Shyamji Krishna Varma was an Indian revolutionary fighter, an Indian patriot, lawyer and journalist who founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London.
Born in 1857 in modern-day Gujarat, Varma completed his education in India, before moving on to teach Sanskrit at the Oxford University.
He got in touch with the nationalist Swami Dayananda Saraswati, He became his disciple and was soon conducting lectures on Vedic philosophy and religion.
He became the first non-Brahmin to receive the prestigious title of Pandit by the Pandits of Kashi in 1877.
Shyamji arrived in England and joined Balliol College, Oxford in 1879. He presented a lecture on “the origin of writing in India” to the Royal Asiatic Society. The speech was very well received and he was elected a non-resident member of the society.
It was upon Dayanand’s inspiration, he set up a base in England at India House. His home became a base for all political leaders of India.
In 1905, Shyamji made his debut in Indian politics by publishing the first issue of his English monthly, The Indian Sociologist. On 18 February 1905, Shyamji inaugurated a new organisation called The Indian Home Rule Society.
Most of the British press were anti – Shyamji and carried outrageous allegations against him and his newspaper. The Times Times referred to him as the “Notorious Krishnavarma”. He defended them boldly.
His movements were closely watched by British Secret Services, so he decided to shift his headquarters to Paris, leaving India House in charge of Vir Savarkar.
He arrived in Paris in early 1907 to continue his work. The British government tried to have him extradited. Shyamji foresaw this and shifted his headquarters to Geneva. He kept in touch with his contacts, but he could not support them directly.
He died in hospital at Geneva on 30 March 1930 because of ill health. News of his death was suppressed by the British government in India. Nevertheless, tributes were paid to him by Bhagat Singh and other inmates in Lahore Jail.
He had made prepaid arrangements with the local govt. of Geneva and St Georges cemetery to preserve his and his wife’s ashes at the cemetery for 100 years and to send their urns to India whenever it became independent during that period.
Finally on 22 August 2003, the urns of ashes of Shyamji and his wife were handed over to then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi by the Ville de Genève and the Swiss government 55 years after Indian Independence.