Dattatreya Balkrushna Kalelkar (1 December 1885 – 21 August 1981), popularly known as Kaka Kalelkar, was an Indian independence activist, social reformer and journalist. He was a major follower of the philosophy and methods of Mahatma Gandhi.


Kalelkar was born in Satara on 1 December 1885. He was native of Kaleli village near Sawantwadi in Maharashtra which gave his surname Kalelkar. He matriculated in 1903 and completed B. A. in Philosophy from Fergusson College, Pune in 1907. He appeared in the first year examination of LL.B. and joined Ganesh Vidyalaya in Belgaum in 1908. He worked for a while on the editorial staff of a nationalistic Marathi daily named Rashtramat (राष्ट्रमत), and then as a teacher at a school named Ganganath Vidyalaya in Baroda in 1910. Within a few years, the British government forcibly closed down the school because of its nationalistic spirit in 1912. He traveled to Himalaya on foot and later joined Acharya Kripalani in visit to Burma (Myanmar) in 1913. He met Mahatma Gandhi in 1915.[1]

Influence by Gandhi, he became member of Sabarmati Ashram. He taught at Rashtriya Shala of Sabarmati Ashram. For some time, he served as the editor of Sarwodaya (सर्वोदय) periodical which was run from the premises of the Ashram. With Gandhi's encouragement, he played an active role in establishing Gujarat Vidyapith at Ahmedabad, and became its vice-chancellor in 1928. He was imprisoned several times due to his participation in Indian independence movement. He retired from Gujarat Vidyapith in 1939.[1]

In 1935, Kalelkar became member of Rashtabhasha Samiti, a committee whose objective was to popularize Hindi-Hindustani language as the national language of India. He was active with Gandhi Smarak Nidhi from 1948 to his death.[1]

He was appointed as a member of Rajya Sabha from 1952 to 1964 and later appointed as a president of Backward Classes Commission in 1953. He presided Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in 1959. He established Gandhi Vidyapith, Vedchhi in 1967 and served as its vice chancellor.[1]

He died on 21 August 1981.[1]

Mahatma Gandhi called him Savai Gujarati, a quarter more than a Gujarati.[1]

Selected works

He then went on writing remarkable, voluminous travelogues in Gujarati, Marathi, and Hindi.

The following is a partial list of Kalelkar's books:

  • Quintessence of Gandhian Thought (English)
  • Profiles in Inspiration (English)
  • Stray Glimpses of Bapu (English)
  • Mahatma Gandhi's Gospel of Swadeshi (English)
  • Mahatma Gandhi Ka Swadeshi Dharma (Hindi)
  • Rashtriya Shiksha Ka Adarsha (Hindi)
  • Smaran Yatra (Marathi)
  • Uttarekadil Bhinti (Marathi) (also translated into English as Even behind the Bars)
  • Hindalgyacha Prasad (Marathi)
  • Lok-Mata (Marathi)
  • Latanche Tandav (Marathi)
  • Himalayatil Pravas (Marathi)
  • Himalayano Pravas (Gujarati)
  • Jeevan-Vyavastha (Gujarati)
  • Purva Africaman (Gujarati)
  • Jivavano Anand (Gujarati)
  • Jivata Tehvaro (Gujarati)
  • Mara Sansmarano (Gujarati)
  • Ugamano Desh (Gujarati)
  • Otterati Divaro (Gujarati) (also translated into English as Even behind the Bars)
  • Brahmadeshano Pravas (Gujarati)
  • Rakhadvano Anand (Gujarati)
  • Multi-Part Kaka Kalelkar Granthawali
    • Part 5: Atmacharitra
    • Part 6: Charitra Kirtan
    • Part 7: Geeta darshan
    • Part 8: Dharma
    • Part 9: Sahitya
    • Part 10: Diary
    • Part 11: Patra


Kalelkar received a Sahitya Akademi Award in 1965 for his Jeevan-Vyavastha, a collection of essays in Gujarati.[1] He was honored with Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 1971 for his literary achievements.

The Government of India conferred on him Padma Vibhushan (India's second-highest civilian award after the Bharat Ratna) in 1964.[1] It also issued a commemorative stamp in his honor in 1985.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Brahmabhatt, Prasad. અર્વાચીન ગુજરાતી સાહિત્યનો ઈતિહાસ : ગાંધીયુગ અને અનુગાંધીયુગ (History of Modern Gujarati Literature:Gandhi Era and Post-Gandhi Era) (in Gujarati). Parshwa Publication. pp. 38–51. 
  • A Gandhian Patriarch: A Political and Spiritual Biography of Kaka Kalelkar (book) by Madho Prasad
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