Children we have always seen people chasing power, running for appreciation or praise even if they do not deserve it. But there are people in this world who selflessly dedicate their life for humanity without looking for any recognition. Shri Dattopant Thengadi was one such soul.
Shri Dattopant Thengadi (Dattatreya Bapurao Thengadi) was born in the village of Arvi (Wardha, Maharashtra) on November 10, 1920. At the age of 15, he served as president of the ‘Vanar Sena’ as well as the Municipal High School student union at Arvi. He actively took part in India's Freedom Movement. He was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) from 1936-38. He worked as organising secretary of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from 1950–51, and was also associated with the Postal & Railway Workers Union (Communist Party). He essayed the role of RSS Pracharak in Kerala, Bengal and Assam. He was a lawyer as well as a philosopher, and displayed an early talent for administration. Thengadiji always kept pace with time by establishing various organisations in different spheres, and maintained the core philosophy of Hindu Dharma and Bharatiya Darshan.
Dattopantji was a scholar, philosopher, visionary, orator, learned author, all rolled into one. Eloquent in speech and versatile with his writing, Thengadiji has some 100 titles to his credit in Marathi, Hindi and English. Most of his works mainly focus on the problems of the working class and some of his popular books are Vichar Sutre, Karyakarta, Sanketrekha, Ekatma Manav, Ek Adhyayan, Pragatipath Kisan, Dr Ambedkar, Saptakram and Lakshya Aur Karya. In his famous book, Third Way Thengadiji has explored the possibility of a third alternative to the dead Communism and the near-future collapse of Capitalism. It is an authentic presentation of the Hindu way of economics, technology, environment, constitutional and legal systems. We find a strong votary of Swadeshi for national reconstruction in this book.
Founder of Organisations
Thengadi, a graduate in law, was not only the founder of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh in 1955 but also helped set up Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in 1949, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh in 1979, Swadeshi Jagran Manch in 1991 and Samajik Samrasta Manch in 1983. He was also involved in a number of other organisations of all hues and nature like the Jan Sangh, Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad (lawyer’s council), Sanskar Bharati and Swadeshi Science Movement. All the organisations he founded made and still make deep impact on the national life. Thengadiji was a Member of the Rajya Sabha for 12 years. Thengadiji had worked with all the Sarsanghachalaks of the Sangh, including the founder, Dr KB Hedgewar. His was an awe-inspiring and towering personality, modest, deeply rooted to the past yet completely in tune with the modern times. He was very sensitive to the issues of national importance, a karmayogi, guide, philosopher, mentor and much more.
For Keralites, Thengadiji is an unforgettable hero. He was the chosen one to begin the RSS work in Kerala. Language, lifestyles, food habits, ideological imponderables and deep-rooted polarised polity did not deter him, it in fact vetted his determination to conquer the mightiest. The RSS in Kerala owes its origin to him. Many of the senior pracharaks of Sangh came in contact with the organisation in his period.
He was neither after power nor posts. Thengadiji politely refused to accept the Padma Vibhushan on the ground that there were more deserving candidates than him for such an honour. He was not a person to keep mum on issues that affected Bharat. He used to go by deeds and not by personalities and did not spare even the National Democratic Alliance Government in which Bharatiya Janata Party was the main constituent. He did not spare any Government. His criticism of the NDA policies on farmers and labour fronts was bitter. He even criticised the Common Minimum Pogramme (CMP) for not mentioning on the WTO regime.
His stand on many subjects was based on the thoughts of MS Golwalkar, former Sarsanghachalak of the RSS, Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya, founder of the Bharatiya Jansangh and Dr BR Ambedkar. He was a man who went beyond the ideological division between the 'Right' and the 'Left'. His prime concern was the nation. He was an ardent spokesman of the labour- intensive, rather than capital-intensive industries.
He was the Member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms during 1964-76. He also served as its vice-chairman in 1968. He always left his indelible imprints on all the tasks he handled as a parliamentarian. Shri Thengadiji showed his leadership abilities by organising the anti -Emergency movement in 1975, by bringing together various political streams.
When he breathed his last on October 14, 2004, at Deendayal Hospital, Pune, it was an irreparable loss not only to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but to the entire country. Dattopantji will be remembered for his great contribution to the welfare of society, especially his commitment to the cause of labour and peasants. For a man who really lived all his 84 years for humanity, the best tribute would be follow his footsteps.
No tribute will be greater to him than dedicating one's life at the feet of the motherland. One can learn from him how to conduct oneself. How should our conduct be, both as a worker and as a leader? Because of the conduct shown by people like him, our country is today a winner in various spheres.