Shri DeoKaran Jhunjhunwala ((1910-1968), Bade Babaji our beloved Great grandfather in his short span of life laid down such a strong foundation for our family that even after four generations the fruits of his hard work are being enjoyed by his family members. The more I learn about him the more in awe I find myself.
At a tender age of 12 Bade Babaji lost his father. At such a young age he had the great responsibility of supporting his younger siblings and mother on his shoulders. So he started working. He helped in buying and selling and earned profits out of it. He did very well for himself. So much so that he ordered eight shiploads of goods from Bangladesh. Unfortunately the ships sank and he lost all that he had earned for last so many years. They say when gold is heated it shines even brighter. This was true for bade Babaji as his resolve for succeeding was unshakable. The challenges in his life made his resolve stronger.
Bade Babaji did not give up. In 1936 he came to Barang (around 30km from Bhubaneshwar). Barang was a jungle then. Other than a railway station there was no infrastructure in this area. With help of his cousins he bought a half built glass factory in Barang. The factory was named Durga glass (after Badi dadiji’s name Durga Devi Jhunjhunwala) The Glass factory made huge losses for about seven years until around 1942. After which the fortune turned for this young Industrialist. On 15th August 1947 the foundation of Orissa Industries was laid by bade Babaji. Over the years he set up many manufacturing units that of Pipes, Sanitary ware, refractories etc. To be known as one of the leading Industrialists of India at that time.
Bade Babaji was a man of great ethics and principles. He treated his workers as his extended family. For the benefit of all he made a charitable school, a hospital and also a temple. He drew great strength from his mother, Basanti Devi ji, who actively helped him in all these charitable activities. She would visit the hospital, school and homes of the workers everyday and make sure everything was functioning properly.
Bade Babaji actively participated in the freedom movement of India. Many prominent leaders would visit bade Babaji. In 1948 during his visit to Orissa Shri Sardar Patel also met with bade Babaji and used his car during his visit.
HareKrushna Mahatab the first chief minister of Orissa would often consult bade Babaji for affairs relating to governance of Orissa. On the day of his demise bade Babaji conceived the plan of constructing Ram Mandir (One of the most popular temples in Bhubaneshwar today). Even in his last breaths he made himself useful for the world.
In a short span of only 57 years bade Babaji achieved a lot. Even today when we visit Barang memories of his hard work come alive. Most valuable of his contributions are his ethics and human values which continue to inspire us.
Even though the branch of a tree sheds all its leaves but until there is life in its roots there is potential life in it. In nature this phenomenon is commonly witnessed by all of us, with change of seasons the tree sheds its leaves only to become green again the next season. I feel, a family tree also goes through similar life cycles. Some generations do better than others and the family tree bears more fruits at those times and vice versa. But like the tree until there is strength in its foundation or roots the family tree will also survive and blossom once again. Because there is potential life in it.
It’s a privilege to inherit bade Babaji’s name. As a part of his family, we his Great grand children are committed to taking his name forward. With hard work, inspiration from him and his blessings from heaven we once again pray to witness the spring. When flowers of good deeds and hard work will blossom for the benefit of this world, witnessing which his spirit will smile again in heaven.
In loving memories of Bade Babaji
(P.S- Special thanks to Kashi Babaji for sharing the inspiring stories of Bade Baba ji with me.)