It was in 1977 that I met Shri Madan Das Ji for the first time. Immediately after the Emergency period, we students were enthralled by the success of the underground work and the dethroning of an autocratic regime. In a gathering of ABVP workers at Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, a young man came to the dais in a shirt and pants. It was Madan Das Ji, the then organising Secretary of ABVP. He reiterated before the student activists our commitment towards the nation, idealism, and discipline in public life. It was the beginning of a new era of activism for many of the ABVP activists, who later rose in leadership in different walks of life. Madan Das Ji was a master organiser, mentor, and guide to many promising talents in the organisation and he kept his contact with all of them throughout his life. He gave a real all-India frame to ABVP giving the same vigour to ABVP work in South India or North East.
Journey of Madan Das Devi ji
- Birth – July 9, 1942
- Birth Place- Karamala Village, Solhapur, Maharashtra
- RSS Entry- In childhood became Swayamsevak through his brother Kushal Das Devi
- Education – M.Com (BMCC Pune), LL B (ILS Law College – Gold Medalist, Chartered Accountant
- 1964 – Joined ABVP
- 1966 – Secretary (Mumbai), ABVP
- 1968 – Became a full timer, appointed as Organising Secretary, Western Zone, ABVP
- 1970-1992- National Organising Secretary, ABVP
- 1992- Akhil Bharatiya Sah Pracharak Pramukh, RSS
- 1993 – Sah-Sarkaryavah, RSS
- 1999-2004- Points person between Sangh and BJP during the Vajapayee Govt
- 2009 – Akhila Bharatiya Karyakarini Sadasya, RSS
- July 24, 2023 – Dehavasan (Death), Rashtrotthana
I came in close contact with him in 1980, when he was taking rest in Cochin’s Sangh Karyalaya for about one month after some health issues. I was a student of law at that time and was deputed to take care of him. It was a great learning experience on many aspects of organisational life going into minute details of the building up of organisation and moulding of activists. The relationship with him thus began and continued lifelong.
“Madan Das Devi Ji did a great job of activating every person who came in contact with him in some kind of social work by inspiring him with thoughts and inner affection. Following his teachings and increasing the work will be a real tribute to him. Madan Das Devi Ji used to touch and win over the heart of a person. He was a parent who gave the right direction to life. One has to endure a lot while doing the work of organisation and connecting individuals. It’s not an easy task. At this juncture, he himself lived like a Sthitaprajna even while suffering from internal agonies. He was pleasant and happy even while departing” — Dr Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak, RSS
He appeared always very serious, seriously talking about activists and their making, but there were several lighter moments. His smile came occasionally, but that was from his heart. His life was fully dedicated to mending activists, which is worth emulating for all those who are serious about building up organisational work.
In the beginning of the 1990s during the formation days of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, I could associate with him along with the able guidance of Shri Dattopant Thengadi. Within a short span of time, Madan Das Ji could give it an all-India shape. Taking up a lot of controversial issues, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch sailed through turbulent times under his able stewardship including the time of Shri Vajpayee’s Government. After taking up direct Sangh responsibility, he continued with the same flavour of a master mentor. He closely watched all those who were the products of ABVP and how they are performing in it as well as in various other fields of national activities. He always insisted on an organisational culture of strict discipline.
‘Demise of Madan Das Devi Ji is a big loss for us. Like ascetics, he brought thousands of volunteers before us, who could work for the change in society and the country through their Sewa activity’— Sunil Ambekar, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, RSS
Madan Das Ji often reminded us that properly assessing and deploying workers in appropriate assignments is a significant skill required for good organisers. All problems originate from flaws in this architecture. He himself was a living model for this art. My experience of how he assessed workers, deployed them in proper places and inspired them every moment is worth mentioning. In 2010 when I was All India vice President of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), one day he suddenly called me over the phone and asked me to meet him in Nagercoil. At that time, he was Sah Sar Karyavah of RSS as well as senior contact functionary for BMS. At Nagercoil, he asked me to take up the responsibility as the president of BMS, the largest trade union federation in India, as desired by its apex team. I was a little confused for two reasons, one being that I was not able to speak in Hindi at that time being from Kerala. Secondly, my established practice as a lawyer in Kerala will get affected. Moreover, I was younger in age than most of the BMS office bearers. But Madan Das Ji gave me confidence by which I could successfully manage the challenges easily. He was always personally enquiring, encouraging and guiding in my progress in the work.
“To live a meaningful life in society, the body and mind should be kept pure and Madan Das Devi Ji followed high beliefs in social life. Due to his ideological clarity, he never compromised with situation. His words, working style and ideological clarity is still inspiration for us. His life was transparent and he was a hardworking person. His inner-consciousness was soft. He had an amazing ability to read people. He never ignored
anyone in his life” —Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Member, National Executive, RSS
Later we were perturbed when his health deteriorated. Still, he was particular in not missing important meetings. He came to Kerala many times for Ayurvedic treatment. In such visits, he enquired about each of us and was very delighted to meet us and talk. He expressed concern if we met him a little late. This is the heart-to-heart relationship he maintained with workers.
“I am deeply saddened by the demise of Sri Madam Das Devi Ji. He dedicated his entire life to the service of the nation. I was not only closely associated with him but also had the opportunity to learn many things from him. May God give strength to all the workers and his family members in this moment of grief. Om Shanti” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“The information of the demise of Shri Madan Das Devi, senior campaigner of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is very sad. The departure of Madan Das ji, who selflessly devoted his life to the service of the nation and union work, is an irreparable loss to the organisation. He was like a source of inspiration for crores of workers. May God give him a place in his feet. Om Shanti Shanti”
— Union Home Minister Amit Shah
“Madan Das Devi Ji remained connected with activists despite the unavailability of communication resources in the past. He ensured that the ideology is taken forward”
— JP Nadda,President, Bharatiya Janata Party
“If you had the presence of Madan Das Devi, or as fondly addressed as Madan Ji by his followers, admirers, and peers you can expect solutions to some of the most complex issues. His discipline, his honesty, his commitment to the cause commanded immense respect that solutions were obvious possibility. His biggest contribution to this nation is that he brought Swadeshi into mainstream in some of the most difficult times”
—Dr Ashwani Mahajan,National Co-Convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch
He reminds us of the tradition of a category of divinely rare organisational masters which Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has produced and people like us had the fortune to work closely with such a category of source of inspiration. In his sad demise, we lost one more stalwart of divine work, but the gap is to be filled up by new such talents who are inspired by his life mission.
(The article was originally produced on July 31, 2023)