In the late 50s, Balasaheb Thackeray started ‘Newsday’, a weekly magazine in English. However, his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray popularly called Prabhodhankar Thackeray had other ideas. He insisted his son to instead start a Marathi magazine. He also suggested the title ‘Marmik’ meaning ‘precise’ in Marathi. ‘Marmik’ not only became immensely popular, it in fact laid the foundation for the launch of Shiv Sena in the years to come.
Prabhodhankar conceived almost everything what is known of Shivsena today, from name of the party to its ‘sons of the soil’ policy and even the slogan ‘jai maharshtra’. The shivsena in the initial years worked within the framework of Prabhodhankar’s ideology.
The roaring picture of the lion which symbolizes the shiv sena today is itself creation of Prabhodhankar Thackeray. He had sketched the canvas during one of the navratri utsav in Mumbai.
Today, even as political parties in Maharshtra engage in a game of one-upmanship over the issue of ‘marathi manoos’, it was Prabhodhankar who first spoke of the rights of the locals. He wrote on the dangers of limitless migration in Mumbai way back in 1922. He followed it up with a petition to the British and demanded preference to be given to the natives in government jobs. Convinced of his stand, his majesty government subsequently issued a circular in this regard.
PRABHODHANKAR- A SOCIAL REFORMIST
Keshav Thackeray acquired his nickname ‘Prabhodhankar’ after he started his newspaper ‘Prabhodhan’ meaning ‘the enlightened’. Besides journalist of high repute, Prabhodhankar’s image was that of an activist and social reformer who fought against casteism, untouchability, child marriage, tonsuring heads of widows and other evil practices prevalent in the Hindu religion.
He joined the ‘satyashodhak samaj’ (society for the search of truth) of Mahatma Phule to attain his goals. Phule is considered among the greatest social reformers, thinkers and revolutionary in India.
In 1921, he started ‘syadya ashram’, a social organization to create consciousness of social issues among the masses. The organization took special efforts to work for empowerment of women and upliftment of the under-privileged. It would regularly organize widow remarriages. The practice of devdasi was abolished in Goa largely due to the efforts of Prabhodhankar and volunteers of his ‘swadhya ashram’.
PRABHODHANKAR- THE ACTIVIST
Prabhodhankar had zero tolerance for injustice. During stint as a teacher of an English medium school, one of his colleagues was removed from the job by the then Bombay municipality. At the receiving end was a handicapped person by the name ‘gadgil’. Being on a temporary position, Gadgil could in no way challenge the BMC’s decision. Prabhodhankar quickly mobilized students in his favor and submitted a signed memorandum to the municipality. His efforts yielded fruits as the administration restored the services of the handicapped teacher.
Some of his protests were aggressive and even took extreme form. In 1926, during ‘Ganpati festival’ at Dadar in Mumbai, he appealed to the Brahmins to let member of a lower caste Hindu perform prayers at the installation ceremony of lord Ganesha. When Brahmins chose to ignore the suggestion, Prabhodhan threatened