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Shree Indubhai Jivanlal Dave was born on 9th September, 1922 at Limbdi, Saurashtra, India. He was fifth born in the family of five brothers and a sister. He married Shrimati Kumudben and has two sons, Rohit and Vikram. Shrimati Kumudben was the pillar behind Indubhai’s success. She had tolerated his long absences from home whilst he was setting up a Shishukunj Center’s abroad or helping other Center’s in preparation of a stage program(s).

On completion of his primary school at Limbdi, Indubhai moves to Karachi to join the famous Sharda Mandir School found by Mahatma Gandhi. Influenced by the works of Shree Gijubhai Badheka who had introduced and transformed nursery school education in Gujarat, Shree Indubhai pursued and developed deep interest in literature and qualified with M.A. in Sanskrit from Bombay University in 1949.

It was in Karachi that he, by a sheer co-incidence, heard Mr. Harjivan Somaiya, a teacher of Sharda Mandir and a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, telling a story to a group of young children under a tree on a Sunday morning. He witnessed this group each successive Sunday. This brought a transformation in Indubhai who decided to start Shishukunj in Karachi in 1941. Thus a ‘Shishu Sevak’ was born – ‘BAPU’ with mantra ‘Bal Devo Bhava’. Later on Rasik Khona, Shree Jitubhai Bhatt, Amulakh Dhruv, Tulsidas Patel and Chandubhai Bhatt joined him. In addition to storytelling, games, Baal sabha, dramatics, dancing, music were added to the children’s activities.

Indubhai had a varied career as an education officer in Shardagram, Principal of home school for rural tribes in Saurashtra. During the partition of India he came back to Limbdi, his home-town where he started Shishukunj and then in Joravarnagar as well as in Wadhvan. In 1951 DHRANGANDHRA Shishukunj was also established. Under his inspiration and able guidance the activities of Gandhian philosophy, congress seva dal, was started in Limbdi, he modernized the “Late Devchandraji Library”. Shree Mansukhrambhai, of Karachi Sharda Mandir, entrusted him with the work of Grammodhar in Mangrol. Meanwhile Shree Rasikbhai Parikh called him to take “Pathsala” in Wadhvan which was founded by Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1955, he suffered ill health due to malaria and for change he decided to go to Dar-es-Salaam in Africa. Indubhai’s father-in-law, Shree Bhanushanker Thaker was running a printing press and his brother-in-law, Shree Randhirbhai initiated him to run a monthly magazine for children. Randhirbhai was a dedicated forefront worker for the Tanzanian independence and also a personal friend to the late Dr. Julius Nyerere.

Thus Indubhai started “Kaka” children’s monthly magazine in English and Swahili. Meanwhile he decided to settle in Dar-es-Salaam and became a teacher in school. But his devotion was towards “Baal-Devo-Bhava” so on 23rd June 1955 he started first Shishukunj out of India, on the anniversary of Gijubhai Badheka in Tanzania. Thus was Born “Gijubhai of Africa”. He pursued his goals and aims which penetrated in East Africa, America and Australia. Presently we have 23 Shishukunj Centre’s spread over the five continents. All these institutions are running well which are being inspired by “shishu sevak” with his mantra “baal-devo-bhava”.

In August 1985 Shree Indubhai came to Nairobi and joined Kalaniketan Shishukunj. With his able guidance and help numerous new improved activities were introduced which gave boost to the children and karyakars.

Shree Indubhai was very versatile and unassuming individual. He was a gifted orator, whose talks on philosophy, topical issues and in particular on child psychology are so enchanting that the audience listen to him with rapt attention. He was a poet, stage artist, script writer, producer, director, and a writer. But above all a very methodological and a perfectionist individual.

A great painter from his childhood days, when he was only six years in his standard one class he drew a sketch of Bhucha master – his class teacher. The teacher saw the drawing and got angry and took young Indubhai to the Head master for a severe reprimand- Head master saw the sketch, looked at the Bhucha master, then got up and moved near Indubhai – put his arm around Indubhai and burst out laughing and said “what a perfect sketch”, well done my boy-keep it up! And an artist, Indubhai, was born. He has painted many paintings of saints and well known personalities for Shishukunj. He has also presented 100 paintings to Theosophical Society inspired by world famous J. Krishamurti’s book “At the feet of masters”. He also organized a one man painting show and workshop in Dar-es-Salaam.

Dialogues, music, compositions, costumes, dance directions in many plays such as Ram na Rakhopa, Amar Halaji, Jai Jalaram, Bahubali, Udan Khatola, Madhav Gheli Meera, and Shabari (also stages in UK) have been acclaimed as masterpieces. Lord Dholakia – a member of Lords in UK made a public statement at Luton theatre in 1997 on the occasion of the pantomime ‘Udan Khatola’ (magic carpet) written and directed by Indhubhai, that in his 40 years in UK ‘Udan Khatola’ was the only one that touched his heart in quality and substance. His fondness for children knows no boundaries and even at 84 then he was at ease with young and old who fondly called him “Bapu” in the Shishukunj fraternity.

Shree Indubhai’s first play was ‘Chelaiyo’, a dance which was performed by Shishukunj children in Dar-es-Salaam and northern and southern Rhodesia-then. (Now called Zambia and Zimbabwe) Indubhai had acquired his knowledge of stage technique from Shree Yogendra Desai, a well-known, dancer and dance director of Gujarat, when he presented on Dar-es-Salaam Shishukunj stage ‘chauladevi’. This inspired Indubhai to write Dhartina chhoru, Meera Dasi Janam Janamki, Rang Vadhai and Vasant Rani’

As a writer and poet he had “kaka” in English and Swahili, He also complied book namely “Bharat Darshan” whereby he introduced India with many children who are residing out of India. This book portrays the Indian ideology, heritage and philosophy. His bhajan Manjri is a glowing example of bondage that he wanted to create for the overseas Indians. Some of his children’s play have been published in a book called BHAGWAN NI BHEASH. It has an introduction by Shree Rajnikumar Pandya.

Music is in Indubhai’s family and most of the members are good singers as well as good at playing musical instruments such as tabla, harmonium, bansri, sitar etc. Indubhai himself played such instruments and inspired Shishukunj children to learn the same. His interest in sports/mountaineering was well known and he would encourage children towards such activities.

Though today Indubhai is not with us – his mantra “Baal-Devo-Bhava” – will always be followed by Shishukunj all over the world.

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