Bhagvat Singh, formally addressed as Maharaja Bhagvat Singh Sahib, was the reigning Maharaja of the princely state of Gondal. Gondal was a small third class princely state which was a subsidiary of the great Jadeja dynasty. He ruled over the state from the year 1869 to 1944, when he died. During his rule, Gondal was promoted to 11 gun salute state. Bhagvat Singh is considered as one of the most enlightened and progressive rulers. He was perhaps the only Indian prince or Maharaja to obtain a medical degree. Moreover he also received other degrees as well, such as M.D, L.L.D, D.C.L, M.B.C.- M and M.R.C.P, F.R.S.E. and C and F.R.C.P.
Early Life of Bhagvat Singh
Bhagvat Singh was born on 24th October 1865 as Kumar Sri Bhagvatsinghji Sangramsinhji Sahib at Dhoraji. He was the Yuvaraja Sahib of Gondal and the youngest and third son Thakurani Bai Shri Monghiba Sahiba, who was the third wife of Thakore Sagramji II, the Thakore of Gondal. Bhagvat Singh was the only surviving child of the couple. His mother was the daughter of Jhala Shri Rartansinhji Sahib of Minapur. After the death of his father Thakore Sagramji II in the year 1869, Bhagvat Singh succeeded him at the young age of four and ascended the throne of Gondal.
As he was still a minor by age at the time, he ruled under British regency until he reached the age of majority. Maharaja Bhagvat Singh Sahib studied at the Rajkumar College in Rajkot
and was later educated in the current technological and scientific developments. In the year 1892, he studied for his degree at the University of Edinburgh and eventually graduated as a medical doctor in the year 1895. He was the only princely ruler to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Singh exceeded the efforts of his father in several ways.
Rule of Bhagvat Singh
In the year 1884, Bhagvat Singh was invested with full ruling powers after he attained majority. He primarily focused on the reform and progress of the princely state of Gondal. He restructured and developed the state administration, reformed the resources of the region, constructed hospitals, schools and colleges. He also made education compulsory by providing it free to both men and women through university. The Maharaja of Gondal also established technical institutes for engineers, as well as training facilities for labourers. Singh also developed the state of regional livestock by implementation of modern animal husbandry. Further more, he constructed irrigation networks and dams; introduced railway systems, plumbing, sewage facilities, electricity, telephone, telegraphs and other such technological advancements. He was also a strong supporter of women`s rights and took efforts for the development of the condition of women in his state.
Maharaja Bhagvat Singh succeeded in increasing land revenues and the income of the state, his subjects did not require paying any taxes, as he was an efficient ruler. He also made arrangements for providing compulsory and free education for the general people through various training facilities for mechanics, engineers, levelers, surveyors, carpenters, painters and joiners. The development of the dams and irrigation networks enhanced cultivation and contributed to the betterment of agriculture and also cultivated wasteland. He was appointed as the President of the Organising Committee of the 8th International Congress of Hygiene and Demography at Budapest in 1894. Eventually Bhagvat Singh became Vice President of the Indian Medical Association.
Maharaja Bhagvat Singh was knighted in the year 1887 and came to be known as Sir Bhagvat Singh. With in four years of his reign, the princely state of Gondal promoted to the rank of a first class state, along with an 11 gun salute in 1888. During his reign, the Thakore of Gondal abolished all taxes, rates, octroi, customs and export duties in Gondal making the princely state to be the only tax free state in the country. He successfully eradicated the Pudah system for women. Moreover the specialized wing of restricted women, known as Zananas, we no longer constructed in subsequent buildings and palaces.
Literary Works of Bhagvat Singh
Aparts from being a scientist and a reformative and progressive ruler, Bhagvat Singh was a devoted and talented scholar as well. In 1896, he wrote the book- A Short history of Aryan Medical Science. Later in the year 1928, he published Bhagavadgomandal, which were the first Gujarati encyclopedia and a dictionary of Gujarati.
Personal Life of Bhagvat Singh
Maharaja Bhagvat Singh Sahib was married to Her Highness Maharani Shri Nand Kunverbaiji Sahiba, CI on 3rd June 1881. The royal couple had three daughters and six sons. They are mentioned below-
* Maharajkumari Bai Shri Nanba Kunverba Sahiba
* Maharajkumari Bai Shri Leilaba Kunverba Sahiba
* Maharajkumari Bai Shri Taraba Kunverba Sahiba
* Yuvraj Sahib Bhojirajsinhji Bhagvatsinhji
* Rajkumar Shri Ajitsinhji Bhagvatsinghji Sahib
* Rajkumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Bhagvatsinghji Sahib
* Maharajkumar Shri Dr. Bhupatsinhji Bhagvatsinghji Sahib, LRCP, MRCS, DTM
* Maharajkumar Shri Kiritsinhji Bhagvatsinghji Sahib
* Maharajkumar Shri Natwarsinhji Bhagvatsinghji Sahib
Bhagvat Singh was married to 3 other wives, but had no children from them.
Titles of Bhagvat Singh
Maharaja Bhagvat Singh Sahib of the princely state of Gondal held numerous titles and styles through out his reign. These are mentioned below-
* Kumar Shri Bhagvatsingh Sangramsinhji Sahib, Yuvaraja Sahib of Gondal (1865- 1869)
* His Highness Thakore Shri Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Thakore Sahib of Gondal 1869- 1877)
* His Highness Thakore Shri Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KIH 1877- 1887)
* His Highness Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KCIE, KIH (1887- 1888)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KCIE, KIH (1888- 1892)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KCIE, KIH, MRCPE (1892- 1894)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KCIE, KIH, FRS, MRCPE (1894- 1895)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, KCIE, KIH, FRS, FRCPE, MRAS, MRI (1895- 1897)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, GCIE, KIH, FRS, FRCPE, MRAS, MRI (1897- 1909)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, GCIE, KIH, FRS, FRSE, FRCPE, MRAS, MRI, HPAC (1909- 1913)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, GCIE, KIH, FRS, FRSE, FRCPE, FCP (Bombay), MRAS, MRI, HPAC (1913- 1937)
* His Highness Maharaja Thakore Shri Sir Bhagvatsingh Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, GCSI, GCIE, KIH, FRS, FRSE, FRCPE, FCP (Bombay), MRAS, MRI, HPAC (1937- 1944)
Honours of Bhagvat Singh
Maharaja Sir Dr. Bhagvat Singh of Gondal achieved several political and academic honours through out his extensive rule. The most prestigious honour he received was a Fellow of the Royal Society in the year 1894, which made him the only Indian ruler to receive the prestigious honours. The following is a list of the academic degrees and honours received by Bhagvat Singh-
Academic and Honorary Degrees
* Bachelor of Medicine (1852)
* Fellow of Bombay University (1885)
* Honorary LLD (1887)
* Honorary DCL (1892)
* Master of Surgery (1892)
* Medical Doctor (1895)
* Honorary Master of Surgery (1913)
Decorations and Honours
* Prince of Wales Gold Medal (1875)
* Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal- KIH (1877)
* Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire- GCIE (1897) and KCIE (1887)
* Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee Medal (1887)
* Fellow of the Royal Society- FRS (1894)
* Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh- FRCPE (1895)
and MRCPE (1892)
* Delhi Durbar Gold Medal (1903)
* Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh- FRSE (1909)
* Delhi Durbar Gold Medal (1911)
* King George V Coronation Medal (1911)
* Fellow of the College of Physicians- FCP Bombay (1913)
* King George V Silver Jubilee Medal (1935)
* Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India- GCSI (1937)
* King George VI Coronation Medal (1937)
* Member of the Royal Asiatic Society (MRAS)
* Member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain and Ireland- MRI