Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

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Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Chennai

Connection with Gandhiji 
Gandhiji visited the premises of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha several times. The institution was the result of Gandhiji’s efforts to spread Hindi in Southern states.

In a presidential address at Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Indore, Gandhiji suggested to prepare a ‘handy book—sort of a ‘Hindi Teacher’…to learn Hindi’. He admitted ‘The greatest difficulty will be felt in the case of the Southern languages. No effort whatever in this direction has yet been made there. We must train good Hindi teachers to take up the work…’ (March 29, 1918)

In a letter to the Press, Gandhiji informed about the formation of a special committee of seven members including himself to give effect to certain resolutions at the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. One of the assignments of the special committee was to find out six Tamil youth for missionary propagation of Hindi among the Tamil and the Telugu people. The expense of training and boarding of the six youth at Allahabad or Banaras for a maximum of one year as well as their salary after they start the missionary work was to be paid by the committee.

Gandhiji’s Visits
• Gandhiji's first visit to the Hindi Prachar Sabha office at Madras was on March 24, 1925. He painted the realistic picture in his speech at Sabha and said, ‘it has been a matter of great disappointment to me and to those who are conducting the classes that the young men have given very little encouragement.’ But it did not dishearten him. He said, ‘This institution is going to remain here even though there may be only one Tamilian wishing to learn Hindi…’
• During his visit at Hindi Prachar Sabha’s office on September 5, 1927, Gandhiji said it was superfluous for him to receive an address from the institution as he regarded it as his own and expected the institution to be self-sufficient after initial support from North India.Gandhiji’s speech on Satyagraha in the wake of Rowlette bills was read by his secretary and close aide Mahadev Desai. S. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, Congress leader of Madras, presided the meeting.
• Gandhiji presided over the third annual convocation of the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha on December 22, 1933, and delivered a speech. The program was organized at Gokhale Hall, and not at the Sabha office.
• Gandhiji visited Hindi Prachar Sabha on March 26, 1937, and asked the audience how many of them understand Hindi. A good number of hands went up. But the speakers, not understanding Hindi included Gandhiji’s old friend, editor-publisher G. Natesan. Gandhiji cried shame and suggested people like Natesan spare half an hour daily for Hindi. He stressed the need for a national language, claimed Hindi as the most suitable one, and clarified that it cannot take the place of the provincial language. In fact, both will accelerate the development of each other, claimed Gandhiji.
• Gandhiji’s last visit to Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha was on January 27, 1946. He showed his preference for Hindustani—the language with words from Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian, understood by common people—to Hindi.

Digital Experience
Virtual Tour | Architectural Documents | 3D Model of the Building | Library Catalogue

Site Address/Contact Details
Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Chennai
15-22C, Melony Rd,
Parthasarathi Puram, T. Nagar,
Tamil Nadu - 600017
Phone: +91 044 2434 8640

Additional Details 
• Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha started its journey in 1918 from Madras. It had 388 branches all over four states of South India when Gandhiji visited it in December 1933. Mahadev Desai, who accompanied Gandhi in his South India Harijan tour, noted that 8,788 candidates appeared for the different exams of Sabha in the last year.