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Darbhanga

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Last Dynasty to rule Darbhanga as zamindars (as recognized by British after the permanent settlement of 1793) were Khandavalas. Mahamahopadhyaya Mahesh Thakur received the grant of Sarkar Tirhut from Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1576. Thereafter they came be recognized as Rajas and Maharajas. The title changed from Thankur to Singh though they were from Shrotiya community of Maithil Brahmanas. The last Maharaja in this dynasty was late Sir Kameshwar Singh (1907-1962). He died without an issue and though his widow Maharani Kamasundari alias Kalyani is still alive, she also did not adopt any heir.
Darbhanga was the largest zamindari in India at the time of its vesting in the Government of Bihar. It extended to 2400 sq. miles which included 7500 villages fully and another 8000 villages partially. It had more than 6000 staff to look after the zamindari in a very bureaucratic set-up.
The zamindari had big interest in industries too. It owned scores of industries in 14 different fields ranging from aviation, publication, printing, sugar, cotton, jute, banking, shipping, share trading, etc. The annual revenue was more than 50 crores.

The Maharajas in this dynasty were all well educated (learned) and very liberal and benevolent. The beneficiaries of their benevolence were Indian National Congress, BHU, Calcutta University, Allahabad University, Patna University, Darbhanga Sanskrit University, Mithila University, Patna Medical College Hospital, Darbhanga Medical College Hospital, Aligarh Muslim University, Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Patna Municipal Corporation, Muzaffarpur Municipality, Judgeship at Muzaffarpur, besides hundreds of institutions and thousands of individuals.

The personal achievements of Maharajadhiraja Kameshwar Singh is being given hereunder :
1. Courage and Benevolence :
Maharajadhiraja Kameshwar Singh (1907-1962)
Edited by Hetukar Jha
Contains Letter, Speeches, Documents and photographs depicting the personality of the last Maharajadhiraja of Darbhanga. He being the largest zamindar of India, was also one of the great industrialists who controlled 14 industrial units of sugar, jute, cotton, Iron & Steel, Aviation, Print Media, etc. The raj itself spread over 2500 sq. miles containing 4495 villages under 18 circles in the states of Bihar and Bengal had employed more than 7500 officers to look after the landed interest. Besides, he had shares in another 12000 villages of the region.
The Maharajadhiraja was not only a big landlord and industrialist, he was an apt representative of the tradition of education and benevolence symbolized by Mithila for ages. On the one hand he donated huge amounts to educational institutions of India such as Calcutta University, Allahabad University, Aligarh Muslim University, Patna University and Bihar University (created Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University and Mithila Research Institute at Darbhanga) and on the other hand donated equally great amounts to the political organizations such as Congress and League of Depressed Classes and other social organizations such as YWCA and YMCA. On the one hand he donated three fighter planes to the Airforce in the Second World War and on the other Rs.5000 each for Sinkh and Hindu personnels in the army for festival celebrations and 50 ambulances for the medical team. He helped people from all walks of life, irrespective of his/ her political affiliation or social standing. Among his beneficiaries are Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shubhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Maharaja of Jaipur, Nawab of Rampur, and others in India to Sri Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi of South Africa.
A veteran freedom fighter and M.L.C. of Bihar Legislative Council Jankinandan Singh said that once Mahatma Gandhi came to Darbhanga along with Malviyaji and Dr. Rajendra Prasad to get donations. The expected a handsome amount of Rs.1,00,000 from the Maharajadhiraja but were stunned to get a cheque of Rs.7 lakhs from him.
He was a very great political leader too. Having been nominated twice to the Council of State in 1931 and 1934, he won by largest marging the elections to the Council in 1937. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly, Provinsional Parliament and thereafter of Rajya Sabha till his death in 1962.
In 1934 itself he had proposed that agriculture should be accorded the status of industry and tenants may be considered and treated as partners alongwith the landlords. He said that unless the tenants are taken care of and accorded equal status by landlords, agriculture will never flourish in this country which is predominantly agrarian. His efforts led to sweeping agrarian reforms by Congress ministry in 1937 though most of the petty zamindars did not agree with his ideas.
After the independence, Zamindari was abolished by a legislation which was challenged in the court of law by the Maharajadhiraja compelling the government to amend the fundamental rights section in the new constitution. He again challenged the law in the court. Then in 1950, Pandit Nehru came to Patna and appealed to the Maharajadhiraja to give up his zamindari for the sake of democracy. The Maharajadhiraja not only gave up his zamindari but never went to the court of law thereafter neither did he take a single penny as compensation for the zamindari. (as written by K.B.Sahay, the then minister in Bihar and he was instrumental in bringing the legislation abolishing zamindari).
He was the first person in this country to get a bust of Mahatma Gandhi made by Clare Sheriden (a celebrated artist and niece of Churchil) and presented it to the then Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow to be displayed in the Government House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan). This was acknowledged by Mahatma Gandhi in his letter to Lord Linlithgow in 1940.
Mahatma Gandhi himself said in a interview in 1947 in Bihar that the Maharaja was a good person and like a son to him.
His craving for socio-economic development of India and political emancipation of this great country can be judged by his speeches in the various political forums of the country. His concern for the welfare of the tenants and development of agriculture can be seen in the speeches delivered in the various meetings of the Landlords’ associations and British Indian Association.
What he could do for Bihar in a short span of his life (just 55 years) can be termed as phenomenal. He had even introduced an amendment in the Constituent Assembly for the creation of the separate provinces of Mithila, Jharkhand and third comprising Bhojpur and Magadh. It was the first time that a name Jharkhand was given to the region of Chhotanagpur division. Jaipal Singh took over thereafter. Though Jharkhand was eventually created Mithila still remains a neglected region by the successive governments.

Some Facts in a glance : -

  1. Youngest delegate to the Round Table Conference, London, 1931
  2. Youngest Legislator of India at the age of 24 years
  3. Member of Council of State, Constituent Assembly, Provisional Parliament and Rajya Sabha from 1932 – 1962.
  4. Got made the first Statue of Mahatma Gandhi by Churchill’s niece and presented to the then Vicereoy of India for display – 1940
  5. Refused to extend any help to the British government in 1942 against the freedom fighters
  6. Donated several lakhs to Congress for freedom struggle
  7. Helped Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi in South Africa to continue struggle against apartheid
  8. Beneficiaries on personal level were Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Azad, Babu Jagjiwan Ram, and many other leaders.
  9. Helped Congress in 1936-37 to bring in the Tenancy Act and other Reforms
  10. Huge donations in form of money and buildings to Y.W.C.A. in India and Egypt
  11. Huge donations to B.H.U, Allahabad University, Patna University, P.M.C.H., Bihar University, Calcutta University
  12. Donated land, building and library to establish Sanskrit University in Darbhanga
  13. Donated Library, land and huge amount for establishment of Mithila Research Institute, Darbhanga
  14. Donated 1,15,000 acres of land to Binova Bhave
  15. Gave up his zamindari of 4497 villages without taking any compensation on Pt.Nehru’s request in 1950
  16. Had a number of sugar, jute and paper mills in Bihar
  17. Established the Darbhanga Aviation Company in 1948, second in India
  18. Fought for the rights of tenants in Bihar
  19. Darbhanga Cup in Calcutta is one of the most coveted prize in the game of Polo.
  20. In 1935 he organized with Maharaja of Santosh the first All India Association of Football.