Shyamaji Krishnavarma

Other names: 

Shyamji Krishnavarma


Balliol College, Oxford OX1 3BJ
United Kingdom
51° 43' 26.2992" N, 1° 16' 30.414" W
65 Cromwell Avenue, Highgate
N6 5HH
United Kingdom
51° 34' 12.9684" N, 0° 8' 29.1084" W
9 Queenswood Avenue (60 Muswell Hill Road), Highgate
N10 3JE
United Kingdom
51° 35' 8.8512" N, 0° 8' 48.6564" W
Date of birth: 
04 Oct 1857
City of birth: 
Mandavi, Kutch, Gujarat
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
30 Mar 1930
Location of death: 
Geneva, Switzerland
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Apr 1879
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1879-85, 1897-1907


Shyamaji Krishnavarma first came to Britain in 1879 as a Sanskrit scholar and assistant to Professor Monier Williams at Oxford. He graduated from Balliol College in 1883 and was called to the Bar in 1884. In 1881, he attended the Berlin Congress of Orientalists.

Krishnavarma returned to India to work in service to the Indian Princely States and then returned to England in 1897, settling with his wife at Highgate. They first lived at a house he bought at 9 Queenswood Avenue. He endowed an annual lecture in honour of Herbert Spencer in 1904, after attending the funeral service of Herbert Spencer in Golders Green in December 1903. He also created scholarships for Indian students to study in Britain from 1905, on the condition that they would not work for the British Government.

In February 1905, Krishnavarma founded the Indian Home Rule Society. He then established India House in Highgate (at 65 Cromwell Avenue) in the same year (July 1905), as a hostel for Indian students, which became a meeting-place for Indian revolutionaries in London. Krishnavarma fled to Paris in 1907 to avoid arrest and censure by the British Government in relation to his published inflammatory material, such as the journal The Indian Sociologist, and the political activities of India House. He was also disbarred from Inner Temple. After a lapse between 1914 and 1920, Krishnavarma began to publish The Indian Sociologist again from Geneva until 1922. He died in Geneva in 1930.


Madame Cama, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Sukhsagar Datta, Charlotte Despard (through India House), Maud Gonne, H. M. Hyndman (through India House), Benjamin Jowett (from his time in Oxford), Monier Monier Williams, Max Müller, Dadabhai Naoroji (through India House), V. D. Savarkar (India House), Herbert Spencer (attended his funeral).

Involved in events: 

Foundation of Indian Institute, Oxford, 2 May 1883 (see The Oxford Chronicle and Berks and Bucks Gazette, 5 May 1883)

Foundation of India House, Highgate, 1 July 1905 (see The Indian Sociologist, August 1905)

Published works: 

Editor of Indian Sociologist, 1905-14, 1920-2

Introduction to Richard Congreve’s pamphlet, India [Denying England’s right to retain her possessions], first published in 1857; reprinted with Krishnavarma’s introduction (London: A. Bonner, 1907)

Various articles on Sanskrit and Indology

Secondary works: 

Padhya, Hemant, 'Shyamji Krishnavarma' (unpublished, contact author) [H. Padhya also holds an archive of material relating to Krishnavarma]

Yajnik, Indulal, Shyamaji Krishnavarma: Life and Times of an Indian Revolutionary, foreword by Sarat Chandra Bose (Bombay: Lakshmi Publications, 1950)

Varma, Ganeshi Lal, Shyamji Krishna Varma: the Unknown Patriot (New Delhi: Govt. of India, 1993)

Archive source: 

IOR/L/I/1/1432, India Office Records, Asian and African Collections Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Private collection, Hemant Padhya