Swami Anand (1887 - 1976) was a monk, a Gandhian activist and a Gujarati writer. He is remembered as the manager of Gandhi's publications such as Navajivan and Young India and for having inspired Gandhi to pen his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. In 1969, he was conferred the Central Sahitya Akademi Award for Gujarati literature for his work Kulkathao.
Swami Anand was brought up and educated at Bombay. He took a vow of renunciation while still in his teens, took on the name Swami Anandnand and became a monk with the Ramakrishna Mission. Anand's entry into the freedom movement was through his association with the revolutionaries of Bengal in 1907. Later, he worked in the Kesari, the Marathi newspaper founded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Gandhi first met Anand in Bombay on 10 January 1915 the day after he had returned from South Africa for good. Gandhi launched his weekly, the Navjeevan from Ahmedabad four years later. Its inaugural issue came out in September, 1919 and soon the workload increased. It was at this juncture that Gandhi sent for Anand to become the manager of the publication. Swami Anand took over its management in late 1919. He proved to be a good editor and manager and when the Young India was launched, he moved the publication to larger premises and with printing equipment donated by Maulana Mohammed Ali, its publication began.
Gandhi's autobiography was serialised in the Navjeevan from 1925 - 1928. It was written by Gandhi at Swami Anand's insistence and an English translation of these chapters appeared in installments in the Young India as well. Later, The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi was published based on the talks Gandhi gave at the Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad in 1926. Swami Anand played a role in inspiring Gandhi to write this work as well.
He was Vallabhai Patel's secretary during the Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928. He also worked with the adivasis of Bordi in Gujarat and, following Partition in 1947, amongst refugees from Sialkot and Hardwar. At Bordi, Swami Anand founded the Gandhi Ashram in 1931. It soon became a centre of Gandhian activities in the region and was, during the Non Cooperation Movement, confiscated by the British authorities.
Life after Independence
After Independence, Swami Anand took an active interest in agriculture and agrarian issues. He was concerned about agricultural productivity and livelihoods in India but had deep respect for the practical wisdom of small farmers across India. He was inspired by George Washington Carver and Robert Oppenheimer, whose biography he wrote. From 1957 till his death in 1976, he made the Kosbad Agricultural Institute at Dahanu, near Mumbai his home.
As a Writer
Swami Anand was a polyglot, proficient in Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and English. He was acquainted with the classical and folk traditions of the Gujarati, Marathi and Sanskrit languages and was influenced by the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Max Muller, Walt Whitman, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda. Besides fiction, Swami Anand also wrote on issues of science, religion and society. Some of his works in Gujarati include the novels Ambavadiyun and Amaratvel and a compilation of correspondence between him and Gandhi's colleagues are contained in the Ugamani Dishano Ujas and Dhodhamar. The works Dharthinum lun, Santona Anuj and Naghrol are biographical reflections while Anant Kala is a meditation on nature and spirituality. He also wrote extensively on the Upanishads, the Sarvodaya Movement and also produced a travelogue based on his travels in the Himalayas. Swami Anand's Kulkathao, a series of pen portraits of people from the Bhatia caste, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1969.
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