Shri P. Parameswaran and Shri O. Rajagopal at a function
In the nineties, Parameswaranji was to be made a Rajya Sabha Member by the BJP. But he refused the offer and suggested the name of Shri O. Rajagopal instead. His was a life of renunciation, devotion and commitment
In the demise of P. Parameswaran ji on February 9, the Sangh and its associated organisations in Kerala have lost their most famous, respected and widely acknowledged thinker, theoretician, poet and academic personality.
Parameswaran ji, as he was fondly called by his admirers, was a top intellectual, whose academic eminence was accepted by all sections of the society. Even the Marxist leaders like EMS Namboodripad, P. Govinda Pillai and EK Nayanar, the Congress leaders like K. Karunakaran, AK Antony, Oommen Chandy and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala recognised and admired the sacrifice and philosophical depth of Parameswaranji. The Marxist Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan paid rich tributes to Parameswaranji describing him as ‘Rishi’, who stood steadfast by his convictions.
Parameswaranji’s death created a big void in the political landscape of Kerala. Though simultaneously Parameswaranji kept himself out of political activities, his views on the day to day developments of the state impacted the direction and thinking of the political class in the state. Parameswaranji was a brilliant and regular writer. His comments on the contemporary issues of Kerala’s economic, socio-cultural life used to be watched and debated regularly.
Parameswaranji had a brief stint in Delhi as director of the Deendayal Research Institute when he left politics after the formation of the Janata Party government in the Centre in 1977. My association with Parameswaranji grew stronger during that period. I first met him in 1969, when he was the general secretary of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He was addressing a small roadside public rally in the small Kerala town, Chengannur. There wore no chairs, table or stage. He was standing on the roadside in front of a mike and speaking on the Jana Sangh ideology, its exceptionally admirable role in the Sunyukta Vidhayak Dal governments in North India, and how the Jana Sangh was bound to grow as the natural choice of the people of India one day. The Jana Sangh as a party was very new in Kerala.
He had played a leading role in bringing the party to the state. The historic and famous 1967 Kozhikode national convention of the Jana Sangh, when Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya assumed the BJS presidentship had created some interest in the state. The media had begun to take note of the party. And Parameswaranji was the architect of that great session. He had an unmatched oratorical skill that was the envy of his political opponents. He was sure of getting a good audience wherever he spoke.
I was then a higher secondary student. I went and introduced myself to him. He warmly greeted me and asked me to work for the ideology. It was his invitation when after higher studies, I got an offer in ‘UNI’ as a sub-editor, I came to Delhi in 1979, to stay with him. He helped me stay in DRI for some time and later in Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan. On the suggestion of the then Bauddhik Pramukh Shri Bapurao Moghe, with the advice of Parameswaranji, I took up the work of collecting material for a sourcebook on Emergency and the RSS struggle. The project was guided by Dattopant Thengadi ji. Living in Keshav Kunj, till Parameswaranji left Delhi in 1981, I grew closer to him, and it was a great learning experience. He was an ideal Pracharak. He was liberal but uncompromising on ideological issues. He took a keen interest in developing youngsters and giving them ideological and practical orientation.
In 1980, when I was going to my hometown for visiting my mother, in fact, the visit was on the prompting of Parameswaranji, he gave me Rs 50, to buy sweets for my mother. It was a rare gesture of affection and generosity on his part. As a Pracharak, he was very particular about spending money. He used to insist on others spending, whenever we went out or made any shopping. Yet he gave me Rs 50 to buy sweets. That was the emotional touch he cultivated with swayamsevaks.
On his prompting, I used to write a weekly column for our Malayalam publication ‘Kesari’ Weekly. After a few months, ‘Kesari’ sent me Rs. 400 as a money order. I took it and told Parameswaranji about it. He smiled and asked me, “Can you take honorarium from ‘Kesari’? You are a Pracharak”. I had no words to reply. Felt little guilty. And informed the ‘Kesari’ editor Shri M.A. Krishnan, not to send me any honorarium.
That was the nature of Parameswaranji very particular about financial matters. As a Pracharak, he will not let any deviation from the strict discipline of the Sangh methodology. At times he will go into deep thought about the working, behaviour and ideas of the Sangh. I used to have regular discussions with him on different issues. He likes such curiosity and debating on issues. But there were occasions when he will get impatient and lose temper if I persist on a point. Then he will go into silence, which meant that he was not happy discussing further. On such occasions for a day or two, he will not utter a word. Then with a smile and encouraging tap on the shoulder, he will make up. When Parameswaranji was in Delhi, Keshav Kunj was brimming with activity Shri Bapuraoji, Shri Bahurao Deoras, Shri Dattopantji, Shri Rajju Bhaiyaji, Shri Ashok Singhal ji and several other senior Pracharaks used to be staying there.
Parameswaranji left for Kerala, after resigning from DRI to start Bharatiya Vichar Kendra. Later, he became head of the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari. He wrote a number of books in Malayalam combating the Marxist approach during this period. He also published two valuable volumes on Bhagwat Gita and Swami Vivekananda, Collecting the best possible contribution from various scholars. He was one of the rare versatile geniuses produced by the Sangh School in Kerala. He was a politician, thinker, philosopher, writer and orator with an extraordinary spiritual bent of mind.
He was a household name in Kerala. He worked both at the national and state level. He was an RSS Pracharak. In Delhi, he was in constant touch with all spiritual and political leaders from Swami Rangananda to Swami Chinamayananda to Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, Shri LK Advani to EMS Namboodripad and P. Ramamurthy in the early eighties. He attracted thinkers, philosophers and political leaders to the DRI through, workshops, seminars and symposiums during his stint in the DRI. He edited the monthly ‘Manthan’, the intellectual publication of the DRI. He wrote books like Marx, Gandhi and Deendayal, Prophet of Renaissance Sri Narayana Guru, and wrote regular columns both in English and Malayalam.
Parameswaran ji was a man of progressive ideas and forward-looking liberal approach. He was in favour of allowing the entry of legendary playback singer Yesudas in Gurayur Temple as early as in the eighties. He once said the tendency of religious leaders contesting elections and joining politics is not good “If spiritual leaders start dabbling in politics, who will look after religion?” he asked.
Parameswaran ji was very pained about the CPM-RSS clashes in Kerala. On many occasions, he tried to negotiate peace with the two organisations with the help of top BJP leaders like Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee and CPM leaders like EK Nayanar and EMS Namboodipad. His efforts brought peace for many years in the eighties.
Parameswaran ji started Bharatiya Vichar Kendra (BVK), on the lines of the Deendayal Research Institute in Delhi. The BVK has brought out many valuable publications in the recent past. Parameswaran was a brilliant communicator who was keen on taking his ideology to new areas and to enter into dialogue with various institutions and organisation was a passion with him. He was keen on removing misunderstanding about his organisation and he entered into continuous dialogue with Christian leaders. He was also a good poet. Many poems he wrote have today become part of the RSS collections of songs, for daily chanting in RSS Shakhas.
No other Pracharak produced by the Kerala RSS has reached to such national prominence as Shri P. Parameswaran. He was awarded Padma Shri by the Vajpayee government and Padma Vibhushan by the Narendra Modi government. In the nineties, he was to be made a Rajya Sabha member by the BJP. But he refused the offer and suggested the name of Shri. O. Rajagopal instead. His was a life of renunciation, devotion and commitment.
(The writer is the former editor of Organiser Weekly)