Dr. Mahadev Sahai’s son Rajendra Prasad was born on December 3, 1884 in Zeradei, Siwan, Bihar. As the youngest of a large family, he was deeply loved. He was very attached to his mother and older brother Mahendra. In Zeradei’s diverse population, people live together in a very harmonious way. His earliest memory is of playing “Kabaddi” with his Hindu and Muslim friends. Following the old custom in the village and at home, he married Rajvanshi Devi at the age of 12.
He is an excellent student. He was awarded a monthly scholarship of Rs 30 when he got first place in the entrance examination for the University of Calcutta. In 1902 he entered the prestigious Calcutta Presidential College. Ironically, his scholarship was the first test of his patriotism. Gopal Krishna Gokhale founded the Society of Indian Servants in 1905 and invited him to join. His commitment to family and education was so strong that after much deliberation, he rejected Gokhale. But the decision was not easy for him. “I was very unhappy,” he recalled, as his grades dropped for the first time in his life and he barely passed his law exams.
After making the choice, however, he put aside those disturbing thoughts and reinvigorated himself to focus on his studies. In 1915, he passed his LLM with honors and won a gold medal. He then also earned a Juris Doctor degree.
However, as a seasoned lawyer, he knew it was only a matter of time before he was drawn into the turmoil of the independence struggle. When Gandhiji carried out a fact-finding mission in Bihar’s Chamapalan district to address local farmers’ grievances, he urged Dr. Rajendra Prasad came to Champlain with volunteers. He rushed towards Champlain. At first, Gandhi was not impressed by his appearance or his conversation. Over time, however, he was deeply moved by the dedication, conviction and courage Gandhi showed. This is a strange man who champions the cause of the people of Champlain. He decided to help in any way he could, using his skills as a lawyer and avid volunteer.
Gandhi’s influence greatly changed many of his views, especially regarding castes and untouchability. Dr. Gandhi Jean. Rajendra Prasad admits that nations working for a common cause “come from one caste, colleagues”. He reduced the number of servants to one and looked for ways to simplify his life. He is no longer ashamed of sweeping the floor or washing his own utensils, he always assumed that other people would do these chores for him.
Whenever people were suffering, he was there to help ease the pain. In 1914, floods devastated the states of Bihar and Bengal. He became a volunteer, distributing food and clothing to flood victims. In 1934, an earthquake struck Bihar state, causing great damage and property damage. The earthquake itself was devastating, and the floods and malaria outbreaks that followed, compounded the misery. He immediately plunged into rescue work, collecting food, clothing and medicine. His experience here has led to similar efforts elsewhere. In 1935, Quetta was hit by an earthquake. Due to government restrictions, he cannot help. Still, he set up relief committees in Sindh and Punjab for the influx of homeless people there.
Dr. Prasad called for non-cooperation in Bihar as part of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. In 1921, he gave up his legal practice and founded a state university near Patna. The college later moved to the Sadakat Monastery on the banks of the Ganges. The non-cooperation movement in Bihar spread like wildfire. Dr. Prasad toured the state to hold public meetings after public meetings to raise funds and mobilize a nationwide boycott of all schools, colleges and government offices. He urged people to commit to spinning and only wear khadi.
Bihar and the entire country were engulfed by the storm, and the people responded to the call of the leaders. The machine of mighty British rule stopped. The British Indian government used its only option – force. There were mass arrests. Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das and Maulana Azad were arrested. Then it happened.
In Chori Chora, Uttar Pradesh, peaceful non-cooperation turned to violence. Gandhi suspended the civil disobedience movement in light of the events of Chauri Chaura. The whole nation fell silent. Congressional leaders began whispering dissent. Gandhi was criticized for the so-called “Bardolly retreat”.