Born in 1916, the co-founder of Bhartiya Jana Sangh, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, didn’t have an easy life. However, despite immense personal setbacks, he devoted his life to the cause of the nation through the philosophy of ‘integral humanism’ given in a series of lectures in Bombay in April 1965.
Pandit Upadhyaya was a devoted RSS pracharak and started the journal Panchjanya in 1948. Unlike the notion that the RSS ideologues didn’t approve of Mahatma Gandhi, one finds a reverential mention of Gandhi in his Bombay speech. He applauds Gandhi for having presented a vision for the nation in Hind Swaraj.
Integral Humanism: A human-centric holistic approach
Contrary to the Western understanding that viewed the political and the social man separately, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya advocated that the individual is an integration of body, mind, soul and intellect . None can be seen separately from the other. A man with political right to voting will also need the basic right to food.
The root cause of the nation’s problems was the lack of national identity and the solution lay in reclaiming Bhartiya culture that has an integrated outlook.
The holistic approach of Bhartiya culture reminds of the basic unity in all life forms & their complementarity and cooperation amongst diversity. The aforementioned ideas of Pandit Upadhyaya is a celebration of the uniqueness in the Bhartiya approach to life.
Is the state supreme?
To Pandit Upadhyaya, the state was not supreme but it was to be run based on Dharma. However he clarifies that Dharma is not to be narrowly comprehended as religion but as eternal and universal principles that sustain the society. He gave the concept of ‘Dharma rajya’ as opposed to the borrowed/ western notion of secular state which to him was a fallacy. But was the Dharma rajya a theocratic state? The answer was negative, for in the former unlike the latter there was religious freedom for all.
While he favoured a Unitary constitution to promote national unity, he was for democratic decentralisation by empowering the panchayats. The combination of these two principles was to counter divisive tendencies fuelled by regionalism and to establish democracy at the grassroots simultaneously.
As far as economic policies were concerned, he lamented that both socialism and capitalism failed to fulfill the needs and aspirations of the ‘integral (hu)man’. The solution thus lay in Swadeshi & developing machines suited to the Bhartiya condition and guaranteeing the right to work for all. His view that education was a social responsibility connects to his philosophy of integral humanism as the educated will ultimately serve the society.
In his work, The Two Plans: Promises, Performance, Prospects, he presents an alternative economic vision based on decentralised, labour intensive industrial development promoting small-scale industries. His apprehensiveness about the five-year plans were evident with the subsequent ( third) failure of the five year plan to achieve the desired target.
To him, just like an individual, the nation too had an innate nature or soul which he termed as ‘chiti’. Celebrating Deen Dayal Upadhyaya only as a Jana Sangh ideologue would be an injustice to the persona that he was. From being a novelist to a political leader and an economic analyst, he was a Karma Yogi and a visionary leader devoted to the reclaiming of ‘Bhartiya culture’ and ‘manavwaad’.
Anushree teaches Political Science at Zakir Husain Delhi college, University of Delhi. She has done her PhD on ‘Political dynasties in electoral politics’ from the Centre for Political Studies, JNU. She has also done her Post-graduation in Radio & TV journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication & has written extensively on socio- political issues for print media as well as online platforms.