Pandurang Mahadev Bapat, universally known as Senapati Bapat who was a figure in the Indian self-government movement. He acquired the title of Senapati as the meaning commander, as a result of his management during the Mulshi satyagraha. As a leader of the Mulshi Satyagraha, he got the title of Senapati. He got the respect of hoisting the Indian flag in Pune for the first time after independence. He had been locked up for public speaking as well as for destruction, later than which he turned himself in because as asatyagrahi. He was not made-up to follow the path of violence.
Senapati Bapat was studied from Deccan College and then travelled to Britain on a government scholarship for study engineering. During his stay in Britain, he was linked with India House, expenditure a majority of his time learning bomb-making skills as an alternative of pursuing his official studies. He became connected at this time with the Sarvarkar brothers, Vinayak and Ganesh. Bapat had considered blowing up the Houses of Parliament in London.He took his skills back to India and also passed them on to others.
Pandurang Mahadev Bapat was born at Parner in a poor Brahmin family on 12 November 1880. He had five brothers and three sisters. His father was a clerk and mother were both devotees of God Gajanana. At 1897,feeling insulted at the hands of his superior officer his father left both service and home and resorted to the nearby Ganpati temple where he lived till his death. Bapat was married to Rukminibai who was Yamutai Bhave of Kopargaon in theyear 1898 and had a son and a daughter.
Starting rather late he got his schooling, interrupted at intervals, in Poona and Ahamadnagar, from where he matriculated (1899), winning the second Jagannath Sunkersett Sanskrit Scholarship. He was graduated in 1903 from the Deccan College, Poona. After that in the year 1902 he was administered on the unsheathed blade of a sword a sombre oath of striving for and sacrificing his life in the cause of therapeutic the motherland. This gave a huge turn to his life. He became an passionate and a daring radical. Although a Sanskrit scholar and a graduate of Philosophy, he preferred a technical scholarship of the Bombay University for the study of Mechanical Engineering in an Edinburgh College in the year 1904.
From the year 1921, Bapat led the three-year farmers’ protest named satyagraha against the construction of the Mulshi Dam by the Tata company. Ghanshyam Shah considers this to be “the first recorded organised struggled against [forced] displacement” occured by an irrigation project. The company had originally dug test trenches on land without obtaining permission and the farmers, who were mostly tenants, objected in fear of losing their lands. The boom was finally constructed and thus the protest eventually failed. Recompense for lands covered by the dam’s construction was eventually arranged but was given to the landlords rather than to the tenants. Although satyagrahas are planned to be non-violent. Bapat was imprisoned for damage of the construction project,rather than be captured for this, he turned himself in. His third prison sentence was for speaking at a public gathering which is held by Subhas Chandra Bose.
The dissensions and dishonesty Bapat found in the country on his free made him think of resorting to ‘Jala Samadhi’ on 23 July 1939. Being frustrated in his design he declared himself as dead in spirit, progressing only a physical existence. And yet he could not refrain marching in the front rank of the Goa Liberation Satyagraha of 1955.He also couldnot desist from leading the Samyukta Maharashtra Satyagraha of 18 November 1956, courting lathi-blows in both. His fast at the critical stage of the border issue in the year 1966 between Maharashtra and Mysore is another example.
Bapat dressed simply in dhoti and kurta and cap and for some time (1931-32) used to have on only a prison uniform to indicate that the whole country was but an open prison. In complete self-abnegation he lived every moment of his life for his country, resorted to fasting as many as eight times obtainable to hold death on not less than eleven significant occasions and underwent short and long term imprisonments totaling to over seventeen years.
He was dedicated Congressmen and yet he had place in his programme for each and every means of following liberation. A scholar, poet, patriot and philosopher, Bapat was above all a nationwide saint and an mystery. Extremely pained by the dishonesty and deterioration of his fellowmen, Bapat seriously thought of self-immolation as an effectual method of countering them.
A untiring worker, a tough propagandist and a wonderful combatant, he had come to the startling close that even suicide or self-destruction must be accorded a place of honour in the liberation programme and must, as a result be allowed by the laws of the country. He even went so far as to propose the organization of a ‘Prana Yajna Dala’ or a self-sacrificing squad. On August 15, 1947 — Indian Independence Day . Bapat was also given the honour of raising the Indian national flag over the city of Pune for the first time. Major public roads in Pune and Mumbai have been named in his honour and he featured in issue 303 of the Amar Chitra Katha comic book series in the year 1984.After independence Senapati Bapat took an lively part in political life. He passed away on November 28, 1967 at the age of 87.