Why Deen Dayal Upadhyay is an icon for BJP and RSS

Kaveree Bamzai
Kaveree BamzaiSep 27, 2016 | 10:34

Why Deen Dayal Upadhyay is an icon for BJP and RSS

Chicago-based writer Shridhar Damle answers a few questions on Deen Dayal Upadhyay in his birth centenary year. The co-author of The Brotherhood in Saffron explains what integral humanism is and why he is an icon for the BJP and RSS.

#1. What is integral humanism exactly?

Integral humanism was a decade-long intellectual discourse, debate, chintan baithak and, of course, many discussions with then RSS chief MS Golwalkar.


LK Advani told me that Deen Dayal Upadhyay liked the study group pattern of the Communist Party and the Socialist Party. Upadhyay invited Dr Ram Manohar Lohia to talk about socialism to an all-India chintan baithak.

According to Golwalkar, capitalism was response to the autocratic rule of kings and noblemen while communism was an ideological reaction to greedy and exploitative capitalism.

Deen Dayal pointed out that human life is evolutionary, interrelated and interdependent. Another RSS ideologue DB Thengadi coined term "progressive unfoldment according need of time".

Upadhyay, further stated, that the human being is a combination of body, mind, intellect and soul where sanskars play an important role. He said that just like a human being has identity, society and nation have identity. He coined the term "chitti". In short, Deen Dayal rejected compartmentalised approach of Western thinkers about human being and emphasised need to study human life from integral life view.

He advocated role of democracy, decentralisation, nationalism, Swadeshi, uplifting of poorest, weakest and most uneducated and presented a Hindu ethos from history, theological literature and philosophers.

He presented his views in theory form at the Vijaywada session of Jana Sangh in 1964. At Bombay University in 1965, he delivered four lectures to present his view as academic thesis integral humanism, which in the '80s was modified as "darshan" not ism.


#2. What was Deen Dayal Upadhyay's contribution to the RSS?

Outside Maharashtra, the RSS grew rapidly in Punjab and around the NWFA and Sindh provinces due to fear of riots and threat of Pakistan. But most of the active workers were from the Arya Samaj background.

Then RSS chief Golwalkar recognised the mindset of the silent majority of Sanatani Hindus and need of a non-Maharashtrian to lead Hindu movement. Most of Maharshtrians were under influence of Savarkar view of militant Hindutva in politics as well as in social reform leaning.

Deen Dayal was a gold medallist intellectual orphan student from a poor family background with humble, friendly and effective organiser, with interest in history, Hindu personalities (Chandra Gupt Maurya, special emphasis upon Arya Chanakya and Adya Shankaracharya, RSS founder Dr Hedgewar).

On Deen Dayal Upadhyay's birth centenery celebrations. (Photo credit: www.bjp.org) 

After finishing with the RSS training camps, Deen Dayal rose from district pracharak of UP's Lakhimpur to assistant provincial pracharak of the state, under guidance of Muralidhar Dattatray aka Bhaurao Devras (younger brother of RSS chief Madhukar aka Balasaheb Devras - both were pracharaks).

His humble and friendly nature, simple and puritan lifestyle and implementation of teamwork in reality won respect of the RSS cadres and workers as an ideal swayamsevak who sacrificed everything for motherland through organisation.


He started the daily Swadesh, the Hindi weekly Panchjanya and monthly Rashtra Dharma with Nanaji Deshmukh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and many others.

He helped in the expansion of the RSS, with the help from many people, including Rajendra Singh who later became its fourth chief, in all major districts.

Deen Dayal was one of RSS's leading workers, who had a good relationship with pro-Hindu personalities in social, political, religious and education strata of UP like Purushtottam Das Tandon, Dr Sampurnanda. He was recognised as a humble pracharak with many talents and effective organisational skill.

#3. Is the government right in turning his centenary into a big celeberation?

The government, party and RSS are utilising the occasion of the birth centenary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay to present him as an ideal person who had worked hard selflessly to implement the spiritual base Hindutva ideology into pragmatic reality.

They will project a humble but intellectual man who sacrificed his whole life without any personal ambition, who lived a simple life with minimum needs, who advocated for transparency in personal life , party accountability and public office including for ministers, whose life was open book without any stigma.

#4. How much of integral humanism has been borrowed from Mahatma Gandhi?

No doubt Deen Dayal and the RSS accepted and absorbed Gandhian emphasis on a village-centred economy and the antodaya concept which has its roots in an indigenous resource-based economy (Swadeshi) as economical views, but integral humanism was more an academic based expression which was in turn based upon the Hindu ethos and spirituality.

#5. There's not much on Deen Dayal Upadhyay, is there?

Non-Indian academics who have interest in the Hindu nationalism have written extensively about Deen Dayal Upadhyay. From the RSS side, seven volumes of Deen Dayal Vichar Darshan were published in Marathi, Hindi and English languages after brainstorming sessions held by a team of RSS thinkers.

According to the Indian Express on June 10, 2016, two additional volumes will be written by former Union minister Murali Manohar Joshi on Deen Dayal's views on education and another by Dr Bajrang Lal Gupta on his views on environment.

Large numbers of books and articles have been written in Indian languages about Deen Dayal, the man and his mission. Generally Indian academic and English writers have their own views tinted with preconception or ideology.

#6. Are there more Right-wing icons who will be getting their "due" now?

DB (Dattopant) Thengadi. He was one of the founders of the ABVP, BMS, BKS, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Samajik Samarasata Manch. He was also, like Deen Dayal , organiser per excellence (made the BMS largest trade union in India, the ABVP largest in student field, Swadeshi Jagran Manch).

He wrote 140 plus pages introduction as first volume to Deen Dayal Vichar Darshan. He wrote another 100 plus pages introduction to Golwalkar's book Rashtra.

Both are loaded with academic quotations and analysis. Thengadi wrote the ideological foundation of the BMS. He wrote the book Third Way as continuation of criticism in depth and detail about capitalism and communism.

The ten plus volumes as samagra (total), Thengadi will be published soon. Nanaji Deshmukh of DRI and Chitrakoot will be icon in rural development.

Dr Bajrang Lal Gupta (in environment, anti-GM foods, inter-river link, the cow) and Swami Vigyananda (global Hindutva with inclusion of Hindu economical forum, media, women, and youth).

Last updated: February 11, 2018 | 11:55
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