personalities like Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., were fighting to put an end to
the oppressive rule of the British.
Keshav was ever eager to listen to the speeches of such great leaders. He nourished a
desire to become a speaker like them.
Keshav and his friends formed a discussion group for the purpose.
In 1905 Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of Bharat, partitioned the Bengal Province into
two. This provoked thousands of youths to revolt against the British. Foreign clothes were
burnt. A few British officers were killed. How could the Britishs tolerate this?
They rained lath blows on the protesters, and shot many. They arrested the freedom
fighters and dumped them in jails.
This was the time when "Vande Mataram" had become the refrain of the freedom
struggle. It turned out to be the war cry of millions of youths, reverberating in the
skies of Bharat.
Keshav was then studying in Neel City High School of Nagpur. The very mention of Wande
Mataram" used to enrage the British. It was as, if molten lead was being poured in
their ears. They had banned the singing of Wande Mataram" 'in schools. Severe
punishment awaited those who brazenly sang it. Such was the terror- stricken atmosphere
One day during 1908, an officer of the Department of Education arrived for inspection
of the Neel City High School. The students were already occupying their seats in the
respective classes. The atmosphere in the school was rather serious and disquieting.
The Inspector set out for inspection along with the Headmaster of the school. They
wanted to first visit the matriculation class. Barely had they reached the threshold of
the classroom when, like a bolt from the blue, a deafening cry of Wande Mataram" rang
out of that classroom piercing the ears of the duo. The Inspector was angry beyond words.
Shutting his tears, he moved to the next class. There too, the same scene awaited him:
same resounding roar of' Vande Mataram' greeted him.
The Inspector thundered, "This is treason. Who have been singing Vande Mataram'?
Debar all those fellows from the school. They should be punished mercilessly."
Passing strict orders, he left the school in a huff.
The question which occupied the minds of all was, who might be the brainy chap who was
so bold as to organize the singing of "Vande Mataram" in chorus?
The teachers held out threats to the students. When this method failed, they begged of
them to reveal the secret. But to no avail.
They declared that they would order mass rustication if the name were not revealed. The
students remained unmoved.
As none disclosed the name of their leader, all the students of both the classes which
had sung Vande Mataram' were summarily removed from the school. But all of them came out
of the school and marched like victorious warriors singing in unison Vande Mataram', this
time with an even louder voice.
Keshav never set foot in that school again. He was a blossoming youth of just nineteen
then. His was a well-built, tall, muscular body: a result of regular workouts in the
gymnasium: rather dark in complexion-, face pitted with small pox marks; a bright pair of
eyes. It was the same Keshav who had kindled the flame of patriotism in the bosoms of his
fellow-students in the Neel City High School to sing Vande Mataram'.
After leaving the Neel City High School, Keshav joined Rashtriya Vidyalaya of Yeotmal.
The leaders had started such schools at several places for providing national education to
students. It was a model school with ideal teachers, who were content with low salaries,
but evinced very keen interest in imparting good education to students. Since it was
inculcating a national outlook through education, the Government was naturally unhappy, On
account of perpetual harassment by the Government the Yeotmal School was eventually closed
down. But Keshav remained unperturbed, He went to Pune to continue his studies.
Thereafter, he took up his Entrance examination of Calcutta Rashtriya Vidyapeeth at
Amaravati in Maharashtra. In those days of extreme hardship, it was a miracle that Keshav
had progressed so far in studies. It was indeed a remarkable achievement on his part.
Steeped in poverty, the household never knew when the next meal would present itself to
them. But it was not this condition that was worrying Keshav. His anxieties were
different. What caused immense sorrow to him was that the Motherland was under an
oppressive foreign rule. Many felt that armed revolt against the British was the only way
for freeing the country.Persuaded thus, Keshav chose to go to Bengal, which was the cradle
of revolutionaries, in order to gain experience in their close association. In fulfillment
of the desire of Keshav, the elders of Nagpur like Dr. Moonje came forward to provide the
necessary help for Keshav's further education. He was sent to the National Medical College
of Calcutta - to a strange land 700 miles away from Nagpur, in mid-1910.
'Keshav' become 'Keshavrao' with his admission to the Medical College at Calcutta.