Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya : Life and Vision

Prof Jasbir Singh
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya is recognized as a distinguished nationalist political thinker, philosopher, economist, sociologist, and believer in Indian culture and traditions. To him the upliftment of the poor, local participation in production and economic activities, public awareness and awakening were primary concerns. A believer in the ‘Sanatan’ traditions, he devoted his life for the betterment of the masses.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (nick name Deena) was born on September 25, 1916 in village Nagla Chandraban, now called Deendayal Dham, near the town of Farah in Mathura District. His father Bhagwati Prasad Upadhyaya was assistant station master at Jalesar and mother Rampyari Upadhyaya was a devoted woman. An astrologer on studying his horoscope predicted that he would not marry but become a great scholar, thinker, selfless worker, and politician who would impact the socio-political system of India.
Sadly, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s parents died when he was young; a few years later his maternal grandfather with whom he stayed also died. And in 1934 his brother Shivdayal died leaving him alone. He attended high school in Sikar and stood first in the board examinations. Maharaja Kalyan Singh of Sikar felicitated him with a gold medal; rupees 250 to buy books and a monthly scholarship of rupees 10. He did his Intermediate from G.D. Birla College, Pilani (currently BITS, Pilani), Rajasthan. Here, in 1935 Ghanshyam Das Birla honored him with a gold medal and scholarship. He earned BA degree in English Literature in the first division from the Sanatan Dharma College, Kanpur. In 1939 he moved to Agra and joined St. John’s College, Agra to pursue MA in English Literature. Despite first division he could not appear in the final year examination due to illness of his maternal cousin Ramadevi and lack of financial support.
On the persuasion of his maternal uncle Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya appeared for Provincial Services Examination and was selected. However, he decided not to join the service as he was fascinated with the idea of working with the common man. Later on he was offered Headmaster’s position with a start of additional three to four increments. However, he declined that his requirement was two dhotis, two kurtas and two meals a day and for this he did not require more than thirty rupees a month: ‘What would I do with all the money you offer me?’ This is a testimony not only of his emphatic and simple approach but also his extraordinary sense of sacrifice. Appearing in dhoti and kurta with a cap on his head his friends called him Panditji and later everyone addressed him as Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.
Two incidents from Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s life exhibit his innocence, truthfulness and straightforward nature: Once, when he was seven or eight-year-old, dacoits entered his house. Wriggling with the dacoit, who pushed him down, he uttered, “‘we had heard dacoits rob only the rich and protect the poor. But you are hurting a poor creature like me.” The leader of the dacoits was taken aback by the child’s fearlessness and left the house.
Another incident, Nanaji Deshmukh, recounts: “One day, we had gone to buy vegetables from the market in the morning. We bought vegetables worth two aana. As we were about to reach home, Deen Dayal suddenly stopped and said there was something seriously wrong. He had four aana in his pocket, one of which was counterfeit, and he had given that to the vegetable vendor. He had two genuine coins in his pocket. We must go back and give her the genuine coin. He had feelings of guilt on his face. We went back to the vegetable vendor and told her the truth. But she told us she had no time to look for the counterfeit coin amid the heap of coins she had collected. She asked us to go back, but Deendayal searched and ultimately found his blackish counterfeit coin from among the change she had collected, took it back and gave the genuine coin to her. Only then was he satisfied. The old woman, the vegetable vendor was touched. She blessed Deendayalji.”
As a student at Sanatan Dharam College, Kanpur in 1937 he came in contact with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) through his friend and classmate Balwant (Baluji) Mahashabde. Here he met the founder of RSS Dr. K.B. Hedgewar, who engaged him in an intellectual discussion. Dr. Hedgewar used to stay with Babasaheb Apte and Dadarao Parmath in the hostel. After intellectual discussion and interaction at one of Shakhas with Dr. Hedgewar he was allowed to work as full-time RSS worker by Dr. Hedgewar. After receiving BT degree from Prayag he did not take a job, rather decided to devote himself to RSS activities. He attended 40-day summer camp of RSS at Nagpur where he underwent training in Sangh education and after second year training in the RSS Education Wing he became a lifelong Parcharak of RSS. In 1940 when the Muslim League was strongly demanding a separate state for Muslims, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya opposed the demand of partition and worked to contest their claim, and to integrate the Hindu society. He was sent to Lakhimpur District in Uttar Pradesh as an organizer and in the year 1955 he became the Provincial Organizer of RSS in Uttar Pradesh.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya possessed a flair for writing and his writings on nationalism had great impact on the minds of readers. He established the publishing house ‘Rashtra Dharma Prakashan’ in 1940 in Lucknow and launched the monthly magazine ‘Rashtra Dharma’ to propound the principles he revered. Though he did not have his name printed as editor in any of the issues of this publication, there was hardly any issue which did not have his long lasting impression due to his thought provoking writings. He also started a weekly Panchjanya and a daily Swadesh. He also wrote the drama “Chandragupta Maurya” and penned the biography of Shankaracharya in Hindi. He translated the biography of RSS founder Dr. K. B. Hedgewar from Marathi to Hindi. His other renowned literary works include Samraat Chandragupta (1946), Jagatguru Sankaracharya (1947), Akhand Bharat Kyon? (1952), Bharatiya Arthniti: Vikas Ki Disha (1958), The Two Plans: Promises, Performances, Prospects (1958), Rashtra Jivan Ki Samasyayen (1960), Devaluation: A Great Fall (1966), Political Diary (1968), Rashtra Chintan, Integral Humanism and Rashtra Jivan Ki Disha.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was greatly influenced by the idea of social equalisation and nationalism. After independence Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya joined Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee led Bharatiya Jan Sangh, and he was appointed as the first general secretary. The first national level conference of Bharatiya Jan Sangh held from December 29-31, 1952 was meticulously organized under the supervision of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. Dr. Mukherjee impressed by his skills and competence remarked, “If I had two Deendayals, I could transform the political face of India!”
The sudden and untimely death of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee in 1953 left the entire responsibilities and burden of the organization on the young shoulders of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. He served as the General Secretary for nearly 15 years and raised the organization with high spirits and enthusiasm, thereby making it one of India’s strongest political parties. By 1957, Bharatiya Jan Sangh had 243 regional and 889 local committees. At the 14th annual session of Bharatiya Jan Sangh in Calicut in December 1967, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was elected the president. However, he remained Bharatiya Jan Sangh president for only 43 days from December 29, 1967 to February 10, 1968. Destiny took him away from us in a mysterious and gory end.
On February 11, 1968, the dead body of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was found by the lever-man at the Mughalsarai station. His body was brought to the residence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 30, Rajender Prasad Marg where Panditji used to stay while in Delhi. Sh. Golwalkarji, on seeing Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s dead body, in a choked voice said, “Oh what has happened to him! Many people run families, they can imagine the loss. Since I do not run a family, my sorrow is hundred fold. I won’t say anything about our personal relations. All that I can say is those whom the Gods love, die young…The heart is filled with sorrow. One wonders how all this could have occurred; this is a matter of investigation.” There are many stories and interpretations about the incident /planned murder of a saint, philosopher and thinker who did not have a single enemy in this world.
His vision:
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya considered man as supreme. According to him, “Man, the highest creation of God, is losing his own identity. We must re-establish him in his rightful position, bring him the realisation of his greatness, re-awaken his abilities and encourage him to exert for attaining divine heights of his latent personality. This is possible only through a decentralised economy. Swadeshi and decentralisation are the two words which can briefly summarise the economic policy suitable for the present circumstances.” To him, an independent nation could not progress if it relied upon western concepts like individualism, democracy, socialism, communism, capitalism, etc. At the same time, he hailed modern technology and western science but wanted to adopt blended form best suited to Indians. He was of the view that western science might help Indians to move forward but thoughtless imitation of the western way of life and value system may harm the socio-economic and moral value system embedded in our rich traditions and ancient culture. His main thrust was on nationalism and value-based politics.
The central theme of the concept of Integral Humanism of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was a native model to be adopted in every aspect of the life of the nation. His argument starts with the basic foundation of Bharatiya (Indigenous Indian Model) culture and value system which are with us from the very beginning. The concept of unity in diversity followed by our leaders during the post-independence period, according to him, in various forms was central to the Bharatiya culture since time immemorial. He was a firm believer that there is no conflict in social life in diverse culture as, “conflict is not a sign of culture or nature; rather it is a symptom of perversion.” He propagated that a nation’s culture should form the basis of independence. And act as spinal cord of the socio-economic and political structure of the country.
The treatise of Integral Humanism as propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya clearly states that any system which does not receive primacy is bound to degenerate. He derived the concept of Integral Humanism from the age old wisdom of Indian seers who revealed this wisdom to mankind several thousand years ago. Deendayal Upadhyay traced its origin to the non-dualistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta; Integral Humanism propagated the oneness of various souls.
The philosophy of Integral Humanism advocates the simultaneous and integrated programme of the body, mind, intellect and soul of each human being. 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 realistic and down to earth. He visualized for India a decentralized polity and self-reliant economy with the village as the base.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was a great philosopher with conviction, sociologist with grassroot understanding of the society, economist to talk about the last person in the society and political thinker who dared to oppose inefficiency and corruption in the political system. Giving utmost importance to human beings in the process of development he presented a model for development under Integral Humanism which should be adopted as an indigenous socio-economic model having humans at the centre stage of development process. Taking into account the wellbeing of individuals he propagated that Integral Humanism should ensure a dignified life for every human being in the society while balancing the needs of the individuals and the society as well. In most of his political statements he appeared convinced that the country’s future lay in the hands of the common man and felt it is essential to acquaint him with the modern realities: “I will not assess the advancement of my country, by what the Government did or what the scientists achieved but I will assess the advancement of my country, in terms of the advancement of the man in village, in terms of his ability to provide better life to his children.”
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was never against any system or progress of the systems working around the world. His only concern was that Indian system and attributes should never be forgotten. The developed nations of today might have started their journey towards development five to six decade earlier but Indian principles of development exist since the beginning of Indian civilization, though destroyed many a time by the invaders or the traders but still reemerging with new values for more human touch to every economic policy which should be value based for the ultimate salvation of the mankind.
(The author is Dean Faculty of Social Sciences Head, Department of Philosophy Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy Chair Professor, Pt. Dean Dayal Upadhyaya UGC-Chair University of Jammu J&K)