A famed political leader, revolutionary worker and orator Shri Arjun Lai Sethi was born at Jaipur. His grand-father Shri Bhawani Das Sethi, a rich husinessman, lived in Baid- wara in Dalhi. His first wife and son had died. His son Jawahar Lai Sethi, father of Sh. Arjun Lai, was born from his second wife and was married to Smt. Pancho Devi daughter of Mohan Lai Nazim (of the rank of District Magistrate) of Jaipur. Sh. Bhawani Das was friendly with the Mughal princes. His vast business was mainly looked after by his employees. Impelled by intuitions to leave Delhi he had later settled at Jaipur.
Shri Arjun Lai Sethi did his B.A. with Persian in 1902. Very well versed with English, Persian, Arabi, Sanskrit, Pali and Jain philosophy he was a very good writer and poet as well. A fluent and impressive speaker on politics and Jain philosophy, over which he used to speak to the spell bound audience for hours, he strongly advocated for respect for all religions and castes and study of Gita.
From the very young age he had actively plunged into national movements for freedom of the motherland. In 1907, he established Vardhaman Jain Vidyalaya which was an important working centre of the lovers of independence. Besides religious education the students were imbibed with revolutionary and political ideas. A Shikshan Samiti established by him had its net work of Pathshalas in Jaipur.
He worked as Kamdar in Jaipur State but soon left the service distressed with the behaviour of the English with the Indian people. Independence minded Arjun Lai Sethi had a call of his heart to serve the country. He was an active participant in revolutionary movements during 1905-12. While serving as Head Master of Kalyanmal Maha- vidyalaya at Indore he was arrested and was kept in custody for 6 years, up to 1922, at Jaipur and Vellore. A large number of daily newspapers of various provinces and senior leaders had initiated movement for his release. Dr. Annie Besant had herself met the Viceroy for this purpose. As he had a vow not to take food without worshipping Jain Tirthankar’s idol he was on fast in the jail for 70 days. He broke it only when Mahatma Bhagwan Din had been successful in having the idol there, a unique thing in the history of jails.
One of his trusted revolutionary deciples Moti Chand Jain from Maharashtra was sentenced to death. Shri Sethi had married one of his daughters, out of his 3 sons and 3 daughters from his wife Smt. Gulab Devi, to a young Maharashtrian Brahmin with the noble idea that the worthy son of that State may possibly follow the same path of martyrdom for his country.
His son Prakash was on death bed in 1923 at the young age of 25 years. Shri Sethi received a telegram to reach Jodhpur immediately. Simultaneosly he received a telegram from Pt. Sunder Lai to reach Bombay to address a meeting. The bonds of affection could not prevail over his dutiful mind. He reached Bombay. Before start of his lecture he received the telegram intimating the death of Prakash. Unpurturbed outwardly he gave his lecture to the great surprise and mixed sorrow of the large audience who had come to know of the sad demise. These are a few instances of the noble sacrifices of Shri Sethi.
He had truely dedicated his life to the service of the country involving his family into great financial difficulties. Senior political leaders including Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lai Nehru and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose consulted him on important matters. Mahatma Gandhi had visited his house on July 5, 1934 to insist upon him to re-enter into national movements. He was elected President of Rajputana and Madhya Bharat Congress Committee on Sept 9, 1934, on which position he, however, could not be for long due to the conspiracies of the selfish persons. He had delivered his last lecture on ‘Jainism and Socialism’ at Biawar or Aug 13, 1939. He expired at Ajmer on Dec. 22, 1941 at the age of 61 years. A big new colony in Jaipur has been named Arjun Lai Sethi Nagar to immortalise the name of the patriotic and learned leader. His son Dr. Jagat Prakash Sethi is a senior physician in Sawai Man Singh Hospital Jaipur.