Shankar Trimbak Dharmadhikari (June 18, 1899 – December 1, 1985), better known throughout the world as Acharya Dada Dharmadhikari was an Indian freedom fighter, and a leader of social reform movements in India. He was one of the strongest adherents of Mahatma Gandhi's principles.
Born on June 18, 1899 at Multai, district Baitul, Madhya Pradesh, Dada's family was known for its learning and scholarship as also for the study of Vedanta. His father Shri T. D. Dharmadhikari was a district and sessions judge, highly-regarded for his integrity and professional acumen.
Dada studied at the Indore Christian College and later at Morris College in Nagpur. But left his studies half way to join the freedom struggle under Mahatma Gandhi. He however spent a year in studying Vedantic works of Adi Shankaracharya.
He married his wife, Damayantibai, early in life and she was his companion in the Quit India movement and in jail too. She was his partner in his work, and shared his beliefs and lifestyle.
Dada's lifelong passions were human relationship, enlightenment of youth, women and total transformation of society. He lectured every section of society in Gandhian concepts of truth, love, nonviolence, trusteeship. Jaya Prakash Narayan saw him as the most outstanding commentator, crusader of his vision of revolution.
He took part in every moment launched by Gandhi and the Congress. He was imprisoned in 1930, 1932 and 1942. A thinker, philosopher and very good orator and writer. He was well-versed in Hindi, Marathi, English, Gujarati and Bengali. He was awarded Gandhi Award of the Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti for his valuable contribution to Hindi Literature. He refused to accept honorary directorate.
A staunch Gandhian, dedicated to the cause of humanity and Indian nationalism, Dada Dharmaadhikari had engaged himself in studying, thinking and propagating the Gandhian thoughts with the relevance to the existing universal problems. From early days in his public life, he had close relations with Vinoba Bhave. Dada participated in Vinoba Bhave's Sarvodaya movement. He was closely associated with Jaya Prakash Narayan, a revolutionary, versatile writer and a powerful orator. He was universally acknowledged as one of the best interpreters of Gandhian philosophy.
Dada always reiterated that the great persons who influenced him in life included Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Kishorilalbhai Mashruwala, Jamnalal Bajaj and J. Krishnamurti. Dada imbibed the vision, thinking, principles, conduct from all these personalities. He had a razor sharp intellect, discretion, with bhakti of Gandhian wisdom, insights and revolutionary spirit.
Dada was a highly respected social philosopher and free thinker, and unlike others, was also active in public life. Dada sent a message to the young pioneer of freedom movement Guru Radha Kishan when he came to know about the courage shown by him during an independence rally in Indore. He was a visionary who can foresee and encourage the talent in an individual and inspiring each one to think independently and rationally. He also had a rare ability to communicate his patently unorthodox ideas in an easy and simple style laced with a subtle sense of humor.
His thoughts on status of women were revolutionary. He was particularly pained to see they do not enjoy equal status and regarded not only as second class citizens but also as second class human beings. He wanted women and young men to participate in total revolution, so as to bring about a revolution in all walks of life. He believed that youth has a revolutionary mind and the future of this country and the world depends on their active participation.
He died in Sevagram, Wardha on December 1, 1985, one of the most prominent Gandhians and freedom fighters of the generation.
Dada Dharmadhikari had four sons and one daughter. Their names were Usha Dharmadhikari (Tamaskar), Pradyumna Dharmadhikari, Yashwant Dharmadhikari, Chandrashekar Dharmadhiari and Bacchu Dharmadhikari. Of all his children, only Chandrashekar Dharmadhikari is now alive and is staying at Mumbai.
His grandson, Late Shri Priyadarshan Dharmadhikari, a noted lawyer was initially practising in the MP High Court later went on to become the Minister in the State of MP. He died on 2 July 1999 at Jabalpur. One of his granddaughters Dr. Mrs. Shubhada Pandey, daughter of Late Yashwant Dharmadhikari and sister of Late Shri Priyadarshan Dharmadhikari is currently residing in Jabalpur and holds the position of 'Managing Secretary' at Shiksha Mandal M.P Shakha. Other grandsons, Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari are presently sitting judges of the Bombay High Court. Another grandson Ashutosh Dharmadhikari is a noted civil and constitutional lawyer practicing before the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Bombay. Amongst his great grandsons,Shivendra Pandey, Akshay Dharmadhikari and Shreyas Dharmadhikari, who are presently practising at the High Court of MP at Jabalpur, whereas Deoul Pathak and Charuhas Dharmadhikari currently practice before the Bench of Bombay High Court at Nagpur.