Updated: June 16, 2022
Jayaprakash Narayan popularly known as JP or Lok Nayak, was an Indian independence activist, theorist, socialist and political leader. He is also known as the 'Hero of Quit India Movement' and he remembered especially for leading the mid 1970s opposition against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His biography, Jayaprakash, was written by his nationalist friend and an eminent writer of Hindi literature, Rambriksh Benipuri. In 1999, he was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in recognition of his social work. Other awards include the Magsaysay award for Public Service in 1965.
His Struggles to make ends meet in a foreign land made him realize the difficulties faced by the working class. He became convinced that Marxism was the way to alleviate the suffering of the masses after being introduced to Karl Marx's 'Das Kapital'. He evolved into a staunch Marxist and upon his return to India he joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru. He was born on October 11th, 1902 and died on October 8th, 1979.
Jayaprakash Narayan was born on 11 October 1902 in a village in Saran district of Bihar, British India, into a Hindu Kayastha family as the fourth child of Harsu Dayal Srivastava and Phul Rani Devi. His father was a junior official in the Canal Department of the State government.
He studied at the collegiate school at Patna where he developed a reading habit. Along with magazines like 'Saraswati', 'Prabha' and 'Pratap', he also read the 'Bhagwad Gita'. He was a brilliant student and excelled in his studies. He completed school in 1918. He won a District merit scholarship to Patna College.
He moved to the United States in 1922 for his higher studies. He did several odd jobs to pay for his education there and these experiences made him aware about the difficulties faced by the working class. He initially enrolled at Berkeley and later transferred to The University of Iowa when fees at Berkeley was doubled. He was again forced to transfer to many other universities. Despite the difficulties he faced in the U.S., he managed to study his favorite subject, sociology, and received some valuable guidance from Professor Edward Ross. During this time he was introduced to Karl Marx's works which influenced him greatly.
He became an avowed Marxist and delved deeply into books by Indian intellectual and Communist theoretician M. N. Roy. He also read the works of Lenin, Trotsky, Plekhanov and Rosa Luxemburg.
Jayaprakash Narayan married Prabhavati Devi in 1920. His wife was just 14 years old at the time of marriage, who evolved to become a prominent freedom fighter and Gandhian in her own right. Prabhavati was very independent and moved to Gandhi's ashram when Narayan went to the U.S. for his higher studies.
He suffered from kidney failure, diabetes and heart ailments during his later years and died on 8 October 1979.
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