Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay – A visionary leader and philosopher

By Dr. Shiv Shakti Bakshi

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya is remembered as a great philosopher who as a political activist and leader not only laid down the principles but also lived those principles in his political life. A towering personality well versed in different disciplines, he was able to give direction to national politics through his intellectual insight and deep understanding of Indian civilizational values. His ideas and philosophy while still remain relevant, his contribution as an ideologue and as a guiding force for an alternative model of governance and politics continues to define and determine the course of politics in the country. Born on 25 September 1916, he lost his parents in early childhood. As a bright student he earned many laurels and was poised for an illustrious career but he got attracted towards RSS while still a student and chose to work for common people by becoming a RSS prachark. Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was so impressed by him that he said “If I had two Deendayals, I could transform the political face of India.”

Pandit Deendayal Uapdhyaya is widely acclaimed as propounder of the philosophy of Integral Humanism. He never sought to follow a piecemeal approach to seek solutions for the problems afflicting the nation, rather he aspired to devise a philosophy which may herald an era of integral approach. He advocated the simultaneous and integrated program of the body, mind and intellect and soul of each human being. While seeking to spiritualise the politics like Gandhi, he laid emphasis on coining the idioms of national discourse in civilizational and cultural ethos of India. He was not in favour of adopting borrowed ideas from the west for goals of national reconstruction. He never considered either capitalism or communism as solution to problems of the human society. According to him, “A capitalist economy first acquires power in the economic field and then enters the political field, while socialism concentrates power over all means of production in the hands of state. Both these systems are against democratic rights of individuals.”

Main ideas of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay may be seen in his conceptualization of Bharatiyata, Dharma, Dharmarajya and Antodaya. By Bharatiyata he meant Bharatiya culture which unlike western thoughts sees life as an integrated whole. Bharatiyata, according to him, can manifest itself not through politics but through culture. If India has anything to offer to the world then it is the feeling of cultural tolerance and a life dedicated to duty. He further says, “From the national standpoint we shall have to consider our culture because that is our very nature. Independence is intimately related to one’s own culture. If culture does not form the basis of independence then the political movement for independence would degenerate into a scramble by selfish and power-seeking persons. Independence can be meaningful only if it becomes an instrument for the expression of our culture. Such expression will not only contribute to our progress but the effort required will also give us the experience of joy”.

He was completely opposed to the attempts to equate Dharma with religion. Religion while mainly meaning a mode of worship has a very limited meaning but Dharma stands for a wide term including many religions. According to him, religion means a creed, or a sect, it does not mean Dharma. Dharma is a very broad concept. It is concerned with all aspects of life. It sustains society. It sustains the whole world. That which sustains is “Dharma’’.The fundamental principles of Dharma are eternal and universal. Yet their implementation may differ according to time, place and circumstance. The complete treatise on the rules in general and their philosophical basis is the meaning of Dharma.

While describing Dharmarajya he considers state to be one of the constituent within the nation and not above it. In theorizing thus he never intends to undermine the importance of state in the society or democracy but attempts to emphasise the pluralistic character of the society and the nation. He gives a very interesting explanation as to why a Jana Rajya (Democratic state) should also be a Dharmarajya. He says, “Let us understand very clearly that Dharma is not necessarily with the majority or with the people. Dharma is eternal. Therefore, in the definition of democracy, to say that it is a government of the people is not enough; it has to be for the good of the people. Dharma alone can decide. Therefore, a democratic government “Jana Rajya’, must also be rooted in Dharma i.e. a “Dharma Rajya’’. In the definition of ‘Democracy’ viz. “government of the people, by the people and for the people’’, ‘of ‘ stands for independence, ‘by’ stands for democracy, and ‘for’ indicates Dharma. Therefore the true democracy is one where there is freedom as well as Dharma.” His concept of Dharmarajya can be understood more elaborately from the following attributes which forms fundamental principles on which a rulers should act:

(1)  The ruler is the upholder of Dharma, not its creator. Nor can he decide as to what Dharma is. He is responsible only for its proper enforcement. Dharma means those eternal and universal laws which are conducive to the sustenance of my life and the universe – those laws which, our Rishis have discovered through their prescience. On a small scale, they reflect in the most distinctive and fundamental characteristics of the way of life of nation on the maintenance of which depends the very persistence of a particular nation. In short, Dharma is the life process of a nation, and marks it out from other nations. It is the sacred duty of the ruler to protect this life process, i.e. Dharma.

(2)  Dharma rajya is also inclusive of Gandhiji’s Ram Rajya when he defines a ruler as Raja iti Ranjati. That is a ruler cannot claim to be a ruler in the true sense of the term unless he works for the welfare of all. (Gandhi, Lohia & Deendayal, ed. P. Parmeswaran, DRI, New Delhi, 1978, p. 40).

Antyoday, although a word belonging to Gandhian lexicon, it is inbuilt in the ideas of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. His vision of ‘education for all’ and ‘har hath ko kam, har khet ko pani’ was seen culminating in his idea of Economic Democracy. Explaining his idea of Economic Democracy, he says, “If a vote for everyone is the touch-stone of political democracy, work for everyone is a measure of economic democracy. This right to work does not mean slave labour as in communist countries. Work should not only give a means of livelihood to a person but it should be of the choice of that person. If for doing that work the worker does not get a proper share in the national income, he would, be considered unemployed. From this point of view a minimum wage, a just system of distribution and some sort of social security are necessary.” Opposing the ideas of large scale industries based development, centralization and monopoly, he advocated swadeshi and decentralization. He further said that any system which reduces the opportunity for employment is undemocratic. He advocated a system free from social inequality where the capital and power get decentralized. As a staunch opponent of both capitalism and communism he felt that the path for India was through encouraging the sectors of self employment for which a system was required wherein maximum production can be done by employing maximum hands. He was an ardent supporter of an integral village which can be self sufficient and self reliant. He had a vision of increased production, restraint consumption and equitable distribution. He was also opposed to unrestrained exploitation of nature and felt that the nature should be used as per our need and not for people’s greed. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay message to the world are:

  1. Building a strong and prosperous Indian nation on the foundation of Indian culture.
  2. Dharmarajya (which guartantees freedom, equality and justice to all)
  3. Sarvodya and Antyodaya (maximum good to all),
  4. Samanvaya (synthesis, not conflict, as the basis of life).

As we pay our tributes to the great philosopher, leader and activist on his punyatithi, the need of the hour is to follow his ideas and principles which are aimed at making politics a tool for service to the nation. He stood rock solid defending Indian civilizational values and culture in the time when the western ideas were ruling the world and many great thinkers, philosophers and leaders of that time were swept away by its torrential current. He not only stood his ground but defined Indian ethos and value system in the context of changing time and the need of the hour. Today we can say that he was as much right in his assertions as he was firm in his convictions. While the Marxist and Capitalist ideologies have created havoc in the world, his ideas attuned to the Indian civilizational values shows us the path to be followed in future.

We salute the great son of Ma Bharati on the occasion of his birth anniversary.

(Writer is Executive Editor of Kamal Sandesh and National In-charge of Party Journals and Publication Department of BJP)