Being brought up and educated in Bhavnagar, in 1907 he was made to leave the shores to earn livelihood and spent some time of his youth in East Africa and Bombay. Gradually by 1915-16, the thriving thought and concept of Dakshinamurti finally surfaced to exist which became landmark in education, to be remembered for ever once he extended himself in drafting the constitution of Dakshinamurti to its founder Nanabhai Bhatt (Lokbharti).
Dakshinamurti, the concept of a distinct school, backed up by the inspiration Gijubhai had by studying and evaluating the Montessori method of education, along with the mission, vision and works of Gijubhai Badheka are regarded as revolutionary and reforming in the region and in the country, serving greater social and educational aspects. Often called as ‘Moochhali Maa’, meaning ‘a mother with whiskers’, Gijubhai Badheka wrote a number of books, storybooks and publications covering children, education, Montessori education, travel, humor, vocation and career, etc.
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He died on 23 June 1939. Shree Gijubhai Badheka. Gijubhai (Girjasanker) who was the nucleus of child education in Gujarat and was affectionately called “The Children’s Gandhi” was born on 15th November 1885 at Vala (Vallabhipur), Bhavnagar District. After completing his education at Bhavnagar he left for East Africa and was there for a period of two years. Upon his return to India, Gijubhai worked for a business firm in Bombay but did not feel at ease and therefore decided to study Law.
After qualifying, he started his own law practice at Surendranagar in Gujarat. It was his contact with veteran educationalist, Shree Motibhai Amin of Baroda as well as reading the book “The Montessori System For Child Education” that marked a turning point in his life. He gave up his legal practice, went to Bhavnagar and became the true lawyer – championing the rights of children. He joined the Dakshinamurty Educational Institute and became its headmaster. In 1920 he started Dakshinamurty Balmandir, the first Balmandir in Saurastra.
He became completely devoted to child welfare activities and also studied child psychology and experimented with educational methods for teaching children. For the benefit of children, he wrote stories, songs, rhymes, riddles and life-sketches of famous people. He became known as the Brahma (creator) of children’s literature in Gujarat due to the proliferation of such literature at this time and was awarded the Ranjitram Gold Medal by the Gujarati Sahitya Sabha in recognition of his tremendous contribution.
He revered children saying that “ In this universe, a child is God’s creation iof miracle and innocence. ” He propagated child-education through the publication of “Shikshan Patrika” a monthly magazine he edited. He raised the profile of teachers by starting Teacher’s Training Centres and Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh. He also influenced domestic upbringing of children by propagating that “a child gets the best education in the happy, peaceful and harmonious homely atmosphere and that parents therefore needed to be involved in all aspects of their children’s education and welfare”.
His favourite saying of “learning through play” (Gammat saathe Gnan) embodies the philosophy behind Shishukunj. As a result of his persistent efforts and hard work in revolutionising the entire child-education system over a nineteen year period, his health suffered. He had no time to spare for the care of his own health and finally passed away on 23rd June 1939 at Harkishandas Hospital in Mumbai. Gandhiji said of him “Who am I to write about him? His zeal and faith have always fascinated me. His mission will definitely prosper. ” Maria Montessori said “ I had no acquaintance of his.
If I had, it would be better because he was a great lover of children. He never stopped at any adversity or odds for the sake of child welfare. Those who ruminate child-upliftment, will remember him for long. ” Shree Dakshinamurti Vinay Mandir founded by the late Gijubhai Badheka, late Nanabhai Bhatt and late Harbhai Trivedi in Bhavnagar. This is the top most school in Bhavnagar. A great place to learn basics of life. In this age of decadence, when standards of education seem to have deteriorated, when character-building does not seem to be the object of education.