Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1884 - 1963)

The First President of India

Life and Journy of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Major Events of Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Awards Received by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Photo Gallery of Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Life and Journy of Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Deshratana Dr. Rajendra Prasad The First President of India

Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1884 - 1963)
Term of Office: 26 January 1950 TO 13 May 1962

Long before the Gandhian era had set in, there was born on 3 December, 1884, in an obscure village in the Saran district of North Bihar, Rajendra Prasad, whose life was to be an embodiment of the Gandhian principles. He was to Gandhiji, to quote Sarojini Naidu, what John was to Christ. Jawaharlal called him the symbol of Bharat and found "truth looking at you through those eyes". As early as 1922, C.R. Das, the President of the Gaya session of the Indian National Congress, remarked, trial "At the moment Rajendra Prasad appears to be the sole excuse for a further honest trial of Gandhism to solve a political problem". When this view was reported to Motilal Nehru in January 1923, his reaction was almost identical: "Das is certainly correct. We have given a fair trial to Gandhism for over two years. It seems to me that the only good result it has yielded - I do not say it will not yield better or more results - is Babu Rajendra Prasad". Four year later Vithalbhai Patel remarked, "The one argument against the discontinuance of the Gandhian cult is Rajendra Prasad". Gandhiji himself once said of him : "There is at least one man who would not hesitate to take the cup of poison from my hands". No wonder Gunther called him the heart of the Congress organization. Another publicist wrote that Mahatma Gandhi with his uncanny insight picked out and groomed three of his colleagues for important roles in national life. In Jawaharlal he saw the dynamism of youth that never ages and a soaring idealism intent on a synthesis of ethical values and socio-economic objectives of modern revolutions. In Sardar he saw the great pragmatist and the man of iron will who knew how to get things done. In Rajendra Prasad he saw a great deal of himself.

Rajendra Prasad's great uncle, Chaudhur Lal, built fortunes of the family, a zamindari income of Rs.7,000/- per year and substantial farm lands. He was the Dewan of the Hathwa Raj, highly respected by all, honest, loyal and efficient. Rajendra Prasad's father, Mahadev Sahay, was a country gentleman, a scholar of Persian and Sanskrit. His hobbies were wrestling and horticulture and he took delight in providing free Ayurvedic and Unani treatment to patients who flocked to him. Rajendra Prasad's mother, Kamleshwari Devi, was a devout lady who would not give up her evening bath and Pooja even though plagued by a cough which eventually proved fatal. Every day she would tell stories from the Ramayana to young Rajendra, as he huddled close to her, eager and receptive, waiting for the light of dawn to peep into the windowless bedroom of the old-fashioned house. No wonder the Ramayana by Tulsidas became his constant companion, though he loved to browse occasionally on the Upanishads and other scriptures also.

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