The legendary Gandhian Narayan Desai died on December 24, 2015 at the age of ninety. He was the last of the ‘true’ Gandhians who lived his life practising and preaching Gandhi’s philosophy. His father Mahadev Desai was Gandhi’s close associate and also his personal secretary; hence, Narayan Desai’s upbringing had been under the tutelage of Gandhi. His formative years were spent first in Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, then in Sevagram Ashram, Wardha, and, after the untimely death of his father in the Pune prison, directly under the personal care of Gandhi. As Rajmohan Gandhi has observed in the Foreword of the English translation of Narayan Desai’s Gujarati book, Gandhini Shaktinu Mool Ekadash Vrata, ‘Mahadev’s death deepened Gandhi’s tie to Narayan, whose gifts Mahatma had spotted earlier. When Gandhi was killed in January 1948, Narayan was a 22-year-old who understood the Mahatma better than most persons of his age, in part because Gandhi had personally coached him, and also because, right from the start, he was closely observing his coach.’

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