Veteran Gandhian Narayan Desai passes away

March 15, 2015 06:20 pm | Updated 06:20 pm IST - Ahmedabad

Narayan Desai.

Narayan Desai.

 One of the country’s noted Gandhians, Narayan Desai, known for his rendition of Gandhi Katha — stories on the Mahatma’s life — passed away at a private hospital in Surat on Sunday at the ripe age of 90. 

“Narayanbhai Desai will be remembered as a scholarly personality who brought Gandhi ji closer to the masses. Sad to hear of his demise. RIP,” the Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a condolence message on Twitter. 

In 2004, Desai started a lecture series on Gandhi called ‘Gandhi Katha’, which he took across the world and received much acclaim for it.

“The biggest loss is of the ‘Gandhi Katha’ which was uniquely his own creation because of the way he presented the stories on Bapu. People will remember him the most for it. His scholastic ability was in defining Bapu in the modern times,” Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, told The Hindu

Ideas of truth and non-violence were inculcated in Desai at an early age by his father Mahadev Desai, long-time personal secretary and diarist of Gandhi. Desai served as the Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith from July 23, 2007, but resigned from the post last November.

Born in Valsad in Gujarat, he grew up at the Sabarmati Ashram and Sewagram Ashram in Wardha. Inspired by Following Vinobha Bhave’s Bhoodan movement, Desai travelled through Gujarat urging the rich to distribute land among the landless. 

Desai has several awards to his credit including the Sahitya Akademi Award for Gujarati in 1993 and the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1999 and the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence in 1998. He was also associated with anti-nuclear activism.

On December 10, he slipped into a coma, but later recovered. He is survived by his daughter Sanghamitra and sons Nachiketa and Aflatoon Desai. His last rites were performed on Sunday afternoon.

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and Governor O.P. Kohli expressed their condolences on Mr. Desai’s demise.

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