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Why Bal Thackeray had an English surname

By Sreekumar

Bal Thackeray
Mumbai, Nov 18: Shiv Sena supremo Bal Keshav Thackeray who passed away here yesterday had an interesting English connection. His father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray is said to have modified their surname Thakre as he greatly admired the Victorian novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.

Incidentally, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray wrote in his autobiography Mazhi Jeevangatha that the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu family had adopted the surname Panvelkar at the time they resided in Panvel.

Before that, they were known as Dhodapkars because one of Keshav's ancestors was the kiladar of the Dhodap fort in Maharashtra's Nashik district during the medieval era. Kiladar was the title given by Mughal rulers to the custodians of the forts under their control.

Though Keshav's father Sitaram decided that their original family name Thakre would be better, Keshav anglicized the surname's spelling in order to convey his admiration for the Calcutta-born British author of Vanity Fair.

When Keshav Thackeray launched a fortnightly magazine named Prabodhan (meaning enlighten), he became famous as Prabodhankar Thackeray. His son continued the literary tradition by working as a cartoonist with 'The Free Press Journal' and subsequently starting a cartoon weekly Marmik in 1960.

After he formed the Shiv Sena in 1966, Bal Thackeray founded the Marathi newspaper Saamana and later the Hindi daily Dopahar ka saamana. Both featured his editorials on a regular basis.

Bal Thackeray exercised a profound influence on Maharashtrians through his writing and more so by making fiery speeches every now and then. Even the most trenchant critics reluctantly admitted the power of his oratory.

The Shiv Sena chief always stressed that the Marathi manoos must be given their due in India's financial capital and other cities in the state where he believed immigrants/outsiders had snatched most of the jobs from the 'sons of the soil'.

Since Bal Thackeray often urged members of the majority community to assert themselves, Shiv Sainiks referred to him as the Hindu Hriday Samraat.

OneIndia News

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