SHANKARSHET, JAGANNATH (1800-1865)
Jagannath Shankarshet (1800-1865),
the recognized leader of the Hindu community of Bombay for more than forty years,
was born in 1800 into a family of goldsmiths of the Daivajna caste. Unlike his forefathers,
he engaged in commerce, and soon acquired what was in those days a large fortune,
a great part of which he devoted to the good of the public. So high was his credit
that Arabs, Afghans and other foreign merchants chose to place their treasures in
his custody rather than with the banks.
Foreseeing the need of better methods of
education, he became one of the founders of the School Society and the Native School
of Bombay, the first of its kind in Western India, which in 1824 developed into
the Bombay Native Institution, and again in 1840 into the Board of Education which
preceded the Elphinstone Educational Institution founded in 1856.When the Students'
Literary and Scientific Society first opened their girls' schools, in spite of strong
opposition of the Hindu community, he set the good example of providing another
girls' school entirely at his private cost. His zeal for progress was also shown
in his starting the English School, the Sanskrit Seminary and the Sanskrit Library,
all in Girgaum.To Jagannath Shankarsett and his public-spirited friends, Sir George
Birdwood and Dr Bhau Daji, Bombay is also indebted for the reconstruction which,
beginning in 1857, gradually changed a close network of lanes and streets into a
spacious and airy city, adorned with fine avenues and splendid buildings.
the first Indian to be nominated to the legislative council of Bombay under the XXTY 26 Act of 1861. While his influence was used by Sir John Malcolm to induce
the Hindus to acquiesce in the suppression of suttee or widow-burning, his own community
remember gratefully that to him they owe the cremation ground at Sonapur. He died
at Bombay on the 31st of July 1865, regretted by all classes of society, who, about
a year before his death, in a public meeting assembled at the Town Hall, voted a
marble statue to perpetuate his memory. Items Named in his Honor: Jagannath Shankarshet
Marg, major thoroughfare in South Mumbai Jagannath Shankarshet Scholarship, prestigious
award for studies in Sanskrit.