Noted social activist and Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh, who was suffering from liver cirrhosis for a long time, died of multi-organ failure at a Delhi hospital, doctors said. He died just 10 days short of his 81st birthday.
Agnivesh was critically ill and admitted to an ICU of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, and was on ventilatory support since Tuesday, the doctors said.
"He was suffering from liver cirrhosis and died today due to multi-organ failure as his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest at 6 pm," a spokesperson of the hospital said. Resuscitation was attempted but he passed away at 6:30 pm, he said.
Born Vepa Shyam Rao in a Telugu Brahmin family, Agnivesh held a law degree and for a brief while worked with Sabyasachi Mukherji, the future Chief Justice of India. He joined the Arya Samaj in 1968 and took sanyasi vows in 1970, relinquishing his caste and surname.
Working out of Haryana, a main centre of the Arya Samaj, he later joined active politics and became the education minister in 1979. In 1981, he formed the Bonded Labour Liberation Front to fight against the social evil. While Arya Samaj remains a revivalist Hindu organisation which does not advocate secularism, Agnivesh remained a fierce secularist and backed inter-faith dialogue.
A notable face of India's diverse and vibrant civil society, Agnivesh had also served as the president of the World Council of Arya Samaj -- the apex Samaj body.