Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Hindu revivalism and Deendayal Upadhyaya

News Today 13 OCTOBER 2005

Hindu revivalism represented a broad trend in the 19th and 20th century India which sought to revitalise Hinduism after a millennium of political, ideological and psychological subjection to Islamic and Western hegemony.

Unlike Hindu traditionalism, it sought to co-opt modernity in its programme of Hindu revival or Hindu reconstruction. The concept of Hindu nationalism or 'Hindutva' was given expression by the Hindu Mahasabha (HMS, 1915) and the family of organisations around the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, 1925), including the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS, 1951-1977) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, 1980). Numerically, culturally and ideologically Hindutva became the most important and pronounced tendency within this broad movement of Hindu revivalist forces.

What is surprising is that the ideological viewpoint, the most penetrating formulations of Hindu revivalist thought have been provided by individuals outside these Hindu organisations, from Bankimchandra Chatterjee (1838-1894) and Sri Aurobindo Gosh (1872-1950) to Ram Swarup (1920-1998), Sitaram Goel (1921) and their younger friends and comrades today.

Unlike these great men, Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) very much belonged to the RSS and became one of the foremost ideologues of Hindu revival or Hindutva in the second half of the 20th century in India. Deendayal Upadhyaya was born on 25 September, 1916, in the village of Dhankia in Rajasthan. He lost his father Bhagwati Prasad when he was less than three years old and his mother before he was eight. He was then brought up by his maternal uncle.

Deendayal was outstanding in his studies and stood first in examinations. While he was a student at Sanatan Dharma College, Kanpur, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He dedicated himself to full-time work in the RSS from 1942. Deendayal Upadhyaya was a man of soaring idealism and had a tremendous capacity for organisation. He started a monthly Rashtra Dharma, a weekly Panchajanya and a daily Swadesh.  

In 1951, when Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Deendayal became the first general secretary of its UP branch. Next he was chosen as all-India general secretary. The acumen and meticulousness shown by Deendayal deeply impressed Dr Mookerjee and elicited his famous remark: 'If I had two Deendayals, I could transform the political face of India.'  

After Dr Mookerjee's death in 1953, the entire burden of nurturing the orphaned organisation and building it up as a nation-wide movement fell on the young shoulders of Deendayal. For 15 years, he remained the outfit's general secretary and built it up, brick by brick. He raised a band of dedicated workers imbued with idealism and provided the entire ideological framework of the outfit.  

The final triumph of his statesmanship and vision was the historic session of the party in Calicut in 1967. Deendayal was a deep and original thinker. His philosophy of Integral Humanism, which is a synthesis of the material and the spiritual, the individual and the collective, bears eloquent testimony to this. In the field of politics and economics, he was pragmatic and down to earth. He visualised for India a decentralized polity and self-reliant economy with the village as the base.

He welcomed modern technology but wanted it to be adapted to suit Indian requirements. Deendayal believed in a constructive approach. He exhorted his followers to co-operate with the government when it was right and fearlessly oppose when it erred. He placed nation's interest above everything else. Deendayal Upadhyaya was found dead in the early hours of 1 February, 1968, while travelling in a train. The following rousing call he gave to the thousands of delegates in the Calicut session, still rings in their ears:  

'We are pledged to the service not of any particular community or section but of the entire nation. Every countryman is blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh. We shall not rest till we are able to give to every one of them a sense of pride that they are able to give to every one of them a sense of pride that they are children of Bharatmata. We shall make Mother India Sujala, Suphala (overflowing with water and laden with fruits) in the real sense of these words.

As Dashapraharana Dharini Durga (Goddess Durga with her 10 weapons) she would be able to vanquish evil; as Lakshmi she would be able to disburse prosperity all over and as Saraswati she would dispel the gloom of ignorance and spread the radiance of knowledge all around her. With faith in ultimate victory, let us dedicate ourselves to this task.'

Deendayal Upadhyay was convinced that we as an independent nation cannot rely upon Western concepts like individualism, democracy, socialism, communism, etc. and he was of the view that the Indian polity after our independence has been raised upon these superficial Western foundations and not rooted in the timeless traditions of our ancient culture. He was of the view that the Indian intellect was getting suffocated by Western theories and ideologies and consequently there was a big roadblock on the growth and expansion of original Bharathiya thought. He said that there was an urgent public need for a fresh breeze.

As Dr Maheshchandra Sharma beautifully puts it: 'The satanic Western imperialist forces continue to overshadow the Bharathiya environment. The native ethos is feeling suffocated for want of a refreshing, rejuvenating and homely breeze. The second-rate academic curriculums constructed on the Westernised agenda has hindered the growth of Bharathiya originality. The unique institutions of Bharat such as family, marriage system, village and community organisations are getting lifeless.

The Indian science and talent do not find a congenial environment to grow. ‘We are bereft of the knowledge and traditions of the realisation of 'Ekatma' (integral unity) of 'Vyashti', 'Samashti', 'Srishti' and 'Parameshti' (Individuality, Society, Humanity and Almighty) which was discovered and experienced by the Bharathiya ethos for more than 10,000 years. Individualism, socialism, marketism and consumerism have led the Indian humanity to wander helplessly in the blind alleys. Humanity is calling frantically for the spiritual-life for immediate rescue'.

Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Maharishi Dayananda Sarasvati, Lokamanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi had given the clarion call for such a rescue. This call had a bearing on the struggle for freedom. The Western imperialists cunningly changed the 'eternal urge for freedom' into 'Transfer of Power' on 15 August, 1947. No wonder Western ideology was put on the pedestal on 15 August, 1947 and consequently all things Western 'diversed from Indian ethos' got a tremendous boost from the government after independence. Even today, the paradigms and concepts of our leaders in general are West-oriented. Deendayal Upadhyay gave his 'moolamantra' of 'Integral Humanism' to our country at Gwalior in 1964. This concept which is attributed to him was not his individual ideal. There is no doubt that as a great patriot and a practicing Hindu, he only gave the term and the definition. It was inherited from the age-old philosophy of Bharathiya tradition. Deendayal Upadhyay himself stated: 'The Individual is a Manifestation Unique of his whole society which breathes and fosters all with Nature in perfect amity. Do not draw a line between the two entities. The Integral Man one and all are nothing but One Almighty. Our rishis and seers told us that there is nothing but One Almighty! Be it the individual or society'.

It will thus be clear that Upadhyay was a great thinker who derived his inspiration from ancient India's cultural heritage and tradition. He made it clear that India cannot adopt the philosophy of individualism or of socialism as propounded by Karl Marx. Every particle contains the entire universe and the universe through every particle manifests every other particle. We have inherited this invaluable integral thinking through our ancient traditions. The Bharathiya philosophy is integral. It uplifts the personality of the individual as well as the all-round prosperity of the society. If we want to reconstruct our national economy, we should do it in the light of 'Integral Humanism'. In line with our ethos, we will have to build up a de-centralised economy. Our great planning based on Western models cannot give work to every hand in India.
(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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