Vaghul was pioneering business leader with clear sense of duty: Ajay Piramal

  • Narayanan Vaghul had a deep knowledge of the scriptures and would often be heard saying that where science ends, spirituality begins, and vice versa. He adhered to the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma and acted upon it by putting this knowledge into everyday practice.

Ajay G. Piramal
First Published19 May 2024
Narayanan Vaghul. (PTI)
Narayanan Vaghul. (PTI)

"अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्यक्ुतस्तमाहुः परमांगति म।्

यंप्राप्य न नि वर्तन्र्त तेतद्धाम परमंमम।।"

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8, Verse 21

Translation:

"That which the Vedantists describe as unmanifest and imperishable, that which is called the supreme destination, that place from which, having attained it, one never returns, that is My supreme abode."

Narayanan Vaghul was a good human being; a pragmatic man with an unwavering vision. His passing is a great loss not only to me personally but also to the countless people whose lives he has impacted. Over his long career as one of India’s most erudite businesspersons, he mentored and advised me graciously. Vaghul was on the Piramal board for 25 years. He provided us with clear and transparent thinking, making interventions where needed and gently guiding us to make brave decisions. I was always amazed by his sharp memory. He would accurately recall numbers discussed over a decade ago in the context of matters being presently discussed at a meeting. He was a great storyteller and conveyed his intent with simplicity and humour. We are ever grateful for his lucid wisdom.

Vaghul had a deep knowledge of the scriptures and would often be heard saying that where science ends, spirituality begins, and vice versa. He adhered to the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma and acted upon it by putting this knowledge into everyday practice. His thoughts, words, and actions were completely aligned, allowing him to execute all his ideas to perfection.

Narayanan Vaghul was a generous man. I have always observed how selfless he was in his actions and the way he lived. He always put the needs of the country first, working for the disempowered. Then, it was the companies he built and all their employees, and only then his own needs. He lived a very simple life, always humble, putting everyone’s needs before his own. For a man of such great accomplishments, he would regularly tell me that he had done nothing great but only his duty.

Vaghul was a Bhishma Pitamaha to many, with a clear sense of duty governed by his convictions of right and wrong. A lion among men, Vaghul showed no fear when it came to doing the right things for the right reasons. His legacy of many firsts has undoubtedly had a profound impact on the evolution of modern banking in India.

Beyond his professional achievements, Vaghul was known for his kindness, generosity, and dedication to uplifting others. He touched the lives of many through his mentorship and philanthropic efforts, embodying the qualities of a true humanitarian. Vaghul was the chairman of GiveIndia, a platform that enables individuals and institutions to donate to chosen causes, and Pratham, a philanthropic organization that focuses on children’s education. He instilled in me a strong sense of philanthropic duty and guided me with the framework for the Piramal Foundation.

He was always there for me in difficult times, offering good counsel. He would only give advice when asked for, and not unnecessarily. This was a special and endearing aspect of his nature.

Vaghul’s legacy will continue to live on through the lives he impacted and the transformative changes he brought to the banking industry in India. He will be remembered not only as a pioneering business leader but also as an inspirational figure who exemplified the best of humanity.

Ajay G. Piramal is the chairman and executive director of the Piramal Group.

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