|Achyut Sitaram Patwardhan,
alias Bhai Achyut Patwardhan, was born on 5 February
1905. The general way of writing full names in
Maharashtra is first ones own name then
the fathers name and last the family name
or surname, like Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Lately
a few have started dropping the fathers
name like Madhu Limaye, Bal Thakare and others.
Achyut followed this new style. Thirty years back
all leftists were for some years called Bhais
(brothers) like Bhai Dange, Bhai Randive,
etc. Hence the name Bhai Achyut Patwardhan came
into vogue. Nowadays the appellation Bhai
has gone into disuse.
Achyut's father, Hari Keshav Patwardhan, was a
prosperous legal practitioner at Ahmednagar. He
had six sons of whom Achyut was the second. When
Achyut was a boy of four years, Sitaram Patwardhan,
a retired Deputy Educational Inspector, adopted
him. Sitaram died in 1917, leaving considerable
property for Achyut. Patwardhans are amongst the
talented Chitpavan Brahmins who migrated from
the Konkan region to all parts of Maharashtra
and formed mostly the English-educated gentry
from the end of the last century till recent times.
After finishing his primary and secondary education
at Ahmednagar, Achyut passed the B. A. and M.
A. examination from the Central Hindu College
of Benares. His subject was Economics and he obtained
a first class. Achyuts own and adoptive
fathers were both Theosophists and, therefore,
he was sent to the college founded by Dr. Annie
Besant. He was in contact with Dr. G. S. Arundale,
the Theosophist Principal of the college, Dr.
Annie Besant and Professor Telang. Their influence
made him studious, meditative and ascetic. It
must also be the reason of his life-long bachelorship.
After passing his M. A. he worked as Professor
of Economics at the College till 1932. During
this period he thrice visited England and other
European countries and came in contact with Socialist
leaders and scholars. He studied Communist and
Socialist literature, resigned his Professorship
and plunged in 1932 into Gandhijis civil
disobedience movement. He was imprisoned several
times during the next ten years.
His aim in joining the Congress, like his associates
Acharya Narendra Deo, Jaya Prakash Narayan and
others, was to turn the Congress to Socialism.
In 1934 he and his associates in jail formed the
Congress Socialistic Party with a view to working
for socialistic objectives from within the Congress.
Achyut was taken on the CongressWorking Committee
| Nehru in 1936, but
he resigned in a few months and thereafter resisted
Nehrus invitations to join it. From 1935
to 1941 he organised Shibirs, i.e., education
camps of young men, to teach them Socialism and
to prepare them for socialistic activities.
He took a prominent part in the Quit India
movement which started in 1942.
In 1945-46 he went underground, and evading arrest,
he ably directed the movement of a parallel government
mainly in the Satara district. He was called thereafter
by many as Sataryacha Sinha (The Lion
of Satara). The parallel government was established
by terrorist methods. It was called Patri
Sarkar. Patri was the name given
to the terrible and torturous punishments administered
to Government servants and people who dared to
obstruct the parallel government.
These punishments disabled people for life. The
ring-leader of the gangs who looted Government
offices, treasuries and trains was Nana Patil.
The parallel government thus collected a loot
of more than a lakh. Some of the associates in
these atrocities were mere desperadoes who knew
little of politics or socialism. The Government
penetrated into the villages where the Government
machinery broke down completely.
Achyut personally served the workers in this movement
by washing their clothes and cooking their food.
He became a popular hero thereafter, not so much
for his Socialism as for his bravery and skill
in carrying out this underground movement and
establishing peoples government in the Satara
district for over two years.
Annual Sessions of the Congress Socialist Party
were held from 1934 onwards. But it was found
difficult for Achyut and his co-workers to promote
Socialism from within the Congress. In 1947 they
formed the Socialist Party of India, independently
of the Congress. In 1950 Achyut retired from politics
and worked again as Professor in the Central Hindu
College till 1966. Since then he was passing an
entirely secluded and retired life in Poona, not
appearing in public and not even answering correspondence.
All the Patwardhan brothers were good-looking,
with a fair complexion. Achyut was always simple
in his dress and habits. His speeches in Marathi,
Hindi and English were appealing, pointed and
well reasoned. He has little liking for music,
art or drama. The Communal Triangle of India,
written in collaboration with Ashok Mehta and
published in 1942, is the only publication to