THE COUPLE OF THE MILLENNIUM
Sri. Venkat Krishnaji Dhage and Smt. Tehminabai Dhage. It is interesting to know about the life and the work of the Dhages. They were an exemplary couple. They are the founders of the Radha Kishan Homes. Their life is an inspiring saga of devotion and dedication to the under privileged children of the Society. Mr. Venkat Krishnaji Dhage was a brilliant student of the City College and because he performed well in the Matriculation examination, he was awarded a Scholarship to study in Bombay by the then Principal of the College, Mr. Azam, who later became a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He commenced his practice both in Bombay and Hyderabad. He had a complete knowledge of the subject and quickly made his mark in the profession.
By his devotion and hard work he became an Auditor of many Banks, Insurance Companies and Joint Stock Companies. He was strict in his professional work and was feared by his clients. He was also a Professor of Accountancy and Auditing in the Osmania University, where he instituted Gold Medals for deserving students both in Accountancy and Medicine.
He was the Founder President of the Progressive Group and he arranged lectures in the Boat Club by eminent persons who visited Hyderabad, like the Late Mr. V.K.Krishna Menon and Mr. Hridhyanath Kunzru and many other prominent personalities. There was a lively question and answer session after the speech. He was also a member of the Hyderabad Poetry Society and a Member of the Society for the Prevention of cruelty to animals. It pained him to see dogs being stoned or bullocks with heavy loach being beaten by their masters. Mr. V.K.Dhage was deeply influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Due to this, he slowly drifted into politics and social work.
His aim was to serve humanity in his humble way. At the earlier stages of his political career, he was in the company of such stalwarts like Mr. Ramanand Teerth, Mr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, Mr. Madapati Hanumanth Rao and Dr. G.S. Melkote.
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha and thus became a Member of Parliament. He took keen interest in the proceedings of parliament and was a member of various committees. His work in Parliament was much appreciated by its chairman, the Late Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. He introduced a Bill in Parliament, which was to break the monopoly of large firms of Chartered Accountants. This enabled the younger and new Chartered Accountants to get more work. 1011 He also introduced a clause in the Special Marriages Act called “the Divorce by mutual consent clause”.
His love for children led him to the formation of the Hyderabad Children’s Aid Society. An amusing incident occurred on the Railway platform as early as 1941 when Mr. Dhage stepped on to the weighing machine, out came a card registering his weight but with a cryptic line printed on top (you will have more children than you can ever dream of). The Prophetic message has come true. The Dhages are parents of more than 200 children. Mr. Dhage was a man of clear foresight, consistent in his ideologies and has at several occasions displayed unusual courage of conviction.
Tehmina Ferozshah Mehta was born in Bombay on 18th June, 1910 in a middle class Parsi family. She Passed her matriculation examination in Bombay after which she taught Gujarati and Needle work in a School. As a student, Tehmina was a brilliant, hardworking and sincere. She was interested in higher education but her desire could not be materialized because her father could not afford college education. Yet, she was determined and her determination bore fruit. She took her B.A. degree privately from Aligarh University.
Tehmina felt an inner urge to study Urdu. She engaged a tutor who would charge what she could afford to pay. The tutor was none other than Venkat Krishnaji Dhage who also needed to earn to learn. Venkat Krishnaji had left his comfortable home in Hyderabad as he disagreed with his father. After matriculation he got a scholarship to study further so he left for Bombay. There he gave tuitions in Urdu and Persian to pay for a small accommodation. He cooked his own food and led a simple life. His tuition fees helped him to survive in a big city like Bombay. Tehmina was one of his students.Togetherness Venkat Krishnaji Dhage was a sincere, tutor and Tehmina a good, intelligent, hardworking student. Tehmina admired her tutor who entertained high and mighty ambitions and in whose heart lodged a deep concern for the under privileged.
Dhage was proud of his student who he admired most for her simplicity. Her love for him was honest and abundant.
There was perfect understanding between the two and mutual admission which developed into mutual trust and love blossomed to beauty the universe. But life is not a red rosy carpet, Dhage was a Maharashtrian and Tehmina a Parsee. It was not all that simple in the thirties for people of two different religions to get married. There was strict opposition. Tehmina loved her father and never wanted to displease him. Fourteen log years of courting rolled by before Dhage could put his foot down and find a solution to his problem. By now, he was a full-fledged Chartered Accountant, a purely selfmade man, holding high ideals and great aspirations.
THE FAMOUS DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE In 1947 Mr. Dhage decided to take the most important decision of his life and set a new trend in society by taking Tehmina as his wife without either of them changing their religion. At that time law did not permit antireligious marriages unless one of them renounced his or her religion. And no self-respecting person would do so. On this occasion Tehmina said, “On the threshold of my new life I will not deceive my self, marriage is sacred there cannot be dishonesty lingering any where around it. We have to respect each other’s religion while being faithful to our own, “So Dhage prepared a declaration of marriage giving a new perspective to the concept of marriage at a time when India, was looking for a social change and integration. 12 Their marriage declaration read as follows: DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE BY TEHMINA P. MEHTA & V.K. DHAGE All religions emphasis upon the oneness of Humanity, and this cosmopolitan outlook teaching of all religions.
Exigencies of time and place have created social conventions and the true teaching of religion is overlooked. The result is that we find mutual intolerance. There is no salvation until man firmly believes in and realizes the mutual bond between man and man as members of the human family irrespective of the different religions to which each may individually belong. We firmly believe that in social life, one of the ways for emphasizing and achieving in practice the fundamental unity of making is through marriage between members of different religions. If we wish to have recourse to The Special Marriages Act, it is obligatory for each of us to declare that we do not profess our respective religions. Nothing would have been easier for us than to make this declaration, but this would not only be untrue and morally deprave, but would also lay the foundation of the creative function of life on falsehood and would tantamount to cheating God.
We however find that no specific procedure is provided for effecting matrimony while each of us refuses to denounce but honestly continues to profess our respective religions. In accordance with juristic, ethical and natural principles of marriage, our alliance is proper and valid; and we, Tehmina P.Mehta, Parsi zarthosti, and Venkat K. Dhage, Hindu, do hereby contract marriage between us by mutual consent and hereby declare ourselves as man and wife, and mutually agree to be bound as follows:
1. We shall have a common aim in life and that shall, as far as possible, be the service of the people, socially, politically, culturally and economically.
2. We shall be physically and mentally faithful, honest and helpful to each other.
3. We believe that for a full life there must, at least, be one child to every alliance. We believe, that by the adoption of scientific methods children should be planned, provided children are advisable to have one eugenic and hygienic principles. And, as the population problem has assumed an applying condition and as food is not available for all, we plan not to have children for the present.
4. We believe that it is the right of the woman to choose to have or not to have a child and the time for it.
5. We may separate at will and, particularly, on the following grounds: Physical and mental cruelty, imprisonment for a crime for two years, suffering from any loathsome and venereal disease, and dishonest, physical and mental behavior.
6. On separation, no one shall claim maintenance from the other, and if any children, they shall either be given the choice to remain with whomsoever they choose between us or shall, with the consent of the children, be equally shared between us, or both of us, as may be agreed, shall look after them irrespective of our separation, in any case, the responsibility for bringing them up shall, as long as we are alive, be shared by us equally.
7. Both of us shall have equal rights and obligations in all respects and shall have freedom of action, belief and faith.
8. Each one of us shall possess property independently and shall have full right over its disposal in the manner one likes.
9. We believe that the existing Laws of Inheritance and Succession are not just and fair and they tend to promote inactivity, poverty and misery and, as such, any property inherited by us from our relations will be made into a Charitable Trust for such objects as may be indicated at the time.
10. We propose that on our death and property left interstate by us may belong to the State, provided the State shall under-take the education and bringing up of our children, if any till the age of 25, and utilize the properties for the good of the people. In the alternative, a Trust may be created of such property left interstate with any surviving party to this alliance as the sole trustee or as one of the Trustees for the purpose of education and bringing up of the children, if any, till the age of 25, after which, it shall become a Charitable Trust, the objects of which may be indicated during the life time.
11. We believe that each of us is free to continue to have his or her surname or family name or to adopt a new one and that it is not incumbent that the woman shall adopt the surname or family name of the man.
12. When we die, our bodies shall be handed over to a Medical College for students to study Anatomy by practicing dissection. When there is no such use left of our bodies, they shall be cremated.This marriage declaration flashed in almost all the newspapers and was read by Shri C.C.Biswas Union Minister for Law in Parliament while amending the Special marriage Act. Their marriage was a challenge to the prevailing laws and at that time of the violent discussion of the Special Marriage Bill in Parliament it was the marriage contract between the Dhage that formulated the basis of it. Further it was Mr. V.K.Dhage (M.P.) who was responsible for the incorporation of the principle of divorce with mutual consent in that act.
This unique trend was se trend was set and Sri Venkat Krishnaji Dhage and Smt. Tehminabai Dhage bravely stood the test of time and courageously overcame all hurdles to be called man and wife in all dignity and grace. Mr. & Mrs. Dhage made a very exemplary couple who respected each other’s feeling and gave the other abundant love, faith and trust. Every thought, every action was shared. No wonder they worked together to create happiness around them and succeeded in all their ventures. The couple became extremely popular.