Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar
, also spelt Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar
, and known as R.G. Bhandarkar
), was a scholar
and social reformer
He was born in Malvan
in Ratnagiri district
of present-day Maharashtra
. After his early schooling in Ratnagiri
, he gained admission to Elphinstone College
. Like his reformer colleague Mahadev Govind Ranade
, Bhandarkar was among the first graduates from Bombay University
in 1862 and completed his Master’s degree
in 1863. He won many awards and scholarships in the course of his brilliant academic career.
He served both Elphinstone College
and Deccan College
during his distinguished teaching career. He was involved in research and writing throughout his life. He became Vice Chancellor of Bombay University before he retired in 1894. He participated in international conferences on Oriental Studies
held in London
(1874) and Vienna
(1886) and made invaluable contributions.
Whilst a student in 1853 Bhandarkar became a member of the Paramhansa Sabha
, a secret association for the furtherance of liberal ideas. It was secret in order to avoid the wrath of the powerful and orthodox elements of society. The members of his Sabha were inspired by the visits of Keshub Chunder Sen
in 1864. In 1866, some of the members held a meeting in the house of Atmaram Pandurang
that would publicly pledge itself to certain reforms such as (1) an open denunciation of the caste system
, (2) the introduction of widow remarriage, (3) the encouragement of female education
, and (4) the abolition of child marriage
After repeated deliberations, the members came to the conclusion that religious reforms were required as a basis for social reforms. The first prayer meeting was held on 31st March 1867, paving the way for the formation of the Prarthana Samaj. The efforts were boosted by another visit of Keshub Chunder Sen and visits of Navina Chandra Rai, founder of Punjab Brahmo Samaj, and Protap Chunder Mozoomdar.
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute at Pune is named for him.