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Social reformer Pandurang Shastri Athavale dead

October 25, 2003 17:43 IST
Last Updated: October 25, 2003 18:50 IST

Well-known social reformer and Magsaysay awardee Pandurang Shastri Athavale passed away in Mumbai on Saturday, family sources said. He was 83.

A scholar, he was familiar with the Vedas, the Upanishads, logic and philosophy. He set up the Swadhyaya movement some time in the 1950s to bring about social transformation - moral, social and economic - through the values propagated in the Bhagvad Gita. [Swadhyaya literally means the discovery of the Self.]

Athavale's vision for the movement: "We shall create a society which is self-disciplined, has faith in God, is adventurous and brave, loves culture and the holy scriptures, is truly democratic and is filled with devotion."

Today, it has over five million followers whose influence is spread across over 75,000 villages and is a formidable force in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Athavale also established several educational institutions and initiated steps to ensure social welfare and distribution of wealth.

In 1996, he was honoured with the Magsaysay award for community leadership. It was perhaps the first time that the spotlight was turned on Athavale who had till then been working silently among the masses.

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