Defining the multifarious personality and contribution of Devendra Swarupji is impossible. He was an ideal swayamsevak, a historian wedded to objectivity and national ethos, excellent human being and a source of inspiration for everyone coming to his contact
Noted historian, senior journalist, columnist, RSS ideologue and former editor of Hindi weekly ‘Panchjanya’ Prof Devendra Swarup passed away on January 14 at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he was undergoing treatment since December 30, 2018. He was 93. He was unwell for some time and was admitted in AIIMS following breathing trouble. He breathed his last at 5.24 pm following multi-organ failure. He is survived by his wife, two sons (Rohit and Ranjan and three daughters (Sunita, Punita and Udita).
Devendra Swarup March 30, 1926 — January 14, 2019
Since Devendraji had pledged body donation after his demise, his body was handed over to Vardhman Mahavir Medical College of Delhi for medical research on January 15 through Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti. Prior to it, his body was kept at his residence in Mayur Vihar, where hundreds of his admirers, well-wishers, journalists, writers and leaders of various organisations paid their last respect.
Born at Kanth town of Moradabad District on March 30, 1926, Devendraji had primary education from Kanth and Chandausi. He was terminated from the school twice following his participation in the Quit India Movement in 1942. He became a full-timer of the RSS in 1947 when he was doing B.Sc from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He was a Sangh Pracharak from 1947 to 1960 and was jailed for six months after the ban on RSS following the assassination of Gandhiji. He started editing ‘Panchjanya’ in 1958. He did post graduation in History from Lucknow University and joined the History Department of PGDAV College as a Professor at the University of Delhi in 1964. He retired from the job in 1991. He was also president of Delhi Pradesh Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Later, he edited ‘Panchjanya’ as an honourary editor from 1968 to 1972. He was jailed during Emergency. He was a director and vice president of Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) from 1980 to 1994. He also edited ‘Manthan’, the house journal of the DRI both in Hindi and English. He was associated with the Indian Council of Historical Research as a historian. Another interesting aspect of his personality was that he humbly declined all offers of felicitation.
Devendraji truly believed and practised simple living and high thinking. He was ideologically very sound but his approach to the subject was never confrontationistHis in depth study on certain topics, particularly the history of RSS and the freedom movement of the country was matchless. He was regarded as a mobile Encyclopedia of the RSS. He was a Sangh Pracharak for about 13 years and enjoyed close association with the four RSS Sarsanghachalaks from Shri Guruji to Shri KS Sudarshan. He was also very close to veteran Sangh Pracharak the late Bhaurao Deoras. His journey in journalism began in 1948 from a Hindi magazine ‘Chetna’ published from Banaras as an associate of its then editor Atal Behari Vajpayee. Later, he edited Panchjanya along with Vajpayeeji. He always stayed away from active politics. Apart from being a scholar and historian, he had also deeply studied the framing of the Indian Constitution. His personal collection had more than 15,000 books, which he had donated to the library of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). He wrote about 20 books on different topics.
In his tribute, RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat described Devendraji as ‘a studious swayamsevak’. “His regular and meaningful writings based on his studies and original thinking always strengthened the national narrative. He was popular as an intellectual warrior, who logically and perfectly countered the anti-national propaganda,” Shri Bhagwat added.
RSS Uttar Kshetra Sanghachalak Dr Bajranglal Gupt first met Devendraji in 1970. He recalls: “Whenever I met him or discussed anything with him, I got plenty of references on various topics. He not only had information on various topics but also perfectly explained various dimensions of that information and references. He used to say that the Indian academia is still serving the leftovers of the Western scholars. Therefore, the Indian concepts, policies, social and political constructions do not match the Indian ethos. That is why, instead of resolving the problems, we are getting trapped in more troubles. Devendraji was of the firm view that we must create new concepts, which suit our needs and match the cultural values. He never compromised his principles. Though he had to suffer hugely due to his determination on his principles. He never expected anything in exchange of his ‘gyan sadhana’. That is why he very politely declined all the offers of felicitation or awards.”
“I have long association with him. The huge work that he has done for the history of RSS and BJP is indeed matchless. He deeply studied Indian history, particularly the history of the freedom struggle. He also did huge work on education. His demise is a major loss for the entire country,” said former Governor Shri TN Chaturvedi.
Recalling Devendraji’s donation of books to IGNCA, Member Secretary of the IGNCA Dr Sachidanand Joshi said: “It was very kind of Devendraji that he donated his entire collection of books to us. Through that donation a huge intellectual treasure has been brought into the public domain. We really owe a lot to him. He was again very kind to accept delivering Sanskriti Samvad series for IGNCA. We all know that he was very hesitant to publicity and he does not like even to be photographed. But he was kind enough to permit us to make a film on him and also conduct an archival interview, which is a treasure for the researchers. His collection will always remain a precious treasure for us in the IGNCA.”
Recalling his five decades’ long association with Devendraji senior journalist Shri Balbir Punj says: “I never saw him disappointed or discouraged. He was rightly called ‘mobile encyclopedia’. Today, we can search for information on internet but before the internet era he was the source to gather factual information on certain topics and his memory was so sharp that what he said was always accurate. He was always armed with adequate references.”
It is impossible to define the multifarious personality and contribution of Devendraji to the society and the nation. He was an ideal Sangh swayamsevak, a historian wedded to objectivity and national ethos, an excellent human being, a source of inspiration for everyone who came into contact, and a scholar with a highly analytical mind. He truly believed and practised simple living and high thinking. He was ideologically very sound. But his approach to the subject was never confrontationist. His style was persuasive. He marshalled his facts in a logical manner, both, while speaking or writing. He didn’t believe in hyperbole. He presented the facts, and left it for the audience or readers to draw their conclusions.