Profile

A creative writer committed to values
The scholastic and multi-faceted contribution of Dr. Kumarpal Desai in the fields of literature, education, journalism, social service, sports and philosophy makes him a versatile personality of Gujarat. It is commonly experienced that a person achieves distinguished position at the most in a single sphere of activity but Dr. Kumarpal Desai has distinguished himself in various fields of human activity. Kumarpal Desai was born in Ranpur on August 30, 1942. His native is Sayala. His mother's name was Jayaben and father Balabhai Desai whose non-de-plume was Jaybhikhkhu : Jaybhikhkhu, an author of about 250 books, earned for himself a name in Gujarati Literature. Kumarpal's parents played a significant role in moulding his life, especially his father in nourishing his literary leanings and his mother in the cultivation of his humane personality. Jayaben was an ideal Indian woman who participated in the non-cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in Ranpur in 1930. She read to Kumarpal poems about Gandhi and this had a lasting impression on his mind. Kumarpal obtained his B.A. and M.A. degrees in 1963 and 1965 respectively with Gujarati as a major subject. He then began his career as a professor of Gujarati in Nav-Gujarat College and in 1983 joined the department of Gujarati Literature of Gujarat University. In 1980 he earned his Ph.D. degree, with Dr. Dhirubhai Thaker as his guide. His thesis was entitled ‘Anandghan – A study’. He became Reader in 1988 and Professor in 2000. He became Head of department in November 2001 and in 2003 he was elevated to the post of Director, School of languages and got elected Dean, Faculty of Arts, subsequently. He began his literary career from an early age and at the age of eleven, he wrote an imaginary story of a revolutionary for the children's weekly ‘Zagmag’. Stories of sacrifice and valour had a special attraction for him from his early age for his native is Saurashtra, the land of valorous heroes. From his childhood, he was influenced by Zaverchand Meghani who wrote stories of sacrifice and valour, Gunvantrai Acharya, who wrote novels about sea adventures, short story writer Dhumketu and the poet Dula Kag who sang the songs of the heroes. Determined not to be known as the son of Jaybhikhkhu, Kumarpal chose to write under the name K. B. Desai. Kumarpal Desai is a multi-faceted personality. Alongwith his writing activity, he made his debut as a sports commentator. His first book ‘Vatan, Tara Ratan’ was published while he was a student in college and his newspaper column appeared while he was reading for his B.A. degree. In 1962 his column appeared in Gujarat Samachar and his first book ‘Lal Gulab’, a biography of Lal Bahadur Shastri, appeared in 1965 when he was in the second year of M.A. The book made a mark in the category of children's literature and sold sixty-thousand copies, and was prescribed as a textbook in Gujarat. The book also received a prize as the best book for children. On January 11, 1966, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away and Kumarpal collected some important details about his life and wrote a biography ‘Mahamanav Shastri’, comprising some 300 pages. On 20th April in 1966, the book was released by the leading publishing house ‘Gurjar Prakashan’ alongwith Dhumketu's novel ‘Dhruvadevi’ posthumously. The success of ‘Lal Gulab’ spurred him on and he went on to write quality books in the field of children's literature. The people of Gujarat, who were fed on stories of Akbar and Birbal, were provided with equally interesting stories of Damodar Mehta which were all about human ingenuity and innocent humour and an underlying message too. He wrote a number of books which exemplified virtues such as valour, communal harmony, the heroism of common people, etc. Biographies of ‘Veer Rammurti’, ‘C. K. Nayadu’, ‘Buddhisagarsuri’, ‘Bhagwan Rushabhdev’, ‘Firaq Gorakhpuri’, ‘Bhagwan Mallinath’, ‘Atam Gyani Shraman Kahave’, ‘Bhagwan Mahavir’ and many others flowed from his prolific pen. In these biographies he has focused on the significant incidents from their lives and has attempted to present a real life-like portrayal of each of them, and they are written in a plain, unostentatious style which makes it a pleasure to read. Children's literature can be verily called Kumarpal's forte but simultaneously he also contributed to the field of adult literature. A volume that needs special mention is entitled ‘Apang Na Ojas’ which has been translated into Hindi and rendered into Braille for the benefit of the blind. An English version is likely to be published shortly. The preface of the book has been written by reverend Mota, a great saint of Gujarat and renowned cricketer Vijay Merchant. It chronicles the life stories of those who, despite their handicaps, overcame the obstacles, fought heroically against adversities and learnt the art of survival. The son of the well-known litterateur Jaybhikhkhu, Kumarpal has quite a few collections of stories to his credit, such as ‘Ekante Kolahal’, ‘Suvarnamrug’, ‘Bindu Banyu Moti’, ‘Bhavani Bhavai’, ‘Agam Piyalo’, ‘Vyakti Ane Samashti’, to name a few. In these stories, he reveals himself as an adept story-teller on whom the influence of his father and another great writer Dhumketu is very much evident. Kumarpal is a man who refuses to fit into a mould and is equally at home in Jain philosophy as in literature. An ardent student of both, he has acquired formidable reputation internationally and has been honoured by Jain organisations in India and abroad. Through his newspaper columns, books and discourses, he has expounded on the basic tenets and principles of Jainism and on the message of the various Tirthankars. His thinking on such matters has been fresh, original and path-breaking as reflected in his biographies of Rishabhdev, Bhagwan Mallinath, Bhagwan Mahavir and Kalikal Sarvagna Hemchandracharya. He has three books to his credit on Mahayogi Anandghan. His ‘Stories from Jainism’ is used as a textbook for teaching religion in some schools in London. His other books in English are : ‘Glory of Jainism’, ‘Essence of Jainism’, ‘The Value and Heritage of Jain Religion’, ‘Kshamapana’, ‘Role of Women in Jain Religion’, ‘Non-Violence : A Way of Life (Bhagwan Mahavir)’, ‘Pinnacle of Spirituality’, ‘The Timeless Message of Bhagwan Mahavir’ and ‘Vegetarianism’. He has a volume in Hindi titled ‘Jin Sashan ki Kirtigatha’ to his credit. In 1983, he visited Britain and since then every year he visits some country or the other and gives discourses on various aspects of Jain philosphy. During Paryushan, he is invited to deliver lectures overseas in England, America, Canada, Singapore, Malayasia, Hongkong and Belgium. In 1983, he gave a talk on ‘Jainism – Past, Present and Future’ at Pittsburgh at the JAINA convention, a talk on ‘Historical and Cultural Impact of Ahimsa and Jainism’ at Vatican in Rome and a talk on ‘A journey of Ahimsa : From Bhagwan Mahavir to Mahatma Gandhi’ at the United Nations Chapel in New York. In 2003, he gave a talk on “Influence of Jainism on Mahatma Gandhi” and “Our Life in the context of five Anuvrat and Anekantwad” at Cincinnati at the JAINA convention. These talks established his reputation as a thinker and an orator. He was an active participant as a member of the group of Jain representatives from five continents which presented ‘The Jain Declaration on Nature’ to Duke of Edinburgh at the Buckingham Palace in 1990 and was also a member of the delegation at the ‘World Parliament of Religions’ held at Chicago and South Africa in 1993 and 1994 respectively. He was also an important member of the delegation which was granted an audience by Pope John Paul - II at Vatican in 1994. Dr. Desai is the co-ordinator of the Institute of Jainology, a worldwide organisation. The Government of Gujarat decided to establish Ahimsa University as part of the Janmakalyanak celebrations of the 2600th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahavir and Dr. Desai was appointed the Chairman of the Act and Project Committee appointed by the Government. His scholarship is evident in his profound study of Anandghan's life and work, a poet-saint of Medieval ages. His extensive research was based on the study of about 300 manuscripts which won encomiums from such scholars as Pandit Bechardas Doshi, Dr. Bhogilal Sandesara and Pandit Dalsukhbhai Malvaniya. His contribution to the field of medieval literature has been quite note-worthy. A number of books bear testimony to his deep study and scholarship, which include unpublished medieval works, ‘Stabak of Gyanvimalsuri’ and ‘Balavbodh of Ajitshantistavan’ by Merusunder Upadhyay. His research works have been highly appreciated and have received awards such as Hanuman Prasad Poddar Award of Rajasthan Loksanskriti Sansthan for his study of Anandghan and Dr. K. G. Nayak Medal of Gujarat University in 1975 and 1980 and Dhanji Kanji Gandhi Gold Medal of Gujarat Sahitya Sabha in 2002. He was awarded the prestigious Kalikalsarvagnya Hemchandracharya Gold Medal by Shrimati Dhiruben Patel who presided over the annual conference of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in December 2005. This gold medal has been instituted in the memory of Kalikalsarvagnya Hemchandracharya who had made stupendous contribution in the sphere of literature, culture and the spirit of non-violence. Dr. Kumarpal Desai is a creator as well as a critic and in the field of criticism too he has contributed in no insignificant a measure. ‘Hemchandracharyani Sahitya Sadhana’, ‘Shabda Sannidhi’, ‘Bhavan-Vibhavan’, ‘Anandghan – Jeevan ane Kavan’ etc. bear the stamp of his critical acumen. He is counted among the handful scholars on medieval literature. His critical articles on books of modern literature reveal his insight in and understanding of modern literary trends. He has also made his mark as an editor having edited about twenty books on wide ranging subjects. These books reflect his catholicity of taste, his wide reading and editorial excellence. He translated a play by a lesser known African writer Austin Bukenya into Gujarati entitled ‘Navvadhu’ which carries in addition to the introduction to the play, a biographical sketch of the playwright and also a note on the contemporary African theatre. Jaybhikhkhu's column ‘Int Ane Imarat’ in ‘Gujarat Samachar’ has been very popular with the readers. On his death, the editor asked Kumarpal to continue the column. He was reluctant in the beginning but when persuaded, he agreed and contributed a couple of instalments anonymously. When he found that it was well received, it began to carry his name. The column has continued for almost fifty years by now, the longest lasting column in Gujarati Journalism. His other columns ‘Zakal Banyu Moti’, ‘Akash ni Olakh’ and ‘Parijat No Parisamvad’ also appear regularly in ‘Gujarat Samachar’. Another of his column ‘Pandadu Ane Pyramid’ appears in ‘Gujarat Times’. He has been teaching for years the students of journalism of Gujarat University and of other Universities in the state as well. He has authored a book about journalistic writing and has also edited a book on Journalism and literature. For his contribution to the field of journalism, he received the silver medal of a monthly – Navchetan, Yagnesh Shukla Award, Sanskriti Gaurav Award of Nanubhai Surati foundation for contribution to the field of sports, Hari Om Ashram Award for high quality journalism and Sanskriti Samvardhan Award of Shrimad Rajchandra Adhyatmik Sadhana Kendra for his value-based writings. Since 1984, his lectures have been arranged overseas. Hewas conferred jointly by 17 Indian organisations of UK Shri Hemchandracharya Award. He is also the recipient of Gaurav Puraskar, Jain Jyotirdhar Award and Gujarat Ratna Award instituted by the Jain Centre of North California. He was adjudged one of the ten Outstanding Young Personality of India Award of the Junior Chambers (1980). In 1997 he was given the President's special award by JAINA for his pioneering work in Jainism and Jain philosophy at the biennial convention. Delhi based Ahimsa International conferred on him Diptimal Adiswarlal Literary Award for producing value-based works and Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Trust conferred a special award in appreciation of his invaluable contribution. He was selected for ‘Jain Ratna Award’, presented by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to 26 outstanding personalities of the world for the propagation of Jain philosophy, on the occasion of the 2600th Janmakalyanak of Bhagwan Mahavir. The field of sports and games has also not remained untouched where Kumarpal has made his mark as an expert critic and a commentator. His books in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and English on cricket sold about 1 lakh fifty thousand copies. He was accorded the honorary membership of the famous Cricketer Magazine Club of England. One of his books secured a place in a competition for Jubilee Literary Award organised by the Cricketer International Magazine. He has also delivered about 300 talks on sports and games at clubs and other fora. Best Sports Journalist Award for the year 2002 was bestowed on Dr. Kumarpal Desai by the Surat City Journalists' Welfare Fund. About twenty students have earned their Ph.D. degrees under his guidance, which also include Jain Sadhvijis. He is a recognised guide for literature, journalism and Jain philosophy. He organised workshops in Singapore for a fifty-year old school imparting education of Gujarati language. He is actively associated with Britain's Gujarati Literature Academy and America's Gujarati Literary Academy, drafting courses for teaching Gujarati in Kenya and Antwerp. A writer and academician with a focused approach and commitment to values and ethics, Dr. Desai is associated with a number of literary, cultural and academic bodies. He is a member of the general council of the Delhi based Central Academy. At present he is the vice-chairman of the Gujarat Sahitya Sabha and Vice-Chairman of the Gujarat Branch of All India Literary Council. As the secretary of the All India Jain Shwetamber conference and Jaibhikhkhu Sahitya Trust, he has been engaged in numerous activities of the trust for the last thirty years. He is also the secretary of Prof. Anantrai Raval Memorial Committee and Chandravadan Mehta Memorial Committee. He is a trustee of the Gujarat Vishvakosh Trust which is engaged in the monumental task of publishing encyclopaedia in Gujarati. He renders humanitarian help to those in need through Anukampa Trust, Indian Red Cross Society (Botad Branch) and Sulabh Health and Heart Care Centre, Ahmedabad. He collected a tidy sum of Rs. 12 lakh, from the NRIs, to render help to the earthquake affected people in the year 2001. He was awarded the prestigious Kalikalsarvagnya Hemchandracharya Gold Medal at the hands of Shrimati Dhiruben Patel who presided over the annual conference of Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in December 2005. This gold medal has been instituted in the memory of Kalikalsarvagnya Hemchandracharya who had made significant contribution to the field of literature, culture and spirit on non-violence. He was elected president of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in December 2006 at Mandvi. He was awarded the prestigious ''Padmashri'' by the Government of India in the year 2004 at the hands of the President of India Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam in recognition of his services in the fields of literature, education and culture. Always on the move, Dr. Desai is eager to undertake new projects and keep himself busy in multifarious activities which promote human values. Does he sleep or not ? He says : "I enjoy my full quota of sleep at night; but from daybreak, it is work and work all the way." On being asked what he would like to be if reborn, he said : I want to live a spiritual life in the service of the people, to meditate on the secrets of the sacred texts and preach true religion to humanity. Thus will be my prayer to God.’ Despite the heavy burden of medals, prizes, awards and honours, Dr. Desai wears his scholarship lightly and has remained unassuming and modest. With a winsome smile on his face and exuding warmth in his behaviour with even ordinary people, Kumarpal is a cut above others.

Books on Jainism :
Anandghan – A Study (1980) • Stabak by Gyanvimalsuri (1988) • Activities of Jain religion in the last decade (1988) • Literary Achievements of Kalikal Sarvagna Hemchandracharya.(1988) • Moti Ni Kheti (Religious tales from Jain religion) (1983) • Monograph on the life and works of Shri Buddhisagarji entitled “Balako Na Buddhisagarji.” (1979) • Kshamapana – review of the •uality of forgiveness from the point of view of Jainology. • Bhagwan Mahavir – Life and principles of Lord Mahavir (1990) • Bhagwan Rishabhdev – Life and teachings of the First Tirthankar of religion. (1983) • Bindu Banyu Moti (tales from Jain Religion) (1986). • Anandghan – Life and works (1998) • Samaro Mantra Bhalo Navkar (1998) • Jinshashan ni Kirtigatha (1998) • Atmagyani Shraman Kahave – Life of Acharyashri Kailassagar Surishwarji • Bhagwan Mallinath – Biography (1989) • Balavabodh of Merusunder • “Shri Mahavir-jivandarshan” – detailed study of the life and teachings of Lord Mahavir. • "Ahimsa ni yatra" (2002) • Tirthankara Mahavira (2002)

• Editing books on Jainism :
Shankheshwar Mahatirth • Jaybhikhkhu Ni Jain Dharmakathao - Religious tales of Jaybhikhkhu; complication of 2 volumes. • “Ojas Ditha Atmabal Na” and “Dhanya Che Dharma Tane” - Editing of various lecture of Vijay Vallabhsuriji. • Ratnatrayi Na Aajwala. • Samayik Sutra with explanation. • Atmavallabh Smaranika.

• Books in English :
Stories from Jainism (1988) • Bhagvan Mahavir (1990) • Non-Violence – A way of life (1990) • Kshamapana (1990) • Glory of Jainism (1991) • A pinnacle of spirituality (2000) • Essence of Jainism 2000 • The Value and Heritage of Jain Religion • The role of women in Jain Religion • The Timeless Message of Bhagwan Mahavir • Vegetarianism (2000) • A Journey of Ahimsha (2002) • Our life in the context of Five Anuvrats and Anekantwad (2003) • Tirthankar Mahavir (2003) • Influence of Jainism on Mahatma Gandhi (2003)

Books in Hindi :
• Jin Shashan Ki Kirtigatha (1999) • Apahij Tan Adig Man (2000) • Anandghan (2006)

Literary Activities as a writer

• Collection of short stories : • Ekante Kolahal (1976) • Suvarna Mruga (1985) • Bhavni Bhavai (1987) • Bindu Banyu Moti (1986) • Biographical works : • Apang Na Ojas (1973) • Maha Manav Shastri (1966) • Veer Rammurti (1976) • Lal Gulab (1965) • Afatoni Andhi Vachche Samruddhi Nu Shikhar (2000) • Balakona Buddhisagarsurishwarji (1979) • Fira• Gorakhpuri (1984) • Moolmarg Nu Amrut Ane Adhyatmanu Shikhar (2000) • Manavtani Mahek (2000) • Journalistic works : • Akhabari Lekhan (1979) • Sahitya ane Patrakaratva (1999) • Books for Adults : • Mahenk Manavtani • Biradari (1971) • Moti Ni Mala (1975) • Kede Katari, Khabhe Dhal (1969) • Moti Ni Kheti (1983) • Vaheti Vato (1983) • Books for children : • Vatan Tara Ratan (1965) • Dahyo Damaro (1967) • Haiyu Nanu, Himat Moti (1976) • Nani Ummar, Motu Kam (1978) • Motne Hath Tali (1973) • Zabak Divadi (1975) • Parakrami Ram (1977) • Ram Vanvas (1977) • Sita Haran (1977) • Veer Hanuman (1978) • C. K. Naidu (1978) • Chalo Pashuo Ni Duniyaman (Part I to III) (1980) • Bhim (1980) • Lokhandi Dadaji (1992) • Katharot Man Ganga (1993) • Dhol Wage Dhamadham (1993) • Vato Na Valu (1993) • Sach Na Sipahi (1993) • Editorial Work : • Ekvismi Sadinu Bal Sahitya (2000) • Adavat Vinani Adalat (2000) • Ek Divas Ni Maharani (2000) • Jaybhikhkhu Ni Dharma Katha • Shabdashri • Kavi Dula Kaag Smruti Granth • Hemsmruti • Narmad : Aaj Na Sandarbhaman • Bal Sahitya Sangosthi • Parivartan Nu Prabhat • Research Book : • Gyanvimalsuri Krut Stabak (1979) • Anandghan : Ek Adhyayan (1980) • Apragat Madhyakalin Krutio (1982) • Translation : • Navvadhu [Translation of an African Play] (2000) • Criticism : • Shabda Sannidhi (1980) • Bhavan Vibhavan (1988) • Inspirational Works : • Zakal Banyu Moti 1-2-3 (1983) • Trusha Ane Trupti (1986) • Shraddhanjali (1994) • Jivan Nu Amrut (1996) • Dukh Ni Pankhar Ma Anand No Ek Tahuko (1997) • Abol Ni Atamwani (1998) • Zakal Bhina Moti (1998)

COLUMN WRITING
1. “Int Ane Imarat” Column in “Gujarat Samachar” since 1970. 2. “Zakal Banyu Moti”, “Aakash Ni Olakh” and “Parijat no Parisamvad” in “Gujarat Samachar”. 3. “Pandadu Ane Pyramid” Column in “Gujarat Times” since 1970. 4. Edited Sports Column entitled “Ramat Nu Medan” (Sports World) since 1960.

SOCIAL SERVICE
1. Planned literary programmes, award functions, publication of books devoted to promotion of values, essay competitions, aid fund for authors and conducting such other cultural activities under the auspices of the Shree Jaybhikhkhu Sahitya Trust. 2. Organised relief for the people under the auspices of the Indian Red Cross Society, Botad Branch. 3. Organised various types of medical aids through Anukampa Trust. 4. Provided emergency relief to calamity-stricken people under the auspices of Shree Mahavir Manav Kalyan Kendra, being its founder-member and trustee. 5. Organised various Medical Camps for handicapped persons under the auspices of the Sulabh Health and Heart Care institute. 6. Provided sewing machines, cycles to the needy persons through Shree Champaklal Chunilal Shah Trust. 7. Organised educational activities through Vidya Vikas Trust.

INTERNATIONAL ASSIGNMENTS
1. Trustee in India for the Institute of Jainology, a Worldwide Organisation 2. Member of the delegation which presented “Jain Declaration on Nature” to WWF, chairman, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on the 23rd October 1990 at the Buckingham Palace, London. This was to mark the formal entry of the Jain faith into the Network on conservation and Religion. 3. Attended the session of the Parliament of the World religions held at Chicago in 1993 as a speaker and also as a Co-ordinator for Jain delegation in India. 4. Adviser for “That which is” (Tattvarthsutra)published by Harper Collins. 5. Member of the first-ever Jain delegation to visit H. H. Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1994. 6. Key-note speaker at the 7th JAINA convention at Pittsburgh in July, 1993. 7. Attended session of the Parliament of the World Religions held at Capetown, as a speaker and also a Co-ordinator for India in 1999.

INSTITUTIONAL ASSIGNMENTS
1. Representative in India as the co-ordinator of the Institute of Jainology. 2. Trustee, Gujarat Vishvakosh Trust 3. Trustee, Mangalya Kelavani Trust 4. Trustee, Vidya Vikas Trust 5. Trustee, Jain Sansthan, Gujarat 6. Trustee, Late Shri Babubhai Vasanvala Trust 7. Trustee, Zalawad Visa Shrimali Murtipujak Sangh 8. Trustee, Shrimad Rajchandra Seva Kendra 9. President, Gujarati Sahitya Parishad 10. Vice-President, Gujarat Sahitya Sabha 11. Vice-President, Indian Red Cross (Botad Branch) 12. Secretary, Shri Jaybhikhkhu Sahitya Trust 13. Secretary, Shri Yashovijay Jain Granthamala 14. Secretary, Shri Chandravadan Mehta Memorial Trust 15. Secretary, Shri Anantray Raval Memorial Trust 16. Governing Body Member, World Jain Confederation 17. Honorary Member, Vishva Gujarati Samaj 19. Advisor, Gujarat Stri Kelavani Mandal 19. Executive Member, Prakrut Text Society 20. Committee Member, Sardar Patel Shatabdi Samiti, Gujarat Rajya 21. Committe Member, Bhagwan Mahavir 2600th Janma Kalyanak