Barrister Bishan Narain Dar
Our Founding Father
By Dr. B.N. Sharga
a person tries to break the existing social barriers of his times he has to pay
a heavy price for it. There are innumerable such instances in the history when
the great men had even to sacrifice their lives because the ideas propounded by
them were not acceptable to the people of their period. We should not forget
that Jesus Christ was crucified, Socretes was forced to drink poison and Mahatma
Gandhi had to face the bullets not for committing any sin, but for cherishing
certain basic human values and ideals which were not to the liking of a certain
section of the society in their era.
Bishan Narain Dar likewise was excommunicated by his own community members from
the Biradari for undertaking a sea voyage which was considered to be an
unpardonable sin in those days although he created history by becoming the first
Kashmiri Pandit to go to England and the first Indian to become a Barrister.
Barrister Bishen Narain Darís ancestor Data Ram Dar who was a
resident of Purushyaar locality of Srinagar district in Kashmir came to
Lucknow during the rule of nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in Awadh around
1780 and settled down in Kashmiri Mohalla with his family which
was a common practice in that era among the Kashmiri Pandits as
they generally used to prefer to live together as a community to
maintain their distinct identity and to strengthen their community
bonds. Data Ram Dar had two sons: Rati Ram Dar who was born
around 1798 and Dila Ram Dar who was born around 1800. The latter
had a son Tika Ram Dar who was born around 1820 had a printing
press which used to print royal farmaans and decrees. Tika Ram Dar
played an important role during the mutiny of 1857. He used to print
and distribute pamphlets against the British to mobilize the opinion of
local residents against the British atrocities. To avoid the searching
eyes of British secret agents he shifted his base on a big boat on
river Gomti which he used to move from one place to another on
slightest suspicion. It is said that Tika Ram Dar after the mutiny
migrated from Lucknow to Benares and settled there permanently.
Rati Ram Dar had a son Hari Ram Dar who was born around 1820.
After completing his studies he succeeded to become an Akhbar
navees of king Wajid Ali Shah. Some say that he was so much
attached with the king that when British detained king Wajid Ali
Shah in Matiya Burj in Calcutta Hari Ram Dar went along with him.
Hari Ram Dar had four sons: Kishen Narain, Jagat Narain, Kashi
Narain and Raj Narain.
Jagat Narain Dar had two sons: Pran Narain and Dharam Narain
besides three daughters: Lalita (Lasso), Mathura, and Parvati (Battoo).
Kashi Narain Dar who was born around 1848 had two sons: Swaroop
Narain and Roop Narain besides two daughters: Chandra and Durga.
Swaroop Narain Dar was born in 1869 married twice. From his first
wife he had a son Sri Narain and a daughter Sharika who was
married with Pushkar Nath Sopori. Sri Narain Dar had three sons:
Anand Narain, Tribhuvan Narain and Shanti Narain besides two
daughters: Vidya married with Parmeshwar Nath Topa of Delhi and
Leela married with Avtar Kishen Zutshi of Gwalior. Swaroop Narain
Dar from his second wife Jawahar Rani daughter of Vishambhar Nath
Dar of Agra had two sons: Inder Narain and Avtar Narain besides
three daughters: Jwala, Kanta and Vijaylaxmi. Swaroop Narain Dar died
Roop Narain Dar after completing his studies joined the judicial
service and became a judge in the Gwalior estate. He was married
with Brij Kumari (Roop Rani) the daughter of Shiv Nath Chak of
Lucknow. It is alleged that he was keeping tawaif which was
considered to be the status symbol among the elite of the society in
that era and she used to live in front of his house in Murar, Gwalior.
He had three sons: Kailas Narain, Maharaj Narain and Prakash Narain.
Kailas Narain Dar was married with Kripa Kaul. It is alleged he was
also keeping a begum but he remained a strict Hindu all through his
life. He had three daughters: Kamini, Padma and Rani.
Maharaj Narain Dar had leisurely life and did nothing. He used to
pass his time in composing Urdu poetry. He was married with Raj
Dulari, the daughter of Nand Lal Hukku of Kashmiri Mohalla,
Lucknow. He had three sons: Rajendra, Surendra and Arun besides three
daughters: Kirti married with Radhey Raina, Gargi married with
Dhanpal Sharma and Radha married with Pradeep Kitchelu.
Prakash Narain Dar was born in 1917. He married Kiran the daughter
of Man Nath Muttoo. He died in 2000. He had two sons: Man Mohan
and Ravi and a daughter Malini married with Avtar Nath Yaksh.
Raj Narain Dar had no son. He adopted his nephew Tej Narain Dar
who was the son of Kishen Narain Dar. Tej Narain Dar was married
with Vilas the daughter of Pran Nath Bazaz of Kashmiri Mohalla,
Lucknow. Tej Narain Dar had a son Suraj Narain besides two
daughters: Roopan married with Brij Mohan Nath Hukku of Jodhpur
and Nano married with Ram Narain Gurtoo of Jodhpur. Suraj Narain
Dar joined the British Indian army and rose to the rank of Brigadier.
After his retirement from active service he settled down in Delhi. He
had a son Vikram and daughter Milan married with Brahma Narain
Bahadur. Hari Ram Darís eldest son Kishen Narain Dar was born
around 1845 at Lucknow. After completing his studies he joined the
judicial service in the then United provinces and became a munsif .
Subsequently, he got promotion and became a judge at Faizabad. He
was a progressive minded person and an ardent admirer of Shiv
Narain Bahar who was pioneer in leading the young boys of Kashmiri
Pandit community towards English education against heavy odds.
Kishen Narain Dar after the death of Shiv Narain Bahar took the
responsibility of publishing the first community magazine from
Lucknow known as Mursala-e-Kashmir around 1871. He had seven
sons: Bishen Narain, Hriday Narain, Hari Narain, Tej Narain, Kripa
Narain, Udit Narain and Ratan Narain besides two daughters: Mrs. Lado
Rani Zutshi and Mrs. Dulari Mal.
Hriday Narain Dar had two sons: Prem Narain and Uttam Narain
besides a daughter Shano who was married in a longer family. Prem
Narain Dar went to Kashmir and became a forest officer. He had a
son Govind and a daughter Usha. Uttam Narain Dar first joined the
Lucknow Cooperative Paper Mills and then after leaving his job he
used to run a Kashmiri hotel in Lalbagh owned by Mrs. Dulari Mal.
Uttam Narain Dar was married with Kusum the daughter of Kamta
Prasad Kitchelu. He had two daughters: Kamal and Laxmi and a son
Kapil. Kapil married to Maya Muttoo the daughter of Kailas Nath
Muttoo of Barabanki.
Udit Narain Dar was born in 1888 and died in Lucknow in 1965. He
had three sons: Jagpal Narain, Jagdish Narain and Kunwar Narain
(Ganesh) besides three daughters: Roop Kishori Maharaj Kishori and
Giri Raj Kishori. Kunwar Narain Dar was born in 1920. He joined the
Indian Railways and died at Lucknow in 2000. He was married with
Kishan (Shobha) the daughter of Madan Mohan Kishen Masaldan of
Rani Katra, Lucknow. He had three sons: Pramod, Vinod and Subodh.
Bishan Narain Dar was born in 1864 in Barabanki district of United Provinces.
Incidentally it was the same year in which Canning College was established in
Lucknow by the Taluqdars of Oudh loyal to the British for imparting
European education to the Indian students and to perpetuate the memory of Lord
Canning who was the Governor General and first Viceroy of India at the time of
annexation of Oudh by the British.
crushing the Mutiny of 1857 by the native sepoys of East India Company Lord
Canning read the proclaimation of Queen Victoria from the ramparts of the
Allahabad Fort on 1st November 1858. Allahabad was made the capital of the
country during that period. Thus Victorian era began in India.
ancestors of Pandit Bishan Narain Dar left the Kashmir Valley in the first half
of the 19th century. His grandfather Pandit Hari Ram Dar travelled whole of
North India in search of a good job and ultimately succeeded in becoming an
Akhbar Navis for king Wajid Ali Shah, who was the last ruler of Oudh and was
counting his days almost like a prisoner in Matia Burj at Calcutta at that time,
as he was dethroned by the British in 1856 and was taken to Calcutta from
Lucknow under a heavy military escort to be lodged there in Fort William as a
precautionary measure to contain almost civil war like conditions in Lucknow
after his removal from the throne.
Ram Dar's cousin Pt. Tika Ram Dar had a printing press. During the Mutinity of
1857, Pt. Tika Ram Dar to hoodwink the British secret agents gathering
information about the revolution aries, shifted his printing press on a big boat
in the river Gomti from where the pamphlets were printed against the British to
be distributed among the citizen of Lucknow to rise in revolt. But when things
became quite difficult for Pt. Tika Ram Dar to continue his compaign due to
British intelligence, he very secretly migrated to Benaras now Varanasi to avoid
being framed for treason by the British.
Bishan Narain Dar's father Pandit Kishan Narain Dar became a Munsif in
the post-annexation period and got his posting at Lucknow so his family shifted
from Barabanki to this city after the Mutiny of 1857 and settled down again in
Kashmiri Mohalla around 1860 when the British had total administrative control
over this city after crushing the rebellion of native forces under the command
of Begum Hazrat Mahal. The Kashmiri Mohalla of Lucknow was having a big
concentration of the population of Kashmiri Pandits in those days.
Bishan Narain Dar had his early schooling in Lucknow like many other Kashmiri
Pandit boys of that period. He also did his graduation from the Canning College
in 1884 which was affiliated with the Calcutta University at that time. In
Canning College he came in contact with Pandit Pran Nath Bazaz who was a teacher
there. Pandit Pran Nath Bazaz was a student of La-Martiniere College in 1850, so
he was having a very broad outlook and was slightly ahead of his times in his
ideas and thinking than many other Kashmiri Pandits of that period. Actually he
inspired young Bishan Narain Dar to take a trip to England for higher studies
although the Biradari members were not at all in favour of such a
preposition and were on the contrary deadly against this move of Bishan Narain
Dar which was considered to be something highly inauspicious for the entire
community due to very rigid social customs and beliefs prevalent in the
community at that time.
under such adverse circumstances with no support forthcoming from the community
members and not even from his close blood relatives Bishan Narain Dar had no
choice left but to plan his trip to England very secretly so that it may not
lead to any unpleasant situation or might not create an embarrassment to his
managed Rs. 3,000/- from his close friends and well-wishers and left for London
along with Professor Gaul who was his teacher in Canning College on 21st March,
1884. Before his departure from Bombay by ship, he wrote a letter to his father
in Lucknow demanding more money for his stay in England. His letter further
electrified the already surcharged atmosphere in Lucknow. The news about his
clandestine departure to England spread like a wildfire among Kashmiri Pandit
families living in Kashmiri Mohalla and aroused a storm of indignation
particularly among the women folk of the community.
Consequently a meeting of the Biradari was called on 1st June 1884 in
Ganjoo Walon Ka Shadikhana and the crisis was precipitated to such an extent
between the supporters and opponents of Bishan Narain Dar that a sharp division
of the Biradari took place into two groups known as Bishan Sabha
and Dharam Sabha on this major issue concerning the Biradari.
As a good
majority of the Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmiri Mohalla were either big
landlords or zamindars with vast rural properties under their command, so
they were wielding a considerable influence on the community due to their
position in the society and money power. These highly orthodox and traditional
people who were not at all prepared to introduce any reform in the community
constituted the Dharam Sabha under the leadership of Pandit Raj Narain
Bakshi who was against acquiring western way of life, whereas very small number
of Kashmiri Pandits with progressive ideas and who were against the very rigid
social customs and traditions and were in favour of Bishan Narain Dar's trip to
England formed a separate group in the Biradari known as Bishan Sabha.
prominent members of this group were Dewan Amar Nath Kaul, Pt. Tribhuwan Nath
Sapru Hijr, Pt. Ratan Nath Dar Sarshar, Pt. Baij Nath Kaul, Pt.
Udit Narain Chakbast and Pt. Lalta Prasad Batpori, etc.
interesting to note here that though this division of the community took place
in Lucknow, but this controversy reached upto Lahore and divided the community
even in that city because of the matrimonial alliances between the Kashmiri
Pandits of Lucknow and the Kashmiri Pandits of Lahore. Many articles on this
topic were published in the Tribune an English daily of Lahore in those days
strongly condemning the action of Bishan Narain Dar.
It may be
recalled here that prior to this incident in 1834 Pandit Mohan Lal Zutshi was
excommunicated from the Biradari for undertaking extensive journeys to
the Arabian countires. On his return to his home land this unfortunate Kashmiri
Pandit was subjected to so much of humiliation and insult by his own community
members that he became a Muslim by embracing Islam. Simply because there was no
one in the community to support him at that time.
be mentioned here that young Bishan Narain Dar was an active member of the
circle of desciples of Pandit Sheo Narain Bahar who was the editor of Mursala-e-Kashmir
a caste journal of Kashmiri Pandits which was brought out in Kashmiri Mohalla in
for the first time around 1870 established a Kashmiri Young Men's Club under the
guidance of Pandit Sheo Narain Bahar. The main object of this club was to
inculcate good habits in Kashmiri Pandit boys and to inspire them to discard bad
Nawabi habits like visiting the Kothas of tawaifs in Chowk
indulgence and addiction which were spoiling the future prospects of the youths
of the community by deviating their attention and concentration from their
also used to provide access to information about modern society and standards of
living so that the Kashmiri Pandit boys could compete with others in every walk
of life without any handicap or hesitation.
could very well imagine the impact of all these developments at home on the
tender mind of young Bishan Narain Dar who was busy in studying law in England
far away from his land of birth.
state of mind of Bishan Narain Dar on a foreign soil could very well be imagined
by his speech, which he delivered to the Carlyl Society in London on 4th
November, 1886 describing about his departure from India. Being the first of
my sect who intended to visit England and I had to manage everything very
secretly. Nobody with the exception of few friends and relatives know anything
about my resolve and I have actually left India than there was commotion in my
community and those who were supposed to be my instigators were excommunicated.
I myself received a telegram while my ship was passing through Suez Canal to
return at once. I did not mind the telegram and my friends did not mind
excommunication from the Biradari.
living in England Bishan Narain Dar realised the true meaning of independence
and observed the difference between the democratic rights being enjoyed by the
citizens of a free country and that of subjects of a country under subjugation
of a colonial power.
to launch a crusade against this injustice being meeted out to Indians by
treating them as second class citizens. He resolved that he would fight till his
last breath against this exploitation of Indians by the British till his fellow
countrymen would get their legitimate democratic rights like any other European
citizen in the country so that they could also live with honour and dignity.
Because the treatment of the British towards Indians was very bad in those days
and they were generally subjected to all sorts of insults and humiliations.
1887 Bishan Narain Dar came to Kashmiri Mohalla from England as a Barrister. But
he had to face a hostile atmosphere as his own community members were not ready
to accept him. Because according to them Bishan Narain Dar had committed an
unpardonable sin by undertaking a sea voyage to a foreign country against the
wishes of the community. Even his own mother after great persuation allowed him
to enter his ancestral house in Kashmiri Mohalla. Eventually he was
excommunicated from the Biradari.
interesting to note that Pandit Tribhuwan Nath Sapru Hijr who was a
progressive Urdu poet of that period composed a number of poems in praise of
Bishan Narain Dar and his achievements. He also wrote a number of articles out
rightly condemning the attitude of highly orthodox and traditional Kashmiri
Pandits for downgrading Bishan Narain Dar. Some of ardernt admirers of Bishan
Narain Dar even redeculed those orthodox and traditional Kashmiri Pandits for
their hypocracy. Because some of these orthodox Kashmiri Pandits were found
travelling with Muslims in railway compartments, taking meals cooked by Muslims
and even keeping Muslim Begums as their concubines as a status symbol and a sign
of affluence like Pt. Mehtab Rai Gurtu, Pt. Shyam Prasad Taimni, Pt. Maharaj
Narain Saraf, Pt. Laxmi Narain Dar and Pt. Jawahar Krishnan Zaru etc. When at
that time it was supposed that a Kashmiri Pandit would only take a meal cooked
by a Kashmiri Pandit cook and not by any other person belonging to a different
Bishan Narain Dar was very progressive in his views but he was not an Arya
Samaji. He was an ardent admirer of Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. It is
interesting to note here that in 1873, three years before the Arya Samaj
was established at Lahore Swami Daya Nand Saraswati was invited to the house of
Pandit Daya Nidhan Ganjoor who was Tahsildar of Lucknow in the post annexation
period where he gave a lecture to the assembled Kashmiri Pandits on how the
Hindu religion ought to be interpreted according to the Vedas. The aura of Swami
ji's personality and his convictions about life had great impact on the mind of
Bishan Narain Dar. His English speeches always reflected that bent of mind.
Bishan Narain Dar was very critical about Brahminical caste system, yet atleast
in his poems in Urdu he always felt proud of having a Kashmiri Pandit lineage.
Because he always had a great praise for his ancestors in Kashmir who were
determined to lose everything but to preserve their name.
Chhote bade amiro fakiro mard-o-zan
Sab ke dilon mein chashmaye iman tha muazam
kahte the tan se jan chhote jan se badan
Lekin kisi tarah na mite nam-e-brahman.
Narain Dar commemorated the Kashmiri Pandits who were persecuted in the period
after the death of Zainul Abideen in Kashmir and his feelings were thoroughly
conservative in tone For our religion hundreds of us gave our lives. They
could take everything from us except our faith.
In one of
his poems he described the migration from Kashmir as an exile. Because according
to him leaving Kashmir for us was like the soul leaving the body behind.
Hai arzue dil ki teri arzu karen
Jab tak zuban hai teri guftagu karen
Gul se aziz humko tera khar khar hai
Muddat se ishtiaq hai ek bar dekh laien
Bulbul hai chashme shauk mein gulzar dekh laien
Bishan Narain Dar had to attend a party arranged by some of his European friends
in his honour. He wore a three piece black dinner suit for this occasion, which
was not to the liking of the traditional Kashmiri Pandits of the locality. As he
was a man with a dark complexion so to make fun of him a Kashmiri Pandit poet in
a sarcastic way recited the following Urdu couplet :
Hazrate Dar nein bhi, aaj ek suit naya pahana hai
Kali rangat pe syah jame, ka kya kahna hai
He was a
true patriot. He had an immense love for his motherland which is reflected from
his following lines in Urdu :
Habeeb-e-mulk hein, apne watan se hamko ulfat hai
Tamanae vilayat kya karen, Hindustan hokar
Once he went
to Delhi to attend a Mushaira being organised there. During his stay in
Delhi he also paid a visit to some historical monumets there. He climbed the
stairs of historic Qutub Minar to have a birds eye view of the whole city. When
he got down from the Qutub Minar a fellow Urdu poet who was accompanying him
asked curiously Panditji Kya Dekha Bishan Narain Dar in his own poetic
style replied :
Duniya ki ajeeb ham ne hasti dekhi,
Pahunche jo bulandi pe to pasti delhi,
Minar-e-Qutub se ham ne dali jo nigah,
Ujri hui Dilli ki bhi basti dekhi.
Narain Dar was a great visionary, a renowned scholar, a prolific writer and
above all a reputed Urdu poet. He has written a number of articles in English on
topics of social relevance and also authored a few books in English. His Urdu
poetic compositions were published in Bahar-e-Gulshan-e-Kashmir which was
brought out in two volumes in 1931 and 1932.
revolutionary speeches of Bishan Narain Dar brought him very close to the top
leadership of the Congress Party in the country in those days. Participating in
the session of Indian National Congress held in 1887 at Allahabad he earned very
high appreciation from the Congress stalwarts who applauded his oratory and
command over English language. He became a member of the Imperial Legislative
Council in 1914. Though after 1904 he was not very active in politics due to his
poor health yet his close friends and admirers in the Congress Party felt that
his calibre would not be allowed to be rusted like this. He was persuaded to
preside over the 27th Plenery Session of the Indian National Congress held at
Calcutta in December 1911 and was unanimously elected as the President of the
the fag end of his life this genius became a frustrated and dejected person.
Because he could not get the recognition and the active support and co-operation
from his own community members which he was dreaming althrough his life with the
result that he developed Tuberculosis and ultimately died on 19th November 1916
at the age of 52 years in his new found home in China Bazaar.
C.Y. Chintamani, he was one of the most learned among the national leaders of
his period. Yet he was very modest, a great writer, many of whose writings are
still renowned. It was generally believed that Bishan Narain Dar was one of the
two most outstanding literary political leaders of India, the other being Rash
Though it is
alleged that Pt. Bishan Narain Dar had very close links with some women of that
period but there is no official record about his marriage with any one of them.
Some elder members of the community still believe that he was married with
Lakshmi the daughter of Pt. Janki Nath Safaya of Bazaar Sita Ram, Delhi.
Narain Dar's younger brother Pt. Ratan Narain Dar was born in 1889 at Faizabad
where his father Pt. Kishan Narain Dar was posted as subjudge. After completing
his education at Lucknow he became a teacher on 17th July, 1917 in a government
school at Kanpur. He became the deputy inspector of schools in 1926 at Sitapur.
He was also an Urdu poet. He had no problem in getting married within the
community fold. The social stigma of the excommunication of his elder brother
did not come in his way and he had a happy married life with full respect from
one and all in the community. His one of the descendants Pt. Pramod Kumar Dar,
still lives in Katra Bizen Beg, Lucknow.
Bishan Narain Dar was the only person from Lucknow till date to become the
President of the Indian National Congress and a leading light of our freedom
movement, yet there is no memorial in his honour at Lucknow, when he was the
real Bharat Ratna. Our present day political leaders of all hues have
completely forgotten the contributions made by this great son of the soil in
various fields, to uphold very high standards of human values. In this respect
the golden words of Samana Sultan said long back carry much meaning that subdue
pride by modesty, overcome hypocracy by simplicity and dissolve greed by