Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Unknown facts about ex-Darbhanga king

The last Maharaja of Darbhanga, (1907-62), was the first person in India to get a bust of Mahatma Gandhi made by celebrated artist and niece of Winston Churchill -- Clare Sheriden. The bust was presented to the then viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow to be displayed in Government House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan).

This was acknowledged by Mahatma Gandhi in a letter to Lord Linlithgow in 1940. Gandhi, in a interview during his visit to Bihar in 1947, said that the Maharaja was an extremely good person and like a son to him.

Interestingly, the Maharaja also donated three fighter planes to the airforce in the World War II. On another occasion he donated Rs 5,000 each for Sikh and Hindu personnel in the Army to celebrate festivals. He also donated 50 ambulances to the Army Medical Corp.

These are some unknown facts about Maharajadhiraj of Darbhanga which find mention in a 450-page book entitled "Courage and Benevolence: Maharajadhiraj Kameshwar Singh". The book, which is already in print, will be formally released by the Maharajadhiraj Kameshwar Singh Kalyani Foundation on the occasion of his birth centenary celebration on November 28. Former JNU professor Manager Pandey will formally release it at a function at Darbhanga.

Noted sociologist Hetukar Jha, who is the editor of the volume, told TOI that the book "contains rare letters, speeches, documents and photographs depicting the personality of the last Maharajadhiraja of Darbhanga".

He helped people from all walks of life, irrespective of his/ her political affiliation or social standing. Among his beneficiaries were stalwarts such as Dr Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shubhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Maharaja of Jaipur, Nawab of Rampur and others in India, besides Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi of South Africa. Being the biggest zamindar of India, he was also one of the great industrialists who controlled 14 industrial units of sugar, jute, cotton, iron & steel, aviation, print media, etc. His raj, spread over 2500 sq miles containing 4,495 villages under 18 circles in Bihar and Bengal, employed over 7,500 officers.

He also donated huge amount of money to educational institutions like the Calcutta University, Allahabad University, Aligarh Muslim University, Patna University and Bihar University, the book says.

The Maharaja also donated to the organizations such as the Congress and League of Depressed Classes and social organizations.

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