Acharya Narendra Dev was a great person of India; he is recognized to be a great teacher, preacher, socialist and politician who devoted his life for making India freedom and for committing social works for Indians. His active role in Indian independence war gave him a high respect and reorganization among Indians. As a political leader and a socialist, he put the democracy and socialism on the top priority. His contribution cannot be forgotten till the people will recollect the independence war of India.
Acharya Narendra Dev was born on October 30’ 1889 in Sitapur Uttar Pradesh. His father Shri Baldev Prasad was a lawyer from the profession in Sitapur, later his family sifted to Faizabad. Acharya Narendra Dev was named Avinashi Lal in childhood by his grandfather Shri Sohan Lal who was a teacher in Old Canning College. In his childhood, child Avinashi Lal was truthful and obedient, but no one knew that this child will become the doyen of Indian socialist movement, a veteran of India’s freedom struggle and an able educationist in future.
His primary education began at home under the guidance of his father Shri Baldev Prasad who had written several textbooks for children. Child Avinashi Lal studied Mathematics, Hindi, and geography under Pt. Kalidin Awasthi till the age of thirteen. After it, he started going to school.
During his school days, Avinashi Lal came in contact with Pt. Madhav Prasad Misra who was a renowned writer of Hindi. Pt. Madhav Prasad Misra was the person who renamed him Narendra Dev.
Acharya Narendra Dev’s father was a religious and social man who devoted his time in religious and social works, and he was also involved with Indian National Congress and Social Conference. The child Narendra Dev was in his close contact, as a result of which, Acharya Narendra Dev came under the great influence of his father and several religious men and renowned freedom fighters when he was in a very young age. It is said, Acharya Narendra Dev had memorized many Hindu epics and religious books like Bhagvadgita, Mahabharat and Ramayan. Influenced with the sense of patriotism, he attended the session of Indian National Congress in 1899 for the first time in Lucknow when he was at a young age of ten. He realized the greatness of national leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, Shri Ramesh Chandra Dutt and Justice Ranade, and got influence of their personality.
Once Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya visited his home and noticed Acharya Narendra Dev knowledge, talents and enthusiasm, so he encouraged him to join Hindu Boarding House in Allahabad. He subsequently did so after his Entrance. In 1905, he joined Indian National Congress as a visitor, and then he witnessed the first of revolt within the Congress caused over the welcome of Prince of Wales. Dadabhai Naraoji use the term of Swarajya for the first time, and the internal revolt in the Indian National Congress over the next few years split it into two groups named moderates and extremists.
Acharya Narendra Dev was inclined towards the extremist group, and so he left the Congress in 1908. After some days the two groups merged so he also joined the Congress again. At the same time, Acharya Narendra Dev was influenced by the writings of Bankim Chandra, Lala Hardayal, Lights of Asia by Edwin Arnold and many other writers. After getting influenced with the ideology of Swadeshi, he adopted it and further, he did not buy or use foreign-made things.
Acharya Narendra Dev completed his B.A. from Muir College, Allahabad and after completing it, he went on to do M.A. in Archeology from Queen’s College Varanasi. During his college days at Queen’s College, he fortunately met Shri Sachidanand Sanyal who told him about several leaders of the revolutionary movement, and encouraged him to join them for the freedom of country. Narendra Dev completed his L.L.B. in 1915, and came to Faizabad to start practice of law. He passionately opened a branch of Home Rule league in the city of Faizabad, and later he was elected its leader. With great interest in Indian independence war, he also became a member of various Congress Committees and later came in contact with national leader Mahatma Gandhi.
When Non-co-operative movement was adopted at Nagpur session of Congress, he left his legal practice. After getting invitation from Pt. Jawahar lal Nehru, he joined Kashi Vidhyapeeth in 1926, and he became the chairman of Kashi Vidhyapeeth. As he had great interest in two things: Education and Politics, so he became active in both at Kashi Vidhyapeeth. When he was serving at Vidhyapeeth, Shri Shriprakash started addressing him with the title of Acharya, and very soon, this term became the part of his name.
Shri Jayprakash Narayan encouraged him to become the chairman of inaugural session of Socialist Party in 1934. He became a follower of socialist ideology for whole life. He actively participated in India’s fight for freedom, and played a dominant role. Because of his leadership against the British, he was sent to prison several times. After India got independence in 1947, he left the Congress party in 1948 when he found that it changed its ideology. He became the founder person of Socialist Party, and later he became chairman of Socialist party in 1948.He also became the chairman of Democratic Socialist Party in 1955. His ideology and working style made him able and noble person among the people of India. He became member of Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1948. He was appointed as a member of Rajya Sabha in 1952 and served the country on the same post till his death.
Acharya Narendra Dev is also considered to be an active educationist who left great influence of his ideology as a teacher on the coming generation. He remained as a Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University from 1947-51 and after it, he remained Vice Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University from 1951-53. He believed that teachers should teach their students moral teachings to be selfless, self-disciplined and good citizens as well as a noble human being. He better knew that India could progress only if all Indians were educated, so he wanted all Indian should be educated. To instigate the Indian people for getting education, he wrote several articles on education. He became active member of various committees like All India National Language Committee and Hindi Sahitya Sammelan that were responsible for the development of Hindi language and literature.
Acharya Narendra Dev took his last breath on 19th February 1956 in Tamil Nadu. And the great personality of India left for the heaven leaving Indians with wet eyes. Because of his ideology and efforts, Pt. Nehru called Acharya Narendra Dev an embodiment of humanism and compassion, nobility of spirit, scientific outlook, and erudite scholarship. He enthusiastically worked throughout his life for the dignity of man and for the transformation of human society.