920, he went on to convening all the India untouchability removal conferences. Some of these conferences were convened under the president-ship of Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaja Sahyajirao Gaekwad. His written communications with the Mahatmaji are noteworthy. In 1919 he gave evidence before the South borough Commission, asking for the special representation for the untouchable castes. In 1923 he resigned as the executive of the Depressed Classes Mission since some of the members of the untouchable castes wanted its own leaders to manage the mission’s affairs. His work and association with the Mission continued even though he was disappointed by the separatist attitude of the leaders of the untouchables, especially under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he wanted unity amongst the untouchables and the Hindu caste, and feared that the British rule would take advantage of such divisions within Indian society and exploit them for their own benefit.

In 1930 he participated in the Civil Disobedience movement of Mahatma Gandhi and was imprisoned for six months of hard labor, in the Yerawda Central Jail (prison) near Pune.

In 1933 his book Bhartiya Asprushyatecha Prashna ("India’s untouchability question") was published. His thoughts and examination of the Hindu religion and social culture were similar to Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dayananda Saraswati. In his writings, he opposes the caste system, idol worship, and inequities against women and depressed classes. He opposed meaningless rituals, the dominance of hereditary priesthood, and the requirement of a priest to mediate between God and his devotees.

Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde died on January 2, 1944.

Depressed Class Mission[edit]

Shinde was a prominent campaigner on behalf of the Dalit movement in India who established the Depressed Classes Mission of India to provide education to the Dalits.[1] He laid the foundation of Depressed Class Mission on October 18, 1906 in order to work against untouchability on the national level. Aims of this mission were:

  1. To try to get rid of untouchability.
  2. To provide educational facilities to the untouchables.
  3. To start schools, hostels, and hospitals for the untouchables.
  4. To solve their social problems.

Many schools and hostels were founded by this mission.[2]


  1. ^ Kshīrasāgara, Rāmacandra (1994). Dalit Movement in India and Its Leaders, 1857-1956. M.D. Publications Pvt (. Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 81-85880-43-3. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  2. ^ Study books of Nathe, K'Sagar and Chanakya mandal publications.
  • Gore, M.S.; Vitthal Ramji Shinde, An Assessment of his Contribution (book in English language), (1989), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay, India.
  • Pawar, G.M.; Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Jeevan wa Karya (book in Marathi language), (2004), Mumbai (Bombay), India. ISBN 81-88284-37-8.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitthal_Ramji_Shinde — Please support Wikipedia.
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40 news items

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 21:06:31 -0800

Hemant is a resident of Shivaji Nagar Gaothan, an area near Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge where Dabholkar was shot dead by two unidentified persons while Nilesh stays in Mangalwar Peth. The investigating agency has told the Bombay high court that it has ...
Times of India
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:30:32 -0800

Dabhokar was shot dead on the Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge near Omkareshwar temple on August 20, 2013. He was out on a morning walk. Initially, the case was investigated by the Deccan Gymkhana police. The Bombay High Court issued an order on May ...
Times of India
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:19:01 -0700

Dabholkar was shot dead by two unidentified assailants at the Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge near Balgandharva on August 20, 2013. Recommended By Colombia. Kalburgi was gunned down by unknown persons when he opened the door to them in his ...
Times of India
Wed, 27 May 2015 11:26:56 -0700

These sketches include the motorcycle rider and the pillion, who had shot down Dabholkar on Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge near Omkareshwar temple, when he was on his morning walk on August 20, 2013. A CBI officer claimed both sketches have ...

Indian Express

Indian Express
Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:50:16 -0700

Hamid Dabholkar (third from right) during a protest at Vitthal Ramji Shinde Bridge on Thursday (Pavan Khengre). Hamid, son of slain anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar, on Thursday said even seven months after the murder, the police have not ...
Times of India
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:40:13 -0700

Dabholkar (69), who was out for a morning walk on August 20, 2013 was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne unidentified assailants on Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge near Omkareshwar temple. The Pune crime branch, which was investigating the ...

Daily News & Analysis

Daily News & Analysis
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:02:01 -0700

Maharashtra was the cradle of the social reform movement with Mahatma Jotiba Phule, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Chatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj and Prabhodhankar Keshav Sitaram Thackeray forming the backbone of the ...
Times of India
Sat, 18 Oct 2014 15:43:34 -0700

PUNE: The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) will launch a helpline on Monday to assist people who have been duped by godmen, are victims of black magic, are facing problems because they want to marry a person from another caste, ...

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