End of an era
End of an era
We publish excerpts from Dr.Maheshchandra Sharma’s book.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was active in India's political life from 1937 to 1968. He came into contact with the RSS in 1937 and discharged his responsibilities as a volunteer for five years. In 1942, he became a life volunteer and till 1951, he was active in Uttar Pradesh as a committed RSS worker. He exhibited his potential for organizational and literary capabilities during these nine years.
For 16 years (1951 to 1967), he was General Secretary of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He emerged as an allround national leader but when this seasoned leader emerged as President of his party, destiny took him away from us in a mysterious and gory end. He was the Jan Sangh President for only 43 days from December 29, 1967 to February 10, 1968.
Around 3.45 a.m. on Feb. 11, 1968, the leverman at the Mughalsarai station informed the Assistant Station Master that about 150 yards from the station, towards the south of the railway line, a dead body was lying near the electric pole No.1276. The police was alerted and the Assistant Station Master sent a memo to the police on which was written: "Almost dead." The doctor examined the body in the morning and declared it dead. When the dead body was brought to the station, a curious crowd gathered there. Till now, the dead body was unclaimed. Then one person in the crowd shouted, "This is the Bharatiya Jan Sangh President, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya!” The news spread like wildfire and the nation was plunged in grief.
The budget session of Parliament starts in February. The Bharatiya Jan Sangh meeting was scheduled to be held in Delhi on February l 1, 1968 and its new President was to participate in it. Upadhyaya was in Lucknow on 10th February. In the morning, the organizational Secretary Ashwini Kumar telephoned Upadhyaya. He said that since the budget session was likely to be prolonged, he should be present at the Jan Sangh Working Committee meeting at Patna on the 11th. After talking it over with the newly-elected General Secretary Sundersingh Bhandari, Upadhyaya fixed up his programme for going to Patna.
Upadhyaya travelled by third class when he was General Secretary of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh and he used to travel by passenger train instead of express train. It gave him an opportunity to read and write, as also the chance to meet the Jan Sangh workers at small stations. It was decided that, as Jan Sangh President, he should now travel first class. A first class ticket was accordingly purchased for Pathankot-Sealdah Express for him. The train left Lucknow at 7.00 a.m. His books and bedding were placed in the compartment. The then U.P. Deputy Chief Minister, Ramprakash Gupta, and former Jan Sangh President, Peetambar Das came to see him off. He folded his hands in farewell to everyone at the station. At midnight Jaunpur Ruler's personal secretary Kanhaiya Lalji Pandit came to see him at Jaunpur station. He handed over a letter from the Ruler to Upadhyaya. The train left Jaunpur at 12.1 2 a.m. and reached Mughalsarai. Sealdah-Pathankot Express did not travel straight to Patna. It reached Platform No. l at 2. 1 5 a.m. and the bogey in which Deendayal Upadhyaya was travelling was disengaged from the train and was joined to the Delhi-Howrah Express after shunting. It left Mughalsarai around 2.50a.m. It reached Patna in the morning, but Upadhyaya was not there.
Meanwhile, the dead body had been identified at the Mughalsarai station. Golwalkar and other prominent people had been informed. The parliamentary committee was in session at Delhi. It was adjourned and all the leaders reached Varanasi and his body was brought to Delhi. Upadhyaya used to stay at parliamentarian Atal Behari vajpayee's residence at 30, Rajendra Prasad Marg. His lifeless body was brought there. People from all over India reached Delhi. Guruji Golwalkar was already in Varanasi because of his intimate relations with Upadhyaya. Guruji was not only the Sarsanghachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh but a great soul. Deendayal was his follower but the two had a two-bodies-one-soul association. Generally unperturbed, when Guruji approached Upadhyaya's dead body, his eyes filled with tears and he could only say in a choked voice, "Oh what has happened to him!''
Deendayal's body was carried to the plane and Guruji climbed up the stairs. He placed both his hands on Upadhyaya's face and brought them up to his eyes. He repeated this thrice and said in grief, "Many people run families, they can imagine the loss. Since I do not run a family, my sorrow in hundred fold. I won't say anything about our personal relations. A11 that I can say is that God has taken away Deendayal from us. I read an old saying in English which said, "Those whom the gods love, die young."
Delhi was plunged in grief. All offices and shops were closed and people thronged towards Rajendra Prasad Marg. The police and the volunteers found it difficult to control the surging crowds carrying wreaths, and flowers. Everyone was stunned. Who was the murderer that had so cruelly taken the life of sagelike Upadhyaya, who did not have a single enemy in the world? There was no answer; everyone was grieving.
On the morning of February 12, India's President, Dr. Zakir Hussain, came to offer his homage. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai laid wreaths on the dead body. Leaders, social workers, cultural figures. etc., all lined up to pay their tributes. Delhi was there in large numbers to express its sorrow.
Around l p.m., Upadhyaya's mortal remains were placed on a carriage to prepare for the final journey. Four mounted policemen were marching in front. They were followed by senior Jan Sangh leaders on foot. On both sides were lined up thousands of people showering flowers on the carriage. The rear was brought up by women chanting mantras. The carriage winded its way through the streets of Delhi and reached the Nigambodh Ghat around 6 p.m. The last tributes were paid around 6.45 p.m. and it was around 7.06 p.m. that Deendayal's maternal cousin Prabhudayal Shukla lit the holy pyre and Deendayal's body became one with the elements.
His death was as shocking as it was mysterious. The mystery remains unsolved to this day. Who knows whether it would be solved ever? Everyone was stunned by his untimely demise. Words cannot describe the shock experienced by his admirers and followers. It would be better to quote verbatim from what Guruji Golwalkar, who was his guide and mentor, and Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was his successor, said.
"The heart is filled with sorrow. One wonders how all this could have occurred; this is a matter of investigation. Whatever the truth, the Sangh has lost a dedicated worker. He was at the zenith of his career and held potential for doing much more in later life. But now all possibilities are lost. I met him a couple of days ago. I asked him, 'What is your next programme? Where do we meet next? He said he was leaving for Patna and he would see me after a few days in Kanpur. But the accident occurred even before he could reach Patna.''
"Those who realise and recognise their duties and responsibilities as a swayamsevak right from their student days and spend all their time and energies in organization work are a rare breed. Upadhyaya occupied a prominent place among such great souls. The RSS expects a Swayamsevak to inculcate all qualities, conserve them and work for the organizations, keep participating in the various RSS programmes in order of importance, carry out any other duties assigned to him in whichever field it be, Deendayal Upadhyaya was assigned to work in the political field. Some may have doubted his capabilities, but it can rightly be said that whatever position the Bharatiya Jan Sangh achieved was due to his dedicated efforts. There have been many vocal leaders in the Jan Sangh, many others worked very hard, but Upadhyaya was the one who laid the foundation stone of the party and worked for its attaining the dignity it achieved.
"He reached the topmost post. Although I did not want him to become President and he was also not willing. I had to convince him to accept the assignment during a critical period for a short while, maybe a year. That made him accept Presidentship of the party, otherwise he was averse to it. He did not seek any position, nor did I want him to accept it. But he was forced by me following the convention that a Swayamsevak has to follow the dictates of the party.
"His Presidentship had a good effect on the public mind. Even his opponents feel that ultimately it was this party that was to hold the reins of power in the country. The first Jan Sangh President, Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, was the victim of a political murder. The party was fortunate to get Dr. Raghuvira as President after him. He was a very capable person. He could have made it possible for the Jan Sangh's voice to be heard abroad and it could become effective there. But he also left us. After him, we got a complete personage (Deendayalji) as the party President. He, too has left us.
"I had gone to Kashi to look at his dead body. I came here after putting his body in the flame. But I did not shed tears. I do not know what people would have thought about me. I am reminded of one of our ancient proverbs which says that a person is neither affected by joy nor sorrow. Maybe, by Gods' grace, I have become temperamentally like this." I have internalised all my sorrow. We should not think that another like him, who would be able to carry on his work with dedication, would not appear on the scene. It is a gigantic task. it is the task of an organisation. Many of our workers have the capability to take it up. No place remains vacant for long and I am hopeful that we will soon get a capable leader to take his place. I won't say anything more. Whatever I say will not suffice, we will have to bear this loss.
"I had to exercise a lot of self-discipline to speak thus far. It has resulted in physical fatigue and exhaustion I have witnessed the gory scene and I thought I would describe it to you.
"Each one of us should strive towards improving our allround competence. It does not imply that I am asking everyone to move towards the political arena. We should surely not be inclined towards it. The person I have just mentioned had absolutely no political inclinations. He told me so many times during the last many years, 'To what trouble have you put me? Let me return to my original work as a pracharak.' I replied. 'Bhai, who else is there to be put to such trouble but you? 'One who is solely involved in organisational work can only jump into the cesspool of politics and clean it while remaining as untouched as a lotus amid all the muck. That is why I just said that I am not asking anyone to entertain any political inclinations."
Atal Behari Vajyapee's sentiments were expressed through the article, 'We accept the challenge', thus:
Come, let us consider every drop of Panditji's blood as the holy mark on our foreheads and move towards the ideals he lived and worked for. We should take every spark from his funeral pyre to our hearts and work to our utmost like him. We should turn the bones of this Dadhichi into stones and hurl them on the enemies so that our sacred soil is free of all roadblocks.
A small lamp has been extinguished,
We'll have to fight darkness by lighting our lives,
The sun has set,
We'll have to find our way in the light of the stars.
''Our friend companion and guide is gone. We'll have to cherish his sacred memory and move on to achieve our objectives.''
Panditji's life was a dedicated life. He has sacrificed every atom of his body and every moment of his life at the altar of nationalism. The entire country was home to him. He dreamed of only one thing and his life was a vow taken to fulfil it.
Politics was a means, not the end, for him. It was a journey, not his destination. He wished to spiritualise politics. He was inspired by India's bright past and wanted to build a brighter future for the country. His beliefs were rooted in the timeless Indian existence, but he was not a fundamentalist. He had a dream of making India into a prosperous modern nation.
"He was a great thinker. He did not favour moving within the already-defined confined modes of thought. That is why he developed the Bharatiya Jan Sangh into an organisation that moved with a proud and dignified past and was prepared to face the challenges of the future. Whatever Jan Sangh is today is because of him.
This Wound will Always Be Raw
"He was never enamoured of any position. He was not a Member of Parliament, but he was the maker of Members of Parliament. He never wanted any office. It was with great difficulty that he was persuaded to become President of the party. He inspired us to move across the Vidhyachal to Kanyakumari to work for India's unity. We vowed to take the slogan of India's unity across the Himalayas. He had gone to the Calicut session. The session was a success under his Presidentship. People said the Jan Sangh had presented a historic spectacle of implementing its policies. People looked at him with hope and confidence. People here and abroad said that the Jan Sangh had taken a new form at Calicut. But the Jan Sangh did not take any new form; it was only the perspective of those who viewed it in a new light. Some of these eyes saw a vitiated Jan Sangh; they were jealous; and they nurtured violent thoughts. The spectacle unnerved them and today Pandit Deendayalji is no more with us. Nobody can say with certainty the circumstances under which he died. The person for whom his followers were prepared to sacrifice their lives was sniffed out of life in the darkness of the night, away from his followers. This wound will always remain raw and will continue hurting us.
"The cause for which Panditji was born, lived and struggled, he sacrificed his life for that ideal. But his dream is still unfulfilled; his work is still incomplete.
"The attack on his life is an attack on our nationalism. The wounds on his body are assaults on our democracy. We accept this challenge of anti-nationals and enemies of democracy''
Courtesy : deendayalupadhyaya.org