Born in Karachi on November 8th, 1927, to parents Kishinchand Advani and Gyanidevi, Advaniji hails from a highly respected traditional family. They belonged to the Amil branch of Sindhi Hindus, a dominant community in the region during those times. His father and all four of his paternal uncles were all well settled. Advaniji’s sister Sheela is six years younger to him, and lives in Mumbai.
His paternal grandfather Dharamdas Khubchand Advani was a Sanskrit scholar and principal of a government high school. His father’s three elder brothers —Gobindram, Parasram and Ramchand—were based in Hyderabad (Pakistan). Gobindram, was a civil servant, who retired as Deputy Collector of Hyderabad and Parasram was a lawyer, while Ramchand like Advaniji’s father was a businessmen. Gopaldas, the youngest of the brothers, was a professor of chemistry in D.J. Sindh College, Karachi.
During those days large, extended families were the norm and nuclear families were unheard of. Advaniji recollects that he had as many as thirty-four first cousins whom he grew up with!
Advaniji, remembers very fond memories of his childhood. He believes, even the trauma of Partition, which forced their family to migrate to undivided India, couldn’t erase those memories. On the contrary, he thinks those memories have become all the more precious because of his family’s forced separation from his homeland, where he spent twenty joyful years his life.
Advaniji’s residence - ‘Lal Cottage’, a single-storied bungalow, was built soon after his birth and was named after him. Located in a ‘Parsi’ neighborhood called Jamshed Quarters, it was a fairly spacious, beautifully designed house. The family owned a horse-driven Victoria – considered a status symbol in those days.
The most vivid memory of his early childhood is the affection he got from everyone in the family, including his grandparents and his three mausis (mother’s sisters). Both he and his sister received vivid love and care as their mother passed away when was just thirteen. He says his sister was brought up almost entirely by their Jamni Mausi and Mausa Chandiram Wadhwani.
It’s Advaniji’s strong perception that his father was the biggest influence on his personality in his childhood years. A gentle human being who embodied simplicity, he had quietly shaped his mind with his impeccable conduct. He was also extremely attached to his mother, but after she passed away it was from his father that he received both requisite love and guidance.
School and College Days
Advaniji completed his schooling in Karachi from St. Patrick’s High School for Boys, which at that time was the biggest, and also the most highly rated school in the city. He studied there for six years from 1936-42. Founded in 1845 by Catholic missionaries, the school was located adjacent to the magnificent St. Patrick’s Church (now Cathedral). Advanji always felt proud of his school’s reputation, its architectural beauty and quiet environs. He was among the youngest and the brightest in the class, as he stood first in every class till his matriculation and was therefore well known among his teachers.
He chose Latin as his Second Language in which he scored very high marks in the board exams. However, he regrets that he did not learn Sanskrit as St. Patrick’s being a Catholic institution did not offer Sanskrit at all. He also wasn’t eloquent in Hindi, but started reading, writing and conversing in the language after migrating to India in 1947, when he was already twenty years old.
Life Outside Politics
Love for Books
Advaniji believes that books, theatre and cinema have been a source of immense happiness throughout his life. In his memoirs he has described his love for books which started when he was still in his early teens. When he learnt Hindi after coming to Rajasthan, he read K.M. Munshi’s Jai Somnath and, indeed, every single book written by him. It is this early habit that has enabled him to be with himself in the company of books throughout his hectic political life—whether he was campaigning for elections, travelling on his yatras or having a few solitary moments between meetings. He remarks that books take him into a world that is far removed from the limiting considerations of the present into a world of knowledge, ideas, emotions, adventure, imagination and even dreams.
He loves a wide variety of books, but prefers books on politics, spirituality, history and futurology. C. Rajagopalachari’s Ramayana and Mahabharata are his all-time favourites. Dr S. Radhakrishnan’s books on Hinduism have influenced him deeply. He has immensely enjoyed reading Alvin Toffler’s trilogy: Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Power Shift. Indeed, having read somewhere that he was a fan of his books, Toffler, during his visit to India in 2002, called him at his residence.
Durga Das Basu, who has written extensively on constitutional matters finds a special mention from Advanji, as he thinks the writer has not only inspired him but his books have been a regular source of reference in his political and parliamentary work. His Introduction to the Constitution of India and his eight-volume Commentary on the Constitution of India are works of extraordinary erudition.
Movies and Theater
He also likes watching movies and plays, although he regrets that he doesn’t get enough time these days to satisfy this interest. In theatre, he has immensely liked the mono-act musical plays (Kabir and Swami Vivekananda) of Shekhar Sen. Satyajit Ray’s movies have moved him deeply and so have those by Guru Dutt. He liked the early movies of Raj Kapoor, and the strong patriotic theme in all the films made by Manoj Kumar. He admired Sunil Dutt both as an actor and as a good human being, one who played a commendable role by undertaking a pad yatra for Hindu-Sikh unity when Punjab was rocked by terrorism. Some of the truly admirable movies he have watched recently with family and friends are Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par, Feroze Khan’s Gandhi, My Father, Shahrukh Khan’s Chak De India and Lage Raho Munnabhai by the duo of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani. Among the foreign films, the ones he has liked the most are The Bridge on the River Kwai, His Fair Lady and The Sound of Music.
He makes a special mention of Amitabh Bachchan, whose versatility and almost limitless talent have never ceased to amaze him. Lata Mangeshkhar, India’s Nightingale, is his all-time favourite among popular singers.
As a former movie critic and lifelong lover of films, he has closely watched the evolution of Hindi cinema. Since he was also once an avid lover of plays, he has often compared cinema and theatre as art forms. He says theatre produces an intensity of artistic communication between the artistes and the audience that is unique to it. But it does not have the mass reach of cinema and television, whose impact is greatly enhanced by their visual richness, musical content and its ability to take the viewer on an odyssey in space and time. He believes that Hindi movies have functioned as promoters of national integration.
November 8, 1927
Shri. L.K. Advani was born in Karachi (part of present day Pakistan) to parents Kishenchand and Gyanidevi Advani.
1936 - 1942
Studied at St.Patricks school, Karachi, standing first in every class until matriculation.
Joined the RSS as a Swayamsevak.
Joined Dayaram Gidumal National College, Hyderabad, during the Quit India movement.
Held a job as a teacher in Model High School, Karachi.
12 September, 1947
Left from Sindh to Delhi by propeller BOAC aircraft during Paritition.
1947 - 1951
Organised RSS work as a Pracharak in Alwar, Bharatpur, Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar.
Was nominated the Joint Secretary of the Rajasthan Pradesh Jana Sangh.
Shifted to Delhi. Mainly to organize Jana Sangh's work in Parliament thereby assist Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
1958 - 63
Held the position of Secretary of the Delhi State Jana Sangh.
1960 - 1967
Joined the Organiser , a political journal of the Jana Sangh as assistant editor.
Feb 25, 1965
Married Smt. Kamla Advani, with whom he has two children, Pratibha and Jayant.
He became Chairman of the Delhi Metropolitan Council.
Become a Member of Parliament and entered the Rajya Sabha for the first time.
Was elected President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
26 June 1975
Was Arrested in Bangalore during Emergency period and taken to Bangalore Central Jail along with other BJS members.
Held the position of Union minister for Information and Broadcasting in the Janata Party Government.
Founded BJP along with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Held the position of General Secretary of the BJP.
Was elected President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Under his Presidency BJP became the second largest Party in Parliament with 86 seats improving its previous performance from 2 seats .
Began the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya.
Started 4 simultaneous Yatras from four corners of the country. This was the Janadesh Yatra.
Began the Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence.
Oct 13 1999 - May 13 2004
Held position for Home Minister and then Deputy Prime Minister.
Became the Leader of Opposition.
Led one part of the Bharat Suraksha Yatra, a nation-wide call to safeguard National Unity, from 6 April to 10 May 2006.
Advaniji’s best-selling autobiography, ‘My Country My Life’ was released on 19th March by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Subsequently it was also released in six other languages - Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu.
Was elected to the Lok Sabha for the fifth time.
Led the Jan Chetna Yatra, launched on 11th October from Sitab Diara (Bihar) to mobilize public opinion against corruption and black money.
Launch of Advaniji's 3 books on his blogs - One English - 'As I See It' And two in Hindi - 'Drishtikon' and 'Rashtrasarvopari'
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the 6th time from the Gandhinagar constituency