Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi

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K. M. Munshi
K M Munshi.jpg
Munshi in his early sixties.
Born30 December 1887
Died8 February 1971(1971-02-08) (aged 83)
Alma materMaharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda[1]
OccupationFreedom fighter, politician, lawyer, writer
Known forFounder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1938)
Home Minister of Bombay State (1937–40)
Agent-General of India in Hyderabad State (1948)
Member of the Constituent Assembly of India
Member of Parliament
Minister for Agriculture & Food (1952–53)
Political partySwaraj Party, Indian National Congress, Swatantra Party, Jan Sangh
Spouse(s)Atilakshmi Pathak, Leelavati Sheth
ChildrenJagadish Munshi, Sarla Sheth, Usha Raghupathi, Lata Munshi, Girish Munshi
Governor of Uttar Pradesh
In office
2 June 1952 - 9 June1957
Preceded byHomi Mody
Succeeded byVarahagiri Venkata Giri

Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi[2] (30 December 1887 – 8 February 1971), popularly known as K. M. Munshi, was an Indian independence movement activist, politician, writer and educationist from Gujarat state. A lawyer by profession, he later turned to literature and politics. He was a well-known name in Gujarati literature. He founded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational trust, in 1938.[3]


K. M. Munshi was born on 30 December 1887 in the town of Bharuch in Gujarat. He had his school education in R.S Dalal High School in Bharuch. He was educated further in Vadodara (Baroda), where he excelled in academics. One of his teachers at Baroda College was Sri Aurobindo Ghosh who had a profound impression on him. Munshi was also greatly influenced by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Bhulabhai Desai.[4]

Munshi was a prolific writer in Gujarati and English, earning a reputation as one of Gujarat's greatest literary figures. He was also a barrister and an eminent jurist.[4]

Munshi was an active participant in the Indian Independence Movement ever since the advent of Mahatma Gandhi. He joined the Swaraj Party but returned to the Indian National Congress on Gandhiji's behest with the launch of the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He was arrested several times, including during the Quit India Movement of 1942. A great admirer of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Munshi served in the Central Legislative Assembly in the 1930s.

As the demand for Pakistan gathered momentum, he gave up non-violence and supported the idea of a civil war to compel the Muslims to give up their demand. He believed that the future of Hindus and Muslims lay in unity in an "Akhand Hindustan".[5] He was asked by Gandhi to leave Congress due to his lack of faith in non-violence, but was invited back in 1946.[4]

Role in Constituent Assembly[edit]

[6] : He was a part of several committees including Drafting Committee, Advisory Committee, Sub- Committee on Fundamental Rights.[7] Munshi presented his draft on Fundamental Rights to the Drafting Committee and it sought for progressive rights to be made a part of Fundamental Rights.[8]

After the independence of India, Munshi was appointed diplomatic envoy and trade agent (Agent-General) to the princely state of Hyderabad, where he served until its accession to India in 1948. Munshi was on the ad hoc Flag Committee that selected the Flag of India in August 1947, and on the committee which drafted the Constitution of India under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar. He was also the main driving force behind the renovation of the historically important Somnath Temple by the Government of India just after independence.

Munshi served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957. In 1959, Munshi separated from the Nehru-dominated (socialist) Congress Party and started the Akhand Hindustan movement. He believed in a strong opposition, so along with Chakravarti Rajagopalachari he founded the Swatantra Party, which was right-wing in its politics, pro-business, pro-free market economy and private property rights. The party enjoyed limited success and eventually died out. Later, Munshi joined the Jan Sangh.

In August 1964, he chaired the meeting for the founding of the Hindu nationalist organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad at Sandipini ashram.[5]

Being a prolific writer and a conscientious journalist, Munshi started a Gujarati monthly called Bhargava. He was joint-editor of Young India and in 1954, started the Bhavan's Journal which is published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to this day. Munshi was President of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan [hi].

Apart from founding Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Munshi was instrumental in the establishment of Bhavan's College, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Rajhans Balvatika and Panchgani Hindu School (1922). He was elected Fellow of the University of Bombay, where he was responsible for giving adequate representation to regional languages. He was also instrumental in starting the department of Chemical Technology.

Besides being a politician and educator, Munshi was also an environmentalist. He initiated the Van Mahotsav in 1950, when he was Union Minister of Food and Agriculture, to increase area under forest cover. Since then Van Mahotsav a week-long festival of tree plantation is organised every year in the month of July all across the country and lakhs of trees are planted.


Munshi was also a litterateur with a wide range of interests. He is well known for his historical novels in Gujarati, especially his trilogy Patan-ni-Prabhuta (The Greatness of Patan), Gujarat-no-Nath (The Ruler of Gujarat) and Rajadhiraj (The Emperor). His other works include Jay Somnath (on Somnath temple), Krishnavatara (on Lord Krishna), Bhagavan Parasurama (on Parshurama), and Tapasvini (The Lure of Power) a novel with a fictional parallel drawn from the Freedom Movement of India under Mahatma Gandhi. Munshi also wrote several notable works in English.

Munshi has written mostly based on fictional historical themes namely

  1. Earlier Aryan settlements in India (What he calls Gaurang's – white skinned)
  2. Krishna's endeavors in Mahabharata kaal
  3. More recently in 10th century India around Gujarat, Malwa and Southern India.

K.M. Munshi's novel Prithvi Vallabh was made into a movie of the same name twice. The adaptation directed by Manilal Joshi in 1924 was very controversial in its day: Mahatma Gandhi criticised it for excessive sex and violence. The second version was by Sohrab Modi in 1943.

Works in Gujarati and Hindi[edit]

His works are as following:[9][10]


  • Mari Kamala (1912)
  • Verni Vasulat (1913) (under the pen name Ghanashyam)
  • Patanni Prabhuta (1916)
  • Gujaratno Nath (1917)
  • Rajadhiraj (1918)
  • Prithivivallabh (1921)
  • Svapnadishta (1924)
  • Lopamudra (1930)
  • Jay Somanth (1940)
  • Bhagavan Parashurama (1946)
  • Tapasvini (1957)
  • Krishnavatara (in eight volumes) (1970)last novel, still remained incomplete
  • Kono vank
  • Lomaharshini
  • Bhagvan Kautilya
  • Pratirodha (1900)
  • Atta ke svapana (1900)
  • Gaurava kā pratīka (1900)
  • Gujarat ke Gaurava (1900)
  • Sishu aura Sakhi (1961)
  • Avibhakta Atma


  • Brahmacharyashram (1931)
  • Dr. Madhurika (1936)
  • Pauranik Natako


  • Ketlak Lekho (1926)
  • Adadhe Raste (1943)

Works in English[9][edit]

  • Gujarat and Its Literature
  • Imperial Gujaras
  • Bhagavad Gita and Modern Life
  • Creative Art of Life
  • To Badrinath
  • Saga of Indian Sculpture
  • The End of An Era
  • President under Indian Constitution
  • Warnings of History: Trends in Modern India

Popular culture[edit]

Munshi on a 1988 stamp of India

Munshi was portrayed by K. K. Raina in the Shyam Benegal's mini-series Samvidhaan.


  • A major thoroughfare in Mumbai is named after him.
  • A road in Jaipur is named after him.
  • A school in Thiruvananthapuram is named after him as Bhavan's Kulapati K.M. Munshi Memorial Vidya Mandir Sapthat.
  • A postage stamp was issued in his honor in 1988.[11]
  • The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has instituted an award in his honor – The Kulapati Munshi Award – awarded to recognize and honor a citizen of the Kendra who has done excellent and outstanding service to society in any special field.[12]
  • A boys hostel named as K. M. Munshi Hall at Main campus, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kulkarni, V. B. (2014) [1959]. K.M. Munshi. Builders of Modern India. New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. ISBN 978-81-230-1917-8.
  • Ratilāla Sāṃ Nāyaka (1967). Munaśi-abhyasa. Anaḍā Buka Ḍīpo.


  1. ^ "IndianPost – KANHAIYALAL M MUNSHI". indianpost.com. indianpost.com. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  2. ^ Krishnavatara (Vol. I) – The Magic Flute. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 1973. pp. dust cover flap.
  3. ^ "Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi".
  4. ^ a b c Bhagavan, Manu (2008). "The Hindutva Underground: Hindu Nationalism and the Indian National Congress in Late Colonial and Early Post-Colonial India". Economic and Political Weekly. 43 (37): 39–48. JSTOR 40277950.
  5. ^ a b Katju, Manjari (2013). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 81-250-2476-X.
  6. ^ Speaker: K. M. Munshi. Cadindia.clpr.org.in (20 February 1947). Retrieved on 2018-12-07.
  7. ^ Constituent Assembly Members. Cadindia.clpr.org.in. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  8. ^ Speaker: K. M. Munshi. Cadindia.clpr.org.in. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Source: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai".
  10. ^ Open Library – Books of Kanhiyalal Munshi. Openlibrary.org. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  11. ^ Indian postage stamp on Munshi – 1988. Indianpost.com. Retrieved on 7 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Kulapati Munshi Award conferred". The Hindu. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2014.

External links[edit]