Some people are born great, some achieve greatness by sheer dint of their work and some have greatness thrust upon them. Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya belonged to the second category. Starting from a scratch, he rose to such heights in the contemporary Indian political life that his thoughts still remain relevant today. He belonged to that class of leaders who create history braving all odds and converting every difficulty into an opportunity.
Born in the village of Dhankia on September 25, 1916, Deendayal lost his father Bhagwati Prasad at the tender age of three; and his mother passed away when he was barely eight. His maternal uncle Radharaman Shukla brought up the orphaned child. But brilliant and outstanding as he was from his childhood, Deendayal stood first in matriculation examination from Ajmer Board with a gold medal; passed inter exam from Birla College, Pilani; did BA from Kanpur’s SD College and BT from Allahabad.
During his studies, he came in contact with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a nationalist movement started by Dr K B Hedgewar at Nagpur in 1925 to organise the Hindu society and to take our motherland to the highest place in the comity of nations. The RSS began its work in UP around 1937 and Pt. Deendayal was amongst those first swayamsevaks who associated them with this organisation.
Inspired by the company of RSS activists like Bhaurao Deoras, Bapurao Moghe, and others, Deendayal too decided to dedicate his life to serving the motherland through the RSS. He was entrusted with the responsibility of district organiser or ‘Pracharak’ in RSS parlance and deputed to Lakhimpur Khiri district in eastern UP. He was elevated to the post of ‘Sah-Prant Pracharak’ in 1942 next to Bhaurao Deoras, who was the Prant Pracharak then. Incidentally, my father, late Shrikrishna alias Balasaheb Pachpore was a tehsil Pracharak in Lakhimpur Khiri district under his guidance and patronage. Deendayal remained on this post till 1951 when he was deputed to ‘Jan Sangh’ started by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee as an alternative to the Congress party.
I consider myself fortunate to have met this great personality. The first meeting was at Yavatmal, where the regional conference of Jan Sangh was held in the mid-60s. I was a middle school student then and my father was entrusted with some responsibility in that conference. It was with him I met Pt. Deendayal then. The second occasion was at an RSS summer training camp at Akola in Vidarbha where he came to deliver a ‘bouddhik’ to the participating swayamsevaks.
He was reluctant to work in a political party. He expressed his dislike for such a work to the then RSS Sarsanghchalak Sri Golwalkar Guruji requesting him to take him back in the RSS. But Sri Guruji asked him to remain there. “You are deputed there because of your reluctance. The moment you develop liking for politics you would be called back”, Sri Guruji told him.
In 1952 Dr. Mukherjee made him all India General Secretary of Jan Sangh. After the Kanpur session of Jan Sangh Dr. Mukherjee said: “Only if I get two more Deendayal, I would change the political future of India”. But, that was not destined. After the mysterious death of Dr. Mukherjee in Sheikh Abdulla’s jail in Srinagar, the mantle of nurturing the nascent Jan Sangh fell on Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani et el.
With sheer dint of hard work, skill in dealing with human resources and building organisation, he toiled hard to make Jan Sangh a force to reckon with in the political arena of the contemporary India. In a short span of 1952 to 1967, Pt. Deendayal was able to establish Jan Sangh as a viable alternative to the secular Congress, Communist and Socialists combine. The Jan Sangh quickly rose to be the number two political party in the country. He never was an MP but he sent many others to the parliament. As Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, “he was not an MP himself, but he had made all the Jan Sangh MPs, and yet nobody heard him speak of himself or his efforts.”
He built the formidable party organisation by collecting and moulding each and every worker. Pundit Yagyadutta Sharma aptly equated Deendayal with the sacred ‘Triveni Sangam’ in which ‘tamas’ was invisible as the Saraswati, while ‘rajas’ and ‘satvika’ were as deep and wide as the Yamuna and the Ganga. As everyone gets purified with the holy dip at the ‘Triveni Sangama’ so each one would get his inner self-purified in his company.
Dattopant Thengdi narrated an incident in Pt. Deendayal’s life in his book ‘Karyakarta’ that would explain his style of dealing with the workers. Thengdi was working with Jan Sangh then. Once, a worker was very upset for not getting the ticket. As he came and complained to Thengdi about his neglect, he asked him to visit Pt. Deendayal and tell him his grievances. So, he went to Delhi to meet him. Pt. Deendayal welcomed him, enquired about his wellbeing and told him that they would talk in the evening. He stayed there in the Karyalaya watching how Pt. Deendayal did his daily chores. He was searching for a paper in the wastepaper basket, repairing the cyclostyling machine and all such trivial works. Jagadish Prasad Mathur asked this worker to get his meals from a nearby hotel. But as he watched Pt. Deendayal, who was party's national general secretary then, doing all such petty works, he asked from where Punditji was contesting an election? To his surprise, he got the reply that he was not at all contesting election but engaged him in the election work of 300 people.
In the evening when Pt. Deendayal was free from his routine, he asked this worker about his intention to visit and spell out the problems if he had any. But this man told him simply that he had come to just meet him and returned to Nagpur. When Thengdi met him and asked him about his meeting with Pt. Deendayal, he confessed to his mistake. He repented that he should not have behaved in this manner. “I went to complain to him but when I watched how he worked I felt ashamed of telling him how the party neglected me. I met such a great personality that only thought for others, not for the self, not even for a moment”. And he recited the following Urdu couplet:
Pt. Deendayal was a journalist too. He was editor of Panchjanya Weekly and Swadesh daily but he was everything for it - from a compositor to an editor. Even he would dispatch the printed issues. He wrote a short novel on Chandragupta in just 16 hours! His treatise on Adi Shankaracharya provides an interesting insight into the life and mission of this great savant of Hinduism. Similarly, he translated the Marathi biography of RSS founder Dr Hedgewar written by Nana Palkar. The translation was so perfect that it has become more original than the original work itself!
His comments on various contemporary issues are now available in ‘Political Diary’ a collection of his articles. Dr Sampurnananda, in his foreword to the ‘Political Diary’ commented on his style of writing, “These words clothe the ideas of one of the most notable political leaders of our time, a man devoted to the good of this country, of a person of unimpeachable character, a leader whose weighty words swayed thousands of educated men. If we do not agree with him let us treat them with the respect they deserve and ponder over the implications”… “This class of papers goes beyond the present time even though they were dictated by circumstances which arose in a temporary set up.”
Pt. Deendayal was interested in mathematics and Sanskrit but judging the importance of economics in public life, he concentrated on it. His treatise on ‘Integral Humanism’ is the sum result of his study, scholarship, and understanding of economic theory commensurate with the perfect coordination of Indian concepts of ‘Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha’.
The central idea of the philosophy of ‘Integral Humanism’ or ‘Ekatma Manav Darshan’ is aimed at achieving total progress of a human being ensuring all round integrated development of all his faculties. In the present situation, his thoughts on integral humanism are the most relevant instrument in the hands of the planners to draft policies for sustainable development without hurting, disturbing, and exploiting the ecological balance and natural resources. His concept of ‘Antyodaya’ or uplift of the ‘last man standing in a row’ as Bhaurao Devras used to say, has now formed the backbone of present government’s economic policies.
Kerala has a special place in the history of the Jan Sangh then and the BJP now. Hundreds of Jan Sangh, RSS, and BJP workers have fallen prey to murderous assaults of Marxist Communists there, and this trend continues even now. It was here the Jan Sangh decided to challenge the Communists in their own den and held its national conference in Calicut in 1968. Pt. Deendayal was elected President of Jan Sangh. Describing the first ever ‘saffron’ party’s session, Kerala’s leading newspaper Matrubhumi wrote: “It was as if the Ganga has changed its course and flowed southwards”.
In 2016, the same city of Calicut once again experienced that ‘southward flow of the Ganga’ now much massive and swift, when the BJP held its national executive meeting in the last week of September.
Jan Sangh was flourishing, leaving its indelible impression on the public psyche and carving its place in the Indian political arena. In 1967, the first non-Congress governments came to power in northern states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Pt. Deendayal played a key role in bringing together the major non-Congress parties. He always stressed on maintaining purity and austerity in public life. When the Jan Sangh members assumed positions of power, someone asked Pt. Deendayal as to what he would do in case these members and ministers tend to indulge in corrupt practices? Without even wasting a minute he promptly replied: “I would dissolve that corrupt Jan Sangh and create a new one”. No wonder then the present BJP government considered corruption as enemy number one and pledged to eradicate it from the public life. It is all in line with what Pt. Deendayal had said.
Pt. Deendayal believed in the unity of Indian people. He refused to contest an election on caste basis. It so happened that he was to contest an election, much against his wishes and after a prolonged persuasion, from Jaunpur in UP. The surveys conducted by the strategists of that region told him to seek votes in the name of caste as that was a Brahmin-majority area. But Pt. Deendayal refused to accept that suggestion saying that he would welcome defeat but never seek votes in the name of caste. “Once we do so, casteism would dominate our policies and strategies in future. This is against our policies”, he said.
This should serve an eye opener to all those who indulge shamelessly in the electoral practices in the name of caste and divide the society into fragments and groups.
Success at Calicut in 1968 proved to be very costly for the Jan Sangh. When the party was in a position to give the much-desired direction to the political discourse in the country, some anti-national elements eliminated Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya when he was travelling in a train. It was at Mugalsarai station on February 11, 1968, Deendayal’s body was found lying against a pole. His murder still remains an unsolved mystery.
His death was mourned by all cutting across the party and ideological lines. The then Home Minister Chavan said he was an “ideal Indian”, Balasaheb Devras, the then Sarkaryawah of RSS, who later on became its chief, described him as “an ideal swayamnsevak” comparing him to none other than Dr. Hedgewar, Bar. Nath Pai, a prominent socialist leader, put him in the category of Gandhi, Tilak and Netaji Bose, Communist leader Hiren Mukherjee called him ‘Ajatshatru’ while Acharya Kriplani saw in him a man of ‘godly qualities’.
I cannot resist myself from quoting Longfellow for what he said about the great people exactly applies to Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya. “The heights by the great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night”.
Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya did not toil alone. He took along with him a number of workers and made them great like him. There lies the greatness of his leadership.