Ram Ganesh Gadkari was born on 26 May 1885 in a Kayastha Prabhu family at Ganadevi in the Navsari District of the former Baroda State which at present forms part of the Surat district of Gujarat. The Kayastha Prabhus are Kshatriyas. Gadkari’s father, Ganesh, was in the Baroda State service. The family was a lower middle-class one. Ram had two brothers, one older and one younger. His father Ganesh died when Ram was only ten. His mother Saraswatibai with her three sons came to Karjat in Kolaba district. For the English education of her sons Saraswatibai came to Poona with them. Owing to poverty, Ram had to take up odd jobs. He passed the Matriculation in 1904 as an external student. He failed in the first-year college examination which he managed to pass five or six years later. He worked in the Kirloskar Natak Mandali’s dramatic troupe as a teacher of boys (1905- 09). Thereafter he worked on the editorial staff of the Poona daily, the Dayanaprakash for eighteen months.

He avidly read Marathi and English dramas and poems. While working in the Dramatic Company he came in contact with reputed Marathi drama-writers. He started to write poems, dramas and humorous essays in 1911, and in six yean he achieved topmost popularity and fame. His poems were published under the pseudonym ‘Govindraja’ and humorous essays under the pseudonym ‘Balakram’. Both were hailed with admiration by the public. His long poem ‘Murali’, depicting Krishna-Radha love, was the best. In his humorous essays he exposed to ridicule the prevalent social evils. His first drama, ‘Prema-Sanyasa’ (1911), dealt with the problem of re-marriage; and his second, ‘Punya-Prabhava’ (1913), highlighted wife’s faithfulness. His ‘Ekacha Pyala’ (only one glass) which came out in 1917 was on the evil of drinking and secured greatest popularity. His next drama, ‘Bhava Bandhana’ (1918), was of a mediocre quality. Two more dramas, ‘Raja-Sanyasa’ and ‘Vedya- cha Bazar’, which he had started to write remained unfinished.

‘Ekacha Pyala’ was staged 259 times in ten years after his death and gave the Dramatic Company an income of two lakhs and thirty- four thousand rupees.

        He was self-centred and easy-going. He married two wives, Sitabai (1904) and Ramabai (1917). Though a nationalist and a reformer, he never stirred out of his literary field. Several prominent writers after him became his devotees and published many of his works. Gadkari’s contribution to literature has been admiringly reviewed in several publications. No other Marathi writer has been so much written about. He died (23 January 1919) when he was barely thirty-four and did not survive to enjoy this wide popularity.


(C. B. Khairmoday) G. V. Ketkar



Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 2 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

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