Pandurang Vaijnath Shastri Athavale (October 19, 1920 – October 25, 2003), also known as Dada-ji (Marathi: which literally translates as elder brother in Marathi, was an Indian philosopher, spiritual leader, social reformer and Hinduism reformist, who founded the Swadhyay Movement and the Swadhyay Parivar organization (Swadhyay Family) in 1954, a self-knowledge movement based on the Bhagavad Gita, which has spread across nearly 100,000 villages in India, with over 5 million members. He was also noted for his discourses or “pravachans” on Srimad Bhagawad Gita and Upanishads.
He was awarded the ‘Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion’ in 1997 and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 1999.
Pandurang Vaijnath Athavale was born on October 19, 1920 in the village of Roha in Maharashra (konkan) India. He was one of 5 children of Sanskrit teacher Vaijanath Athavale and Parvati Athavale.
When Athavale was twelve years old, his grandfather set up an independent course of study for the young boy with individual tuition. Thus, Athavale was taught in a system very similar to that of the Tapovan system of ancient India. In 1942, he started to give discourses at the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Pathshala, a centre set up by his father in 1926.
Athavale read diligently in the Royal Asiatic Library for 14 years, reading and digesting every non-fiction literature (ranging from Marx’s philosophy to Whitehead’s writings to ancient Indian philosophy). In 1954, he attended the Second World Philosophers Conference, held in Japan. There, Athavale presented the concepts of Vedic ideals and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. All the participants deeply impressed by his ideas and wanted evidence of such ideals being put into practice in towns across India. A Dr. Arthur Compton was impressed with Athavale’s ideas and offered him a post in the US, where he could spread his ideas. Athavale politely declined, saying that he had work to accomplish if he wanted to show the world a model community peacefully practicing and spreading the divine Vedic thoughts and the message of the Bhagavad Gita.Rev. Pandurangshastri Athavle in the top 10 most important person of the India,this is declare by Indian gov in 2006.
Swadhyay Movement is a philosophy found all over the world. The divine family members of the Swadhyay Pariwar are called “Swadhyayees”. Swadhyay is a family where individuals come from all parts of society, regardless of social strata, and are considered divine brothers and sister, equal in the eyes of God. Many Swadhyayees who continue Athavale’s work in spreading his ideas throughout India and to other parts of the world are known as “krutisheels”, or people of action. Over the years, his followers (Swadhyayees), have taken his message of love for God and God’s love for all to people across caste, social, and economic lines to about 100,000 Indian villages, and started various cooperative farming, fishing and tree-planting projects in the spirit of collective, divine work of the Lord. Swadhyayees have never reached out to fellow brothers or sisters in the name of converting or even attracting to Swadhyay, but in the spirit of or meeting and establishing relationships, and taking the message of the universal Gita to every man. Today, Swadhyay has spread to numerous countries in the Caribbean, the Americas, Asia, and even Africa. The divine parivar, or family, has extended to many millions. As Dadaji always dreamed of, Swadhyay is creating a “Universal brotherhood under the Divine Fatherhood of God.”
On December 20–21 of 2010, 3 million Swadhyayees gathered in Kharghar, Mumbai, India, to celebrate late Pujya Dadaji’s 90th birthday. The program, “Dadaji Namastubbyam” [respects to Dadaji] was held on a large, cleared ground. Swadhyayee families from South Africa, Hong Kong, Europe, America, and all parts of India gathered to pay their respects and to celebrate Athavale’s 90th birthday. To begin the program, a youth celebration was held. The performance featured a dance by 83,296 youth, who creating unique formations with their multicolored shirts. The dance was recorded by a remote controlled helicopter, and displayed on 2 massive LED screens and more than 10 big projector screens. This was followed by a speech from Jayashree “Didiji” Talwalkar, the daughter of Pandurang Shastri and head of Swadhyay Parivar.
Revered as an Activist Philosopher, Dadaji died on October 25, 2003, in at Khetwadi in south Mumbai, India. He was 83 years old at the time of his demise. He was cremated on the evening of October 26 at Tatvagnyaan Vidyapeeth, Ghodbunder in Thane district, where around 10,000 people were present. Subsequently his ashes were immersed at Ujjain, Pushkar, Haridwar, Kurukshetra, Gaya, Jagannath Puri, and lastly at Rameswaram.
Ramon Magsaysay Award in Manila, Philippines (1996) – for community leadership
Templeton Prize in Westminster Abbey, London (1997)
Padma Vibhushan (1998) – for his efforts towards social reform
To be human is to be grateful. – Gratitude
The greatest attitude of all is gratitude. – Gratitude
Reverence for all creations. – Reverence
Universal brotherhood under the fatherhood of God. – Universal Ethics
Fearlessness is a result of faith in oneself and faith in God. – Faith
Only he who gratefully remembers the love and benevolence bestowed upon him is a real human being. – Gratitude
Expression of Gratitude to the Lord Almighty at these occassions daily; For gift of Memory at dawn, For the gift of Energy at meal times, and for the gift of Peace at night is called “Trikal Sandhya” – Gratitude
Devotion does not mean only Chanting praise and singing glory of God, nor fasting and offerings made to God. Devotion is a specific attitude towards life and existence. – Devotion
Devotion is the realization that wealth, education and power are God given gifts and not the endowments of fate. – Devotion
Only he who accepts clashes and conflicts in life, loves life. – Acceptance
Action not backed by knowledge and knowledge not translatable into action, both can not stand the test of time. – Knowledge
To achieve progress and development it is necessary to bring about co-ordination between liberty and security through Devotion. – Devotion
Knowledge, Action and Devotion are complementary to each other. – Devotion – Action – Knowledge
It is essential that in a society, divine thoughts and power should co-exist. Simple Faith, not backed by material forces, is weak and Strength without touch of Divinity is monstrous. – Faith – Strength
The most Superior amongst the colors in the universe is the color of Devotion. – Devotion
The strength of Truth lies in Love and the strength of Love lies in Truth. – Love – Truth-seeking
Devotion (Bhakti) includes Sentimental Devotion (Bhav Bhakti) and Devotion through action (Kruti Bhakti). – Devotion
Neither the military might nor the economic and technological development makes a nation great. It is made great by it’s citizens with Self Respect and Integrity ingrained in their lives. – Integrity – Respect
That which takes us nearer to the Almighty (Sat) is truth. Truth needs no external support to sustain or promote itself. – Truth-seeking
An enlightened society is one where all people – the rich and the poor, the literate and the illiterate, the black and the white, men and women – live happily as children of the same Lord. Thus experiencing the brotherhood of men under the fatherhood of God. – Universal Ethics
“Bhakti is a Social Force” – Strength