Satish Kumar (born 9 August 1936) is an Indian British activist and editor. He has been a Jain monk, nuclear disarmament advocate, pacifist, and is the current editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. Now living in England, Kumar is founder and Director of Programmes of the Schumacher College international centre for ecological studies, and of The Small School. His most notable accomplishment is the completion, together with a companion, E. P. Menon, of a peace walk of over 8,000 miles in 1973–4, from New Delhi to Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C., the capitals of the world's earliest nuclear-armed countries. He insists that reverence for nature should be at the heart of every political and social debate.
Defending criticism that his goals are unrealistic, he has said,
Look at what realists have done for us. They have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. I tell people who call me "unrealistic" to show me what their realism has done. Realism is an outdated, overplayed and wholly exaggerated concept.
Kumar was born in Sri Dungargarh, Rajasthan, India. At the age of 9, he left his family and became a Jain monk. At 18, after reading a book by Mahatma Gandhi, he ran away from the mendicant order, to become a student of Vinoba Bhave, an eminent disciple of Gandhi and his nonviolence and land reform ideas.
Inspired by Bertrand Russell's civil disobedience against the atomic bomb, in 1962 Kumar and his friend E.P. Menon decided to dedicate themselves to undertaking a peace walk from India to the four capitals of the nuclear world: Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington D.C. and decided to carry no money on their trip. They called it a 'Pilgrimage for peace'.
Vinoba Bhave gave the young men two 'gifts'. One was to be penniless wherever they walked. The other was to be vegetarian. They first travelled through Pakistan, where they met great kindness from a country with a huge historic conflict and antipathy towards India. Leaving Pakistan via the Khyber Pass, they continued through Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, and the Caucasus Mountains. They visited Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C. Travelling on foot and carrying no money, Kumar and his companion would stay with anyone who offered them food or shelter.
While on their way to Moscow they met two women outside a tea factory. After explaining what they were doing one of the women gave them four packets of tea, one to be delivered to each of the leaders of the four nuclear powers and to also deliver a message, "when you think you need to press the button, stop for a minute and have a fresh cup of tea". This further inspired their journey and became in part the reason for it. They eventually delivered 'peace tea' to the leaders of four of the nuclear powers. The journey is chronicled in Kumar's book, Path without Destination.
Kumar is editor of Resurgence & Ecologist (combining the former Resurgence magazine, which had been described as the artistic and spiritual flagship of the green movement, with The Ecologist). He contributed an essay to The Society for Curious Thought entitled "Focus on Food". He has also been a contributor to the BBC's "Thought for the Day" strand on the Today programme, and also appeared on Desert Island Discs. Kumar was interviewed by Richard Dawkins in his 'Slaves to Superstition' episode of the documentary The Enemies of Reason, investigating the prevalence of unscientific beliefs in modern society. He also made a film, Earth Pilgrim, for BBC2's Natural History Series.
We Are One
Kumar was one of the contributors for writing the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009. The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying both its diversity and the threats it faces. It contains a collection of statements from tribal people, photographs, and essays from international authors, campaigners, politicians, philosophers, poets, artists, journalists, anthropologists, environmentalists and photojournalists. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organisation, Survival International.
Kumar, a recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award, settled in England in 1973. He lives a simple life in Hartland, Devon, with his partner June Mitchell, their son Mukti Kumar Mitchell, and their daughter Maya Kumar Mitchell.
Prior to the 2015 UK general election, he was one of several celebrities who endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas.
- No Destination: Autobiography of a Pilgrim (2014)  , Green Books, ISBN 978-0857842619
- You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence (2002), Green Books, ISBN 978-1903998182
- Images of Earth and Spirit: A Resurgence anthology Edited by John Lane and Satish Kumar (2003), Green Books, ISBN 978-1903998298
- The Intimate and the Ultimate Vinoba Bhave, Edited by Satish Kumar (2004), Green Books, ISBN 978-1903998397
- The Buddha and the Terrorist: The Story of Angulimala (2006), Algonquin Books, ISBN 978-1565125209
- Spiritual Compass: The Three Qualities of Life (2008), Green Books/Finch Publishing, ISBN 978-1876451943
- Earth Pilgrim in conversation with Echann Deravy and Maya Kumar Mitchell (2009), Green Books, ISBN 978-1900322577
- Soul, Soil, Society: a new trinity for our time (2013), Leaping Hare Press, ISBN 978-1782400448