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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday released a series of works dedicated to the philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.
At the launch of the books, PM Modi said, “While talking about Pandit Deendayal Ji, among the first things that we remember is his simplicity.” Seemingly alluding to surgical strikes, the PM said, “This Vijaya Dashami is very special for the country.”
Speaking about the origins of the BJP, Modi said, “In a short span of time, one party completed the journey from ‘Vipaksh’ to ‘Vikalp’ and this was due to foundations laid by Deendayal Ji. Organisation based political parties, this is a contribution of Deendayal Ji. This was the identity of the Jan Sangh and the BJP. Dr. Lohia spoke about the efforts of Deendayal Ji that resulted in the people getting an alternative to the Congress in 1967.”
The 15-volume work highlights key events in the life of Upadhyay, the journey of the Jana Sangh and of the country, including the watershed events of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, Tashkent Agreement, and Goa’s Liberation. The penultimate volume records events leading up to the murder of Upadhyay soon after he became Jana Sangh chief in 1967.
Modi said that Deendayal gave impetus to ‘Karyakarta Nirman.’ “The Karyakarta inspired by him are party centric and the party is nation centric,” the PM added. “At the core of Pandit Deendayal Ji’s thoughts were the poor, the villages, the farmers, the Dalits, the marginalised,” Modi said.
Brought out by the Research and Development Foundation for integral Humanism and Prabhat Publications, the works throws light on the critical analysis and approach to resolving contemporary problems based on the template of “Bharatiyata” as propounded by Upadhyay.
Born on 25 September 1916, in Nagla Chandrabhan village near Mathura, Upadhyay became an orphan early in life.
The death of a close cousin allegedly sent him into despair and he left his Master’s degree unfinished, in spite of a promising start to it. Urged by his aunt, he sat for a public service examination, which he went to write wearing dhoti, kurta and a cap. He was mocked by fellow examinees as “Panditji” and the name stuck, though it was used with affection by his followers later in life.
He came out a topper but chose to follow a different career in public service by enrolling himself with the RSS in 1942. He launched the monthly magazine, Rashtriya Dharma, to propagate the ideology of nationalism and went on to found two more journals, a weekly, Panchjanya, and a daily, Swadesh.
In 1951, he founded the Rashtriya Jana Sangh with the veteran ideologue, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who, moved by Upadhyay’s dedication, is believed to have said, “Give me two Deendayals and I will completely change the face of the nation.” After Mookerjee’s death in 1953, Upadhyay succeeded him as the convenor of the Jana Sangh and held the role till his mysterious death in a train accident in 1968.
Upadhyay is mostly remembered for his philosophy of integral humanism, which, as scholars have pointed out, bears similarities with Gandhian views of rural economics, though it is overwhelmingly grounded in Hindu spirituality. Ostensibly, this school of thought conceives of “a classless, casteless and conflict-free social order”, though the prejudices against certain communities, especially Muslims, are evident from a close reading of Upadhyay’s lectures.
A man of simple habits, who reportedly abjured every trace of luxury, Upadhyay rejected the strident march of capitalism as well as the secular framework of socialism. The quest for greater wealth hasn’t necessarily made the West any happier, he argued, nor has socialism been able to ensure human dignity.
In his estimation, the integration of an indigenous “Indian culture” into the social, political and economic fabric of the nation had to be the political way forward. The nation, in Upadhyay’s understanding, is like a human being in which body, mind, intellect and soul are unified into a wholeness. A nation, too, has an identity, he said, its chitti .
In his formulation, the principles of dharma, which bring about peace and harmony, constitute the chitti of the nation. A person subjected to such a national ethos has to subsume their individual urges for the sake of the interest of society. As a result, Upadhyay sees no conflict in the caste system, for instance.
In one of his lectures, quoted here, he says, “Here too, there were castes, but we had never accepted conflict between one caste and another as a fundamental concept behind it.” Further, he goes on to say, “If conflict among them was fundamental, the body cannot be maintained…. If this idea is not kept alive, the castes, instead of being complementary, can produce conflict. But then this is distortion.”
From this glimpse into Upadhyay’s vision, it is evident that his philosophy would not travel well into the 21st century. To transplant it to our time would be a colossal political miscalculation; to modify for the need of the hour a severe challenge.