Associates in Social Reforms
Kashinath Laxman (aka Aba) Parulekar
Shrimant Bhagojisheth Keer
Shankaracharya Dr. Kurtakoti
Born 1879, was a Sanskrit scholar. Obtained doctorate from American University. At the instance of Lokmanya Tilak, took sanyaas and became Shankaracharya of Sankeshwar Peeth in 1917. Developed differences with Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur and had to leave Kolhapur; stayed in Nashik Panchavati. Organized shuddhi programmes and several Hindu conferences. At the inauguration ceremony of the Patitpavan Mandir in Ratnagiri, a Mahar (ex-untouchable) leader PN Rajbhoj performed paadyapuja (ritual washing of the feet) of the Shankaracharya Dr. Kurtakoti. This was an unprecedented event in the history of Hindu society. Was president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha twice (Prayag, 1924 and Lahore 1936). Died on 29 October 1967.
Vaidya Mahadev Ganpatrao Shinde
(* a vaidya is a Ayurvedic practitioner)
Was an Ayurvedic vaidya by training, had inherited this profession from his father who had knowledge of Ayurveda. When Savarkar was interned in Ratnagiri, many people shunned him for fear of inviting the wrath of the British authorities. Ratnagiri was a stronghold of the conservatives. The elite did not look upon very kindly to Savarkar’s social reform activities. Vaidya Mahadev Ganpatrao Shinde was one of those who stood behind solidly behind Savarkar in his social reform activities. For this, he became the butt of sarcasm and anger of his relatives and friends. The police hounded him. But Vaidya Shinde stood firm.
The Shinde family hailed originally from Partavne area of Ratnagiri. MG Shinde’s father was employed in the police department and rose to be a sub-inspector. He had a great liking for Ayurveda. He would cure many poor people of simple ailments during his travels as a policeman. Ganpatrao Shinde had five sons, of who three were mute. The responsibility of running the family fell on Mahadevrao after his father’s death.
Savarkar and Vaidya MG Shinde first met in 1924. In their very first meeting, Savarkar noticed the word ‘Dr’ written on Shinde’s nameplate. In keeping with his love for reform of language, Savarkar suggested that Shinde use the word ‘vaidya’ instead of ‘dr’. In 1925, Shinde was inducted into the executive of the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha and made its vice-president.
When Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar who was to later found the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) came to Ratnagiri to visit Savarkar, he had stayed at Dr. Shinde’s place. On the next day, Dr. Hedgewar had addressed a small gathering at Dr. Shinde’s place. As Savarkar was interned, he could not visit Nagpur after the founding of the RSS. It was Dr. Shinde who went to Nagpur. There he was given a guard of honour by the RSS swayamsevaks and Dr. Hedgewar himself introduced Dr. Shinde.
When the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha sent a letter of felicitation to Prince of Nepal, HRH Tribhuvan Bir Vikram on the occasion of his twentieth birthday, the correspondence was done from Shinde’s house. Shinde also took upon himself to send 150 rakhis to 150 prominent Hindus throughout the country.
Vaidya Shinde was a member of the Ratnagiri municipality and the District Board. The Muslim members of the municipality wanted to stop the gymnasium started by Savarkar and managed by the municipality. It was Shinde who struck down the proposal of the Muslim members.
Shinde organized the signatures of 500 people on a petition to invite Dr. BR Ambedkar to speak at the Vithoba temple in Ratnagiri but Ambedkar declined citing lack of time. Vaidya Shinde was the secretary when Sant Panchlegaonkar’s speech and discussion of temple entry to ex-untouchables was discussed on 11 September 1929. It was due to the efforts of people like Shinde that the ex-untouchables finally got entry to the Vithoba temple on 13 September 1929.
Vaidya Shinde was the moving force in bringing back to the Hindu fold an actor named Ibrahim and renaming him Ishwardas.
Vaidya Shinde was the president of the Somvanshi Mahar Conference held in Ratnagiri on 09 April 1932.
In 1932, Shinde spoke on behalf of reformists in a debate that took place between conservatives and reformists at the Ganeshotsav.
On 01 April 1933, Shinde signed a letter of greeting to the Maharaja of Nepal on occasion of the Hindu New Year.
The biography of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj was banned in Ratnagiri Jail. Shinde took steps and got the ban lifted. Vaidya M G Shinde passed away in 1948.