Maher society and its jump towards revolutionary evolution

The transition – period of evolution after 1947

Mahatma Gandhi, along with his movement for independence, and programmes of constructive works, gave importance to the process of education of young children, and this inspiration reached even the communities, which had little education as such. Efforts to educate our society were made from two sides.

 Maher Shanti Bhavan, Porbandar  Maher Vidhaya Bhavan (School), Porbandar, India
 Shri Maldev Keshwala Maher Shanti Bhavan, Porbandar  Maher Vidhaya Bhavan (School), Porbandar, India

Respected Maldev Bapu had started a campaign for getting primary education in the society. He came into contact with the people of this community and with others who had gone to Africa to earn their living. They also could understand the value of education. These people educated their children and inspired their relatives and friends to educate their children. Primary School was opened in the villages and thus education spread all around.

There were difficulties in our rural areas for High Schools and Colleges. Shri Maldev Bapu had to face many adverse forces such as oppositions, economical difficulties, and even the tendency of the people to; consider the movement of spreading education as base and low. He established Maher `Gnyati Bhavan’ and ‘Vidyarthi Bhavan’ for the young generation of the community in Porbander, so that they might be able to stay in the hostels and study further. He wandered from village to village with many leaders, and collected money from them in the form of 50 as little as naya paisa. He went to Africa on the invitations of our people from Africa. He obtained good donations from them and established the `students’ Hostel’ and the `Guest House’ (Mer Gnatu and Vidyarthi Bhavan) for the community.

During that period the people from Africa built a guesthouse for the people going from India to Africa, in Mombassa – Kenya. These were the original collective efforts for social development of our community, and the society was successful in it.

The Beginning of Revolution in the Community

The flame lighted by Maldev Bapu in the form of the “BOARDING”, was burning for years together, children and young boys from the villages used to get education. Educated young men began to join services and business. The community used to take strong steps in the political, cultural and the economic fields.

The young generation joined the field of trade and commerce, and they began to work with other communities shoulder to shoulder. But we could not make any greater development in the field apart from the development of the `Gnyati Bhavan’ or the `Boarding’ which Maldev Bapu had started after great efforts. We started to build a `Vidyarthi Bhavan’ with the help of the local leaders in Junagadh. They got their inspiration from respected Mahant Shri Vijaydasaji. They obtained a big piece of land in Junagadh and started the students’ Hostel.

In Porbander 6000 yards of land was acquired at a token rate but building construction work could not proceed. In this area personal efforts were made, and some success was achieved in this direction also.

Organisation of Shri Mdldev Rana Keshwala Maher Education & Charitable trust

The thought of the need of a central trust under the leadership of the late Maldevjibhai Odedera in this country, and under the leadership of the Iate Jethabhai Visana in the Foreign lands was being consolidated. After long mutual discussions “Shri Maldev Rana Keshwala Maher Educational & Charitable Trust” was established in order to organise and synthesize all the activities for the benefit of the community. The basic pioneers of the society were taken as the trustees and all the institutions of the community in this country joined this Trust.

This trust and its trustees accepted the responsibility of maintaining and developing all the institutions of the community in this country. A model institution for joining all the threads of all the activities of this community was established thus. Scholarships are given to the children of this community for higher education from the interest of the amount credited in this institution. A short time loan was given to the `Vidyarthi Bhavan’ for its development also.

Many hundreds of families of our community have been established in Jamnagar and in the villages around it. Moreover, there being a Medical College, many poor patients of our community have to stay in Jamnagar along with the members of their family, for many days. A senior member of the community, Shri Jethabhai Keshwala, serves selflessly through the Kabir Ashram in Jamnagar.

The people of the community in Jamnagar had a meeting with Dr. Virambhai along with the leaders of the community. Donation of RS.11 lakhs was declared on the spot there. A beautiful building of a Maher Samaj Bhavan” was constructed on Khambhaliya Road at the cost of RS. 30.00 lakhs. The workers from Jamnagar and Shri Jethabhai himself worked very hard in order to get donations and for constructing the building here. Ahmedabad is the economical and social capital of the Gujarat State. The Civil Hospital of Ahmedabad is considered grand, and the biggest hospital in the whole of Asia.

A building was bought at the cost of Rs.7 lakhs just near this hospital in order to get lodging and boarding facilities for the patients and their relatives who come here to get treatment in this hospital. The ~bour of the community members of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar and co-operation of the donors of the society was greatly helpful in the purchasing of this house. Today this building is greatly useful for this purpose to the community. Vallabh-Vidyanagar (Anand) is the educational centre in the Gujarat State.

Today some 35 students of our community are receiving education there. A meeting in the presence of Dr. Virambhai was organised in 1995 in Vidyanagar by the students of Vidyanagar and by the social workers all around to impart quality education to our village children. It was decided that a student’s hostel would be built here. A donation of Rs.15 lakhs was declared on the spot. The procedure to procure land for the hostel is also in progress.


The Golden Period Between 1981 to 1991

We have seen during this period the practical results of the penance and labour of the leaders and workers, both known and unknown including Shri Maldev Bapu. This decade has been a golden eye for us in the true sense of the term. There was a polatization of leadership in the pioneership of the community. Responsibility of the Maher student’s hostel was handed over to a team of young men under the leadership of Shri Laxmanbhai Agath. Shri Bharatbhai Odedra was elected as the president of the “Maldev Rana Maher Educational and charitable Trust”. The learned pioneer Shri Dudabhai Tarkhala became the Managing Trustee.

In the political field also the leaders of the community reached a decisive point. The late Maldevjibhai became the first ember of the Parliament from the Maher community; and he was soon appointed as the president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, which was a di
gnified post. Shri Mahant Vijaydasji was, the President of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress committee between 1980 to 1991 and he was on the first and second place in the then Gujarat Government. Shri Bharatbhai Odedra, Shri Sukabhai Antroliya, Late Jivabhai Keshwala, Shri Laxmanbhai Agath and other leaders preserved their pioneership with great success on different fronts.

During this period appearance of Dr. Virambhai Godhaniya in the field of social service and donations, created a turning point in the entire field of evolution. A meeting was organised in 1982, in the presence of Dr. Virambhai Godhaniya for the renovation of “The Maher Gnyati Bhavan” Dr. Virambhai donated RS. 7 lakhs for the renovation of this community house “Gnyati Bhavan”. Building construction of this institution was completed after the expenditure of RS. 8 lakhs.

Our pride

The opening ceremony of this institution was done by the Indian revolutionary saint, a thinker, and the great inspirer of the activity of self study (Swadhyaya), Shri panduranga Shistriji (Resp. Dads). This opening ceremony was the first inspiring occasion for our community after the Indian independence. Many heroes of the community were honoured on this occasion. Some ten thousands of people along with the guests from UK and from the foreign countries, were present on this occasion. In 1985 the construction of a separate hostel for students was completed at the cost of Rs.14 lakhs.

This great building was constructed on the ground, measuring 6000 Sq. Yards on the Airport road, Porbandar with honest efforts of the leaders of our community and with the co-operation of the late Shri Rameshbhai Sindhave the Kharva Industrialist, this institution acquired the adjoining Govt. land at the concessional rate of Rs.1,25,000/ – for 5000 Sq. Yards. The amount, which was acquired by selling the building of our community in Mombassa, was fully utilised for the construction of this building. Moreover Dr. Virambhai Godhaniya, Shri Batukbhai Odedra, and other donors gave good donations. Donations were received for individual rooms also. (Information regarding this matter is given elsewhere). A huge building of the “Chaya Maher Samaj” was also constructed. Many cultural activities also have taken place here.

The young hard workers from Chaya have completed the work of this building with many facilities. In Kutiyana there was a demand for a long time for the construction of the “Maher Samaj Bhavan”. The community it Dr. Virambhai donated Rs.8.00 lakhs. Local donors also donated profusely. A building, which can be called to be a good sample was, constructed at the cost of Rs. 17.00 lakhs, which was called “Dr. Virambhai Godhaniya Maher Samaj”. A community house, which can be compared with that of Kutiyana, was constructed with all assistance from local leaders, businessmen and donors from Kenya and UK at Ranavav at the cost of 20 lakhs.

The new community house in Bokhira is also on the verge of completion, when completed that will be an ideal community house in the surrounding area of Porbandar. A hostel for students was built in Junagadh on a grand landscape. There was no hostel for girls of the community. The leaders of the community had realised the need for the spread of education among the women of the society. The leaders of the trust decided to start a hostel for girls instead of the boys’ hostel. They completed the construction of one more floor of the hostel. Many change, for more facilities therein, were made. Shri Ramsinshbhai Sundavadra has undertaken the responsibility of the management of this hostel, 132 girls are staying in this girl’s hostel for further study.

The Trust is planning to start a High School on this very land. The Rest House (UTARO) of Bhavanath at Junagadh also greatly developed now. Arrangements of lodging and boarding are made for the families of the community on the occasion of a fair and on other days also. Entry in the Field Universal Service: There weren’t any High Schools in our rural areas in the olden times. Our elders took leadership in the social work of creating the facilities of High Schools in the rural areas. They built high schools in Key villages.

The efforts to get co-operation of the donors for the development of the old high schools, and for the newly established high school, were successful. High school building in the rural area of Porbandar e.g. Bagvadar, ana, Simar, Dhandhusar, Garej and Gorana were completed. Dr. Virambhai was the main donor for the high schools in Bagvadar, Advana and Simar. The high school at Paravada was built with the main donation of Shri Sureshbhai Thakarar who is the native of Paravada and is residing in London.

The high school at Vadela was established by the donations of Dr. Virambhai, Chhaganbhai Ukabhai from Tanzania, and Dr. Maldevbhai Modhwadiya from Leicester. The high school at Garej was established by the efforts of the family members of Shri Sukabhai Antroliya, with the co-operation of Shri Virambhai. The workers and donors of our area have tried to develop the Primary schools and high schools of their own villages, in their own way.

The Bagvadar High School has already received permission to start standards Eleventh and Twelfth, for the Higher Secondary Section. This is the first higher secondary school in the Barada area, which has received such permission. The co-operation of Dr. Virambhai has been considerably great in the development of all the high schools in this area. In Porbandar Shri Maldevji Odedra Memorial Trust has established “Women’s Arts, Commerce, and Home Science Mahila College” for all girls. This is our great achievement in this field.

Today around 1200 girl students are studying in different graduation courses in these faculties. Its staff consists of 65 members. The Government gives a grant of Rs.45.00 lakhs every year for staff salary and other expenditure. The Porbandar Municipality has given 25,000 meters of land at the token rate of RS. 1O/per meter to build the new educational complex there. The work on this educational complex is in progress on this land. In 1991 The “Bhagvat Saptah” of the Bhagavatacharya H.H. Shri Rameshbhai Oza was planned here. This was a great occasion of social unity.

The whole of the Saurashtra region had recognised our power of planning and organisation; and of our capacity to move forward with the whole society promises of RS. One Crore were received by way of donations on this occasion. The people of the whole area made this ceremony a grand success with their love and devotion. The whole expenditure of this Bhagvata Saptah, which amounted to Rs.8.00 lakhs, was born by Dr. Virambhai and Smt. Jayashriben Godhaniya. Moreover a donation of Rs.36/lakhs was announced by their family members.

Today a great educational complex is being constructed at the cost of Rs.4 Crores. This complex will conduct courses from Std. Sixth onwards up to the PostGraduate level according to the modern needs. It will be an ideal educational institution for the girls of this community as well as for those of other communities also. Modadar Educational Trust” in Kutiyana has started an Arts and Commerce College in the name of Shri Saraman Munja Jadej”. The people of Kutiyana Taluka will have the facility of a college at their own place.

The Shahid Nagarjun Sisodiya Memorial Trust has started primary schools at Advana, Modhvada and Bagidar. Much is done. Much more is to be done. When we say much is done, there will be a sense of egoism, but if we do not say so, injustice would be done to those leaders and workers who have worked hard selflessly, to those unknown workers who have become the basic stones in its plinth; to those in the position who have united all, to those political leaders who are at the top in the service of the community, and to the devot
ed donors. Dr. Virambhai Godhaniya and many donors of our community, who are living in the foreign countries, have been the sources of inspiration in this work.

These great donors have not only given the donations, but they have dignified their donations too. This has been done, not by some individual efforts, but by the grace of God, by the blessings of our forefathers who had deep faith in God and who were always prepared even to die for others; by the blessings of our Pious women who have dedicated towards the management of the household by sacrificing their life and body; by the blessings of the social workers of our community, by the organise powers of our workers, and their capacity and patience of the leadership and above all by the co-operation of the members of our community staying in foreign countries, who are always eager to work for the welfare of their brethren staying in this country.

We have been able to do something of which one can be proud of. We might have committed some mistakes while doing this work, but the work has been done and with good faith and commitment. We are all now reaching the gate of the 21st century. We have yet to come forward as a glorious and economically, socially and culturally prosperous community.

To bring down heaven in the villages of our area is yet to be done. Facilities for our villages for education at home for water supply and for conveniences to make their life prosperous are yet to be achieved. We have to make these objectives a concrete and realistic during the coming years.

The co-operation, with which we have worked, shall be able to convince the world, of our ability to do this, even though we are a small community in the world as such.

Written by Arjun Devdbhai Modhvadiya