Pribhdas Advani never imagined his Vidyalaya School will turn to be Sindh University
By Fehmida Riaz
If there have not been Nava Vidyalaya School in Hyderabad, what would had happened, when in 1951, University of Sindh was being shifted from Karachi to Hyderabad?
It was this a building of Nava Vidyalaya with grandeur that gave space to newly shifted building, as if he had laid the foundation for the university.
Rai Bahadur Dewan Pribhdas S/O Shewakram, the founder of the newly established Nava Vidyalaya School in Hyderabad, was born on May 6, 1866, in Hyderabad. His family was one of the leading Aamil of the Sindhi Hindu of Hyderabad.
Regarding this family, the celebrated author Bherumal Advani, in his book ‘History of the Sindhi Hindu’ writes: “The Advanis family are also in Amritsar and Multan, also known as ‘Aror Vinci’.
Advani family’s elder Dewan Adomal came to Sindh along with Mian Noor Muhammad from Lohpur village of Multan.
Talpar Hirdabad area to this Aamil family, which later became the ‘Aamil Colony’.
Dewan Adomal was sword fighter of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, and was killed along with his two sons in the battle with Mughals. The family tree of the Dewan Pribhdas Advani starts with these Advani branch.
Nava Vidyalaya School Hyderabad, established by Dewan Pribhdas, was established in 1987, where in University of Sindh moved from Karachi. When the University of Sindh named Jamshoro new campus later known as I. I. Kazi, this old school was called ‘Old Campus of the Sindh University. In coming days it became Model School of the Sindh University.
Currently in the morning from KB to class XII, classes are being conducted in school renamed as N.A Baloch Model School. While in the in the evening classes of different departments of Sindh University are being held.
Pribhdas, the founder was born on May 6. He received his early education from the Hyderabad School of Engineering, where he received training and passed the engineering examination. Dewan Pribhdas became a surveyor in the Irrigation Department after completing his education. The British were impressed by his performance. But Pribhdas Advani had a passion for education and wanted to educate Sindh.
Opposed house tax for Hyderabad
For many years he served as an advisor to the Hyderabad Municipality. He opposed the government imposing a house tax on the citizens of Hyderabad.
Passion to promote education
He resigned from his irrigation department’s job, and joined Hiranand’s newly established Union Academy School and worked as a secretary to promote the school. Later, from 1882 to 1884, he set up a new school called ‘New England School’.
In addition, Dewan used to teach free of cost in primary schools established by Dewan Khemchand and Dewan Lekhraj in Hyderabad.
with his efforts opened primary schools of various languages in Hyderabad, including Sindhi School, Urdu School, Gujarati School and Sanskrit School.
To Dewan Pribhdas girls education was important.
Devan Pribhdas established a girls’ school called ‘Kanya Vidyalaya’ with the support of Dr. Robin, which offered education up matric.
Public welfare contribution
In addition to being a member of the local board and during his job at Hyderabad municipality, he worked tirelessly in Hyderabad to develop paved roads, park lights and chandeliers. He also took part in public welfare and development activities as secretary of Lady Daffern Hospital.
He played a vital role in the development of the hospital, where establish a school and nursing center for rural women to teach maternity work. For free education to poor children, Pribhdas worked voluntarily and without wages as manager of schools run by Navalrai and Tarachand.
He also served as honorary magistrate.
Supporter of Hindu-Muslim Unity
Dewan Pribhdas was a supporter of the Hindu Muslim unity.
Religious sentiments erupted between Hindus and Muslims after the outbreak of Lal Kirpalani and Tulsi Bai were kidnapped in 1932, but Dewan Pribhdas made huge efforts to resolve the issue. Along with his associates, he stopped the Hindu-Muslim riots and succeeded in it.
Pribhdas performed a number of welfare works, including taking part in treating patients during the plague outbreak in Hyderabad in 1897. In 1908 he provided services for the treatment of patients suffering from influenza epidemic.
He founded the ‘Brahmo Samaj’ in Sindh. The purpose of this organization was to spread of Vidya (education) in Hindus, against the rituals of the Sati and the addiction. Dewan Pribhdas, inspired by the writings of Brahmanad Chandar Sen, the religious leader from Bengal, founded the ‘Brahmo Samaj’. The organization was originally based in Calcutta and its founder was Devender Nath Tagore, the father of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
After leaving the Nandal Sen Academy School in 1891, the high school named ‘Sindh Seminary’ was established in Hyderabad, in which Pribhdas also actively took part. It was at this time that Pribhdas opened a magnificent school, named Sadhu Navalrai School. But on the objection of Dewan Tarachand, it was renamed as Nava Vidyalaya, hence in 1897 Nava Vidyalaya was founded.
Gazetteer of the Provice of Sind: Hyderabad published in 1927 says: This was started in January 1897 by Mr. Pribhdas Shewakram Advani in a rented building and was recognized as a high Nava Vidyalaya school in 1900. Subsequently the Municipality granted the site measuring 15,935 square yards.
League of Red Cross Societies in its report mentions the performance of Junior group of Nava Vidyalaya school Hyderabad. A report of education department says: There 45 boys in a Boarding House. The object of the school is to combine intellectual education with moral and religious instruction.
Vice Chancellor Hassanally’s transfer gave birth to students’ movement in Sindh
Dewan Pribhdas worked hard to build and develop the Nava Vidyalaya. Cultivated relations with senior officers and received good governance grants from the government. Thus Nava Vidyalaya High School reached top and twelve of its branches were established in Hyderabad. In 1900, Nava Vidyalaya received a high school status. Dewan Pribhdas himself also taught ethics at the school. This Nava Vidyalaya building is two storeyed. At top of the building there is a large tower clock, visible from afar. This clock rings the time clock after each hour.
How this building is?
The Nava Vidyalaya school building gives a look of the royal palace. There is a lounge and large classroom, a science hall and a large drawing hall. The building having wind-catcher fully equipped with light and air. The building is surrounded by wide verandas.
Dewan Pribhdas himself was an engineer and was rose above religious prejudice, so he created a combination of rare structures of the Islamic monastery, Hindu temples and Christian churches in the map of the Nava Vidyalaya.
The building is typical of Islamic style of architecture. The upper wall and its temple are modeled on Hindu temples and the large hall windows and tower are typical of the clock church. A number of grants were approved for this school with the help of the Government of Bombay.
At that time there were 1000 students and dozens of expert teachers in the school. Seeing the sincere knowledge and friendliness of Dewan Pribhdas’s loyalty to the British Government, appreciating his services, assisting him in the construction and development of the Nava Vidyalaya, as well as giving him 3000 acres of land, gold medal and title of Rai Bahadur.
Why funding was stopped?
Due to the complaint filed by his nephew Hazari Mal, who was supervisor of the Nava Vidyalaya, funds were Nava Vidyalaya stopped. This caused trouble for Dewan Pribhdas. Due to misconduct, Hazari Mal was found guilty of murder charges and was sent to jail. Dewan Pribhdas was shocked at his nephew’s act. However, he continued the school by getting loans, but the school continued to suffer deficit day by day. Finally, the collector of Hyderabad, who was the president of Nava Vidyalaya association, had to intervene.
When the government closed funding school was stopped under debt of half lac rupees, this collapsed the school system. Dewan Pribhdas died on May 20, 1939. His grave is in the courtyard of Nava Vidyalaya (currently called Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch Model School).
Dewan Pribhdas had three sons and a daughter Sunder Das, Nirmaldas, Vilbhardas and one daughter Rukmani Bai.
Pribhdas constructed building still standing with grandeur in the center of Hyderabad city, reminding all the residents and visitors of his marvelous public service work.