Pandurang Shastri Athavale, popularly known as Dada, was a philosopher cum social reformer. He is credited with being the founder of the Swadhyay Movement. Pandurang Shastri Vaijnath Athavale was known for giving extremely moving discourses on Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Infact, he tried to motivate his followers to spread the thoughts of Geeta in the society. Given below is the complete biography of Pandurang Shastri Athavale.
His Life History
Pandurang Shastri Athavale was born on 19th October 1920, in the Roha
village near Mumbai city. His grandfather was Laxman Rao, a renowned
scholar and Brahmin who was involved in the spread of Bhagavad Gita
amongst the Dalits. Pandurang grew up watching his grandfather go to the
Dalit area and then take a bath after coming back home. Surprised by
this act, he asked Laxman "If in the Bhagavad Gita the Lord
exclaims that God exists within all human hearts, then how can anyone,
including the so-called 'untouchables', be considered inferior to anyone
After that, he made a vow to himself that he would always try to see the God
within others. Hence, he became the proponent of the concept of "In-dwelling
God". By the age of 22 years, Pandurang Shastri Athavale started
giving discourses at the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Pathshala, a school that
was set up by his father. In the year 1954, he attended the Second World
Religions Conference, which was held in Japan. At the conference, he
delivered a speech on the concepts of Vedic ideals as well as the
teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
Even though most of the people rebuffed his views; there was one person
who was very impressed with him. He was Dr. Wilson Compton, who then
offered Pandurang a post in the USA to spread his ideas and views.
However, Pandurang politely turned down the offer. He then devoted
himself in establishing a model community, through the spread of Vedic
thoughts and message of the Bhagavad Gita. Thus was born the Swadhyay
(meaning 'self study') Movement, which spread the message of the holy
book not only in India, but the whole world.
The family members of the Swadhyay Pariwar are called 'Swadhyayees' and
include people from the upper as well as the lower classes. The
Swadhyayees who spread the ideas of Athavale throughout the country are
known as "Krutisheels' or the people of action. Pandurang Shastri
Athavale also founded an institute, known as Tatvagyan Vidhyapeeth,
where young people study and learn his views and ideas. Pandurang left
for the holy abode on 25th October 2003, in Mumbai. His adopted
daughter, Jayshree Talwalkar, is carrying on his work today.