Resurrecting Deendayal Upadhyaya


Shamsul Islam


PM Modi, a seasoned swayamsevak of RSS who describes himself as a “Hindu nationalist” misses no opportunity to denigrate minorities of India, especially Muslims. The latest was when on September 25, 2016 while addressing a national-level BJP conclave at Kozhikode, Kerala he did not forget to share his belief with his captive audience about Muslims being the “other”, or different from “us” borrowing directly from the RSS archives. For him Muslims are not like other citizens of India, but a problem. To put across his message with more clarity he quoted a senior ideologue of the RSS, Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968[1] ).According to Modi: “Fifty years ago, Pandit Upadhyaya said ‘do not reward/appease (puraskrit) Muslims, do not shun (tiraskrit) them but purify (parishkar) them’. Do not treat Muslims like vote ki mandi ka maal (vote banks) or ghrina ki vastu (object of hatred). Unhe apna samjho (regard them as your own”.[2])

This statement of Modi was widely reported by the media. But the most shocking aspect was that the Hindi wordparishkar which means “to purify” was changed to “empowerment” by the English media and “sashaktikaran” by the Hindi media. Even electronic media houses which are supposed to be objective did it[3]and same was the case with the print media[4] except a few exceptions likeThe Tribune and The Telegraph. It is to be noted that in none of the Hindi/Sanskrit to English dictionaries parishkar is translated as “empowerment”. Why this exercise in ‘creativity’ was undertaken to change the meaning of a word spoken by PM Modi is not difficult to explain.

The media is working overtime to present Modi as a great democrat despite his Hindutva and anti-democratic, anti-secular leanings.

It is to be noted that at a time when Indian defences are being breached by terrorists from Pakistan (Pathankot and Uri) in which dozens of brave Indian soldiers have laid down their lives, different parts of the country like Haryana and Maharashtra are witnessing caste wars and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu water wars, when Dalits and minorities across the country are facing unparalleled persecution, heinous crimes against women have crossed all limits and unemployment and rise in prices is all time high in last five years, PM Modi instead of talking on the above problems chose to talk about Muslims.

It is to be noted that Deendayal was not against minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, only. As a Hindutva zealot and ideologue he believed in casteism, converting democratic-secular India into a Hindu state, centralisation of powers and defended non-participation in anti-British freedom struggle. He propounded the theory of cultural nationalism, which was Hindu nationalism, a part of Hindutva ideology.


Muslims as a “complex problem”

It is to be remembered that Deendayal throughout his life treated Muslims not as equal citizens and part of Indian polity but as a ‘complex problem’. According to him,

“After independence many important problems had to be faced by the government, the political parties and the people…But the Muslim problem is the oldest, the most complicated and it assumes ever-new forms. This problem has been facing us for the last twelve hundred years.”[5]

This hatred for Indian Muslims was, in fact, a continuation of Hindutva’s inimical attitude towards Islam and Muslims. The most prominent ideologue of the RSS, MS Golwalkar, who personally groomed Deendayal as a politician had earlier described Muslims as “Internal Threat No. 1”. Christians were declared to be “Internal Threat No. 2”’.[6]According to him these two communities could not be described as minorities.


Defence of casteism

Deendayal was a votary of casteism, describing it as not only natural, but also practical. He went to the extent of equating it with swadharma (one’s own religion). In fact, he declared inequality to be natural to human society, thus treating casteism also as a natural institution. Defending casteism he said: “Even though slogans of equality are raised in the modern world, the concept of equality has to be accepted with discretion. Our actual experience is that from the practical and material point of view, no two men are alike… Considerable bitterness could be avoided if the idea of equality as conceived by Hindu thinkers is studied more carefully. The first and basic premise is that even if men have different qualities and different kinds of duties allotted to them according to their qualities or aptitudes, all duties are equally dignified. This is called swadharma, and there is an unequivocal assurance that to follow swadharma is itself equivalent to the worship of God. So, in any duties performed to fulfill swadharma, the question of high and low, dignified and undignified does not arise at all. If the duty is done without selfishness, no blame attaches itself to the doer.”[7]

Questioning freedom struggle

Deendayal joined RSS when he was 26 years old and India was facing one of the most brutal repressions unleashed by British rulers. Like any other leader or cadre of the RSS, Deendayal too did not participate in the freedom struggle for the obvious reason that it was a united struggle of people of all religions for a democratic-secular India and not an exclusive Hindu project. He denigrated the glorious freedom struggle in the following words:

“We were obsessed by the misleading notion that freedom consisted merely in overthrowing foreign rule. Opposition to a foreign government does not necessarily imply genuine love of Motherland…During the struggle for independence great emphasis was laid on the opposition to British rule…It came to be believed that whoever opposed the British was a patriot. A regular campaign was launched in those days to create utter dissatisfaction against the British by holding them responsible for every problem and misery which the people in our country had to face.”[8]


Only Hindus form the nation

Deendayal did not subscribe to the idea of Indian nationalism and stood for Hindu nationalism. He refused to accept Muslims and Christians as co-nationalists despite residing in India for hundreds of years. According to him only Hindus could be the flag-bearers of Indian nationalism as only they worshipped the Motherland. For them Motherland was like the goddess Durga wielding ten weapons. Hindus formed a stable nation as only they had common view of life. For him,

Hindutva alone is the basis of nationalism in Bharat […] It is altogether wrong for the Hindus to prove their nationhood by European standards. It has been accepted as axiomatic for thousands of years.”[9]


Harmful federalism

Deendayal, like KB Hedgewar, founder of RSS, and Golwalkar loved centralisation of power and hated federalism as an integral part of Indian Constitution. According to him, “Ethos of Bharat is such that a Unitary form of government would fit in and that in the very first article of the Constitution, a clear statement that ‘Bharat shall be a Unitary State’ was essential.”[10]



On February 1, 1968, the dead body of Deendayal was found under mysterious circumstances at Mughalsarai railway station in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Late Balraj Madhok, a senior RSS/Bhartiya Jan Sangh (BJS) leader who preceded Deendayal as president of Bhartiya JanaSangh, levelled serious allegations against a few of his old colleagues of RSS/Jana Sangh for conspiring to kill Deendayal.

In his autobiography he stated: “He was killed by a hired assassin. But conspirators who sponsored this killing were those self-seekers and leaders with criminal bent of mind of Sangh-Jan Sangh”[11] He went on to the extent of pointing fingers towards former Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee and late Nanaji Deshmukh, a senior RSS ideologue, as the main conspirators in the murder of Deendayal.

According to the autobiography, the murder of Deendayal was not undertaken by communists or some robber but planned by those who were kept out of the leading positions of the BJS by Deendayal as president. It is to be noted here that Deendayal after taking over as president of BJS from Balraj Madhok in December 1967, had kept out both Atal Behari Vajpayee and Nanaji Deshmukh from important posts. According to Madhok, Deendayal was murdered because, “he was constantly ensuring that ill-reputed people should get no career advancement in BJS, so that the reputation of the organization is not tarnished. For this reason, some characterless selfish people were finding him a stumbling blocking their path of self-seeking fulfillment.”[12]

It is unfortunate that present RSS/BJP regime in India led by PM Modi instead of strengthening Indian democratic-secular polity are resurrecting Hindutva ghosts and ideologies from the past which have been inimical to our polity. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Hindutva politics needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, Deendayal’s mysterious murder needs answer from our PM and RSS, they should not shy away from sharing facts on this murder with the nation.

Shamsul Islam  is a retired Professor politicla science, University of Delhi. He may be reached at


1. [i]Deendayal Upadhyaya hailed from a Brahmin family of Mathura district in UP, came in contact with RSS in 1937, became swayamsevak in 1942 was a loyal follower of Golwalkar who became its Sarsanghchalak in 1940. Deendayal as a whole timer of the organization figured prominently in the RSS hierarchy and held crucial posts. He was editor of RSS Hindi organs like Panchajanya and Swadesh, and his services were lent to Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the political outfit created by RSS. He rose to be the presidency (December 1967) of it but died on 1 February 1968, under mysterious circumstances at Mughalsarai railway station in eastern Uttar Pradesh.122

2. [ii]The Telegraph, Calcutta, September 26, 2016.

3. [iii]

4. [iv]

5. [v] BN Jog, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya: Ideology & Perception-Politics for Nation’s Sake, vol. vi, Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi, 73.

6. [vi] MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts (chapter xvi), SS Prakashana, Bangalore, 177-195.

7. [vii] C. P. Bhishikar, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya: Ideology and Perception: Concept of the Rashtra,vol. v, Suruchi, Delhi, 169.

8. [viii] Ibid., 11.

9. [ix]Ibid., 27.

10. [x] Ibid., 179.

11. [xi]Balraj Madhok, Zindagi Ka Safar-3:Deen Dayal Upadhyay Ki Hatya Se Indira Gandhi Ki Hatya Tak, Dinman Prakashan, Delhi, 22, 23.

12. [xii]Ibid., 145. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2016 on page no. 11

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