Desai takes his Gandhi ‘Katha’ abroad

October 1st, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) Narayan Desai, one of the last of Gandhians, has for the first time taken abroad his popular story of Mahatma Gandhi which he relates in the form of a ‘katha’. On Thursday, Desai will speak on the Mahatma’s message of truth and non-violence in Canada.Desai, the 83-year-old son of Gandhi’s personal secretary Mahadev Desai, will deliver a public speech on Gandhi’s ideals at a university in Toronto Thursday evening.

“Gandhi katha is my way of spreading the Gandhian thought to a large audience,” Desai has said. And countless people, especially youngsters, admit that they have been enthralled by his narrative.

In the earlier phase of this trip, from Sep 26, he delivered his Gandhi katha - a narration of Gandhi’s life on the lines of religious discourses - over three evenings in Toronto.

He has held dozens of Gandhi katha sessions in Gujarat and elsewhere in India after the 2002 communal violence in a unique bid to popularise Gandhian values among the young. It is the first time he has taken the katha abroad.

He held two katha sessions in Britain - at the Kingsbury High School Sep 10-14 and at Leicester Sep 17-21.

This followed an invitation from Dhanajibhai Devajibhai Tanna and his family’s trust and organisations such as the Gujarati Sahitya Akademi and Shishukunj.

The US is next in line. The Gandhi katha will be held in Connecticut under the banner of the South Asian Studies Council Oct 4-7 and in California under the aegis of the Jain Center of Southern California.

Desai spent his childhood at the Sabarmati Ashram of Ahmedabad under the eyes of the great man — his reminiscences were published as “Sant Sevata Sukrut Sadhe” (”Gandhi Through a Child’s Eyes” in Gujarati).

Later, he worked with Jaiprakash Narayan and Vinoba Bhave.

He is currently Kulpati or chancellor of the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, the Ahemdabad-based university established by Gandhi, and also the president of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad.

His four-volume biography of Gandhi, “Maru Jeevan Ej Mari Vaani” (”My Life is My Message”), published in 2004, is hailed as among the most exhaustive works on the Mahatma.

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