Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Ranjit Sitaram Pandit

Rajkot, Gujarat

March 12, 2021 to December 31, 2021

Ranjit Sitaram Pandit was an Indian barrister, politician, linguist and scholar and scholar from Rajkot. He is one of those near-forgotten individuals who devoted his life to the Indian Freedom Movement (particularly the Non-Cooperation Movement). As a young lawyer with family connections to Mahatma Gandhi, he was building a promising practice in Calcutta when he came into contact with the Nehru family. He ended up marrying Motilal Nehru’s daughter, Swarup aka Vijaya Lakshmi, on the anniversary of the Indian Rebellion of 1857: 10th May, 1921. He moved to Allahabad and started focusing on cases connected to the freedom struggle. He endured multiple stints in prison due to his involvement in the freedom movement. The last such incarceration, in 1944, contributed to an early death at the age of 50. He was in very poor health when he was released and died within a few weeks.

From the early 1920s, Pandit was a contributor to The Modern Review (the founder-editor Ramananda Chatterjee had strong connections to Allahabad and, of course, the journal was Calcutta-based). Anecdotes suggest that it may have been his contributions to the Review that drew Motilal’s attention and led to Pandit being considered a suitable boy. Also, that it was only after reading an article by Pandit in the Review that Swarup met him for the first time, and agreed to marry him. He is also remembered for his English translations of Sanskrit texts such as Mudrarakshasa, Rtusamhara and Rajatarangini.