Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar

(1872-1947)

नरसिंह चिंतामण केळकर

N.C (Na.Chi.) alias Tatyasaheb Kelkar is known as Lokmanya Tilak’s ardent and dedicated follower and first biographer. After Tilak’s death, he carried the responsibility of editorship of ‘Kesari’ on his shoulders. He took care to preserve and enhance the prestige of ‘Kesari’. He established ‘Kesari’ as a Trust and gave it sustainability. He has exhibited his expertise in not only journalism but also in all other facets of literature. He contributed extensively in various forms like novels, story-writing, drama, poetry, biography, history and philosophy. He proved the real worth of the title ‘Sahitya samrat- Emperor of literature’ bestowed upon him. He was an orator par excellence and he was also an active participant in the post- tilak political era.
Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar was born on 24th August 1872 in Modnimb town in Pandharpur district. His father hailed from Vaniwade town in Devgad taluka of the erstwhile Ratnagiri (now Sindhudurg) district. When he was working in the princely state of Miraj, he was appointed as the Mamledar (administrator) of Modnimb. Narasimha was his third son. Narasimha’s elder brother Narayanrao alias Nana was a teacher. He had studied ancient Marathi poetry. He was the editor of a periodical by name ’ Kavyasangrah- Collection of poetry’. Narasimha’s other elder brother Mahadev alias Appa was a high ranking Government official in his time. He was highly educated. Narasimha had a sister by name Varanasi. She died at an early age. Chintaman Kelkar, his father had settled in Satara after his retirement.
Tatyasaheb Kelkar finished his primary and secondary education in Miraj. He passed his matriculation examination in 1888. After this, he continued his studies in Fergusson College and Deccan College in Pune. He acquired his B.A. degree in 1891. He went to Mumbai to study for LL.B degree under the guidance of his elder brother. His masterly study of literature blossomed during his stay in Mumbai. He was engrossed in writing – reading and discussions cum debates which made him well aware of the political situation at that time. After completing his LL.B degree in Law, he started practising as a Lawyer in Satara. Around the same time in 1896, he went to Pune on the invitation of Lokmanya Tilak and started looking after the editorship of ‘Maratha’, English weekly. In this way, in the company of Tilak, he started his long career in the fields of Literature, Journalism and Politics.
M.S Dikshit describes Tatyasaheb as follows: ‘The Puneri Pagadi (Pune style hat) really has a place of pride on the head of Narasopant (N.C.Kelkar). Wearing his familiar light red shoes, white dhoti, shirt, coat and the Pagadi, he walked with a swift gait, swaying from side to side, clearing his throat intermittently and shrugging his shoulders.’ This is a typical description of N.C.Kelkar who has migrated from Satara and become a ‘Puneri- Puneite’. After he arrived in Pune, he started to teach in Tilak’s Law Class. He was also simultaneously writing in ‘Maratha’. Tilak, who had a command over English would discuss with him regarding his writing in English and seek his advice. Lokmanya Tilak was a University - personified in Newspaper journalism or editing. N.C Kelkar was moulded in this University as a newspaper journalist. Tatyasaheb’s writing did not possess the aggression of Tilak’s pen or speech. However, his style was versatile and his writing was multi-faceted. These qualities

made him popular. His knowledge of Law helped him to remain within the framework of Law and yet write logically, to the point and with candidness. When one takes into account the fact that that he wrote during pre-independence period and made his career, it can be seen that writing and editing at that time could be compared with walking on the edge of a sword. Tilak had tremendous faith in Kelkar's proficiency in writing and editing and therefore, as soon as K.P.Khadilkar moved out, Kelkar was given the responsibility of ‘Kesari’, along with ‘Maratha’. He handled the responsibility of ‘Kesari’ with great success during the period when Tilak was in prison. He retained the reputation and brilliance of ‘Kesari’ even after the death of Tilak. Tatyasaheb was a close associate of Tilak for a period spanning twenty five years; from 1896 to 1920. He proved that the faith Tilak had placed in him during and after his lifetime was not misplaced. He started many entertaining and educative columns during his tenure as an editor of ‘Kesar’ and maintained its popularity.
Though he was an ardent and dedicated follower of Tilak, he never followed him blindly. They would have difference of opinion from time to time. Tilak also respected his opinions. Regarding social reforms, he was more inclined towards Justice Ranade and Agarakar in comparison with Tilak. However, he was always unhappy about the working style of Mahatma Gandhi. He was actively involved in Politics along with Tilak but Tilak’s aggressive Politics was not always acceptable to him. Tilak wanted Tatyasaheb to deliver a supporting speech to a proposal of stay which was to be put forth by him in Surat Convention being held by Congress. Tatyasaheb declined to do this. He firmly believed that both aggressive and accommodative sides were responsible for the failure of Surat Convention. Tilak did not get angry with his stand. In fact, in later days, he appointed Tatyasaheb as the Secretary of ‘Nationalist League’. He was the Secretary of the delegation which went to England in 1918. He was the editor of ‘India’ publication of ‘British India Congress Committee’ in Britain. He has written a detailed account of the incidents during his visit to England in his book, ‘Vilayati Batamipatre- Foreign news publications’. Tatyasaheb was also active in the ‘Home rule League’ established by Tilak along with Annie Beasant. He wrote ‘Case of Indian Home rule’ in English. He was active in national level Politics even after the death of Tilak. Establishment of ‘Swaraj Party’ in 1923 was an outcome of differences with the working style of Gandhi .These differences were mainly on the issue of participation in the elections for regional and senior Law Council. Swaraj Party won both the elections. Tatyasaheb became the Deputy Leader of the Law Council in Swaraj party. Based on his studiousness and scholarly accomplishments he made major and useful contributions. (He was elected on the Law Council twice- once in 1923 and later in 1926). Kelkar’s political journey was marked by his transition from Congress to Swaraj Party to Pratiyogi Sahakarita to Hindu Mahasabha. People who knew him say that he was not suited to be a Politician. He joined Politics because of Tilak and he was forced to continue in Politics out of sheer inevitability. He did not possess the aggression and sting of Tilak’s nature. He was a self-restrained man. He too wanted social reforms but not through revolutionary means. He was of the opinion that it could be achieved only by changing the mind of the society.
He wrote three volumes of ‘Tilak Charitra- Biography of Tilak’. He started writing the biography within two to three years of Tilak’s death. The first volume consists of the period starting from Tilak’s ancestors to 1899. Second and third volumes consist of the periods from 1899-1914 and 1914-1920 respectively. These volumes are exceptionally important because one can get detailed information about the events in Tilak’s life as well as contemporary socio-political circumstances. These volumes are of great value because they are written by someone who was in close vicinity of Tilak. He has written a book called’ Maza janmabharachaa udyog- My lifetime occupation’ on his literary career. He has scanned the history of Maharashtra in his book, ‘Marathi w Ingraj, Marathi and the English.’. His other books on History are ‘Irelandacha Itihaas- History of Ireland ‘and ‘French Rajya Kranti- French Revolution.’ Tatyasaheb also wrote short stories, novels, poetry and dramas but according to M.S.Dikshit, despite his best efforts, he was not successful in these forms of literature. He was truly a journalist, biographer and essayist to the core. There are six dramas to his credit. But apart from ‘Totayache Banda- Revolution of an imposter’, no other drama gained success. Kelkar’s entire literary works are compiled in ‘Samagra Kelkar Wangmay- Khand 1 te 12(1938) – Entire literary works of Kelkar –Vol- 1 to 12(1938)’. In addition, there are few more published works of Kelkar. He was honoured with the post of President of Literary Conclave at Baroda in 1921.
In 1932, he gave up the editorship of ‘Kesari’ at the age of 60. However, he continued with his career in writing and editorship with the launch of Sahyadri periodical in 1935. During this period he also nurtured Kesari-Maratha Trust. In 1937, he retired from the post of Director of the Trust. In 1942, on his seventieth birthday, he single-handedly wrote the entire issue of ‘Sahyadri ‘. He passed away at the age of seventy-five on 14th October 1947 in Pune. The flowing poem was found on his table at the time of his death which was written in Marathi. Its free translation is as follows,
- I can see death but it cannot scare me
- I have the knowledge of his visit
- A man who enters the forest holding a lamp in his hands
- Is not afraid of a tiger but he smiles and welcomes him.

Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar
(24th Aug 1872- 14th Oct 1947)

Written by
Manohar Sonawane
Translated by: Prof. V A Upadhye

साहित्यिक दस्तावेज

मराठीतल्या निवडक ज्येष्ठ आणि श्रेष्ठ साहित्यिकांविषयीची माहिती दस्तऐवज स्वरूपात नोंदवून ठेवण्याचा उपक्रम आम्ही यंदा सलग तिसऱ्या वर्षीही राबवत आहोत. हा उपक्रम यापुढेही सुरू राहणार आहे.

लिहिण्याची भाषा

देवनागरी / मराठी
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