Keeping Gandhi alive

Met another Gandhian, last week. The 88-year old Narayan Desai. He is the son of Mahadev Desai – secretary to Gandhi, diarist and translator. Narayan Desai has written a Gujarati biography of Gandhi, which has also been translated into 4 volumes in English (My life is my message). As Secretary of Shanti Sena, which did very important work in the North-east and other areas, he has worked closely with Vinoba and JP.

He conducts Gandhi Katha, a 15-hour/5-day discourse on the life and message of Gandhi. He was doing a session in Madurai. The trip to Madurai was more than its worth. To hear it all from someone who grew up under the eyes of Gandhi, is quite an experience.The 2+ hours of personal time I got with him, gave me a piece of some remarkable experience. He is quite a remarkable person, who has been through some remarkable times – independence, peace efforts in the time of China war, bhoomi-dhan, Sarvodhya, Shanti Sena, emergency.

His parting words to me were “I am blessed to have spent 20 years each with Gandhi, Vinoba and JP.”
His comment on Thirukkural : “Vinoba used to quote quite frequently from Thirukkural. Translators used to struggle. He will often say the original couplet in Tamil too.”.
His advice to me on my training : “Get students to ponder about what is real development.”.
I met him again with my wife and daughter, when he was passing through Chennai on his way back. It was another great experience.
During his katha, he mentioned that fear is infectious and so is fearlessness. His love for peace, and his energy are infectious too. I am writing more about my experiences with him, in Tamil.

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