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Maharshi V.R. Shinde was born at Jamkhandi a small princely State, now a part of the Karnataka.Though Shinde's family was basically Marathi speaking, it was a typical example of a confluence of both the linguistc cultures of Kannada and Marathi(April 23, 1873 – January 2, 1944)He 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. (This article is Edited by Harshad K.Bhosale)[1]

Education and Life Work

In 1898 he obtained B.A. Degree from the Fergusson College at Pune, India. He had also studied and passed the first year law and moved to Mumbai (Bombay) for LL.B. examination, however gave up this course in order 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 Ranade, R.G. Bhandarkar and K.B. Marathe and became its missionary.

The Prarthana Samaj selected him, to go to England in 1901, to study comparative religion at the Manchester College, founded by the Unitarian Church, at Oxford University. Maharaja Sahyajirao Gaikwad, of Baroda (a progressive and reformist in his own rights) provided some financial help for his travels abroad.

After returning from England in 1903 he devoted his life to religious and social reforms. He continued his missionary work of 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 untouchable in Pune.

In 1906 he established the Depressed Classes Mission in Mumbai (Bombay). In 1922 the mission’s Ahalyashram building was completed 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 the all India untouchability removal conferences. Some of these conferences were convened under the president-ship of Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaja Sahyajirao Gaikwad. His written communications with the Mahatmaji is noteworthy.

In 1919 he gave evidence before the South borough Commission, asking for the special representation for the untouchable casts.

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 disappointed by the Separatist attitude of the leaders of the untouchables, especially under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Like the Mahatma Gandhi, He wanted unity amongst the Harijans (untouchables) and the caste Hindus and feared that the British rule will take advantage of such divisions within the Indian society.

In 1930 he participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement of Mahatma Gandhi and was imprisoned for 6 months of hard labor, in the Yerawda 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. He has written extensively about it where he rejects cast system, Idol worship, inequities against woman & depressed classes. He rejected meaningless rituals, rejected the dominance of hereditary priesthood and the need for a priest to mediate between God and his devotees. This article is Edited by Harshad Bhosale)[1]

Depressed Class Mission

He laid the foundation of Depressed Class Mission in order to work against untouchability on national level.It was establisheb on October 18, 1906. 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 them.
  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.. pp. 128. ISBN 8185880433. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  
  2. ^ Study books of Nathe, K'Sagar and Chanakya mandal publications.
  • Vitthal Ramji Shinde, An Assessment of his Contribution (book in English language)

By M.S.Gore 1989 Published by, Tata Institute of social sciences, Bombay, India

  • Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Jeevan wa Karya (life and work), (book in Marathi language)

By, Dr. G.M. Pawar 2004 Mumbai (Bombay), India ISBN 81-88284-37-8



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