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R. P. Paranjpe

Sir Raghunath Purushottam Paranjpye (or Paranjpe) (16 February 1876 – 6 May 1966) was the first Indian to achieve the coveted title of Senior Wrangler at the University of Cambridge, and became a university administrator and Indian ambassador.


R. P. Paranjpe was born at Murdi near Dapoli in the coastal Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. He was educated at Maratha High, Bombay, Fergusson College, Pune and Bombay University before entering St John's College, Cambridge in 1896. He graduated B.A. as senior wrangler in 1899.[1] Paranjpe was elected a Fellow of St John's College in November 1901[2] and stayed as such until 1907, but returned to India to become a professor of mathematics at Fergusson College in 1902.[1] One of the earliest Indian documentary film makers, H. S. Bhatavdekar, made silent documentary films, Return of Wrangler Paranjpye (1902) and Delhi Durbar of Lord Curzon (1903), featuring R. P.[3][4][5][6]

In 1907, R. P. became the first librarian of the Indian Mathematical Society at Fergusson College.[7] He became the college's principal, and stayed in that position for two decades, until 1926.[8] Subsequently, he consecutively became the Vice-Chancellor of Bombay University and Lucknow University.[9] In 1921, the University of Calcutta awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree.[10]

Paranjpe received a British knighthood in 1942.[1] In the three years (1944–1947) preceding India's independence from the British Raj, the British government appointed him India's High Commissioner to Australia.[11] In the days of the British Raj, there was some criticism that R. P. had often appeared on the side of British authorities at a time of nationalist ferment in India.

He was the founder of the Indian Rationalist Association in Chennai (then Madras) in 1949,[12] and remained its President for many years.[13] His autobiography, 84 Not Out, appeared in 1961.

Acharya Atre has devoted one full chapter in his autobiography for Wrangler Paranjape and has written about his fame all over the country and how because of him students from outside Maharashtra came to study at Ferguson College.

His younger brother, Hari Purushottam Paranjape was a well known agriculturist of his time. In 1991, the Government of India awarded R. P.'s daughter Shakuntala Paranjpye a Padma Bhushan title in recognition of her work in the field of family planning. She was also a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha in the 1960s[14] In 2006, the Government of India awarded R. P.'s granddaughter Sai Paranjpye a Padma Bhushan title in recognition of her artistic talents. She is a film director and a scriptwriter.[15]


  • Dhondu Keshav Karve: A Sketch, Poona, Arya Bhushan Press, 1915.
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale, The Aryabhushan Press, 1918.
  • The Crux of the Indian Problem. Watts, 1931.
  • The National Liberal Federation, Presidential address. Allahabad, 1939. Vithal Hari Barve, 1939.
  • 84 Not Out, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1961.
  • Rationalism In Practice: The Kamala Lectures, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2006. ISBN 1-4286-4446-6.


  1. ^ a b c "Paranjpye, Raghunath Purushottam (PRNY896RP)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ "University intelligence" The Times (London). Tuesday, 5 November 1901. (36604), p. 9.
  3. ^ Filming the Gods: Religion and Indian Cinema, Rachel Dwyer, Routledge, 2006. pp 14, ISBN 0-415-31425-9.
  4. ^ Sr. Wrangler Mr. R.P. Paranjpe at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Indian Cinema Database SilentFilms.
  6. ^ Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) Foreword, 4th Mumbai International Film Festival, 1996.
  7. ^ Newsletter 17, Indian Mathematical Society
  8. ^ "Chronomedia: 1901 – December 7". Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  9. ^ First Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education 19–20, December 1935.
  10. ^ "Annual Convocation". University of Calcutta. 
  11. ^ Sai Paranjpye at ASHA
  12. ^ "Rationalist International Bulletin 21". 21 October 1999. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  13. ^ An Introduction to Indian Rationalist Association, 27 May 2006.
  15. ^ SAI PARANJPYE, INDIAN FILMMAKER library, worldbank.
  • R.P. Paranjpye, 84 Not Out, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1961. Autobiography.
  • Wrangler Raghunath Purushottam Paranjpye by Dr Anant Deshmukh, 2011. Biography.

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