Sangh swayamsevaks perfomring ‘Prarthana’ as a tribute to
P. Parameswaranji before the cremation (Inset: P. Parameswaranji)
P. Parameswaranji before the cremation (Inset: P. Parameswaranji)
Bharat has lost another intellectual giant who took the civilisational narrative to new heights through his writings, thoughts and organisational work. When nobody was ready to take the baton of Hindutva forward in a Communist-dominated State of Kerala, Parameswarji, as he was fondly called, created the intellectual space for himself and Hindutva through dialogue and interactions. Even ideological rivals like Pinarayi Vijayan and Shashi Tharoor had to pay their respects to the divine lamp considered by millions of swayamsevaks is just a sign of Midas touch that Parameswarji had through his gentle yet forceful arguments
Renowned social thinker, reformer, writer and veteran RSS Pracharak P. Parameswaran ji passed away in the early hours of February 9, 2020. He was 93. He was undergoing Ayurvedic treatment at Ottappalam in Palakkad district. His body was brought to the RSS headquarters in Kochi on February 9 morning and taken to Thiruvananthapuram by evening for people to pay their last respects. The cremation took place in Muhamma on February 10.
Fondly called Parameswar ji, he was national general secretary and vice president of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh and founder-director of the Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram. He had worked with towering leaders like Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani when he was active in the Jana Sangh. He was honoured with Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award in 2018 and Padma Shri in 2004. Parameswaran ji was a prolific writer, poet, and researcher who is best known for his works on Sree Narayana Guru, analysis of Kerala’s spiritual renaissance movement and comparative study on Vivekananda and Marx.
Childhood and Education
Born in 1927 at Muhamma, Alappuzha District, Parameswaran ji graduated from University College, Thiruvananthapuram with distinctions in BA (Hons.) in History. He joined the RSS during his student days.
In 1957, he was entrusted with the task of building the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in Kerala as its state organising secretary. In 1968, he became national general secretary and later vice president of Jana Sangh. He was imprisoned during Emergency in 1975-77. In 1977, he moved from politics to the sphere of social thought and development. He was director of Deendayal Research Institute at New Delhi for four years. In 1982, he came back to his home state and gave shape to a new organisation–Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram which aims at national reconstruction through study and research. It has its headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram and has units all over the state. Parameswaran ji was currently the Director of Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, which also functions as a Centre for moulding public opinion in favour of the national needs and concerns. He was also associated with the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, and served in various capacities in the governing body of the Kendra. He was also currently the national president of Vivekananda Kendra.
Parameswaran ji led a life fully dedicated to social service, especially as a social philosopher and thinker. From early childhood, he had a great inclination towards the study of Hinduism. He was closely connected with most of the Hindu social and cultural organisations. He took spiritual initiation from Sri Ramakrishna Mission and was a close associate and disciple of Swami Agamananda, a social reformer and founder of Advaita Ashram at Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankara. Well-versed in the philosophy of Vedas, Upanishads, and Gita, Parameswaran ji delved deep into the thoughts and writings of Western thinkers like Karl Marx and Arnold Toynbee and the Indian seers like Swami Vivekananda, Sri. Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Sree Narayana Guru and Deendayal Upadhyaya. He was relentlessly writing articles and books on social, cultural and religious themes. A gifted orator, he delivered lectures all over the country on various national issues. He participated in the centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda’s Address at the World Parliament of Religions held at Chicago in 1993.
Social Thinker and Leader
Parameswaran ji was an acclaimed scholar and advocate of the vision of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Sree Narayana Guru. His biography of Sri Narayana Guru is one of the well-researched studies on the life and teaching of the reformer saint of Kerala. In the 1980s, Parameswaran ji put forward an idea of ideological debate between the Sangh and CPM, calling for an end to political violence in the state. The initiative was widely welcomed by the wise men of Kerala but it did not come to fruition because the Communists stepped back from the debate as it began to expose their intellectual bankruptcy in the ideological realm of Kerala.
In 1998, seeking a remedy to the rising crime rate, delinquency and other social evils in Kerala, Parameswaran ji proposed the observation of ‘Bhagavad Gita Decade’. Popularising the Bhagavad-Gita as a comprehensive life science was his solution to the social problems of Kerala and the whole nation. The idea was well received by socio-religious leaders and organisations and later became a social movement in the state.
With the cooperation of several social and religious organisations, a massive movement for spreading Gita awareness started in Kerala. Eminent personalities like Dr Padma Subramaniam, Justice Sukumaran, etc. attended the function, which was formally inaugurated by Sri Ananda Kumar, the then Union Minister for Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports. The International Seminar on Bhagavad Gita and Modern Problems held at Thiruvananthapuram from 4 to 7 December 2000, in which 1500 youths, scholars and saints from all over India and abroad including Dr Murali Manohar Joshi, Union HRD Minister and his Holiness the Dalai Lama participated, was organised under his guidance.
Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Kerala Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan, Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah are among the galaxy of leaders who condoled the demise of ‘Rashtra Rishi’ Parameswaran ji. Shri Naidu said Parameswaran ji was an embodiment of Indian thought and philosophy. “His immense contribution to society through Vivekananda Kendra and Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram was invaluable. He is a great son of the soil whose ideas continue to inspire the nation. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members,” he said.
Prime Minister Shri Modi described the departed leader as a “proud and dedicated son of Bharat Mata” who devoted his life to “India’s cultural awakening”. “Shri P Parameswaran was a proud and dedicated son of Bharat Mata. His was a life devoted to India’s cultural awakening, spiritual regeneration and serving the poorest of the poor. His thoughts were prolific and his writings were outstanding. He was indomitable!” Shri Modi tweeted.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said: “Deeply grieved by the sad demise of Parameswar Ji. With endearing politeness and accomplished scholarship, he inspired society through insightful speeches and writings on Indian thought.”
Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah in a tweet said: “Saddened to learn about the demise of senior Pracharak and Padma Vibhushan P. Parameswaran ji. He was a great social reformer and a true nationalist who devoted his entire life in the service of nation and humanity. His passing away is an irreparable loss to the society.” Noting that Parameswaran’s writings and thoughts on social, cultural, religious and national issues were unparalleled, he said the late leader’s contribution in restoring democracy during the emergency will always be remembered.
Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, along with three of his Cabinet Ministers, reached Ayankali Hall, where the mortal remains of P. Parameshwaran ji were kept for the public to pay their last respects. Opposition leader, Ramesh Chennithala, also reached the Ayankali Hall to pay homage. Condoling the demise, Shri Vijayan said P. Parameshwaran ji was a profound scholar whose life equalled that of a Rishi, an ideologue who dedicated his life to the ideology he believed in. Shri Vijayan was accompanied by Cabinet Ministers, A.K. Balan, Kadakampally Surendran and Kadannappalli Ramachandran. People from all walks of life flocked to Ayankali Hall to get a final darshan of Parameshwaran ji.