Shri Dharampal, the author of The Beautiful Tree and Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, among other seminal works, passed away on October 24 at Sevagram (Gandhi'sashram) near Wardha (Maharashtra). The cremation was held at Sevagram on October 26.
He was 84. He is survived by a son and two daughters. His son, David, lives in London and a daughter, Gita, is a professor of history at Heidelberg University of Germany. His wife died in London in 1986.
Born in January 1922 in a rich family of Kandhla, a small town in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, Dharampalji worked throughout his life for infusing a sense of pride into countrymen towards our ancient knowledge. He was an extraordinary thinker, historian and philosopher. One cannot refuse the fact that he always made a deep impression on all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him. He altered the lives of individuals, institutions, organisations and inspired many. ?What is great about India?…we need to understand this…the greatness of this country is that the ordinary people in this country have a certain understanding, that everything in nature is connected…and they have built their lives around this understanding… this is the greatness of this country,? Dharampalji had said in January 2002. He redefined the history and gave it a different dimension.
Dharampalji had his first glimpse of Mahatma Gandhi around the age of eight, when his father took him along to the 1929 Lahore Congress session. A year later, Sardar Bhagat Singh and his colleagues were condemned to death and executed by the British. Dharampalji along with some of his friends took the streets of Lahore, near where he lived, and shouted slogans in protest. Though he underwent western education and college, he started moving towards the swaraj option of Gandhiji and in 1940 started wearing khadi. In 1942, he was present as a fervent spectator at the Quit India session of the Congress in Mumbai and he thereafter joined the movement. He was active in it till arrested in April 1943. After two months in police detention, he was released but suspended from Delhi.
His books are based on British documents of surveys conducted in India. He excelled at dispelling colonial myths about India and at bringing out the real strength, achievements and working of the Indian society. His complete works were published a few years ago by Other India Press, Goa, in six volumes.
Shri K.S. Sudarshan said
?SHRI Dharampalji is no more. A personality that influenced one deep down the heart departed from among us. His biggest contribution was that he through his deep knowledge and studies opened the eyes of those who are very much influenced with the Macaulay system of education. He told all those who felt that modern knowledge and science are the invention of the west and blindly followed it even after Independence, how our country during the 18th century when the British came to India was ahead of all the western countries in all spheres of social life whether it is education, science, handicraft, commerce, politics or any other field. He also explained how the British after learning from us improved their system and later destroying our traditional systems made us dependent on others. His work that removed our inferiority complex and raised the feeling of pride towards our culture and legacy will always be remembered in the work of national reconstruction. He had affection for the Sangh work and had once presided over the concluding ceremony of the third year OTC in Nagpur. Personally he loved me very much. He also honoured me by inviting me to release the Gujarati translation of his books. My humble tribute to him.?