Jagannath Shankar Shet

Jagannath Shankar Shet (10 October 1800 – 31 July 1865), was a notable Indian Philanthropist and a revolutionary Educationalist. He was born in 1800 in the wealthy Murkute family of Goldsmiths of the Daivadnya Caste in Mumbai (Bombay). He was one of the founders of Elphinstone College, and Indian Railway Association that became part of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. He was the first Indian member to be nominated to the Legislative Council of Bombay under the XXTY 26 Act of 1861, a member of the Bombay Board of Education, and also the first Indian member of the famous Asiatic Society of Bombay.

Following is more detaled information about Jagannath Shankar Shet, the eminent Indian Philanthropist from the informative article Tribute to notable Daivajna – Late Jagannath Shankar Shet written by K. Shrinath Shet (Anvekar).

Dear Daivajna Samaja members, this article is about an Indian Philanthropist, an Educationalist, Social Reformer, Greate Thinker, from our Caste, Late Jagannath Shankar Shet, who has contributed to the society before the Independence.

Jaganath “Nana” Shunkerseth (also spelled Jagannath Shankarsett and Jagannath Shankar Shet) (10 October 1800 – 31 July 1865), was an Indian Philanthropist and an Educationalist. He was born in 1800 in the wealthy Murkute family of Goldsmiths of the Daivadnya Caste in Mumbai (Bombay). Unlike his forefathers, he engaged in commerce and soon developed a reputation as a very reliable businessman. So high was his credit that Arabs, Afghans and other foreign merchants chose to place their treasures in his custody rather than with banks. He soon acquired a large fortune, much of which he donated to the public.

Shunkerseth became an active leader in many arenas of Bombay life. Foreseeing the need for improvements in education, he became one of the founders of the School Society and the Native School of Mumbai, the first of its kind in Western India. The school went through a series of name changes: in 1824, it became the Bombay Native Institution, in 1840, the Board of Education, and in 1856 the name which continues to this day, the Elphinstone Educational Institution* (“you can read the History about Elphinstone Educational Institution at the end of this Article with the Notable Alumni of this College”). When the Students’ Literary and Scientific Society first opened their girls’ schools, Jaganath Shunkerseth contributed much of the necessary funds, despite strong opposition of some members of the Hindu community. Other educational projects he began include the English School, the Sanskrit Seminary, and the Sanskrit Library, all of which are located in Girgaum, South Mumbai.

In 1845, along with Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy*, Shri. Jagannath Shankar Shet formed the Indian Railway Association. Eventually, the association was incorporated into the Great Indian Peninsula Railway* and Jeejeebhoy and Shunkerseth became the only two Indians among the ten directors of the GIP railways. As a director, Shunkerseth participated in the very first train journey in India between Bombay and Thane, which took approximately 45 minutes.

  • History of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy: He is the 1st Baronet, variously spelled Qamsetji and Jeejeebhoy, Jejeebjoy, Qijibhai, lived from 15 July 1783 to14 April 1859 was an Indian merchant and philanthropist.
  • History of The Great Indian Peninsula Railway: This was the predecessor to what is known as the Central Railway today.Its headquarters is based at Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai.

Jagannath Shanker Shet, Sir George Birdwood* and Dr Bhau Daji* were instrumental in the some of the major reconstruction efforts of the city, beginning 1857. The three gradually changed a town made up of a close network of streets into a spacious and airy city, adorned with fine avenues and splendid buildings.

  • History of Sir George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood: He lived from 1832-1917, an Anglo-Indian official and writer, son of General Christopher Birdwood, was born at Belgaum, in the Bombay presidency, on the 8th of December 1832.
  • History of Dr Bhau Daji: He was also known as Ramakrishna Vithal, lived from 1822-74, Hindu physician of Bombay, Sanskrit scholar and antiquary.

Jagannath Shankar Shet became the first Indian to be nominated to the Legislative Council of Bombay under the XXTY 26 Act of 1861, and became a member of the Bombay Board of Education. He also was the first Indian member of the Asiatic Society of Bombay* and is known to have endowed a school and donated land in Grant Road for a theatre.

  • History of Asiatic Society of Bombay: The Asiatic Society of Bombay is a public state library in the city of Mumbai, India. It was established in 1803 as “The Royal Asiatic Society, Bombay Branch. The society, founded by Sir James Mackintosh was known as the Literary Society of Bombay, and first met on November 26, 1830. It was later moved to the present Town Hall building which was built in 1804. The library is currently run on an annual grant by the state of Maharashtra. (Sir James Mackintosh, lived from October 24, 1765 – May 30, 1832, a Scottish jurist, politician and historian, is said to have been one of the most cultured and catholic-minded men of his time . His studies and sympathies embraced many interests. He was trained as a doctor and barrister, and worked also as a journalist, judge, administrator, professor, philosopher and politician.

Jagannath Shankar Shet’s influence was used by Sir John Malcolm* to induce the Hindus to acquiesce in the suppression of suttee or widow-burning, and his efforts also paid off after the Hindu community was granted a cremation ground at Sonapur (now Marine Lines).

  • History of Sir John Malcolm: He lived from May 2, 1769 1833, was a Scottish soldier, statesman, and historian, born at Burnfoot, Dumfriesshire on the 2nd of May, 1769. In 1782 Sir John Malcolm entered the service of the East India Company; and a part of his success is to be ascribed to the zeal with which he applied himself at first to study the manners and languages of the east. Having distinguished himself at the siege of Seringapatam in 1792, he was appointed by Lord Cornwallis to the situation of Persian interpreter to an English force serving with a native prince. In 1795, on his return from a short visit to his native country, on account of his health, he performed some useful services in General Clarke’s expedition at the Cape of Good Hope, for which he received the thanks of the Madras government, and was appointed secretary to the commander-in-chief. He was employed in many important negotiations and held various distinguished posts, being Ambassador to Persia, Resident of Gwalior (1803-1804) and Governor of Bombay 1827-1830. He was the commander of the English Army which defeated the Holkars who ruled Indore at the Battle of Mahidpur in 1818. After defeating the Holkars he signed the Treaty of Mandsaur with them. It was under this treaty that the English were given the cantonment town of Mhow which is 23 km from Indore. He was the author of several valuable works regarded as authorities, viz., A History of Persia (1815), Memoir of Central India (1823), Political History of India from 1784 to 1823 (1826), and Life of Lord Clive – 1836.

Shri. Jagannath Shankar Shet is known to have donated generously to Hindu temples. During the First War of Independence of 1857, the British suspected his involvement, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. He died in Bombay on the 31 July, 1865. A year after his death a marble statue was erected at the Asiatic Society of Bombay. A road and chowk (Nana Chowk) are named after him in South Mumbai.

  • History of Elphinstone College, Mumbai: This is one of the oldest in the University of Mumbai system, being established in 1824 and formally constituted in 1835. It is named after Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay from 1819 to 1827. The college is located in the Kala Ghoda area of downtown Mumbai. Sydenham College used to use the Elphinstone College premises at one time.

Notable Alumni of this College are: • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar – Social reformer & great leader • Kishori Amonkar – Artist & Musician • Madhav Apte – Cricketer & Industrialist • Homi J. Bhabha – Scientist & founder of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research • R.G.Bhandarkar – Scholar & Social reformer • Varsha Bhosle – Writer • Khurshedji Rustamji Cama – Social Reformer & Specialist in Iranian Studies • Justice Y. V. Chandrachud – Justice & Social Reformer • N. G. Chandwadkar • Bhulabhai Desai – Renowned Attorney & Social Reformer • C. D. Deshmukh – Economist & former Indian Finance Minister • P. L. Deshpande – Writer, Actor, Diector & Music Director • Sanjay Dutt – Film Actor • Gopal Krishna Gokhale – Founder of Indian Freedom Movement and Indian Congress • Bhakti Barve-Inamdar – TV Newscaster & Film/Stage Actress • Dhondo Keshav Karve – “Maharshi”, Educationist & Social Reformer • Madhav Mantri – Cricketer • Pherozeshah Mehta – Great Leader & Social Reformer • Jivanji Jamshedji Modi – Scholar of Zorastrian Studies & Social Reformer • Vijay Merchant – Cricketer, Cricket Comentrator & Industrialist • Dadabhai Naoroji – Leader in Indian freedom movement • Amol Palekar – Actor & Director • Dattu Phadkar – Cricketer • Mahadev Govind Ranade – Eminent Leader & Social Reformer • Deodatta V. Shenai-Khatkhate – Electronic Materials Scientist & Fellow of Maharashtra Academy of Sciences • Jamsedji Tata – Industrialist, Great Leader & Social Reformer • Kashinath Trimbak Telang – Social Reformer • Bal Gangadhar Tilak – ‘Lokamanya”, Father of Indian unrest & Indian freedom • Badruddin Tyabji – Barrister & Social Reformer • Professor B. M. Udgaonkar – Eminent Scientist & former President of Maharashtra Academy of Sciences • S. Vaidya – Educationist • Ajit Wadekar – Cricketer • Linda Wragg • David Woodman.

Posted in Main. 43 Comments »

43 Responses to “Jagannath Shankar Shet”


    Dear Sir
    Please confirm the date of birth of JAGANNATH SHANKER SHET. In many occasions for celebrations it is taken as 10th February 1803. Please see. I thinks your date is wrong.

  2. Milind Shingade Says:

    Dear Sir,

    The date of birth of Jagannath Shankar Shet is 10 February 1803.

    Milind Shingade

  3. Ashok Pandit Says:

    Dear Sir,
    Jagannath was a very unique philanthropist and a noble businessman who played key role in the development of Mumbai but unfortunately very little is known and talked about his work in Mumbai. He is one of the founders who startet Jagannath High School in Karachi (Sindh) and also built a temple in Karachi.

  4. rahul keshav shinde Says:

    i am student of ruparel college, FYBA. i m studieing history of mumbai. i m doing project on historical personalities. i got information from this block. very very thank you for that. but i m looking for a picyure of Nana Jagannath Shankarsheth. so please recomend any website or any book from where i can get a piture.

  5. Rohit Koyanakant Joshi Says:

    Namaste. This is excellent article. I learned a lot about the great contributions to India and Indian society by Late Jagannath Shankar Sheth. Thank you very much for providing this information.

  6. Raj Belekar Says:

    This write up is an excellent resource of important information that is not so readily available in the books. I stumbled upon this website while searching for something totally different. I am glad that I did. This wonderful wealth of information should be captured in history or archives on Daivajna Brahmin Samaj. Thanks to K. Shrikant Shet (Anvekar).

  7. Rohit Koyanakant Joshi Says:

    I am writing this short note to inform you that I e-mailed this article and link to many of my friends, who also liked it. Thank you. – Rohit Koyanakant Joshi, March 14, 2011, Pi Day.

  8. Richa Belvalkar Says:

    Excellent article that teaches us from new generation about the great contributions made to India today by Jagannath Shankar Shet, one of the few most noble Philanthropists and Social Reformers. Thank you.

  9. Anuradha Pandit Says:

    Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet is one of the principal pioneers of modern Mumbai. This website provides very rare and exceptionally excellent information about our respected leader Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet. Dadabhai Naoroji had praised Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet in following words: “Such is the debt we natives owe to Mr. Jagannath Sankarseth who was among the first, that first sowed the seeds of education and watched and nursed it to its present growth.These services alone would entitle him to our great gratitude. But these are not all.”.

    The unique and prestigious Jagannath Shankar Shet Scholarship in Sanskrit is considered as the highest honor and the scholars are extremely well esteemed in our society, since the inception of this scholarship by Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet.

  10. Koyna Ramdas Kamat Says:

    Excellent information. Thanks to all for providing these outstanding facts. Have a great day.

  11. Vidya Suresh Raikar Says:

    Here is a link to an excellent documentary (directed by rajesh Latkar) on the great life and noteworthy accomplishments of Nana Jagannath Shakar Sheth. I recommend the movie because of the historic perspective and rare photographs/filming the movie presents. It’s worth seeing, and certainly is an amazing collector’s item. Great work, Rajesh Latkar.

  12. Indira Mayekar Says:

    This article really offers outstanding information on one of the greatest philanthropists, visionary leaders and founding pioneers of Mumbai. Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet laid down the solid foundation of education, transportation and administration networks within Mumbai, upon which the fabulous fountainhead of India has been constructed. Our salute of respect to this true Mahatma from our society.

  13. Anagha Deshmukh Says:

    Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet was one of the highest quality Leaders and Philanthropists in India. Nanaji was also the pioneering founder of education system in Mumbai that is well recognized all around the world. Nanaji’s name is referenced as the founder and distinguished alumni of Elphinstone College at this website: http://www.ranker.com/list/distinguished-alumni-of-elphinstone-college-mumbai/roger-royce

  14. Zipru Kumawati Says:

    Excellent resource of historic details that are becoming obscure nowadays. Good work by K. Shrinath Shet (Anvekar) and Mumbai Meri Jaan to preserve such historically important information about our Leader, Shri Jagannath Shankar shet.

  15. Yateen Bhatia Says:

    Amazing research and fantastic source of information. Thank you Alphonso and Mumbai Meri Jaan.

  16. Kasturi Kamalakar Pedanekar Says:

    Very informative article with lot of details of historic importance. Nanaji was not only the great Indian Philanthropist and revolutionary educationist, but also is one of the greatest heroes and pioneers of modern India. Highly insightful information. Thank you Mumbai Meri Jaan..

  17. Archana Belgaonkar Says:

    I would like to add respectfully that I have come across other references that mention Nanaji’s date of birth to be February 10, 1803 (and not October 10, 1800). This may be a typo or an oversight. This website provides exceptionally valuable wealth of information. Thank you, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Alphonso, for your excellent work.

  18. Sadashiv Pannalal Nadkarni Says:

    Jagannath Shankar Shet Scholarship is considered as one of the greatest honors and highest accomplishment for generations of students. I am very pleased to learn more about the history and the great social reformation carried out by Late Jagannath Shankar Shet at this website. Dhanyawaad.

    Sadashiv P. Nadkarni

  19. Ruhi Belvalkar Says:

    Excellent article! Great tribute by Shrikant Shet (Anvekar) to most notable Daivajna – Jagannath Shankar Shet. Keep on doing the good work. Regards,


  20. Mohini Dutta Says:

    Excellent article by K. Shrinath Shet (Anvekar). As the Metro system is getting built in Mumbai, our thoughts go to the generosity of Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet, who donated the land (probably thousands of acres) in order to be able to build the train system in Mumbai. We Mumbaikars owe our sincere gratitude to Nana-ji for his tremendous self-less contributions to our society – which enabled us to progress towards the modern Mumbai of today.

  21. ankur Says:

    the contribution of jagannath shankar sheth mumbai

  22. nishant Says:

    The contributions of Jagannath Shankar Shet to India and development of Mumbai are outstanding and praise-worthy. Thanks.

  23. Shekhar Ganesh Powle Says:

    Shekhar Powle

    good news resulation pass in Muncipal corporater meeting Mumbai Central name change on Hon. Nana Shanker sheth hope this proceger complite as possible as earliar thank you Mr.Manmohan Chonkar(Shiv sena) and all party corporater

  24. Rohit Koyanakant Joshi Says:

    Very good news. Thanks to Shiv Sena and all corporators in Mumbai who decided on taking this step.

  25. Dr Prakash Soni Says:

    Exilent Indian men, I Am Proud For You

  26. Mangal Desai Says:

    Best wishes to Swarnakar Setu. it will be a good idea to recommunicate this excellent info about Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet (specially the article by Shrinath Shet) in Swarnakar Setu, so that more people will know about Nanaji’s great contributions to India.

  27. Ramu Voruganty Says:

    Great information. Cool stuff.

  28. Nayanatara Rele Says:

    Very informative article. We are proud of our history and great leaders such as Nana Jagannath Shankar Shet. Thank you Alphonso.

  29. Namrata Nimkar Says:

    Very informative article. I like it as reference material on history of Mumbai. Many thanks to the author.

  30. Anushka Vernekar Says:

    Excellent article about one of the exceptional social reformers and pioneers of modern Mumbai. Our Indian society is indebted to the great deeds and kindness of such respectable personalitirs. Indian history will record their names with golden letters (Suvarnakshar) for time immemorial. Thank you, Sir Nana Jagannathji Shankar Sheth. – Anushka M. Vernekar.

  31. Lara Manohar Says:

    Alphonso and Dr. Shrinath Shet – you have written this article really well. It gives extremely insightful information and wealth of knowledge to the readers. I would like to point out that the date of birth of Nanaji Jagannath Shankar Sheth is 10th February 1803 (and not 10th October 1800). This may be the only minor typo in your otherwise wonderful article. Thanks for sharing your excellent research, Dr. K. Shrinath Shet (Anvekar). – Lara Manohar, 5th January 2012.

  32. Swati Wilson Says:

    Very well written article – with devotion, passion and heart in it. I can feel it. Good job! Keep it up!

  33. Divakar N Says:

    An excellent article on Nanaji. I heard that an old statue of Nanaji erected near CST (VT) in Mumbai has been removed now. Is it true?

  34. ayushman Says:

    he was a great man for india
    he was a six hitter for indian mithology

  35. Anjali Narayan Diwadkar Says:

    Ayushman, you are correct about Jagannath Shankar Shet being the great man for India. What is the meaning of “a six hitter for indian mithology”? – AND

  36. Swati Sanyal-Belvalkar Says:

    Six-hitter is a sports term, and means highly successful individual with no bounds, and who hits all the time. Nanaji was most definitely the six-hitter in Indian history and mythology.

  37. Ananya Lotalikar Says:

    This article is also listed in the collection “Saints and Reformers – The Myth of Daivajna Brahmins”. Website: http://deepakshet.webs.com/saintsandreformers.htm

  38. Snehal Pedanekar-Raikar Says:

    Whenever I read about Bombay or Mumbai, the power of nostalgia begins to grips me and I get pulled strongly into the strange whirlwind of good old days and old streets of Bombay that are so unknown to me in reality. I continue to wonder how the life would have been those days. I am only 21, yet I am sure that I must have lived sometime somewhere in good old Bombay during my past life or lives…if there is such thing as reincarnation, for it seems so familiar deep inside. I like this article, and it’s a pleasure to read it over and over again and experiencing enchanting smell of Bombay Monsoon and the misty taste of sunshine and salty winds of Bombay during the times of great personalities like Jagannath Shankar Shet. Thank you Alphonso for this splendid uplifting article that truly touches my soul. Mumbai Meri Jaan, Tum Jiyo Hazaaro Saal. – Snehal Pedanekar

  39. vaidehi joshi Says:

    can i get the list of Jagannath Shankar Sheth scolarship winners since it was started.

  40. Renaissance in India | indianinformative Says:

    […] 1848. His wife Savitribai Phule taught in this school despite strong opposition from the society. Jagganat Shankar Shet, Ishwar Chandra Vidyyasagar, Pandita Ramabai and other social reforms greatly contributed to the […]

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