country, free India takes pride in a long list of revolutionaries who fought
bravely and struggled hard to free our country empire from the shackles of
British. A gem among the revolutionaries was Virshnu alias Baburde Ganesh
Pingle. He was well known for his expertise in handling weapons and explosives,
his skill in working out conspiracies against the British government and his
extraordinary courage in facing dangers. He hardly cared for his personal
safety or security. He was ever ready to embrace Death.
He was born in 1888 in a Brahmin family residing at Talegaon Dhamd here in Shirur Taluka in Pune District. He was the youngest among 9 siblings. In his early childhood he was a weakling. Often he was ill. He was mostly under medical treatment. His loving mother had more faith in God than medicines. She prayed God and observed fasts for his good health. As a result of both medicines and prayers, Vishnu soon grew healthy and strong. He also was a cleaver student and a good sportsman too.
At the age of nine he was admitted to the primary school in Talegoan. But in 1905 he was transferred to Maharashtra Viydyalaya which was held in Mehunpura in Pune. It provided hostel facilities and was called Maharashtra Boarding House. It was not a government recognized and hence not a government aided school. The school was also called Preparatory classes as it prepared students to appear for exams conducted by Bombay University. The school inculcated national pride in young minds of its students. Vishnu was a student of this school for two successive years. It was the school opened by Bhopatkar brothers who were 'pacca' nationalists and so it has a conspiracy room on the 3rd floor. Only a few trusted students were allowed to enter it.
While Vishnu had been learning in this school Swatantryaveer Sawarkar was busy in conducting movements against the British Rule. He organized a bonfire of foreign clothes on 7th October 1905. A lot of students from the Rashatriya Vidyalaya actively participated in this movement and Vishnu was one of them.
Vishnu's father, Ganeshpant was indifferent to worldly affairs and led a very simple life. He liked to use swadeshi (indigenous) things and always thought about uplift of his nation. Under his loving care Vishnu was happily growing in Pune.
Once, on the auspicious day of Dasnawami, birthday of famous saint. Poet Shri Samartha Ramdasswami Ganeshpant wished to visit the "samadh" of Samarth Ramdas that is on the high fort Sajjangarh. Vinshnu and his father Ganeshpant went to the foot of the fart. So Vishnu lifted him onto his back and carried him to the top in a single stretch. He was a devoted son and a strong youth.
Sometimes his Father was sad as their family was poor. He had incurred some debt. Vishnu always tried to assure him and said, "O, Father, don't you worry. I'll acquire some skill (vidya) that will enable us to repay all the debts within no time." He surely acquired such a skill but instead of using it to repay the debt of his family, he used it to repay the debt of much wider family, his motherland, India.
Maharashtra Vidyalayo was closed down due to shortage of funds. Meanwhile Mr. Vijapure from Kholapurre started Samarth Vidyalaya in Talegoan as he had to close down his school in Kholapur. Vishnu joined it in 1908. Initially the school was held in huts: But with the help of devoted students like Vishu the school building was erected. With regular physical exercise Vishnu had become quite strong and sturdy. He had developed a robust personality. His school owned some buffaloes. Vishnu alone milked them in a row single handedly. He was simply dressed in a dhoti, shirt, coat, and a cap all made of swadeshi cloth. He boycotted imported sugar. Now he was popularly known as Baburao.
During school holidays Vishnu used to visit families of his friends along with them. There he was treated as one of the family members and he too, behaved like one. There he taught children to swim and played various games with them. During some other holidays he traveled all over India dressed as a Sadhu, a saint. To make sure that his role was convincing he learnt by heart so many Sansknt verses. He could also recite the whole Bhagwad Greta. This disguise of a saint was as if a stepping stone towards the series of disguise he had to make while struggling for India's freedom.
In 1910 Samartha Vidyalaya was closed by the British Government. So Vishnu went to Bombay and found employment in Govindrao Potdar's Pioneer Alkali works at Mahim. Mr. Potdar was a nationalist and an expert at explosives. He belonged to the Nationalist Group and introduced Vishnu to his associates one of them was Hari Laxman Pahl, a lawyer from Vasai. Both of them liked each other and came close. Mr. Pingle thought that Mr. Patil's friendship would prove beneficial to him while he stayed in Bombay for his further activities. Mr. Patil was strongly impressed by Mr. Pingle's adventurous nature. Feeling of lone was reciprocal. At this time the Swadesh Movement was in full swing. Mr. Pingly strongly wished to do something to strengthen the Movement. He learnt about hand loom industry in Japan. He thought the same could be helpful to Swadeshi Morel so he started his own hand loom industry on a very small scale at Awasha near Latur.
Though he had started this industry off his own, in hearts of his heart he wanted to be an electrical or mechanical engineer so he read books on America, history of American's freedom. He was a regular reader of the magazine Young America. As a result he decided to go to America to study engineering. He left Awsha in 1911.
Going to America for farther study was his cherished dream which only a fat sum could realize. He himself had saved some money. He borrowed money from his wealthy friends and some students-aiding institutions. He made necessary arrangements to go to America and came to Talegoan to say goodbye to his friends and family.
Everyone in his family was surprised by this untimely visit of Vishnu but he uttered not a single word about his oncoming visit to America. After a couple of days he left home taking along his elder brother, Keshavrao. Then only on their way to the station he told his brother about his coming visit to America. His brother time and again requested/solicited him to return home but Vishnu was firm. He said, "Dear brother, I am going to America for further studies. After reaching America I'll write to them in detail." Helplessly Keshavrao returned home and conveyed his message to cancel his visit on Vishnu's pure address. But bye that time Vishnu has left for Hong Kong. From there he wrote to his parents.
Vishnu was always proud of his motherland. But his work form his motherland till he left it was not an eyesore to the British Government. So he could leave India quite openly with a valid passport by Tosa Mary, a Japanese ship.