On the auspicious day of September 1, 1916 (Bhadarvo sud 4, 1972 VS), Babubhai was born in Borsad. When Babubhai was five months old, Dr. Nathabhai visited Sarangpur for the enshrining of the image of Ghanshyam Maharaj; Diwaliben however stayed back to look after Babubhai. From birth, Babubhai was of delicate health. Thus, Diwaliben's father, also named Nathabhai Patel (known as Dada), took great care of him at Nadiad. In fact, Dada insisted that Babubhai remain in a cradle up to the age of two and a half.

On the auspicious day of June 12, 1918 (Jeth sud 4, 1974 VS) at 5 am in the morning, Dadubhai was born in Nadiad. From birth, he was very joyful and dynamic. Dada celebrated the occasion by offering sweets to everyone in the town. Eager to hear about Dadubhai's birth chart, Dada looked for Naaranji Maharaj, a village Brahmin and astrologer, for five days. On the auspicious sixth day[4] Dr. Nathabhai came to Nadiad to see his newborn son - amazingly meeting Naaranji Maharaj on the way home. Dadubhai was born in the Kark raashi (related to the Gemini/Cancer sign of the zodiac) so Naaranji Maharaj also suggested the name "Harikrishna" for the bright boy who was destined for a magnificently divine life.

At 3 months, Diwaliben returned to Karamsad from Nadiad with Dadubhai, per Babarbhai's request. Babarbhai loved Dadubhai, and missed Babubhai who stayed in Nadiad with Dada. Dadubhai's extraordinary development foreshadowed the grand mission he was to undertake. At just 9 months, he began walking, and at 10 months, he started talking.

When Dadubhai was ready to enter school, the family moved to Anand. Dadubhai's free spirit was evident in school. Often, in order to avoid going to school, he would hide from his parents or tickle anyone who tried forcing him to go. At the time, Dada insisted that Dadubhai secure a bright education at Nadiad along with Babubhai. Thus both brothers were enrolled for primary-education[5] in a school in Nadiad and they visited their parents in Anand during summer vacations.

Babubhai was very disciplined and humble. He stayed at home with Dada to study and even helped with the business accounting ledger (especially after Dada's son, the brothers' maternal uncle, passed away). Dadubhai, on the other hand, would explain to Dada, "At this age, kids should not be doing this type of work - they should be outside playing." Dadubhai was a risk-taker as well. Dadubhai, Babubhai, and a friend, Ravji, often accompanied a relative to the nearby lake where clothes were washed. Seeing other boys in the pond, Dadubhai abandoned helping to squeeze the clothes dry, and jumped into the lake to learn how to swim! A villager saved the brave young boy. Similarly, on the way home from a family function, Dadubhai jumped off a moving train traveling between Anand and Nadiad. Reaching home safely on his own, Dadubhai explained to the family that he wondered if he could get off and on a moving train similar to the hawkers. (In India, it is common to find many hawkers or peddlers trying to sell items such as food to passengers on trains.) Knowing his adventurous style, Dada prohibited Dadubhai to get on the roof of the house to fly kites during Uttarayan.[6] But, when Dada was not aware, Dadubhai would quickly climb onto the roof, coming down quietly only after sighting Dada. Their grandmother however favored her loving Dadubhai. Indeed, seeing Dadubhai's antics and his grandmother's inclination, Dada called Dadubhai, "The Emperor of Delhi!"

Dadubhai was also a vast-thinker and had an exceptionally friendly personality. Because the townspeople at the time had no experience of airplanes, Dada skeptically told Dadubhai that humans could never fly in planes. Dadubhai however imagined new horizons, and enthusiastically proclaimed to his Dada that he too would fly in a plane one day. In order for his friends to get snacks from a prejudiced food stall owner, at night Dadubhai blew out the lamp from a street-vendor's stall so that his friends could fill their pockets with snacks. The villagers were reminded of young Lord Krishna who, accompanied by his friends, took butter away from the evil Kansa. In school too, Dadubhai would ring the bell to make sure that the children got time to play outside.

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