Sane Guruji: A Rebel By Birth And Self-Reliant Socialist Intellectual

When we recall the name of Sane Guruji  (24 December 1899 – 11 June 1950),) or Pandurang Sadashiv Sane we are first struck with his highly appreciable Biographical Novel’ Shyamchi Aai’ and the First Gold Medal Presidential Award the Film received by same name received for its Director Pralhad Keshav Atre in 1953.

Born on 24 December 1899, when we begin to recount and trace his Biographical Events from 1930’s we are struck by His Rebellions and unforgettable- Shamchi Aai.  Right from the day he walked away from his home till end of his life he remained Rebel. He had a tumulus life journey since he was jailed for instigating (inspiring) farmers and workers in a Satyagruh for his participation In Indupur movement in 1930’s, followed by several massive Peasants and Workers struggles launched and led by him in 1930’s and 40’s. His struggle for Liberation of Pandharpu’s Vitthal and the downtrodden was his historical win. However most heart breaking event was his suicide on 11 June 1950 by overdosing on sleeping pills, at the Age of 50. This is a Tragic storey of a Rebel and Self Reliant Intellectual and Revolutionary Mass Educator, Gifted Orator, Literati and Revolutionary Poet.

His life span is marked by several turning points. Year 1915 when he rebelled against his father and left his home to join school in —. Death of his Mother in 1916.  In 1930 he had first Imprisonment for participation in Satyagrah Led by Mahatma Gandhi which was  New beginning in his life. His life focus since 1930’s had three significant aims. First was awakening of Farmers, Peasants and working classes and bringing to light their pains, agonies and exploitation and those through mass agitations, protests marches and songs. Second focus was search for social justice and to provide Self expression to his own emotional life and intellectual aspirations through creation of literary works directed towards social awakening and mass education. Third was his dedication to create Organizations of youth, trade unions and farmers and for those socially ‘unsupported’.  In all we find his achievements as unparallel  and Unique by any intellectual from Maharashtra after Lokmany Tilak.

Sane Guruji’s Political Trajectory

 His Political Trajectory from 1930’s is noteworthy. After tendering resignation from School Teacher’s job, he participated in Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March in 1930 and was jailed at Dhule for 15 months . During 1930 to 1947 he participated in several movements, arrested on Eight occasions at different Jails for Six years. He played crucial role in organizing Textile labor and peasants at Khandesh during 1932’s he was closely associated with Indian Communist Party Leader Comrade S.A. Dange.  On 1st April 1932, Comrade S.A. Dange, Union Secretary Vasant Bhagwat and Sane Guruji announced General Strike of textile labor. It was the First struggle and Strike against Capitalism Sane Guruji Participated in association with Communists. However in 1939, Sane Guruji  was criticized by Newspaper, titled ‘Congress’  as having turned into Communist & Socialist.

However his association with Communists ended in 1942 with firm commitment to participate in Quit India Movement- 1942 against British Rule, when Communist Party of India supported British War strategy. His defiance was governed by his Humanism. However  Karl Marx’s advocacy and theory of ‘Liberation of working masses from Capitalist Yoke never left him. His life aim was to bring to light, the emotional content of masses suffering from injustice, capitalist and Feudal exploitations their pains and witness their Liberation after India Independence.  He upheld dignity of labor and his wrote hundreds of bulletins during his underground years of 1942 movement. He went ahead to establish ‘Rashtr Sava Dal’ on 28th December 1936 to inspire Indian Youth for this Liberation.

On assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by RSS sponsored Rightwing Outfit Sane Guruji put on Twenty One Days Fast. In the post-independence period, Sane Guruji became increasingly disillusioned over the possibilities of eliminating inequality from Indian society. In face his suicide can be identified as Form of Defiance and Protest. In Psychoanalytic terms the suicide can come close to Anomic Suicide which stems from sudden and unexpected changes in the situation as form of Defiance.  


To trace the trajectory we may have to get back to his Childhood. His growth trajectory takes us to one important event, his first Noteworthy Defiance. When Plague broke out in in Aundh, all class students were told to go back.  At Palgad, his Native place during night hours he overheard Parent’s conversation. He heard few comments from his Father in which he expressed his suspicion and doubts about Shyam’s dedication to Education. The young Shyam was hurt and enraged by his father’s mistrust and decided to walk out from home and he migrated to Pune and joined Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya in 1916 .

His rebellion and defiance against his father stands in contrast to his love and affection for Mother who died in 1917 when ‘Shyam’, alis Pandurang Sane could not attend her death and last rites. His rebellion against Father and Love and affection for Mother are the two sides of the same Coin. The Father- Son dialectical conflict and Pandurang’s rebellion and defiance became the centre point or core of Sanae Guruji’s life from school days.  His life trajectory till 1950 is marked by series of Rebellions against repression and injustice. The Article covers un- highlighted aspects, his Powerful leftward leanings. He was imprisoned by the British Authorities in the Dhule Jail for more than Fifteen months in1930. This Father- Son conflict forms the core of his lifelong journey leading to struggle against Repression in stages from His Age Sixteen till End of his life. In all his Love and affection and her inspiration remains core of his creative life. This area needs further exploration.  

Sane’s father was a supporter of Lokmanya Tilak. However after his imprisonment for few days he preferred to keep away from political matters. Shyam’s  mother was however a greater influence on his life. He graduated with a degree in Marathi and Sanskrit and earned a Master’s degree in philosophy,then he decided to opt for teaching profession. Guruji worked as teacher in Pratap high school in Amalner town.

Rebellion against his Father or defiance and love and affection for Mother formed core and driving force for entire life time. The classical core of Father- Son confrontation or Master Slave Dialectic is replicated throughout his life. Memories of this confrontation remained the driving force of his life and trajectory of his entire life and his Personality..


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Sane Guruji in 1933, wrote  ‘Shyamchi Aai’ which is Autobiographical Marathi Novel in which he expressed his love, devotion and gratitude towards his mother. The Book echos Shyam’s Mother’s Yashodabai’s Memories.  In Nasik Jail at his Age of Thirty Three. He began writing it on 9th February 1933 and completed on 13/ /02/1933. The Book covers 32 Nights ending with Two- Titled- ‘Bhasmmy Moorti’ and ‘Aaiche Smrutishradh”. The two Nights and the emotional spilling from his Psyche will lead to readers to weep and Cry. The two Nights are the climax and turning points on Sane Guruji’s and Shyam’s life. He dreamt of his Mother calling him out to see him. He traveled from his school and reached home to see his Mother’s dead Body. On the day of Last rites his dead mother inspired him to work and sacrifice his life for the well beings of all mothers and humans, irrespective of caste, creeds and religions and for Humanity. The mother’s inspiration awakened or rather strengthens his determination to fight for Humanity and Human Liberation. Inspired by Sane Guruji’s life Acharya Atre went ahead with a Project to create Moving Melodrama aimed at recreation of Sane Guruji’s childhood Memories and most influential relationship on the background of the India’s Freedom Movement. It explores Mothers Lived experiences and ever lasting impact and her Philosophy on him. The articulations of loving relationships his Childhood between the Mother and the male Child and impact on Shyam as young man. The Film won the President’s Gold Medal as the Best and First Indian Feature Film at the First Edition of the National Film Awards in 1954. .Shym’s Mother, her teachings, her advices, her breeding, her disciplining and conditioning remained the most powerful source of Inspiration became and Guiding force for all his major Decisions in his life time. In the following Poem Sane Guruji defines the Multiple Facets of Humanity as Religion which teaches everyone to address to offer love to Downtrodden, making those weeping and crying happy, encouraging them in soothing language, not to harass any one,  teach them. Sane Guruji’s concept of Religion was ‘Humanisdm’. Those who love Religion, those who love God, they should become filled with Love and offer love to everyone. His Concept of Religion (Dharm) is summarized in his Poem, ‘Khara to Ekchi Dharm Jagala Prem Arpave’ song was inspired and sprung from Sane Guruji’s Childhood memories of his Mother.  That is what he taught all mankind. The song was composed by Sane Guruji in May 1934 when he was in Dhule Jail. The heart rendering song was an appeal to the entire population including the ‘Varkari Sampraday’  for eradication of Social Religious Inequality carried through and perpetuated for Ages by the Hindu Religion. Through this song he spread the concept of “Humanism” addressed to the common man and the poor, exploited People, Peasants and Laborers throughout Maharashtra. I have translated his ‘Poem come Song’ for the benefit of English Readers and introduction to his tryst with Humanism. In 1933, moved by the appeal from and mass movement lead by Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, Pandurang Sane resigned from his Teaching Job at Pratap School and jumped into mass agitation and was arrested. It’s a fitting reply to Religious Hypocrites engaged in Hatred.


He further says, we are all children of one God. That means we are all brothers and sisters. All are yours. So everyone should be loved. Get close to the people who are persecuted and harassed.  Take away their  sorrow. Help those who are orphans. Support them. And treat all with love, kindness and faith. Indeed, the ghostly word of poetry are priceless. Someone has appropriately described each word of the Poem as ‘Nector’. With the Poem he offered solution to overpower and destroy the darkness of the egoism and pride forever from the world. It will create peace; unite the world through affection and love.  


Sane Guruji’s defiance against Ruling Classes acquired National Prominence. In the late 1930s, Pandurang Sane led the working class movement in the Textile Belt of Jalgaon when he was also the President of Mill Workers Union at Ammalner. Also due to heavy rains in 1938, crops were destroyed and farmers were in miserable state. Sane Guruji organized meetings and processions at many places in eastern Khandesh to have land revenue waived for the farmers. He led the March on Collector’s office. During this period  he was associated with communists such as S. M. Dange. In 1938 Sane Guruji composed the Revolutionary songs to inspire Peasants and Working classes to unite across the districts, states and nation.

Sane Guruji was a very talented poet and the songs had such powerful and intense influence over the popular masses that British Government banned the Poetry and their publication.

The Agitation of more than 50 Thousands peasants and laborers  was to be spearheaded by Sane Guruji. This was decided collectively earlier in the meeting 28th Decemmbr 1938 by Com. S.A. Dange, Comr. Sardesai, Sane Guruji and Com. Lalji Pendse. 

Peasant awakening led to most powerful Peasant Demonstrations On 23rd and 24th January 1939, in each and every village and Protest Marches to Jalgaon were  undertaken. Translated Version of his Poem as bellow.


Sane Guruji composed one more song.. In meeting held on 26th January 1939 at Jalgaon, it was decided to launch massive protest March of thousands of Peasants against the horrifying ‘Wet Famine’ which destroyed the life of thousands of laborers and peasants.  Similarly Sane Guruji composed one more song for the Kisan Morcha as well.

The above song made History. The song-‘Ata Uthavu Sare Raan’ was composed by Sane Guruji and was to be sung during the Procession and March on Jalgaon District Chief’s Bungalow. The translated version indicates his inner determination to lead the Fight with Capitalism.


The above Revolutionary song challenged the State Authorities as Anthem of Freedom. In Khandesh, in every Village the song was sung and it created ripples and very high level of awakening amongst peasants and workers from 23rd/ 24th Jan 1939 itself. Congress Leaders launched heavy criticism against the Song and Sane Guruji. Amalner based News-Paper ‘Congress’ launched sharp criticism of Sane Guruji. Even Mahatma Gandhi opposed the March. Sane Guruji, the protagonist of Non Violence was criticized for using the language of ‘Putting the country on Fire’.

It is not surprising to understand the ‘Making of Sane Guruji’ and his zest for freedom, his innermost desire for realization of freedom for all oppressed had Western Philosophical moorings also and at the bottom of it was inspiration by his mother’s love and Humanism. Last stanza of the song read as below.

“We will not lie down now, and tolerate your kicks
Farmers and laborers now, will remain unflinching”

His love and affection for his Secularism and determination to achieve freedom is known but his concept of Freedom was radically different from Congress. He understood that it is the working masses whose Liberation from Capitalist Exploitation was at stake and freedom is its Expression. Sane Guruji’s Radical Novel- Kranti- Revolution Ends with lines

“There will be Revolutions in all countries. All those exploited throughout the world will unite.  All Working Population in the World will Unite . All World will have one single Flag. Glorious Dream will become incarnate into True World. Entire World family will have pleasant life. World Revolution will bring true peace and tranquility”.  The concluding lines replicate Karl Marx’s theory of World Revolution by Proletariat.

Break up of Associations with Communist Party

When we see the ideological- Philosophical moorings of Sane Guruji we can understand and appreciate one more Rebellious Decision by Sane Guruji to dissociate himself from Communist Party of India.  The position adopted by Communist to support the second world war was disliked by Sane Guruji who was compelled Sane Guruji to break the association with Communists. It was painful but he could not accept their support to any War mongrels.   His defiance against the Communists speaks for itself. His stance was Anti War.  He took Unique position to struggle for all those are oppressed and raise voice against all oppressors irrespective of Nationalities. It is hard to identify anyone with such Independent stand. Again his mother’s affection for all downtrodden supplied him the courage and instinctual push to take on such unique- Independent stand beyond Nationality. He went underground along with Madhu Limaye, N.G Gore  and other Socialist colleagues and was arrested .

Onslaught for Eradication of Caste System

In response to Mahatma Gandhi’s promise to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar during Poona Pact that he will spend rest of his life for removal of Untouchability. The movement launched for Liberation of Pandharpur’s God Vithoba who has been regarded as the only God of the Oppressed, Downtrodden was undertaken to follow Babsaheb Ambedkar’s footsteps.   Liberation of Pandharpur’s Vithal Temple from the Clutches of most conservative Hindu Priests (Called Badwe) was one of the finest achievements. Sane Guruji had to put his life at stake. His Fast unto Death was meant to thrash the Handcuffs around the hands of Downtrodden and Dalits whose entry into temple was prohibited for centuries.  In fact Saint Chokha Mela (Born 1273 ; Death  १३३८) was not allowed entry by these Priests provides us the Tight Grip of the caste based system. ‘People of Pandharpur should know who is the real saint’ Achary Atre!

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The Priests had roared . ‘Sane, we will drive you beyond Borders but we will not Open the Doors of the God Vithal” was the firm, adamant and ruthless stance taken by the Priests. During the fast unto Death, the great Humorist and writer, mass leader Achary Atre visited the fasting site who said, “ I have come to Pandharpur for the first time today. I came today not to see your Panduranga in the temple; But I have come here to meet one of our Pandurangas who is sitting outside the temple (Applause). I have not come to lecture you. In the afternoon I went to Tanpure Maharaj’s Math and saw Sane Guruji. His body is tired after nine days of fasting. His life force is very depleted. No. How will his life  be saved?-this is the question before you-and us now. Speak, Up.- A Mahatma in Maharashtra is dying in your village. Are you going to save him or not?. This single thought makes my pulse jump. The chest is throbbing, and the liver is rumbling. I am a happy and smiling person. I laugh at myself and make others laugh. But today I can’t smile. When I saw Guruji and my smile stopped. Tears started Rolling down from my eyes” .  The Pandharpur agitation and Fast had come under another blow when Mahatma Gandhi did not support the Fast and March. Gandhiji sent Telegram to prevent Sane Guruji from undertaking March and agitation. Sane Guruji was dismayed by Gandhiji’s stand. In his letter to Mahatma Gandhi he said, “The truth and sanctity of my determination must stand the test of patronage. I cannot follow your advice. Excuse me Now I have completely surrendered myself to the Lord Vithal. “As long as the arguments or judgments of others do not agree with me, my soul deity, I must remain true to myself.   Today people salute the determination and Courageous stand of Sane Guruji to put fight against the Clutches of the Priest and Liberate Vithal and Rakhumai of Pandharpur and not to budge under pressure. Apposition to Badwes and Utpats controlling the rites and preventing untouchables was launched by Saints Namdev and Chokhoba against prevention of entries to untouchables under the guise of Exclusive Rites of Hindu Brahmins. The defeat was Historic and could succeed because of Sane Guruji’s determination to overthrow the caste System. Most importantly it involved Defiance against BAPUJI as well.. SANE GURUJI- A LITERATI AND HIS


Sane Guruji was a magnificent and the finest literati, great writer and created abundant literature. His writing encompassed various fields of literature which included, novels, articles, essays, poetry, biographies, Translations, drama dialogues etc. Popularity of his writings demonstrates it. Propagation of Humanism and social revolution is the core and fundamental to his writings. Most of his writings are during his confinement in Jails. A total of 73 of 80 books have been republished in 36 volumes. He made the translation of Kurul with guidance from Tamil inmates while undergoing imprisonment as a political prisoner in the Tiruchirapalli jail. At the prison, he started learning Tamil. 

What needs highlights are his tryst with Western Philosophy, Literature, Biographies, Dramas and History. Popular are his translations of the biographies of the great personalities in history. He translated Dr. Henry Thomas’s Book- The Auto Biography of Benjamin Franklin. Western Philosophy by Well Durant,  ‘The Story of the Human Race’, 1935, by Henry Thomas and Translation of Tolstoy’s ‘What is Art?’ Kala Mhanje Kay? His tryst with Western literature, History and Philosophy are crucial and indicates his Intellectual Orientation. His coverage of it is astonishing.

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I have illustrated above his three Books which are translations and provide us glimpses into his intellectual journey from 1925 to 1940. The topics covered are Biographies and historical work done by greats such as, Goethe, Mazzini, Karl Marx, Bismarck, Darwin, Lincoln, Tolstoy, Emperor William II, Lenin and Gandhi. It’s contents like  1. Goethe: there goes a man! 2. Mazzini, Italian prophet of a united Europe. 3. Marx, father of socialism. 4. Bismarck, backward-looking chancellor of Prussia. 5. Darwin, who introduced us to our ancestors. 6. Lincoln, savior of the black race. 7. Tolstoy, prophet of a world without hate. ‘Manav Jatichi Katha’, a 437 Paged Book


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His literary achievements are in a sense most creative reply to his father’s apprehensions about his commitment to Education. His search resembles that of Oedipus search for truth and his Mother’s love and blessings. His literary achievements are Manifestations, products and creations of his Unconscious intentions to provide fitting reply and rebellion against Father’s criticism of lack of Dedication to Education and express his affections and love for Mother Yashodabai.  As a reply and triumph over his Father’s criticism of Shyam’s commitment to Education, all working Men and Women and People accepted and still remember him as ‘Mass Educator’.

His literature focuses on mass awakening of laboring, downtrodden communities, inspiring them for brotherhood affection for people, warmth, affection and love. People liked his simple and heart touching language. All the thoughts and emotions that awakened in his mind regarding revolutionary political, social and educational issues were expressed through literature , He has described many simple domestic incidents with heart. Wrote guidance materials, biographies etc. for the younger generations. Wrote articles and essays for the adults, dedicated women’s lives and letters to the mothers and sisters. His books ‘Shyamchi Ai’ and ‘Shyam’ have acquired historical significance and are popular. 

His literary career has one significant area, establishing and Founding News papers and Magezines. During college days and founded one Popular Marathi Weekly and after Independence founded one of the most popular progressive Magezine Sadhana on 15th August 1948. His Legacy and Heritage is preserved by SADHANA since Relevance of Sane Guruji’s teachings is more than it was in 1950s. His songs and poems have turned him into ‘Living Bard & Minstrel’ of the Repressed, Peasants and laboring masses.

Sane Guruji’s suicide was a deadly blow to the mass Agitations of farmers and Working Masses.  After the assassination of mahatma Gandhi and communal violence across India surely shattered Sane Guruji’s hopes. His soul must have become restless and  the melancholy and gloom must have encircled him. His disillusions left suicide as his only option and on 11th of June 1950 when he committed it. He is no longer there but he will be remembered as National Teacher of the Ordinary men and Women and the oppressed and exploited.

Anil Pundlik Gokhale is an Engineer by profession. As a non regular writer on political literature I have always been attempting to integrate Psychology and Marxism. I have recently published books ‘Condensation And Condescension In Dreams And History: Essay – From Sigmund Freud To E P Thompson’ by Author House London. Psychoanalysis & A- Historical Story of GENGHIS KHAN, Author House- London.

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