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Early Years
Jayaprakash Narayan whose name means, “Victory to the light” was born in the early hours of October 11, 1902 in the remote Bihar village of Sitabdiara. He was Phul Rani Devi’s fourth child. His father Harsu Dayal has boasted about J.P., “My son will be a great man, some day.” At the age of nine J.P. made his first break with the village and was admitted to the 7th class of the collegiate school at Patna. He continued to be retiring and intensely studious and by 1918 he had reached the final class. He sat for the ‘State Public Matriculation Examination’ and was awarded a District merit scholarship to Patna college.
JP was not religious but under the influence of the terrorist’s fringe, he began to read regularly one of the most basic Hindu scriptures, Bhagvad Gita, deriving heroic inspiration from the great battle of the Mahabharat described in the book and from his overriding religious concept that man is immortal. This belief in immortality had become part of the terrorists intellectual disciplines. JP then became Swadeshi” (indigenous) in his attitudes, using handmade village shoes instead of the British manufactured ones and cleaning them with Indian mustered oil instead of with British shoe polish. He dressed himself in a Kurta, a home-spun, hand-woven material and an ascetically short dhoti (loose garment).
JP at 18, was married to Braj Kishore Prasad’s daughter Prabhavati,14 in October 1920. Then Braj Kishore sent Prabhavati to live with Kasturba as a daughter in Gandhi’s ashram at Ahmedabad.
Gandhi's nation-wide hartal in response of the Rowlatt Act, 1919, paralyzed economic life in man on April 1919. This was followed by the Khilafat movement together with his call for the non-co-operator movement on a nation-wide scale.
JP had joined the Patna college to appear for his second year science examination. However JP’s dream of being part of his nation’s revolt against the British rule in India left the college being funded by the British Government and joined the Bihar Vidyapith, a tertiary institution set up by Bihar Congress for all non-co-operation students.
In the meanwhile, Gandhi called off the non-co-operation movement in horror because the violent mob had killed twenty-two policemen in Uttar Pradesh at Chauri Chaura. The Indian National Congress was outlawed and the non-co-operation subsided. JP felt completely crushed.